We don't know about you, but around here the beginning of 2012 has been a doozy. Maybe what the Mayans said is right, or maybe we're just getting all our crazyness out early so we can have a super awesome spring, summer and fall. Either way, it's late January and it's cold. Even on the west coast, it gets dark early and sometimes even rains (oh the horror). In honor of the dead of winter, we put together our top ten favorite wintery tunes. Some of them are actually about winter, others aren't about winter at all, they just remind us of that chilly, slightly sad romantic quality specific to January and February. And then there are the third kind of songs--the songs about how things are going to get better when it warms up, we just know it.
Mumford and Sons "Winter Winds"
"Winter Winds" is just about the perfect embodiment of a wintery song. Between the hopeful, upbeat sing-along refrain, the trumpet, and the lyrics about how everything will get better when the sun comes out, it captures just the right combination of sadness and hope.
Bon Iver "Holocene"
The Bon Iver mythology--that he recorded his debut album "For Emma, Forever Ago" in a cabin in the woods in the dead of winter--has a lot to do with his mandatory inclusion in any list about chilly music. But it's exactly the lack of chill in the songs that makes them truly essential. "Holocene" is almost ghostly, with its layered vocals and quietly swirling instrumentation, like the hush right after a big snowstorm.
The Barr Brothers "Beggar in the Morning"
The Barr Brothers burst onto the scene in the summer of 2011, and then it reminded us of hot slow summer romance, but now it's an exciting reminder that spring fever is just around the corner, which is certainly enough to keep us warm in the cold nights.
Some By Sea "The Winter Rush"
Some By Sea are from Washington State, so they have the double wammy of having cold winters but not snow so much as wet, all the time. "The Winter Rush" is about going on a picnic in the wintertime, and the simple guitar laced verses correspond to the violin drenched chorus totally speak to our yearning for summer.
The Mountain Goats "Dance Music"
Ok, so, yes, "Dance Music" isn't actually about winter at all. But it is about escape, and about getting away from what's bad by throwing yourself into the things you really love. Sure, sometimes it's bad to flee from reality, but everyone has to have something that's totally and completely their own. Also we listen to a ton of The Mountain Goats in the winter, so now you know a little secret something about us.
The Horrible Crowes "Behold the Hurricane"
To us, "Behold the Hurricane" sounds like flying. From the warmth of Brian Fallon's enormous voice to the rich layers of Ian Perkins' guitars, it's a perfect song for forward motion. In the cold months, it's so easy to get bogged down, and to feel small, but with the help of gigantic songs like this one, you can always remember to remain awake and alive.
Said the Whale "This Winter I Retire"
Said the Whale's "This Winter I Retire" is one of the most accurate descriptions of the malaise that one inevitably wakes up to more mornings than not in the winter. It's pretty depressing, but the fact that this tune is so damn bouncy makes it a little more bearable.
Cults "You Know What I Mean"
Many of Cults songs, but "You Know What I Mean," in particular, remind us of slowdancing at a high school dance. It was always really hot in the gym on those nights, and you would change out of your winter boots and into your high heels, and try and forget the snow for a little while. Everyone should have a slowdance in the wintertime, we think.
Nada Surf "No Snow on the Mountain"
We've been listening to the new Nada Surf album "The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy" on repeat since it came out yesterday, and this song was, honestly one of our inspirations for putting this whole list together. It's about dreaming, and wishing and hoping, all things we do a lot of in the winter time, and about how eventually you have to just let go.
Bayside "A Long December"
This is the classic dead of winter super depressing anthem of the 90's, and here we have it reworked by Bayside. We thought we'd close out this list with a real mood killer, please forgive us. But know that pretty soon you'll be getting snuggly spring fever playlists and we'll be a lot less cold, promise.