Fuel for fall feelings
By Bex Peterson, Editor-in-Chief
There are some people who claim that autumn doesn’t start until September 22. These are the same people who insist that winter doesn’t start until December 21, only two days before Christmas. These people are wrong and cannot be trusted. Fall, in my opinion, starts in September after the last heat wave of August finally breaks. It starts when you pull out your light sweaters and jackets from their dusty closet exile. Fall is, essentially, a mood—and it just so happens to be one of my favourite moods, one that I like to wrap myself up in like a cozy plaid flannel.
With all this in mind, here are some of my favourite pieces of media for the season. Grab your pumpkin spice latte, light those cinnamon apple candles, and cozy up with these games, shows, and albums to fully embrace this most wonderful time of year.
Over the Garden Wall (2014)
This animated TV series should be at the top of anybody’s list for amazing autumn media and is still my go-to if I really want to sink into the fall mood. Half-brothers Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean) find themselves lost in a mysterious forest and encounter many strange adventures with stranger characters on their journey home. There are only 10 episodes in the series and at 11 minutes each, it’s about the equivalent time commitment of a feature-length film. Wirt and Greg’s adventure seems to span the breadth of fall experiences, from early September environments to the first bite of winter. I’ll personally be saving this series for a little further into the season, but if you’re looking for something quintessentially autumn, I can’t recommend any other piece of media higher than this one.
Life is Strange (2015)
If we’re looking at media that captures the back-to-school college feeling in a unique way, the game Life is Strange fills that niche perfectly (though the story does take place in October). The plot follows 18-year-old Max Caulfield, a photography student at a prestigious art school who discovers she has the ability to rewind time after witnessing a murder. The victim of the killing that Max prevents with her newfound powers turns out to be her childhood best friend, Chloe Price, whom she reconnects with to solve the many mysteries of Arcadia Bay—such as the disappearance of Chloe’s friend Rachel Amber, the troubles of fellow student Kate Marsh, and Max’s visions of a massive storm destroying the town. It’s a perfect balance of private school mystery, artsy indie aesthetics, and spooky atmosphere best played on golden September afternoons and rainy October nights.
Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (1978)
In terms of deeply obscure personal favourites, this concept album is certainly up there. Mingling readings from H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel The War of the Worlds with ’70s prog rock, disco, and a full string orchestra, the album tells the story of the Earth’s invasion by hostile Martian forces. Richard Burton plays the primary protagonist and reader, the Journalist, in the original album—though a recent remaster features none other than Liam Neeson in the role. The music is absolutely amazing; the energizing string overture of “The Eve of the War” sets the dramatic tone perfectly, though my personal favourite tracks are “Forever Autumn” and “Thunder Child”. Both the original album and the 2012 remaster are available for listening on Spotify. It’s great for long road trips, the fall commute, or a very strange listening party with friends.
Gravity Falls (2012–2016)
This animated series provides a great transition from summer to fall with a lot of spooky content thrown in. It’s a pretty well-known show but if you haven’t heard of it, the plot centres on twin siblings Mabel (Kristen Schaal) and Dipper (Jason Ritter) Pines as they spend the summer with their great uncle “Grunkle” Stan (Alex Hirsch). The looming evergreens and eerie atmosphere of the Mystery Shack bridges the gap from summer to fall perfectly, with episodes such as “Summerween” fully copping to the mixed aesthetics. If you’ve never seen the series before, it’s good fun for a September weekend marathon; if you have seen it, this is the perfect time to pick your favourite episodes for a quick rewatch.
Night in the Woods (2017)
I can’t sing the praises of this indie game enough. I played it twice over this summer, eager to explore every aspect of it top to bottom to discover all its secrets, though in truth it’s a game best played in fall for the full effect. A Night in the Woods follows Mae Borowski, a college dropout (and anthropomorphized cat) who returns to her hometown of Possum Springs, a dying former mining town. Within a few days of her returning home Mae starts to realize that there is something deeply wrong with her hometown. With the help of her friends Gregg, a rebellious leather-clad fox; Angus, Gregg’s intellectual boyfriend (and literal bear); and Beatrice, an abrasively disillusioned alligator; Mae investigates the source of the darkness at the heart of Possum Springs, coming to terms with her own difficult past in the process. Though Halloween doesn’t exist in the universe of Night in the Woods, there is a Harvest Festival at the end of the first act that serves as a good in-game analogue. The game is funny, eerie, and at times deeply heartbreaking, and it’s definitely worth playing late into the night by the flickering glow of candlelight.
The Five Ghosts by Stars (2010)
This album always brings to mind gloomy, rainy October and November afternoons, and is perfect easy listening for such times. Though “Fixed” was a staple of Canadian radio when the album first came out and “Dead Hearts” has been used for many a dramatic moment in TV shows over the years, I feel like many of the other songs off this album have been somewhat slept on since its release. Ranging from playful to sombre, ethereal to gritty realness, the album brings to mind dying leaves, short days, and long, long nights. I personally recommend “The Passenger”, “The Last Song Ever Written”, and “The Dead Beg for More” off the bonus EP The Séance.