No point in denying it: fall is in full swing in the northeast. Leaves are dropping at a quick pace, those perennial jokes about Mr. Autumn Man and decorative gourd season are growing stale again, and the draft sneaking through unsuspecting windows brings notice of the chill to come. Of course, some people enjoy this time of year, myself included. Maybe it’s because I did serious time in Southern California, a region that seems to have been prescribed meteorological prozac, but I love autumn and the gloom it heralds. Still, it helps to have the right music at hand.
If you’re one to delight in your melancholy, then Long Beard could be for you. From New Brunswick, Leslie Bear (who performs as Long Beard) has recorded a charming album of wistful indie-rock, all soft-pick strums and arpeggios, warm reverb, and loop effects to soundtrack the unexpected solitude of post-summer nights. Even when accompanied by a restrained rhythm section, none of the tracks on Sleepwalker break a sweat or, for that matter, vary from the basic template — below, “Dream” gives a pretty good indication of what you’ll find — but for Long Beard it’s all about atmosphere. As the album cover suggests, Bear’s gentle voice and guitar make a home out of the dusky season.
If, on the other hand, the fall finds you writhing with emotions the summer had repressed, then Thus Owls may be more your thing. Montreal’s music scene is known for the high drama of its acts, a legacy to which Erika and Simon Angell, the married couple at the core of Thus Owls, contribute a distinctly expressionistic aesthetic. On “Turn Up The Volumes” a sinister guitar twang snakes through electronic tones and strings; a trap kit skillfully punctuates a tense composition; and Swedish-born Erika’s deliciously nordic vocals beckon you to shadows and dark corners of your psyche. The six tracks on Thus Owls’ forthcoming “Black Matter” EP might be a tad severe for anyone hungover on the song of the summer, but I’m eager to embrace their extreme shift of mood.
Long Beard’s Sleepwalker comes out on Team Love Records on October 23, 2015.
Thus Owls’ “Black Matter” EP is released on Secret City Records on November 6, 2015.