Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gettin' SAD: Keeping Your Chin Up In The Clutches Of Autumn

Fall is once again upon us (at least those of us up here in the Great Northeast), and I've only seemed to make that definitive the night before last, when I put the new album by Early Day Miners on the turntable and let that slow swell of mood once again creep over my very soul. Not bad, per se, just a sort of isolated loneliness that is hard to combat, no matter now much happiness and how many loved ones you surround yourself with.

I'm one of those guys that gets SAD (that's seasonal affective disorder, kids) like clockwork, and the fact that I've been off the Prozac for far too long is putting me in a very melancholic state of mind. Perusing the upcoming album release calendars tells me that, barring and huge surprises, the EDM record will probably be the last "great" album of the year in my book. I mean, the Tom Waits live album will be fun but not revelatory, the Nirvana set at Reading '92 will certainly be enjoyable, but I've had a bootleg of that for years. Where does that leave me... the abysmal new Weezer album? This time of year is usually the point where I tend to stop looking forward for a few minutes and just exist. Lately, that's meant a lot of Brian Eno and "comfort music" - perennial favorites that I know so well I don't really need to LISTEN to them, just have them there as a companion. Some dub reggae, the Clash, Stooges, and the aforementioned Nirvaner (Boston pronunciation).

So what now? There's a debate in my mind as to whether to make a concerted effort to uplift my mood with bright, jangly pop that could make even the heaviest heart step lighter, whether to compliment my mood with autumnal music to ponder the great questions, or whether to explode it all and start listening to things that are so unrelated and all-over-the-place in mood that I don't know what to think and I'll just find myself confused. The problem with the first option is that most of that jangly power pop is ultimately of the blues tradition of singing a happy melody to cheer yourself up. Seriously, Altered Beast or Bandwagonesque or even the first Gin Blossoms album is beautiful, but once you listen to the lyrics, you'll be reaching for the nearest razor blade. The problem with the second option is that if I lean too hard on the "complimentary" music, it could teeter things too far to that side and I'll end up worse off than I am now. When you have evocative music to be plaintive to, it's easy for that to snowball. And as far as the third option... well, The Residents alone cannot sustain a man.

So the big question is, what makes for good autumn music? Right now, I'm leaning toward some psych-flecked Mod pop from the mid-'60s - The Creation, The Smoke, Nuggets II - because it's peppy enough to keep me upbeat, but most of the lyrics are so evocative and impressionistic that they don't really SAY anything to me. It's too cold out to really rock out to some sweaty garage rock, so the Dirtbombs and their ilk are largely off the table. Is there anything that might speak to me but keep me from feeling completely bummed for the next couple of months?

We here at Central Target turn to you, Dear Reader, for your sage advice!


  1. Excellent question here- I tend to turn towards folkier material at this time of year, but lately I've been listening to New Order and some Baggy scene stuff (Happy Mondays in particular), and that seems to be working. Catchy, fairly "effortless", and without too much underlying depression. May be a good way to go.

  2. Sebadoh. A little folky, not quite as hushed and sad as something like Nick Drake, but it ain't summertime sweat rock either.