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Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Staff Recs: Best Albums for Fall
From left to right, clockwise: “Lush” by Snail Mail, “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, “Magic Potion” by The Black Keys and “Collection” by Soccer Mommy. (via

“Lush” by Snail Mail

Ryan Mikel, Arts Editor

I am not going to lie: I fell in love with the album “Lush” when I discovered Snail Mail early last spring. I was lucky enough to witness the 19-year-old Lindsey Jordan in a South Congress Street dive bar as part of the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX. The voice behind the moderately successful indie hits “Thinning” and “Static Buzz,” Jordan’s gargantuan talent is finally backed by more robust studio production in the debut studio album. Songs like “Stick” were given a makeover and nine new tracks like “Full Control” create of a perfume of nostalgia, reminiscent of anyone’s happy place, which for me, is New York City in the fall. “Lush” is truly the soundtrack of fall. Songs like “Golden Dream” and “Deep Sea” represent Jordan’s growth since her raspy alto days on YouTube and Band Camp. The band’s lyrics –– “the morning bleeds into the golden dream” –– provide a compelling accompaniment for early morning strolls through Washington Square Park as the sun pierces the rapidly changing sycamore trees that throughout the park. For stagnant morning walks braving early winter wind chill, songs like “Pristine” and “Heat Wave” add some bounce to your chilly, lethargic step. Lyrics like “And we can be anything, even apart and out of everything, it doesn’t have to be this hard, I could be anyone” are pure poetry and elevate a vanilla Monday to the level of a leave encrusted Autumn strolls as seen in classic New York films like “When Harry Meets Sally.”

“Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

Daniella Nichinson, Arts Editor

Autumn is a bittersweet season; it’s the transition from the warm summer rays to the cool winter winds. There’s no better album to bask in this passage than the folk stylings of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence.” Many of the duo’s melodies are imbued with melancholy, but perhaps none more so than the record’s first track, “The Sound of Silence.” The poignant lyrics lament the loss of human interaction in the face of superficiality. They sing, “People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening” to signify that in this artificial and commercial world, people have forgotten how to communicate with one another. The words were written more than 50 years ago, but hold true now more than ever. In “Leaves That Are Green,” the track most explicitly reminiscent of fall, Simon & Garfunkel present the inevitable passing of time. Green leaves will turn brown, another year of life will pass, love will fade away and everything will eventually end. It’s a simple tune, but the weight of its lyrics pervades your body to the bone. The final song “I Am a Rock” is a fitting close to an album that wades through sadness. The speaker has “built walls” around himself, shielding himself from the pain that feelings bring. The duo sings “I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died, if I never loved I never would have cried.” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” is a harrowing album no matter the season, but listening to it as you walk down streets riddled with fallen leaves as the brisk autumn air stings your cheeks elevates the profound state of sadness.

“Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes

Nicole Rosenthal, Music Editor

About the same time that I break out the scarves and heavy coats from the back of my closet, a telltale sign of the upcoming brisk weather, I break out my folk-rock Spotify playlists. From Bon Iver to Bob Dylan to Ben Howard, there is something so very autumnal about an acoustic guitar and a powerful voice. Yet, the album that immediately screams both fall and nostalgia would be Fleet Foxes’ second release, 2011’s “Helplessness Blues.” With songs like the vibrant opener “Montezuma” and the fiddle-infused “Bedouin Dress, the album is chock-full of iridescent harmonies and lavish guitar instrumentation. However, my favorite track on the record remains the penultimate “Blue-Spotted Tail,” an acoustic track with tranquil vocals that blend together into a beautifully simplistic ballad. As vocalist Robin Pecknold hums through the track, followed by gentle guitar strums, the listener is painted a vibrant picture of hanging lights in the night sky. It is the intricate themes of nature and subdued vocals, paired with earthy instrument textures and organic harmonies, that make this the ideal fall record. As you exchange your T-shirts for sweaters and swimsuits for parkas, I urge you to listen to this Fleet Foxes masterpiece. Fall might just not be complete without it.

“Elephant” by The White Stripes

Guru Ramanathan, Film & TV Editor

From that opening riff on “Seven Nation Army,” The White Stripes’ “Elephant” album is a heart-pumping, foot-stomping, fist pumping rock and indie fusion. As temperatures drop, the winds pick up and leaves turn color, autumn often signifies an era of new beginnings for me, particularly because it coincides with the start of a new school year. While a fresh start is exciting, I need some good music to help me tackle new challenges. An album I often turn to is “Elephant.” All the songs on this album are great to jam to but also give me the unique feeling of getting ready to conquer the world. It makes me feel confident and comfortable and also ready to pick up an electric guitar and rock out. “The Air Near My Fingers” and “Hardest Button to Button” are especially evergreen rock classics that are extremely underrated in the White Stripes oeuvre.

