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Music

10 Introspective Albums to Listen to While You Light Your Pumpkin Spice Candles

October 17, 2020

Isn’t it funny how we can go from blasting Cardi B and The Chainsmokers (JK on the latter) on Labor Day weekend to suddenly going solemn three weeks later? Yeah, Invasion of Privacy isn’t exactly up there with albums that feel like fall.

But anyway, when the leaves are turning and the sun’s no longer burning, music just feels different. While pool parties and backyard BBQs full of bass are surely a good time, nothing compares to cozying up with hot coffee in sweats to the sounds of moody music and the scents of pumpkin spice.

If you’re on the hunt for songs that will elicit your emotions during this time of year, keep reading for 10 introspective albums that feel like fall.

a couple walks through leaves in the woods or forest
(via Unsplash)

1. Strange Tales – Lord Huron

Strange Tales is here for all your dreamy folk desires. On the 14-song album, dark topics, including death, are intertwined with breathtaking melodies, making this melancholy collection slightly easier to digest.

2. Thank You for Today – Death Cab for Cutie

Everything about Death Cab epitomizes fall vibes, but since Plans’ iconic 2005 release, none of the band’s albums spoke to the magic of the season until 2018’s Thank You for Today. It most closely resembles the aforementioned—after all, there’s even a song called Autumn Love. Need we say more?

3. Strange Pleasures – Still Corners

If you’re going for a dreamy, ethereal vibe, this album will speak to you. Light and luminous, it’s the perfect background music for your next pumpkin carving picnic or fall-themed dinner party.

4. Nocturne – Wild Nothing

This is without question one of the best indie albums of all time. Each song is filled with beautiful, serene melodies without tearing us apart. It’s hopeful, light and timeless—and while we most classify it with fall, it’s truly suitable year-round.

5. Goddess (Deluxe) – Banks

We’re not quite sure what happened to Banks after releasing her insanely promising debut—but either way, Goddess disrupted what we considered pop norms. Her music began to define the new “alternative,” and the melodies from this album are dark as a crisp fall night.

6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

If you want to transport your mind to an enchanted forest in the middle of nowhere, one listen to anything on this 10-track album will do just the trick. The cohesive selection of songs flow effortlessly, taking you on a spiritual journey from start to finish. And once you’re done, you can step back a few years and listen to 2008’s For Emma, Forever Ago, which, thankfully sounds every bit the same as the aforementioned.

7. Cruel Intentions Original Soundtrack – Various Artists

Much like the provocative, dark ’90s film, its alluring soundtrack still holds up today, and each track evokes curiosity and mystique. To this day, not a film or accompanying soundtrack has done what Cruel Intentions has. Both beautiful and melancholy, every song from start to finish will make you feel something.

8. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy – Sarah McLachlan

If you’re a child of the ’90s you know the massive impact Sarah McLachlan had on music. The Lilith Fair cofounder was a pioneer of making thoughtful albums that, yes, feel like fall. Her 1997 album Surfacing garnered huge mainstream success, but 1993’s lesser known Fumbling Towards Ecstasy resonates with us in a deeper way.

9. Shore – Fleet Foxes

Don’t let the title of Fleet Foxes’ new album fool you—there are no beachy vibes to found on this 15-song selection of folk-rock melodies. But that doesn’t mean they’re not uplifting. If you’re looking for a serene album with a light tone, this is your best bet.

10. Badlands (Deluxe) – Halsey

Halsey has always maintained her disposition as an angsty, brooding artist. But just on the brink of mainstream fame, she released Badlands, a raw, organic look into past relationships and mental health struggles. With no collaborations or buzzy production credits, this melancholic selection of thought-provoking tracks is not only the singer at her finest, but the closest thing to fall-sounding pop out there.

 

Now that you have plenty of albums that feel like fall, mix things up with THIS playlist of best songs from artists at Coachella 2017!

Music

Skyelyfe’s Definitive Ranking of the 18 Best Songs of 2018

December 30, 2018

When it comes to music, 2018 was an interesting year… to say the least.

You had the bad (the emergence of SoundCloud “rappers”); the surprising (Pusha T had a resurgence seemingly out of nowhere—and in a major way); the consistent (Cardi B just kept the hits comin’!); the classics (Death Cab for Cutie reverted back to their Plans-era sound with the release of Thank You for Today).

And while this was the first year in a very long time that there wasn’t a song I was consistently obsessed with, I will say there were still indeed some gems.

