I first heard an advance copy of A.C. Newman's third solo album Shut Down the Streets in the summer, and it didn't feel quite right. Newman's main band, The New Pornographers, has been a staple of my summer listening for over a decade now, so I've come to expect his music to complement warm, sunny days. The mood of the album didn't grab me; I felt a little disappointed that I wasn't connecting with it right away, because I always want to stay on the same page with artists I have been following for a long time. I didn't dismiss Shut Down the Streets, but I set it aside, and kinda forgot about it for a few weeks.
I came back to Shut Down the Streets just recently as the weather has transitioned to autumn in New York, and it was a revelation. The pace and tone suddenly matched the feeling in the air, and the subtleties of Newman's music were more apparent and appealing. His music with The New Pornographers is often splashy and dramatic, but this record is relatively muted and melancholy. He recently told Pitchfork that the music was mostly inspired by the death of his mother and the birth of his son, two huge events that happened over a short period of time, and you can hear the weight of that in the songs, as well as a sense of feeling like you're living in transitional period. And you know, what is the autumn other than a transitional period?
Anyway! Here's a short film created by James Blose that sets an artful montage of music from Shut Down the Streets to gorgeous images from out in the country. It's a very pastoral record, so there's really nothing that could capture the vibe of it quite as well.
The music in Blose's film kinda changes the sound of Newman's music a little bit, so if you'd like to hear what the record really sounds like, here are two free mp3s. Both songs feature backing vocals by Newman's New Pornographers bandmate Neko Case.
You can order a copy of Shut Down the Streets from Matador Records' online store.