With the release of a new album Bonfires On The Heath by the Clientele and things taking a rather wet Fall turn in my part of the world, it inspired me to raid my record collection for things that would accompany the mood. Now, the Jayhawks once titled an album Rainy Day Music, yet I don't consider their sound to be especially partial to days when you have to wear your slicker. However, as you will see, several new 2009 releases do qualify as wonderful albums to take back to bed with you.
And to the inevitable wiseguy who thinks 2112 belongs on this list. I'm sure it does. I'm sure it does.
The Doors: Contractual obligations aside, The Doors belong here simply for the fact that Robbie Krieger's guitar often sounded like raindrops dripping off your windshield. Try "I Can't See Your Face In My Mind." Their earlier psychedelic era is best for pure rain sounds, though it was "Riders On The Storm" from their final album with Jim Morrison that gave radio DJs the idea what to play.
24) The Apartments: Peter Milton Walsh doesn't just make music that sounds like melancholia. It IS melancholia when you read the lyrics and discover that life is getting provably worse by the moment. Thanks, Pete.
Simon And Garfunkel: Early Paul Simon solo albums work just as well. But adding ol' Artie to the mix gives Simon even more range to write. Whether it's "The Sound Of Silence" (also known as "The Sounds Of Silence") or "The Dangling Conversation" or "Leaves That Are Green," you get the strong urge to grab the comforter and hide. Unless you live in southwestern United States, in which case you have no idea what any of this column is about and should continue to wear your sunblock and rollerblade.
22) Joni Mitchell: Especially the music she recorded at the piano, since the piano is an indoor instrument. You can't take it outside with you. Unless you're John Lennon, then anything is possible. Start with the album Blue and work from there.
Astronaut Wife: A band from Minneapolis with THREE women in their promotional photos, which should mean there are three women in the band, however, I've seen plenty of album covers where an awfully nice looking young lady who has nothing to do with the band is looking all pretty and tricking you into thinking she's in the group. Why this should affect anything to do with the actual music you're purchasing is beyond me. But I think some guys buy albums thinking they'll one day meet these people and begin living with them. In any case, start with the tune "Disco Lights" and work from there. I've recently read they've reunited, which must mean they were broken up. Doesn't anyone stay together anymore?
20) The Cure: If anyone's music could get you "un-laid," it might be the Cure. I mean, all that whining and complaining. You keep that up and she might just take it back! With the Cure, it isn't just bleak and depressing. There's a chance the apocalypse is on its way. Or maybe it'll turn into freezing rain and we'll have an Ice Storm on our hands.
Joy Division: If any one band has convinced me that it rains far too often in England, it's this one. An entire country based on Seattle?
18) Joe Pernice: Colin Blunstone albums make great gifts, but Joe Pernice is cranking them out at a quicker pace and writing his own tunes to boot. So you need someone to sing sweet lullabies? Look no further than this former Scud Mountain Boy. Tissues sold separately.
Magnolia Electric Co.: OK, Jason Molina should never be allowed to name a band. His previous outfit was known as Songs: Ohia. I can dig the colon. Very underused in comparison to the umlaut in rock n' roll, for sure, and Songs: Ohia recorded a truly dreary album called Didn't It Rain. Molina has brightened up a little these days, but not enough to break out the sunglasses.
16) Alasdair Roberts: A former member of Appendix Out, Alasdair Roberts now has a solo career where it sounds like he's searching all of Scotland for his missing sheep. He sometimes adds electric guitars and other modern instruments, but he mostly sounds like he'd like to go back two centuries and fetch his own water.
Fairport Convention: With Sandy Denny and Richard "Sunshine" Thompson, it wasn't just the fact that they shot their album covers in coats and sitting on leaves that conjures up images of the Fall, but any band who use traditional British folk songs eventually sound like they're singing in the rain.
14) Mark Knopfler: Dire Straits sang about the water an awful lot. Unlike the Beach Boys, they didn't always sound like they were having a great time of it. Solo, Knopfler's been all over the place, but is at his best when he, too, is singing traditional melodies where love is lost and stolen his umbrella.
Palace Brothers: Will Oldham, aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy," can be a seasonal guy when he wants to be. "No More Workhorse Blues" includes the sound of thunder, which was either really happening when he recorded--did he wait for the right day? - or thrown on afterwards in one of the more unusual overdubs for an album. Sounds like real thunder in realtime, but you never know.
12) Billie Holiday: Lady Sings the Blues? Well, she didn't invent them, but she sure knew how to make it sound overcast.
Belle & Sebastian: Scotland sure has a lot of great musicians tucked in its tiny little spot of the world. A half-dozen or so of them are in this band, or were in this band. Their retention rates aren't what they should be, considering their level of success.
10) Hope Sandoval And The Warm Intentions: I think Hope Sandoval once fell asleep while I was trying to interview her. Can't say I didn't expect it, considering how slow and hypnotic her music can be. She was once in Mazzy Star where she "out-slowed" David Roback. That may not sound like much to you, but believe me it is. Her latest album, Through the Devil Softly, is as its title implies.
Espers: A psych-folk band from Pennsylvania, where you've got a friend, Espers play dreary folk music that sounds like they've taken their Fairport Convention and mixed it with Led Zeppelin III and then decided they don't care if no one else listens because they're digging it no matter what you say.
8) Montgolfier Brothers: No, not the guys who pioneered the hot air balloon in the 1700s! But a duo--Mark Tranmer, Roger Quigley--who have recorded the kind of greatly moist music that makes people buy "imports" over domestic releases. And just to mess with us, claim a THIRD member--Otto Smart. Hey, you can always find them on MySpace!
Richard Hawley: Once a member of Pulp and now a solo artist who releases one masterful album after another--Truelove's Gutter is the latest--Richard Hawley lives in a land of overcoats, where raindrops will not deny him style. Americans attending outdoor sporting events could probably learn a lot from this man.
6) Nick Drake: Nick "Cabrio" Drake is a non-living legend at this point. Now as much a part of the depressed-college-student curricula as any other sad-sack you'd care to mention.
The Clientele: The Clientele are a modern day band who sound as if they wish they'd invented rain. Is there any bigger or better endorsement?
4) Miles Davis: Miles Davis recorded a ton of music. Much of it very different. But if you start with Kind Of Blue, the jazz album owned by people who don't own jazz albums, work through Blue Moods and, say, In A Silent Way, you'll have enough music on hand to weather a multiple-day storm.
Scott Walker: Yeah, "It's Raining Today" is the tip-off. Sometimes I think he'd be best heard with the Xmas lights spinning, but that's such a short amount of time to enjoy someone who can be broken out throughout the year to make everything a little more weird and dismal!
2) Brookville: Andy Chase of Ivy just released another solo album, Broken Lights, under the name Brookville, which admittedly sounds like an upscale furniture store but is actually an extremely cool and dour alibi that would vastly improve your life should you make its acquaintance.
Carpenters: "Rainy Days And Mondays" should be the ultimate tip-off. But everything Karen Carpenter sang had a twinge of stormclouds in it. Or maybe I just remember hearing it all when I was stuck inside on a rainy day and I couldn't get together with my friend Kenny to throw rocks at each other.