As per 2011 and 2012 – and every other year prior to the birth of the ‘shell – I always delight in the first pretty months of winter and the chance to match “comfort” music to the early cold sweeps. I’m not crazy about the frigid months following December 25, but if winter cottage excursions and spiked coffee are in store, I have no problem stretching this playlist past the holidays. Every season needs a soundtrack, even if it is just to warm us up while we wait for it to end. Here are a few handfuls of old and new songs to get you through the brisk days and cozy nights:
In the Wind – Lord Huron: When this album came out last year, I felt like my musical prayers had been answered. Honestly. Everything about the quintet’s unique blend of folk-rock was exactly what I had adored in single songs off other albums from the genre; yet, on Lonesome Dreams, the eclectic and rootsy beauty was spread across all 11 numbers.
This Charming Man – Stars: I still remember the first time I heard this cover – over TEN years ago. Even then, I loved that these Montreal indie-rock veterans took the bouncy Smiths classic and stripped it down to groovy, lounge music basics.
The Horses Are Stuck – Jordan Klassen: If you ever went through a Gary Jules or Griffin House phase the way I did in my early teens, Vancouver’s Klassen will satisfy your craving for more heartfelt, hushed chamber-folk on his new album Repentance.
South Dakota – Magic Man: Although this Boston-based group have just released a new EP, it was this twinkly 2011 single that laid the foundation for their gorgeous, Postal Service-reminiscent synth-pop future.
Cruel – Head and the Heart: The majority of H&TH’s new album is comprised of fireside-ready songs like this one – ranging from jangly Americana to melancholy country ballads that will warm your heart. It’s music for everyone.
Down to the Sea – Elephant Revival: Although they’ve been around since 2006, this Colorado crew are not yet a household name; something that might change with the release of their 2014 folk-rock album and more instrument-packed anthems like this one.
Saturday – The Clientele: Stressed about your shopping list? This swaying wayback-playback should do the trick in quieting your head.
Here Comes The Night Time – Arcade Fire: So far this winter, I’ve hit the town with good friends, strong drinks and this hot-off-the-press funky Arcade Fire song in tow – and I can vouch for it killing any winter blues.
Ghosts – National Parks: Off the trio’s debut album, “Ghosts” is a sweet indie-folk ditty that I predict Lumineers and Of Monsters & Men fans will devour in no time.
Next Year – Two Door Cinema Club (RAC mix): This cute little electro-pop remix is a sugary treat for a time of year spent reflecting back, and looking forward.
The Last Time I Saw Richard – Clare Maguire: I’ll admit that I never thought anyone could do this Joni Mitchell classic justice. But, that was until I heard this 26 year-old Brit’s minimalistic take on it. Her soulful vocals and the gentle pulse of the piano keys are nothing less than sublime.
Songs My Love Can Sing – Doug Paisley: A little organ, some fluttering chords and Paisley’s raspy, heartbroken drawl amount to a sweet country story on this brand new spin.