Pumpkin Spice Life—The Coziest Songs for Autumn

Midterm season is stressful. So stressful that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that autumn is one of the best times of the year. Toronto only gets more beautiful when the temperatures drop and the leaves change colour. And we’ll take any chance we can get to break out our scarves, sweaters, and, while this writer isn’t one for pumpkin spice, some hot drinks. While we love the sound of crunching leaves, we suggest listening to our contributors’ favourite autumnal songs when you’re curled up inside on a cool day with a good book (or more likely, your class readings).

Hozier – “Cherry Wine”

Hozier may seem like a one-hit wonder with the huge success of “Take Me To Church”, but his self-titled album is a treasure trove of beautifully written songs. On “Cherry Wine” he uses soft melodies and delicate acoustic guitar, transforming one of the most lyrically depressing songs I’ve ever heard into a sweet, autumnal-sounding love song. Listening to this song makes me want to grab a cup of spiced apple tea and sit in front of a fireplace while reflecting on non-existent unrequited love. — Hazel Sands

The Swell Season – “In These Arms”

Coming from personal experience, cooler weather tends to bring out the cuddliest (and often times, more romantic) parts of people. If, however, you are like me and find yourself married to your work, I suggest you find the nearest pillow or non-feral animal and hug it for just a little too long while you enjoy the sweet, sweet harmonies of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. — Jennifer Hyc

Keane – “Somewhere Only We Know”

I would argue that Keane’s entire debut album, Hopes and Fears, is just one cozy autumn song after another, but the ultimate one is “Somewhere Only We Know”. It might be because of their multiple references to nature in a way that can only be possible during the autumn (in what other season do you feel branches of fallen trees looking at you), but I think it goes much farther than that. The song comes off as a constant dialogue between change and nostalgia, both in the lyrics and the music, making it that much more beautiful. Tom Chaplin’s voice is both urgent and longing as he aches for an intimate connection and a past that was so much simpler, asking “Oh simple thing, where have you gone?” and “this could be the end of everything”. I feel like autumn is a time when we all just want to take a break from everything, and this song makes that escape a reality, even if it’s just for four minutes. — Yasmine El Sanyoura

Wilco & Billy Bragg – “Remember the Mountain Bed”

From the Wilco and Billy Bragg collaborative album Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, this track embodies autumn with its ingenious Woody Guthrie lyrics that transport you to a world of earthy sensations and tender companionship. This, paired with Jeff Tweedy’s raw, and emotionally accessible voice, makes the track a must for any autumn playlist. — Emi Hunt

Hiawatha – “Dogs of War”

When the leaves have fallen, the wind is cold, and Queen’s Park is as barren as your midterm-riddled soul, Toronto duo Hiawatha serves as the perfect soundtrack for those chilly cross-campus treks. Accenting warm and wonky synth chords with falling-star leads, “Dogs of War” is the sound of self-winterization, carrying you in the arms of its steady pulse. — Marko Cindric

The Roots – “You Got Me” (ft. Erykah Badu)

When people talk about autumnal music, hip hop doesn’t usually come to mind. But “You Got Me” is as mellow and nostalgic as it gets, making it perfect for the season. The back-and-forth storytelling between Black Thought, Erykah Badu, and Philly rapper Eve depicts a romance strained by long distances and a busy school schedule. And given how U of T tends to kill relationships, it’s probably a story many of us can relate to. But Ms. Badu’s mellifluous singing, Questlove’s godly drumming, and a resolve to make everything work out in the end makes this hip hop ballad a comforting one. — James Li

Thievery Corporation – “Heaven’s Gonna Burn Your Eyes”

Okay, so it’s not 1995 and liking trip-hop isn’t cool anymore. I get it. But if you’re trying to relax after a long day, set the mood for a highbrow party, or just make it through midterm season without a nervous breakdown, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything smoother than the rubbery strings and effervescent keyboards of this Thievery Corporation track. Put it on loop, curl up by the grand fireplace you don’t have because you’re a broke college student, and power through that term paper. If you’re left wanting more, just put on the rest of The Richest Man in Babylon – most of the tracks on the album are perfect downtempo study jams. — William Goldie

D.ear – “Draw You”

Are you a soulless student kicking the leaves while you stroll down St. George underneath a darkening sky? Or are you still in Starbucks, surrounded by notes, wishing your coffee from four hours ago was still hot? D.ear is the cure to your October blues. If you can’t get cozy with another living, breathing being, then let this song give you that warm hug your heart needs. The teasingly sweet piano and jazzy drums will guide you to that happy place. Don’t forget to take a deep breath when the strings swoop you up and D.ear’s voice cradles you in bed of soft harmonies.  — Rachel Evangeline Chiong

You + Me – “Gently”

If someone had told me a few years ago that P!nk and City and Colour were going to make an indie folk record together, I would have laughed but low key wished it to be true. And then the impossible happened. Alicia Moore and Dallas Green formed the duo You + Me last year, and in October released their debut album, Rose Ave. This album was supposedly composed in a weeks time, and really captures the joy of two friends making music for the sake of music. This song itself is a personal favourite. I’m a sucker for a good acoustic guitar melody, and having that paired with this duos emotionally stunning lyrics and vocals really captured my heart. It’s definitely my favourite sweater weather song, and I found myself returning to this track (and album) as the leaves began falling this season. If this track inspires you to check out their entire album, then I’ve done my duty. — Savana James

The Flatliners – “Birds of England”

This song will always remind me of the autumn. In late September of 2013, Dead Language had first leaked.  I was in the first semester of my final year of high school. Being my hometown’s local favourites then, the cool melodies of The Flatliners could be always be faintly heard in the hallways of my high school. When I hear this song, I distinctly remember the familiar stress of grades and university applications while indulging in the seniority of being in my last stretch of high school. “Birds of England” washes a slow wave of adolescent nostalgia over me every time I listen to it, sparking memories of football fields and gloomy skies I was so eager to leave, though I now find myself tapping into these memories almost every fall. — Dora Boras

Cathedrals – “Harlem”

My favourite part of autumn has to be the juxtaposition of crisp cool air mixed within a  feeling of nothing but warmness. I get the same sentiment when I listen to “Harlem” by Cathedrals. The layering of the vocals on this track create this inviting, yet subtly haunting effect that I love. The addition of repetitive lyrics and a prominent bassline really cement these feelings for me. When I listen to this track, I picture myself studying in a nice warm sweater with brightly coloured leaves falling outside my window. I also find myself listening to it more in the dying months of the year rather than when the sun is out shining. With “Harlem,” it is not really what the song is about that evokes this for me, it is really just the overall effect that coincides with the changing weather. — Samantha Capaldi

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