Keep reading for skyelyfe’s definitive ranking of the 18 best songs of 2018 (and scroll to the very bottom for the full playlist):

18. ‘Northern Lights’ by Death Cab for Cutie

I had to give this song a few listens before accepting this was actually from 2018, and not 2005—but this is meant in the best way possible. DCFC’s entire Thank You for Today was a much-appreciated time warp back to their Plans and Transatlanticism-era days—ones they’ve diverted from slightly in recent years. “Northern Lights” is the perfect uplifting melody, with the story-filled lyrics the band has maintained consistently. But seriously, this entire album is so good. It’s a reminder that “real” music still exists in this day and age.

17. ‘Back to Life’ by Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld has certainly had some catchy hits, but this gem from the Bumblebee soundtrack is without question her best. It’s uplifting, easy on the ears and really showcases her vocal talent. It’s truly an instant dose of happiness.

16. ‘Tease’ by Ralph

Canadian indie pop artist Ralph’s music is a wonderful reprieve from everything going in the world. Not only does her sound take you back to another era, but her lyrics are light, and her melodies are easy on the ears. And I guess it’s an added bonus that she’s adorable and sounds even better live. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at The Moroccan Lounge during a rainy night in DTLA a few months ago, and it was a wonderful experience.

15. ‘OTW’ by Khalid, 6LACK, Ty Dolla $ign

Following the release of last year’s “Location,” I didn’t know if I could ever grow to like Khalid, as that song made a terrible first impression on me. “OTW” was the second song I’d heard by him (and the first by 6LACK), making me willing to give Khalid another chance. The dark, melodic jam produced by Nineteen85 (and with some additional vocals by Ty Dolla $ign) gives off those sexy ’90s R&B vibes in a way I haven’t heard in a long time.

14. ‘Science’ by Allie X

Allie X was definitely my artist of the year. The Canadian synthpop princess consistently churned out bop after bop, and that was pretty evident when it came down to the tough decision of picking just one song for my Top 18—it was between “Science,” “Focus” and “Girl of the Year.” While I only chose one track to be on this list, Super Sunset deserves its fair recognition as one of the best albums of the year.

13. ‘God is a woman’ by Ariana Grande

When I first saw the title to this song, I thought it was going to be a feminist ballad—and while it was certainly written in a way to empower women, it’s much more sexy before it is girl power. While most fans and critics hail “thank u, next” as Ariana’s song of the year, I have to say “God is a woman” never gets old, and when holiday season passes, I have a feeling the Christmas jingle-esque novelty of “thank u, next” will eventually fade as well.

12. ‘Walk It Talk It’ by Migos f./ Drake

Following their 2017 breakout year, Migos continued to churn out the hits in 2018. While “Walk It Talk It” is no “Motorsport” or “I Get the Bag,” it was a radio hit that I couldn’t quit, and even Drake’s verse impressed me.

11. ‘Young and Reckless’ by Charlotte Lawrence

One listen to Charlotte Lawrence’s well-developed vocals, mature lyrics (“Let’s just get undressin’,
get arrested, it’s fine”) and impressive production, you wouldn’t believe (just as I didn’t) that she’s only 18. The daughter of actress Christa Miller and behind-the-scenes Hollywood extraordinaire Bill Lawrence, the beautiful budding indie pop singer proves she has all the talent in the world to make it—established parents or not.

10. ‘Drop’ by G-Eazy f./ Blac Youngsta & BlocBoy JB

This song has all the components of a potential hit, but where did it go? This was definitely my early July anthem. I expected it to be huge, but it never took off. Either way, it deserves recognition, as it has one of the catchiest beats I’ve heard all year, and G-Eazy actually flows nicely on the track. And while I am totally anti-SoundCloud rappers, BlocBoy JB proved to be my one exception throughout the whole year.

9. ‘Under’ by Transviolet

Much like Allie X, selecting just one Transviolet song to make my Top 18 is no easy feat. With captivating melodies and lyrics that are equal parts heartbreaking and empowering, it’s hard to ignore this L.A.-based indie group’s appeal. “Under” is an expression of resilience and keeping your head high when you feel like you’re sinking.

8. ‘High’ by Sizzy Rocket

Alluring and mysterious, “High” is a diversion from Sizzy Rocket’s more angsty, girl-power productions of years past. Whether you’re in fact getting high or simply just lounging around in the house, this is the perfect track to keep you in a mellow state of mind.

7. ‘Powerglide’ by Rae Sremmurd

“Powerglide” was one of the first new hip-hop singles I heard on the radio in 2018—and it’s certainly one of the most underrated. While I thought for sure this would take over airwaves and set the precedence for a year of blast-worthy bops, I was indeed in for disappointment when the track barely got any love. Either way, this is a surefire jam, and even if it didn’t get as much mainstream love as it deserves, I’m giving it its fair acknowledgment right here.

