1. Cass McCombs, “County Line”
Who? California-born singer-songwriter who makes sneakily dark folk-y baroque pop.
Most autumnal thing about it: That breezy, laid-back shuffle. Oh and the warm organ tone. Everything about this song, basically.
2. The Velvet Underground, “Stephanie Says”
Who? New York art-rock legends. Velvet freaking Underground.
Most autumnal thing about it: The fluttery chorus harmonies.
Who? A relatively unheralded record producer, songwriter, musician, and arranger who worked with everyone from The Beach Boys to Elton John and specialized in sparkling sunshine pop.
Most autumnal thing about it: The chiming, arpeggiated guitar. Delicate and irresistible.
Who? A pioneer of Ethio-jazz. You might remember hearing his work in the Jim Jarmusch/Bill Murray movie Broken Flowers.
Most autumnal thing about it: The interplay between the humming organ and the twisting brass melody.
6. Donovan, “Wear Your Love Like Heaven”
Who? The sunshine-ier, Scottish Dylan.
The most autumnal thing about it: The playfully brushed drums and, duh, THE FLUTE.
Who? English hero of pastoral psychedelia. Worked with Brian Eno, Syd Barrett, John Cale, and a bunch more.
The most autumnal thing about it: The shaker and toy accordion. The sprightly bassline and delicate vocal. All of it.
8. King Krule, “Neptune Estate”
Who? The recording project of 19-year-old English ginger whiz kid Archy Marshall.
The most autumnal thing about it: The drowsy drum loop and Marshall’s low-slung vocal delivery. Heavy “nighttime in September” vibes.
Who? Legendary Memphis power-pop band.
The most autumnal thing about it: The walking bass line subtly nudging the sparkling acoustic guitar line forward. You can damn near see the leaves falling as this song plays.
10. Gal Costa, “Divino Maravilhoso”
Who? Popular and influential Brazilian singer. Tropicália trailblazer.
The most autumnal thing about it: The fanciful guitar figure and Costa’s feathery vocals.
11. Mac Demarco, “My Kind of Woman”
Who? Canadian indie misfit who specializes in off-kilter guitar-pop.
The most autumnal thing about it: The languid rhythm section and vocal drawl. Everything about this song is sleepy and wonderful. Not so much jumping into the leaf pile as collapsing into it.
12. Brigitte Fontaine, “Une Fois Mais Pas Deux”
Who? A French singer, novelist, writer, actress, playwright, and poet with a string of wonderful albums in the mid to late-’60s.
The most autumnal thing about it: The somehow simultaneously lush and playful strings. Also, breathy French vocals are basically a fall breeze anyway.
13. The Beach Boys, “Disney Girls”
Who? The Beach Boys. The. Beach. Boys.
The most autumnal thing about it: Bruce Johnston’s lilting lead vocal. Honorable mention to the little wah-wah guitar flourishes.
Who? Dixieland-era jazz saxophonist and clarinetist.
The most autumnal thing about it: The brushed drums and loosey-goosey sax performance.
Who? Relatively obscure ’60s baroque-pop singer.
The most autumnal thing about it: The cooing, reverb’d vocals and tumbling, loose drum fills.
Who? Composer, singer-songwriter, and record producer. Founding member of the Velvet Underground. Plays basically every instrument imaginable. Welsh. Genius.
The most autumnal thing about it: The layered acoustic guitars and the shaker. Always the shaker.
Who? ’70s folkie associated with the Greenwich Village scene.
The most autumnal thing about it: Literally everything about it: the syncopated drums, the piano flutters, the bass counterpoints, Dalton’s cracking vocal. The wind is rustling and it is BRISK. It is fall.
18. Girls, “Heartbreaker”
Who? Disbanded sorta-psychedelic, sorta-doo-wop-y band from San Francisco.
The most autumnal thing about it: Strummy acoustic guitars everywhere; tambourine accents; the tender vocal.
Here’s a Spotify playlist of all the tracks:
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