Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Five: Albums to Survive the Winter

Full of harsh air and hurrying and itchy sweaters and elastic sweatshirts and missing gloves and the walls buckle in the frigid cold and all that's left is a small shack where your tongue sticks to the tin wall and you must share a mattress with mice (see #2).

Winter sucks. Here's five (I mean, six) albums that get us through it...

Bjork Vespertine

There’s just something about walking down the street at night when snow is falling that makes this CD make sense. The hypnotic beats and Bjork’s voice make you feel like you’re in the middle of a Tim Burton movie (one of the happier ones).

---Josh Rank

Modest Mouse The Lonesome Crowded West

This might not be an obvious choice for people looking to cheer themselves up on these all too short winter days--I mean the title alone tells you what you're getting into--but it really does the trick for me. That's because a few years ago, right after I discovered this album, I was living with some college buddies in a house that featured, among other things, rats and no heat.

The winter we spent in that drafty abode was cold and, at times miserable, but we listened to this record a lot while sitting close to the space heater, passing around a bottle of whiskey. I remember those evenings with great fondness, think of all the good talks and doubled over laughter, and I remember Lonesome as the soundtrack to those freezing good times.

Postal Service Give Up

Going home to a cheap apartment in a town that I know, but am experiencing for the first time.

"I've got a cupboard with cans of food, filtered water/And pictures of you and I'm not coming out/Until this is all over."

Cold breath, broken heater and my low blood flow hands holding the steering wheel.

"I wanted to walk through the empty streets/And feel something constant under my feet/ But all the news reports recommended that I stay indoors."

This was the only thing that kept everything in rhythm

Radiohead Kid A

The clicks and beeps used throughout the album contribute to a dream-like feeling that helps you float down the sidewalk as you freeze your nuts off.
---Josh Rank

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start And Nothing is #1

This album has a sly way keeping you interested. Nothing is overly complicated but the songs are layered in complex rhythms. Computery music seems to fit the winter for me but this is an exception. This is a rock album but in a more laid back manner. A perfect album to zone out to while you wait for the weather to warm up.
---Josh Rank

The Walkmen You & Me

"Donde Esta La Playa," the opening track of this record, starts with a cymbal crashing atop a deep bass line. The two together sound like a wave breaking just off the shore, which seems appropriate given that the song is a lamentation on summer having faded to winter, of being stuck at a Christmas party and having to see an old girlfriend with someone else. The memory of the beach and of summer love are obviously heavy, as Hamilton Leithauser sings,"There is still sand in my suitcase/There is still salt in my teeth." But buried in the song is a sense that he's going to try and make the best of the party and of winter because he knows that both will pass. "In the New Year" continues in the same vein as "Donde Esta La Playa," with hopefulness replacing despair. There is certain catharsis in these songs that helps on the cold, short days.

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