6. ‘On Your Side’ by Penguin Prison

In a year full of either really crappy music or music that made us think way too much, Penguin Prison brought us this upbeat, carefree tune that evokes 100% good vibes. There are not enough wonderful things to say about this little gem right here.

5. ‘MI Amore’ by FRENSHIP

Much like the song that precedes it, “MI Amore” is all things upbeat and lively. According to what the duo told Billboard, the track is about “when you love something and truly care about it, chase after it with every ounce of your being and don’t let anyone or anything get in the way.” Amen!

4. ‘Without Me’ by Halsey

Raw and well-produced, it would take a heartless person to not feel an ounce of bittersweet emotion upon hearing this song. Not only is the track itself well-done overall, but it completely showcases Halsey as a true artist, in case anyone had their doubts.

3. ‘Let Me Know’ by LeyeT

I was unfamiliar with LeyeT (pronounced “light”) prior to hearing this song, but the indie pop tune has me very intrigued about this artist moving forward. The incredibly soothing melody accompanies lyrics that beg the question so many of us wonder: Are we more than just friends?

2. ‘Yes Indeed’ by Lil Baby & Drake

Because this song came out in the middle of the year, I can’t quite call it my 2018 anthem, but, once it dropped, it was on regular rotation nonstop. The only reason it didn’t make it to the No. 1 spot is because it’s a whopping 2:20 minutes long. So, while I wish there’d been a little more effort, I will never say no to this track.

1. ‘My Life’ by ZHU f./ Tame Impala

This isn’t the first time ZHU’s fallen into the No. 1 slot of my top songs of the year. His collaborations are key, and “My Life” by Tame Impala exemplifies just that. Easy on the ears, mellow on the mind, I could listen to this for hours and never get bored.

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Music

Kick off the Best Season of the Year With New Music by Wild Nothing, Allie X and 29 More Artists

September 6, 2018

Two things of major importance here: Fall officially starts on Sat., Sept. 22, and every day this week has felt like the season is already in full swing.

This never happens in L.A. I mean, last year it was 90-degrees in mid-December. So, anyway, yeah, I’m super excited. And what better way to welcome the best season of the year than with some amazing music? Lots of chill stuff here for your ears to consume.

Let’s start with Wild Nothing‘s fourth album Indigo, released last week. The 11-track, mellow dream pop playlist somewhat resembles their second album Nocturne, which is pure music to my ears—and perfect for setting the fall mood.

Another album standout is Death Cab for Cutie‘s Thank You for Today, their best full-length release since 2005’s Plans. Though Plans is pretty untoppable, this album is pretty amazing, not to mention there’s a song called “Autumn Love” (come on now!).

For all of this and much more (including new music by Emma Blackery, Allie X, Seven Lions, Troye Sivan, Bassnectar, and A R I Z O N A), scroll through the 32-song playlist below:

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Music

From Feist to Bon Iver, Celebrate the First Day of Winter with This Perfectly Fitting Playlist

December 22, 2015

winter_skyelyfeNothing officially welcomes winter quite like the beautiful sound of rain falling on my rooftop. And luckily for me, that is my current soundtrack in between writing this and (somewhat) tearfully taking down all of my fall decorations in acknowledgement of the first day of the fresh season.

But in addition to the pitter-patter from the sky, I’ve also compiled a playlist of my favorite handful of tracks that are perfectly fitting for this time of year.

You may recall my fall playlist that included The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie, among others. Well, fast forward a season, and it’s time to incorporate an even mellower sound. Below is my playlist of 15 winter-esque tracks from Feist, Bon Iver, Skye (had to – *wink*), Olivia Broadfield, Blue Foundation and more. Enjoy!

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Music

From The Shins to Death Cab for Cutie, Here’s a Chill 31-Song Playlist for the Fall Lover In You

September 22, 2015

autumn_music_playlist_skyelyfeThe wind is blowing, the sun is bothering me less and my mood is increasingly heightening. Hmm, must be fall!

Although my most beloved season doesn’t technically begin until tomorrow, I will be busy then in Yom Kippur services atoning for my wrongdoings, so I figure today is the best time to post a little ode to my pumpkin-filled time of joy.

If you attended my annual fall party last year, you heard my 50-song playlist perfectly fitting for the mellow mood of this time of year. Well, I’ve put together a completely different one for 2015. Click below to hear this year’s chill fall playlist, featuring 31 songs by artists including The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Milo Greene, Amason, George Maple, Chelsea Lankes and many more.

Happy fall frolicking!

