With summer officially over, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s time to close up shop, head inside, and play sad autumn songs at reasonable volumes until next May. But rejoice readers, just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you can’t rattle your neighbor’s ceilings. Here are five artists to celebrate fall with, including an English duo that craft somber, electric lullabies and a Florida-based punk making his much-awaited solo debut:
Who: Let’s Eat Grandma
Hometown: Norwich, England
The Music: The dreamy, synth-heavy lullabies that Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth have created as Let’s Eat Grandma sounds like they’re hiding something. Their songs straddle the considerable landscapes of psychedelic rock and electro-pop, but they seem stained darker to the point where even the twinkle of a mandolin on “Chimpanzees in Canopies” can’t help but seem a little gloomy. Somehow, the friends from Norwich make it work. You don’t so much as listen to a Let’s Eat Grandma album as merge with it.
Why You Should Listen: It’s not all synths and omens for Walton and Hollingworth. The nods to pioneering outsiders like Kate Bush and even David Lynch are all over the duo’s latest release I, Gemini, as is a biting sense of humor. (I mean they are called Let’s Eat Grandma after all.) There’s something appealingly sinister about the pair’s music, like they’re writing a deadly berceuse.
What’s Next: Walton and Hollingworth just played their first shows stateside this month at Rough Trade and Berlin in New York. They’ll be starting a European tour next month.
Listen to This: “Eat Shitaake Mushrooms”
Who: Chris Farren
Hometown: Naples, Florida
The Music: With an album title like Can’t Die there’s bound to be some melancholy threaded throughout, but there’s also something keeping it buoyant throughout the 30 minute runtime. Farren isn’t spitting in Death’s face or anything here, but he is dealing with it in the way that he knows best, which can be just as difficult since “mature adjustment” isn’t really anywhere on the “fight or flight” spectrum. Quiet mortality isn’t something Farren is interested in, and when Farren announces “I can’t die” on the album opener, he sounds so triumphant that you can’t help but agree with him.
Why You Should Listen: Farren speaks a few different pop dialects fluently: you can hear the vaguely international orchestration of Vampire Weekend, the kitchen-sink composition of the Dirty Projectors, and the thoughtful, deliberate rhythm of Magnetic Fields at different points in Can’t Die. (There’s even some surfer punk accents thrown in for good measure, as on “Everything’s My Fault.”) Blending sounds that share more than a few strands of DNA can be a messy business but Farren knows where to give and take here, a dexterity that has paid huge dividends.
What’s Next: Farren will be playing a string of shows with indie rockers Modern Baseball this month before heading on a full American tour to support his solo debut Can’t Die.
Listen to This: “Say U Want Me”
Who: The Wytches
Hometown: Peterborough, England
The Music: The Wytches sound like they’re trying to conjure doom in a grungy basement. This isn’t the cathedral-filling drone of Sunn O))) or Funeral, but it isn’t the blues-inflected black metal of Black Sabbath or Graveyard either. The Brighton-based band is unmistakably gothic but they never abandon rock conventions completely. (They’d rather bungee than BASE jump into the abyss.) That ability to exist between two worlds yields some deliciously thick, distortion-heavy rock on their upcoming sophomore album All Your Happy Life, the much-awaited follow-up to 2014’s Annabel Dream Reader.
Why You Should Listen: There are times when you want an album to bleed a little, and All Your Happy Life does exactly that. This isn’t just bruising, nihilistic noise though, the band understands how to deploy maximalism with effect and pulls back when they need to. Standout track “Throned” pays equal homage to Blur, Radiohead, and the Vines while maintaining a twisted muddiness that none of those bands would touch. Metal’s lord and savior Lemmy would have loved “Ghost House,” a lead-heavy march of a song.
What’s Next: The Wytches are set to release All Your Happy Life on September 30th.
Listen to This: “C Side”
Who: Potty Mouth
Hometown: Northampton, Massachusetts
The Music: Back in 2013, Potty Mouth bassist Ally Einbinder told Stereogum’s Liz Pelly that she was able to “take more risks” as a musician because of how comfortable she felt with her bandmates Phoebe Harris, Victoria Mandanas, and Abby Weems. Those risks have paid off in a big way: The all-female group is producing tight, punk-flecked rock that’s equal parts Guided by Voices, the Cars, and the Breeders.
Why You Should Listen: When an all-female band playing uptempo rock starts generating some buzz, the easy (read: lazy) touchstone are riot-grrrl bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. But the ladies in Potty Mouth aren’t interested in the facile comparisons, they want people to stop thinking of them as a girl group and consider the music at face value. Their decision to work together as women was a conscious one but view them through a gendered lens at your own peril, they can play with anyone, anytime.
What’s Next: Potty Mouth will be joining Against Me! on a North American tour this year and are working on a full-length follow-up to their self-titled EP from 2015.
Listen to This: “The Bomb”
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
The Music: Nostalgia for the ‘90s came and went this decade, leaving a trail of acid wash denim, chunky white sneakers, and sanitized indie rock in its wake. But that sort of stroll down short-term memory lane always yields some sonic gems, and Microwave is one of them. The Atlanta-based band has a sound that straddles the millennium: They take cues from indie icons like Pavement and Built to Spill and graft them to something more contemporary and, thanks to frontman Nathan Hardy’s pleading, gorgeous vocal work, something exceptionally raw.
Why You Should Listen: Hardy’s former life as a devout Mormon gives listeners a view into a young man coping with liberation and vulnerability simultaneously. Sure, he snarls and growls like a young man who’s had his world turned upside down, but he sounds damn near reborn on “Grass Stains” from the band’s 2014 LP Stovall. Their 2016 single “Vomit” gives you that entire range in the course of three minutes and change, shifting seamlessly from dreamy indie to rhythmic, Deafheaven-style metal.
What’s Next: Microwave’s long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s Stovall is out September 30.
Listen to This: “Vomit”