“Collection” by Soccer Mommy

Alex Cullina, Books & Theater editor

This mini-album by Nashville native and Steinhardt dropout Soccer Mommy is exactly what I need as the days get shorter and the temperature falls. Its lo-fi aesthetic and lowkey vibes — a simple, gentle guitar line, her voice soft and tinged ever so slightly with sadness — are perfect for the season. As the leaves start to change hues and drop, the sweaters come out of storage and we sip warm cider, our thoughts shift inward, hopefully, to new beginnings. The singer-songwriter (Sophie Allison) is known for her work that’s sensitive, tender, and thoughtful, but there’s also an an emotional complexity there, an edge that makes room for bitterness and anger alongside the sadness. It’s perfect for this time of year, one that can be lonely and dark, but also cozy and comforting.

“Magic Potion” by The Black Keys

Ali Zimmerman, Deputy Arts Editor

Music by The Black Keys is the type that makes you want to throw on a vintage leather jacket, chain smoke hand-rolls and maybe buy a motorcycle. And whether or not I’ve ever actually achieved that fall aesthetic, it’s definitely how I picture myself when I walk through the streets in November jamming to “Magic Potion.” Throughout the album, the guitar is bluesy, jolting and injects enough energy into the tracks to shake you out of your sleep-deprived stupor on the way to class in the morning. Dan Auerbach’s crooning but fuzzed-out vocals give the album a haunting edge of winter feel, especially on softer tracks like “The Flame,” an anxious, slow  song underscored by heartbreak. “Magic Potion” stays true to distinctive Black Keys sounds with a more somber finish perfect for the weather.

Email the Arts Desk at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Ryan Mikel
Ryan Mikel, Arts Editor
Ryan is the Arts Editor and a culture reporter at Salon. He studies Journalism and Cinema Studies in CAS, with hopes of owning A24 or Penske Media Corporation some day. A native of Kentucky, Ryan was drawn to art for its exposure of the world around him. He has previously written for Out Magazine and interviewed the likes of Sean Baker ("The Florida Project") and Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird"). Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @are_why_ayy_in.
Daniella Nichinson
Daniella Nichinson, Arts Editor
Daniella is the co-Arts Editor and is studying Marketing and Creative Writing, but lately has gone through the utterly clichéd phase of life known as an “existential crisis.” In her mind, it is still the 1970s because Pink Floyd reigns supreme and Jack Nicholson is a heartthrob. When Daniella abandons the delusions of her own mind and returns back to 2018, she enjoys writing, playing tennis, and absorbing all the film and music she can find. Daniella loves a good chat, so strike up a conversation about the best Italian film, why “The Wall” is a better album than “Dark Side of the Moon,” or how Freud’s theories aren’t that far-fetched, and you won’t be disappointed.
Nicole Rosenthal
Nicole Rosenthal, Music Editor
Nicole Rosenthal is the Music Editor for WSN and a dual Journalism and Psychology major. Born and raised on Long Island, Nicole has always enjoyed listening to music and attending concerts in nearby New York City, making playlists which include everything from the B-52's to BROCKHAMPTON to Bon Iver. She has written for several music blogs and news publications and is currently an editorial intern at amNewYork. Outside the realm of music, Nicole spends her free time binge watching true crime series on Netflix, hunting down new Brooklyn coffee spots and writing creative fiction.
Guru Ramanathan
Guru Ramanathan, Under the Arch Managing Editor
Guru Ramanathan is a senior in Tisch majoring in Dramatic Writing. Born in India, but living in Boston for most of his life, he was initially very confused by the lack of Dunkin’ Donuts in New York City but grew to love Starbucks' hot chocolate. Guru lives and breathes film to the point where every other thing he says is probably a movie quote, and he was also a tennis and piano player for 10 years each. If you ever need to find him he will probably be writing something on the seventh floor of Bobst or the Dramatic Writing department’s half of the seventh floor in Tisch. Follow him on Instagram and listen to his podcast, “The Passion Project.”
Alex Cullina
Alex Cullina, Theatre & Books Editor
Alex Cullina is the Theatre & Books Editor for WSN. A native Clevelander, he is a junior studying English and History in CAS. Growing up in Ohio before coming to New York, he's very defensive of the Midwest, despite its many (many) flaws. Beside keeping up with the best in new film and TV, you can often find him curled up with a good book or the latest issue of The New Yorker.
Ali Zimmerman
Ali Zimmerman, Deputy Arts Editor
Ali Zimmerman is the Deputy Arts Editor for Washington Square News and a sophomore in Liberal Studies. She is from New Jersey but swears it’s not as bad as you think. In her free time she enjoys watching cartoons and making obscure “Portlanida” references, and she can probably be found people watching and pretending to do homework in her latest favorite park. Ali loves listening to music and talking about music, and will happily fangirl over Lorde with you at any time.

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