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Music Food

Life Is Beautiful Festival: All the Behind-the-Scenes Secrets, from Co-Owner Ryan Doherty

September 22, 2015

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

With fall underway, most of the year’s biggest music festivals are a thing of the past.

But Life Is Beautiful gives people a chance at one final big festival hurrah until 2016 Coachella.

Taking place this weekend in Downtown Las Vegas, the music and arts festival features huge talent, including Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Brandon Flowers, Snoop Dogg, Duran Duran, Kygo – and a slew of my favorites (Porter Robinson, Death Cab for Cutie, Madeon, Future IslandsGlass Animals, Peking Duk, Audien and What So Not).

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Skyelyfe sat down at Soho House in West Hollywood with the festival’s co-owner, WENDOH Media‘s Ryan Doherty. Doherty discussed the headliner selection process, the things that set this festival greatly apart from the others and some of the year-long challenges that were faced in pulling this incredible experience together. 

Read on to learn six behind-the-scenes things to know about Life Is Beautiful festival:

1. The Setup Is Wild

“At a music festival, you’re usually in a venue. In this case, the entire downtown is turned into a venue,” Doherty said. “We fence off 17 blocks, we have stages and parking lots in the middle of the streets. There are casinos, bars, restaurants that become parts of the venue. It has this ever-evolving footprint that changes every year.”

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

2. Here’s How the Headliners Came to Be

“We had a lot of artists we went after for headliners,” Doherty said. “The festival scene has gotten so broad now. There’s a festival every weekend, and we’re all fighting over the same talent. We got lucky. We did end up getting who we wanted. Stevie Wonder was a big get for us. He’s not going to be playing for a [much longer] time. You never know when he’s going to hang it up, so for us to get him for a festival is a good get. We had hoped to get Imagine Dragons because we don’t have a local sports team. We have very few hometown heroes. So, the Killers and Imagine Dragons are like our two hometown heroes. and Kendrick, we kind of bet on that horse, so we got him a long time ago and hoped he would catch on fire. And so far, it’s paid off. He’s turned in some great festival performances already this year. His music is smart and conscious. One of the goals was to make the lineup diverse, and I think that was accomplished.” 

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

3. The Challenges of Putting Together L.I.B Differ from Other Festivals

“There are a million moving parts to a music festival,” Doherty explained. “There are tons of speed bumps, but no obstacles. It just takes a long time to get things done. Most of you go to a music festival and you have to deal with the personalities of rockstars. We have to deal with the personalities of chefs and rockstars. We have an entire speaker series, so we have all these speakers. It’s a lot of stars who have all different personalities and are all coming in from different places from all over the world. Just booking their travel is a full-time job.”

4. Just Dealing with Venue Matters Alone Took a Whole Year

“We have to shut down city blocks, rearrange traffic,” Doherty said. “When you have a venue you can walk into, like a Coachella, where it’s a big field, it’s a lot easier. We have residents that we move to hotels for a weekend, we have perimeter fences that we have to put up around 17 blocks. People are surprised it takes a whole year to put this together, but it’s 100,000 people across four pillars. We have the speaker series, we have the culinary program, then we have the musicians and then we have art.”

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

5. The Festival’s Learning Project Is Something That Doesn’t Exist Elsewhere

“It’s essentially built around the platform of small, 200-300-person theater-style engagements going on during the festival,” Doherty explained. “It’s short-form content. These are 20-minute sessions. The idea of it is so that if you’re in groups, you can divide off and two of you can catch a session while the others catch a music set and then you can meet up and get some food together. The learning project is really meant to inspire everyone. You’re not getting that at any other music festival – whether it’s an inspirational culinary experience or little pop-up demonstrations.”

6. Despite Its Las Vegas Location, L.I.B. Doesn’t Typically Bring Out the Party Animals

“It’s really not that kind of festival,” Doherty said. “It’s not that crazy type of environment.”

Music

Get Acquainted with Singapore’s Indie Music Scene Through the Eyes of Rock Band Pleasantry

May 7, 2015

Photo credit: Marilyn Goh

Photo credit: Marilyn Goh

When I think of Singapore, indie rock isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but as shoegaze band Pleasantry proves, there is a thriving American-style music scene in the Southeast Asian country.

 The five-member group, who opened for Belle & Sebastian and Caribou earlier this year, is excitedly making its way closer to the states, playing overseas for the first time at Canadian Music Week tomorrow. The band (Samantha Teng, Isa Ong, Ahmad Ariff, Daniaal Adam and Haziq Hussain) will be in the company of big names, including Death Cab for Cutie, Colbie Caillat and Kiesza at Toronto’s big event. They’ll be touring in the U.S. directly following their trip to Canada.

