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A playlist for late fall

The end of the semester can be downright depressing. The deadlines for final exams and papers, which seemed so far in the distance at the beginning of August, are now only weeks away. Plus, the weather’s getting colder, the campus is growing quieter and if you look outside at 5 p.m., the sun’s already starting to set. It’s inevitable that through all these changes I turn to sadder, more folk-inspired music to keep me company on my walks to and from class. I hope these songs will keep you company, too.


“I’m Not My Season” – Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes dominated the indie music scene of the late 2000s and early 2010s. Their pop-folk songs combine literally down-to-earth nature imagery with more highbrow references to Greek mythology and texts like “Beowulf.” “I’m Not My Season” sticks to the former, and its wistful message of not wanting to be “the season you’re in” is probably one that a lot of us can relate to during this time of year.


“Come And Play In The Milky Night (Demo)” – Stereolab

There’s barely any singing in this short, stripped-back song, and what is there is nearly impossible to understand. But I think that this only adds to the track’s off-kilter appeal.


“Can’t Catch Me Now” – Olivia Rodrigo

“Can’t Catch Me Now” was written by Olivia Rodrigo and her producer Dan Nigro for the latest installment of the blockbuster “The Hunger Games” franchise, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” Rodrigo sings a haunting melody that grows in scale until its final chorus, which with all of her harmonies layered together, sounds like multiple people singing their hearts out. I must say that folk music suits Rodrigo well—I would love for her to release an entire album in this style. It complements both her voice and songwriting abilities well.


“Jasmine” – Arlo Parks

I had no idea that “Jasmine” was a cover until I started doing my research for this article. Arlo Parks’ version is similarly lofi and synth-heavy, but much less busy than the original by British pop singer Jai Paul.


“When the Sun Hits” – Slowdive

For a song with the word “sun” in its title, this shoegaze classic is about as melancholic as they come. Part indie rock, part ambient, “When the Sun Hits” manages to feel both reflective and full of barely-contained tension. It’s also one of my top-played tracks of 2023.


“I’m Your Man” – Mitski

All of the tracks off Mitski’s latest album, “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We,” have a spirit of melancholy that would fit right into a fall playlist. Her Billboard Top 100 debut “My Love Mine All Mine” and the comparatively cheerful “Buffalo Replaced” are certainly two that come to mind. But I particularly love the way that “I’m Your Man” slowly builds into a crescendo, and ends with Mitski singing a series of “ohs” and “ahs” set over the sounds of barking dogs and chirping crickets. As someone who spends much of her day stuck inside, it’s nice to be able to feel like I’m out in nature, if only for a few minutes.


“Rosyln” – Bon Iver, St. Vincent

I love this song because it was featured in “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” It’s impossible to listen to its plucky guitar and banjo chords without dreaming of hiking through the Pacific Northwest on a rainy day.


“Crush” – Ethel Cain

Released in 2021, “Crush” is a contemporary classic. When asked on Tumblr if this song was “inspired by any experiences or relationships in particular,” Ethel Cain replied that it was about “this dude i ‘dated’ when i was 16 and he was 23 and he asked me to run away with him and i said no i have school.” Despite its odd origins, “Crush” manages to capture the titular feeling quite well, with its deceptively upbeat chorus “Can you read my mind? I’ve been watching you” never failing to hit hard.


“Just Like U Said It Would B” – Sinéad O’Connor

I recently saw this song’s genre listed as “Celtic Alternative,” which I think is an apt description. Sinéad O’Connor’s voice is otherworldly, and listening to the late artist’s music is a good way to keep her memory and spirit of activism alive.


“Drown” – The Smashing Pumpkins

“Drown” combines “alternative rock, psychedelia and dream pop” into a singular approachable song that was a surefire hit after its release in 1992.


“Cannock Chase” – Labbi Siffre

I had a friend recently introduce me to 1970s singer-songwriter and poet Labbi Siffre, and I couldn’t be more grateful. His song “Bless the Telephone” is also good, if not better than “Cannock Chase.”


“Diamond Day” – Vashti Bunyan

Though Vashti Bunyan’s 1970 album, “Just Another Diamond Day,” was initially panned by critics, it’s since been rediscovered in the 2000s and dubbed a staple of the folk genre. “Diamond Day” is a short, sweet-sounding song with a flute melody and accompanying high-pitched vocals from Bunyan. As the semester winds down, I like to keep her lyrics in mind whenever things get tough: “Just another life to live / Just a word to say / Just another love to give / And a diamond day.” I’m praying for a lot of diamond days in the weeks ahead.

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About the Contributor
Kate Gordon
Kate Gordon, Life Editor
Kate Gordon (she/her) is a third-year student double majoring in communication sciences and disorders and cognitive science, and minoring in Spanish. Her favorite part of The Observer is being able to share her passion for movies, television, music and pop culture as a whole. When she isn’t writing or editing she likes to spend her time reading, thrifting, sipping boba and bothering her roommates.

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