Fall in Canada has a magical, otherworldly quality that’s hard to explain to people who haven’t lived it. From all the wonderful ways that the leaves change from that bright, spritely green into golden yellows, fiery reds and glowing oranges, to the temperatures dropping just enough so you can wear that horrendously ugly but ridiculously cozy sweater, to being able to cuddle up inside with a good record and a glass of wine and not feel guilty about shutting yourself in, fall – or autumn, if you’re one of those – is an exceptionally beautiful time.
So, before the snow hits and we start collectively grumbling about the incoming winter, these are a few of the best records to celebrate fall in Canada with. Some are cheerful, some are caustic, some are contemplative, but all of them are quintessentially Canadian albums that’ll make you take a minute to appreciate the beauty of the season.
Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Leonard Cohen
The haunting and prescient desolation of this album is, like fall, a harbinger of decay. Delicate, sparse and intimate, Cohen’s first album is not only a timeless classic, it’s an album that pairs perfectly with the dwindling days, and the slowly chilling air. From the mournful lamentations of “Winter Lady,” to the unsettling, poetic tirade of “The Stranger Song,” this album is a wonderful companion for contemplative nights huddled under a wool blanket with a good friend and a great bottle of merlot.
Feist – Metals
While much of Leslie Feist’s solo work has a sort-of glowing, autumnal vibe, it’s her most recent album – and first after a bit of a hiatus – Metals, that captures that combination of somber resignation and pent-up energy that makes fall the best. Songs like the rumbling “A Commotion” stir up those last, fading facets of summer energy, while the more downtrodden songs like “Caught A Long Wind,” or “Graveyard,” help you settle in for that long stretch of cold coming your way. This record wonderfully captures that aggravating, frustrating duality of fall in a seriously beautiful way.
Sarah McLachlan – Surfacing
A true gem of the 90s, this overly-emotional, ballad-laden pop masterpiece has been soundtracking our back-to-school angst for two decades now. Packed with epic, heart-wrenching hits like the acerbic, betrayal-laced “Adia,” the teary-eyed “Angel,” and the wonderfully saccharine pop masterpiece, “Sweet Surrender,” this album is top-tier Can-con schmaltz. Whether you’re twenty four or forty, nothing pairs with the romantic follies of fall as well as blasting this record while you pour some whiskey in your pumpkin spice.
The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site
There’s no better album to stroll around in the fall to, full stop. Smiling, kicking through piles of leaves, all wrapped up in a coat and scarf, and singing along at the top of your lungs, Reconstruction Site feels like it was made for the season. From the rollicking, brass-filled opener, “Manifest,” to the honky-tonk infused pedal steel of the title track, this record evokes a sense of calm and serenity, a golden hue of positivity from start to finish. While it was a pretty difficult decision between this and the more somber, reflective Left and Leaving, Reconstruction Site wins out because listening to it makes you want to frolic in the yard while a pie cools on the windowsill.
Jon McKiel – Tonka War Cloud
Alternating between crushingly heavy, infectious sludge-pop and stark and pastoral folk, Tonka War Cloud captures the eerie beauty of a maritime fall perfectly. Recorded at the Confidence Lodge in foggy Riverport, Nova Scotia, you can hear all that damp air, the candles flickering in windows, and that silky, silver moon sliding across the clouds. Whether it’s the rowdiness of drinking a case of Olands and getting into a scrap imbued in the up-tempo “Fist Fight,” or the evocative, hushed whispers of the afterlife in the gorgeous “Death Van,” the record is a wonderful portrayal of the stunning spookiness of fall in rural Canada.
Arcade Fire – Funeral
Sometimes raucous, sometimes slow and eerie, the debut record from the now monolithic Canadian supergroup remains not only their best record, but also one of the best records to spend a night in with. Whether you want to expend the last of your energy shaking it out to “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” as you dance wildly around the house, or sit in silence, brooding over a slice of pumpkin pie and a dark stout with “Une année sans lumière” this record has you covered. There’s something about the manic mournfulness of this album that just feels so achingly autumnal.
Moonface – Julia With Blue Jeans On
It sounds like that last fading light of summer, the auburn glow of the sunset as the days grow shorter, and the heart grows wearier. This an exceptionally gorgeous, and truly mournful album, beautiful in its heartbreaking honesty and savage sadness. Spencer Krug’s flighty, crystalline piano playing is contrasted with his almost psychotically unhinged croon in a way that’s truly moving. If you’re feeling sad and lonely, there’s no better cure than listening to someone be way sadder and lonelier than you are. Between the rushed, angry fervor of “Barbarian II,” the teary-eyed memories of “November 2011,” or the ethereal sadness of “Dreamy Summer,” this record runs the gamut of desperation and longing.