Daniaal, the drummer for the band, chatted with skyelyfe about the club and music scene in Singapore, some American musical influences and Pleasantry’s sound – airy voices layered underneath swirling instrumentals.

Read on to get to know Pleasantry and check out their debut album Synapses below:

skyelyfe: How did the band name come to be?

Daniaal Adam: We were trying to come up with a band name that fit our sound at that time. “Pleasantry” was one of the first few names we thought of after we collectively described our music as pleasant.

SL: What is the music scene like in Singapore, and who are some of the most popular artists?

DA: The music scene in Singapore is relatively small, but there’s no shortage of talent. Everyone knows each other and supports one another at shows. There’s just so much love around, which is great to have! The music scene here has been progressing over the last few years as more local artists and bands take their music more seriously. Some of our favorites are .gif, Gentle Bones, ANECHOIS & Charlie Lim. But there are really so many other great ones worth mentioning!

SL: Which artists popular in America do you listen to? And who do you look to for musical inspiration?

DA: We love so many. We consume as much American pop culture as you guys do in America! All of us listen to quite a variety of music. I know some of the guys love Broken Social Scene, Givers, and American Football. I personally love Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, and The Mars Volta. I’d say each of us draw inspiration from fresh sounds and whatever pushes the boundaries of music.

SL: What are the most popular clubs for good music in Singapore and what is the scene like?

DA: Well, it depends on what you define as good music. There are a lot of clubs in Singapore that play EDM and house music. But our favorite has to be the Blujazz Cafe along Arab Street. It’s basically a three-story venue that has jazz playing on the ground floor, electronic music on the second floor, and indie bands on the third floor. Great food, drinks and vibes. It’s usually packed on Fridays and the weekends.

SL: How did you get into the shoegaze sound?

DA: At one point, we all played in our own shoegaze bands. Isa and Ariff were in a band called Amateur Takes Control. Haziq still plays in a shoegaze bands called ANECHOIS, and I used to play in an instrumental post-rock band called Lunar Node. So when we all came together with similar musical backgrounds, it was natural to have elements of shoegaze in our music.

SL: Anything else you can tell my readers about Singapore, music, the band or anything else of interest?

DA: Yes! For starters, a little bit more about ourselves. Isa and Ariff are currently in University finishing up their degrees. Haziq is an engineer and a big football fan. Samantha is working in a bank and loves fashion. And lastly, I am a marketing executive at a music label and a huge soccer fan. This upcoming North American tour will be our first time touring as a band and we can’t wait to play for you guys!

Photo credit: Ash

Photo credit: Ash

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Music

Alison Wonderland, Gorgon City, Avan Lava & More: New Music Monday, 4.6.15

April 6, 2015

alison-wonderlandWoooo, it’s the kickoff to the week of Coachella weekend one, and today’s featured New Music Monday artist is none other than festival performer Alison Wonderland, whose stage name is as legit as her fashion sense. The Aussie DJ/producer’s latest track “Run” is fab and sums up the exact sound I want to hear as I frolic through the field in the next few days.

Following in the Coachella theme, I am also a big fan of fellow festival duo Gorgon City‘s new song “Imagination,” featuring Katy Menditta on vocals.

Additionally on my radar this week is one of last month’s SXSW acts Avan Lava, a regular favorite on this site. The Brooklyn-based indie-pop trio just released their long-awaited Make It Real EP, and “Take This City” is my favorite from the six-song selection.

Also on this week’s list are additional site repeaters Death Cab for Cutie, Late Night Alumni, Ookay and The Erised. But I had to be sure not to leave out Robin Schulz, Evan Voytas, Golden Coast, the Acorn and Boxed in, who also had some stellar new material this week.

Happy listening, and be sure to check back on Wednesday, when I’ll be posting my playlist of Coachella 2015 artists worth seeing at the festival!

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Music

Death Cab for Cutie, Ne-Yo, Toro Y Moi, Twin Shadow & Much More: New Music Monday, 2.2.15

February 2, 2015

Death-Cab-for-Cutie-Black-SunGiven the disappointing music selection in 2014, it is a relief to hear a consistent slew of songs I enjoy this year.

This week’s New Music Monday features Death Cab for Cutie‘s broody “Black Sun,” some heavy drum ‘n’ bass by Wilkinson and Fritz Kalkbrenner‘s loungey “Void.”

Ne-Yo released Non Fiction, his first album since 2012 – and I’ve got Milo Greene‘s new compilation Control on repeat. Also, rising artist Devin K combines the perfect blend of sophisticated vocals and piano to create the sexy “Move.”

Check out a playlist of 15 new tracks below, including fresh sounds by Toro Y Moi and Twin Shadow:

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