October 11, 2013

(amen.) – the Fuel/Friends Autumn Mix 2013


The “amen” title of this year’s seasonal autumn mix is not a reverential reference to the mix itself, but a word that rose up on its own in two different songs, unplanned as I made the playlist. In the same way that 2011′s (super sad; sorry about that, guys) mix congealed into its own theme of rivers, bones, empty beds, and gospel backing vocals, this year’s mix took on a theme of richly robust strings and the word “amen” popping up all over.

First, there is the amen at the end of Volcano Choir’s “Alaskans” — a sampling of Charles Bukowski reading his poem The Shower, and struggling over the final lines, ending with “amen.” Then a few songs later, Tyler Lyle wends his way to another kind of amen — a blessing of sorts, as he sings about youth and aging and wanting to live forever.

Of all the words I could have lifted out of a song to name this mix, that one word “amen” seems to fit the most. Fall always feels like a bit of a benediction to me; a closing thank you and fiery brilliant last gasp to what the summer was, a preparing for the thick silence and the warm wool blankets of winter.

(amen.) – The Fuel/Friends Autumn Mix 2013

While You’re Carrying The Weight – Patrick Dethlefs
Patrick is one of Colorado’s best gems, and this song is the title track off his new EP. There is a weighty, elegant compassion radiating through it, and it makes me somehow grateful – and breathless.

The Shining – Badly Drawn Boy
While the amens were accidental, when I started listening for this mix to coalesce, I wanted all of the songs with the strings, and that bluish-purple shine that could look like either gathering twilight or a healing bruise.

Alaskans – Volcano Choir
This album, all of it: flawless soundtrack of this season. I picked this track narrowly over “Byegone,” but it was suuuuper close. Ultimately it was the heartbreaking Bukowski sample that did it for me, because: CHRIST.

Amsterdam – Gregory Alan Isakov
Perhaps it is because Colorado totally wins autumn-time, what with all our yellow aspens and such, but this mix this year is especially dense with Colorado songwriters. Greg is obviously one of our finest; everything he makes, for me, is redolent of this season. From his stunning new “rambler’s folky manifesto” album, The Weatherman.

Barside – PHOX
All the time, still cannot get enough of Monica’s honeyed voice. Their chapel session is in the pipeline, and I can’t wait to have more music from them to listen to. This song feels like falling asleep sitting up.

Small Plane (NPR garden version) – Bill Callahan
There is a simple, stark straightforwardness in this song from Bill’s new album Dream River, a view of relationships with others that I find real and appealing. “I always went wrong in the same place / where the river splits towards the sea,” he confides, but then the lyrics delve into a mutual wresting of control from each other. All those different paths our lives could follow; “I really am a lucky man.”

My Search Party – Covenhoven
Joel Van Horne of Colorado named his new musical project after his family cabin, Covenhoven, in rural Wyoming, and created an independent symphony of a record around the concept of that place for him. This song stopped me in everything I was doing when I first heard it. I still draw in my breath sharply and hold it for the whole first verse.

Salt Year – Chris Bathgate
I’m just choking on a salt year, when sugar’s all I’ve longed for. I should live in salt for leaving you behind. Mixed metaphors, same ideas, terrific song.

Silent Passage – Bob Carpenter
This is a song from the early Seventies that I’d never heard until recently, and I think I hear Emmylou Harris on backing vocals? Golden sun, long roads, and a restless spirit, this song.

Young Men (demo) – Tyler Lyle
For my money, this young man is writing some of the very very best songs right now: wry and clever and believing and wide open, all at once. We just want to live forever, we are sorry we will never, amen.

Come On, Illinois – Houndmouth
A calescent, fast-rising band from Kentucky that makes me want to watch Last Waltz a few more times. I saw these guys in Boulder this summer and, man, for some fresh-faced kids, they can joyfully wail with the best of ‘em.

Rules Of The Game (b-side) – Typhoon
I still want to wrestle out what the new Typhoon record means to me (hint: a lot), and how seeing them live recently was one of the most jaw-dropping shows I have seen in years. But for now — we will sit quietly and soak in the loveliness of this song which could totally be an a-side but is a b-side because Typhoon has more talent than they know what to do with. This song fits seamlessly in to White Lighter, even repeating melodies and certain turns of phrase.

The Drugs Don’t Work – The Verve
This classic came on shuffle recently and those STRINGS. I have it on repeat so many days lately. I will always love the lyric, “and I hope you’re thinking of me / as you lay down on your side.” So …simple. A heartbreaker, this song.

The Orchids (Psychic TV cover) – Califone
I saw Califone the other night in a little coffee shop near the railroad tracks in Colorado Springs. I had never heard much of their music before, just knowing them by reputation mostly. I sat there with an awed half-smile on my face the whole time, hand touched to my lips, an unsettled and deeply-pleased feeling on me all at once, in the best possible way.

Mine – Spirits of the Red City
Spirits of the Red City has been haunting me pleasantly for a few months now. Originally a loose collective from Minneapolis, but now sort of related to Denver by blood (since Denver’s Collectible Records just released their new record Jula), we welcome them.

Dying Now – Noah & Abby Gundersen
One of the finest, truest duos together, this brother and sister detonate the emotional heavy artillery, but make it so smooth that you almost don’t notice until you look down and a chunk is missing.

