As summer fades, tune in to these indie sounds for fall

Shugo Tokumaru – Port Entropy

For: Fans of Sufjan Stevens, Indie pop enthusiasts

This album broke into the Top 40 in Japan when it was released in 2010 by Japanese singer-songwriter Shugo Tokumaru. Shugo was well known before this album for using over 100 instruments in his music, ranging from Indie rock regulars to traditional Japanese instruments.

This album, if I had to describe it in one word, is “childlike.” The introductory track, “Platform”, sets the perfect mood. It’s a fun tune featuring banjo, triangle and xylophone, but with a slight moody backdrop that feels almost melancholy.

Some favorite tracks of mine include “Straw,” “Linne” (Hey, that’s my name!), “Drive –Thru,” “Laminate” and “Lahaha.”

“Straw” is very energetic, featuring a strong guitar part that leaves you out of breath just in time for slower lyrics. “Linne” is composed mostly of a sweet melody on a piano, visited by a musical saw towards the middle of the ballad. Reminding you strongly of your childhood crush, this song is perfect for a midnight walk on a chilly night.

“Drive-Thru” is one of the most prominent songs on the album, sounding as if some of it were composed of banging on pots and pans, and some other bits were played on a washboard.

“Laminate” is the sad-happy type of song we all know and love, but with a twist. Using a mandolin and a piano, it evokes the perfect kind of content; not happy, not sad, just existing. “Lahaha” is the happiest song I think I’ve ever heard, spinning in circles with rapid strums on the guitar accompanied by a xylophone.

The perfect happy autumn day album, the entire album is worth listening to wrapped in a peacoat with a cup of hot cider.

Modest Mouse – No One’s First And You’re Next

For: Fans of experimental rock or truly unique sounds

The classic Indie rock band Modest Mouse unquestionably does it again with their 2009 EP composed of unreleased tracks and B-sides from their previous two albums, Good News For People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Though not as angry or angst-driven as their past albums, it’s is still a masterpiece in a lineup of great work.

“King Rat,” my favorite of the album, starts off with messy, twangy banjo and falls into a jazzy sound that weaves its way through most of the tracks. The lyrics are loud and packed with emotion and are surprisingly easy to sing along with. Cowbell and bluesy, muted trumpet let you know that the wild breakdown is well on its way, and it does not disappoint. Fun fact, the music video for this song was actually directed by Heath Ledger shortly before the actor’s death.

“Perpetual Motion Machine” showcases the jazzy theme. A horn section and a growling saxophone gets you bobbing with the punchy lyrics. The song sounds raw and unofficial, we hear people chattering in the background and the instruments all head off in their own direction occasionally, and it almost fools you into thinking this song might be happy.

“Satellite Skin” was released as a single before the album in May 2009. This song sounds like classic Modest Mouse. With jamming guitars and rock piano, it’s a great listen for fans of the previous track Float On. All eight tracks on this mashup are well worth the listen and can appeal to all different tastes.

This album is the inspiration for those projects you had put off until the chillier weather.

Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton – Knives Don’t Have Your Back

For: Fans of Metric, The Hush Sound

This album, being the first studio release of singer-songwriter Emily Haines under the moniker Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton, is for people with a love of Emily and acoustic music, which are generally two loves that are hard to balance. However, this album, with its lilting melodies hiding darker lyrics, draws you in and holds you close, lulling you with sweet tunes on the piano and Emily Haines’s classic soft voice.

The entire album is an eclectic experience, with each song distinctly telling a different story. The songs “Our Hell,” “Doctor Blind,” “The Lottery” and “Reading In Bed” are the real hits on this album.

“Our Hell,” calling up distinct memories of The Hush Sound, speaks about how all of our “problems” really aren’t as bad as we think they are. Moving from the meaning, the piano and the soft beat makes the tune feel almost happy. She harmonizes and gets us comfortable, then changes the feel of the song, with the notes on the piano  sharply hammering out a mysterious tune before returning to the more flowing feel that it started off with.

“Doctor Blind,” rated #457 on Pitchfork Media’s Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s, sounds like something you would hear from the back corner of a smoky bar late at night. With small bits of dreamy wandering that leaves you reminiscing and hoping for more, it gets right back into the carefully rhymed lyrics, slow-dancing the rest of the song away.

“The Lottery” is my favorite track off of this album. The piano is melancholy and wistful, with the lyrics play tag, going back and forth with alliteration and the occasional clever rhyme. Her vocals fade out, getting quieter as the song draws slowly and regretfully to a close.

“Reading in Bed” starts off almost quietly jazzy, with violin playing so quietly in the background that you almost don’t even notice it. The song tells multiple stories with each lyric. The chorus is sweetly sad, with horns playing in the background with the returning violin. The words are finished here, but you barely notice it as the piano, horns and strings fight for possession of your attention.

A great album for the rainy autumn days we all know and love/hate.

Husky – Forever So

For: Fans of Fleet Foxes, The Shins

This debut album from Australian Indie folk quartet Husky is an easy listen. Composed almost entirely of soft lullabies and melodies strung harmoniously together, this is the music we have almost lost touch with.

“Animals and Freaks” is a slow song, with a twangy guitar playing behind the whispery lyrics. You can almost feel a story in the song, telling the story of a lost love, as the singer sounds as truly tired and sad. At the end of the song, we hear the music of a carousel playing in the distance

“Hundred Dollar Suit” is faster paced and feels catchier.  You can picture it off in the distance as the music fades away.

With light strums of the guitar playing with ambient piano music, the song travels like a walk down a crowded street.

“Hunter” is reminiscent of Bon Iver or Iron and Wine, as the guitarist finger-picks his way into the song. Suddenly, strings join in, and the chorus softly climaxes and fades back away.

“Forever So” is truly worthy of being the title track, as the guitar sounds starry and the lyrics sound like humming before the happy chorus accompanied by a tambourine. Piano follows and leads us into the second half of the song that almost feels too short.

A soft sound for a walk under thinning trees or for sitting on a bench in your favorite park.

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