So it’s winter. It’s cold, it’s dark, the sky is grey, the SAD syndrome excuse is being banded about and the chunky knits are out in full force. But it’s not all bad.
The upside of winter for me is that some music finds its home in this season. Someone once told me they loved The Cooper Temple Clause, but could only listen to them when it was a grey day. I knew what they meant.
A walk or drive in the cold, with a really affecting piece of music playing loud, is maybe the best thing about winter for me. If there is snow, even better. I love nothing more than walking through deep snow playing Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) by Arcade Fire while staring at that strange orange colour the sky goes.
In the same way Let’s Go Surfing by The Drums benefits from being played whilst driving in the sun with the windows down, some music is enhanced when the surrounding world is bleak and uninspiring. That isn’t a slight on the music at all, its just obvious some music doesn't fit a sunny day. Kate Bush’s new album is one I look forward to putting on if it snows this year, I'm not sure I'll put it on at a BBQ though.
If music was put into a colour spectrum, wintery, washed out earth tones would almost definitely be my choices. The soft browns of acoustic and folk, the greys of minimal indie and electronica. I like them all year round, but they resonate most in winter.
So what songs, bands and albums are good for making it through the long dark British winter?
The band that inspired this blog was The National, whose High Violet album I’ve been listening to a lot this winter and did last year. It’s bleak imagery, the baritone vocals of Matt Berninger, the atmospheric, building sound that they create, it all works on a grey day.
A reasonably new album that has also dominated my listening this winter so far has been Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm. It’s a fitting title, and his echoing, whispery vocals and delicate acoustics certainly capture a wintery sound.
Other favourites include the aforementioned Cooper Temple Clause, in particular their second album opener The Same Mistakes, James Blake’s sparse debut, Radiohead’s desolate Kid A, Fionn Regan’s charming The End of History, Bon Iver’s flawless For Emma, Forever Ago, I Break Horses’ Winter Beats (in name and atmosphere) and Warpaint’s dark The Fool.
So enjoy the winter while it lasts, there’ll be plenty of time for Best Coast and Vampire Weekend in the summer.