To Place Me On A Stone – Will Johnson
Kinda in a Will Johnson phase these days, fittingly, obviously. Solo vocal evening worksong; closing hymn for the summer having its way with us.

Ghost, Again – Rayland Baxter
My friend Jon recommended I listen to this artist, and whoaa I am so glad I did. Close your eyes for this one, and just let it pierce through. “I nearly made it to the end of the road.”

3 Rounds and a Sound (iTunes session) – Blind Pilot
I recently reminded myself how this is a perfect album, and this is an exquisite version of a perfect song. “I hope we dance tonight before we get it wrong / and the seasons will change us new, but you’re the best I’ve known, and you know me.”

Can I Sleep In Your Arms Tonight (Willie Nelson) – Phosphorescent
I’ve been laced-in with fast, tight stitches in a Phosphorescent cocoon lately.
This song is on here rather than the completely, abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous version of “Wolves” from St. Pancras Church that is coming out on the bonus live disc for Muchacho (Oct 29) for two reasons. One, all of us can agree that autumn is the best time to start up that snuggly sleeping-in-someone’s-arms business, aside from the sticky summer heat. Two, I am so not able to write about Wolves right now. So many thoughts. Preorder that bonus disc and we will talk later.

In the meantime, snuggle with Matthew Houck and Willie under that quilt. It feels good.


[cover art design, as usual, by the tremendous Ryan Hollingsworth, from my picture last weekend at Mueller State Park, aspen-gazing.]


  • I LOVE your mixes Heather! So looking forward to popping this on during my trip tomorrow!

    Bethania — October 11, 2013 @ 12:28 am

  • Heather, your mixes never fail to hit the spot. Please never stop doing what you do, for you are awesome at it :-)

    Thom Lyons — October 11, 2013 @ 12:41 am

  • amen to this playlist

    laurel — October 11, 2013 @ 1:08 am

  • Today is my birthday, and this is probably the best (non-backed good) gift I’ll receive. Thanks, Heather!

    UnicornWrangler — October 11, 2013 @ 5:19 am

  • Er, “non-baked good”… birthdays are no time for proper spelling.

    UnicornWrangler — October 11, 2013 @ 5:19 am

  • I have been listening to this mix since 5:45 AM this morning.
    It’s now 9:05 AM
    I think I like it.

    KD — October 11, 2013 @ 7:04 am

  • your autumn mixes make the whole year better.

    ben — October 11, 2013 @ 8:15 am

  • Like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Opening Day…one of my favorite days of the year is upon us. Thank you as always for your dedication to this site. Happy Fall!

    Jonathan — October 11, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  • Oh God that Typhoon B-Side – thank you so much! (Pretty much my favourite band.)
    An amazing playlist.

    Love your work Heather!

    Jacob — October 11, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

  • Yes Califone!!!! Super psyched for this mix :)

    Jessie — October 11, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  • I can’t stop listening to Typhoon’s new album. I hope there are more b-sides to come!

    Lynn — October 11, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

  • Great mix. I am pretty sure Houndmouth are from Indiana, though, not Kentucky. Those guys are solid

    Jeremy — October 14, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  • Our taste in music is so similar that I’d like to think I could make the calibre of mixes that you routinely spin. Then I snap back to my senses and subdue my unbridled optimism. A thousand thanks for sharing your love of good music and your sense of wonder at it all.

    Anne V. — October 14, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  • Heather, you have outdone yourself again! What a great Mix, enjoying it here in South Africa where it is Spring. Hope you manage to get Kyle and the team from Typhoon back into the Chapel some time and make sure they play Postscript – those strings make me weep! Look forward to your review of White Lighter. I ordered it on glorious white vinyl and it has been on repeat since it arrived across the ocean.

    Anton — October 18, 2013 @ 1:35 am

  • Such a good list, will be listening over the next few days, thanks! Volcano Choir is taking over everything, everywhere. Justin Vernon is crazy.

    Michael Trieb — October 18, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  • [...] best way to start your week? With the fall mix that Heather from Fuel/Friends put together (and posted a few weeks ago and I forgot to link to, so, you know, whoops/sorry/better [...]

    Monday Links | songsfortheday — October 28, 2013 @ 9:17 am

  • I want to second what Anne V. said. We all talk the talk but you get this shit done.

    I don’t know if it was you that turned me on to the Gundersens, but their harmonies are amazing. They do a cover of my favorite Ryan Adams song, ‘In my time of need’ that will make your day. (youtube it)

    jon — November 1, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  • [...] just downloaded the (free) Fuel/Friends autumn mix “Amen,” we’re off to brew with family and there’s a delicious smell of fresh spent grain bread [...]

    Tree crushes and tiny spookies | BS in the Midwest — November 3, 2013 @ 11:00 am

  • [...] just downloaded the (free) Fuel/Friends autumn mix “Amen,” we’re off to brew with family and there’s a delicious smell of fresh spent grain bread [...]

    Tree crushes | BS in the Midwest — November 3, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  • Phew, what an emotional rollercoaster ride. Your autumn mixes were always my favorite, sorry other mixes :), your first one even ranks among my favorite mix tapes by anyone ever

    Christof — December 27, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  • This compilation looks great. Thank you for taking the time to put it together.

    Yenson — August 6, 2015 @ 3:06 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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