A simple stroll through the downtown core around what I think of as the “blue” time of night – that 5 o’clock hour when the day dims and lit-up buildings tucked in the sky have never looked better – it’s easy to see that collars are high and boots are zipped on tight. It really is a bittersweet time of year; although the knits are pretty and most of Canada’s favourite sports are gearing up – it can be rather unpleasant for anyone who doesn’t care for the latter items. Which is why I’m a strong believer in seasonal music – sounds to heighten the mood during those brisk walks through a snowy drift or that bundled bus ride across the frosty city. Music that will essentially brighten the season – if not make it just that much more enjoyable. Of course you can expect the holiday essentials out of me at a later date (I’m an advocate for early Christmas tunes, but I won’t push that on you just yet). For now, here are some gorgeous chilly tunes – young and old – to walk you through winter.
1. No Light, No Light – Florence and the Machine: The third single off Florence Welch’s breathtaking new album Ceremonials is filled with hurried harp and crashing instruments – sounds that the giant-voiced crooner has mastered – and is perfect for those fast-paced dashes across town. If you want another massive and flashy Florence song to add to your list, check out one of her older but most heroic songs, “Cosmic Love”.
3. Generator First Floor – Freelance Whales: Don’t you just want to give a gift to this gorgeous ditty? Or warm your hands to it? Orchestrated by a happy-go-lucky banjo loop that flops throughout the youthful harmonies and emo-annunciated vocals, this song really does make your heart sing at this time of year. Especially when the tiny xylophone starts tinkering. My only complaint? It isn’t long enough. So, if you want to prolong the cheer, check out “Generator Second Floor”.
5. Wait – M83: I’ll let you in on the trick to enjoying this one. Put in headphones. Leave house. Press play. Breathe in and out. Walk far. That’s about all it takes to fall in love! Even though Anthony Gonzalez’s coined ethereal pipes call out the words “No time” alongside probably the sweetest keyboard backing this year, this song says quite the opposite to me – there’s all the time in the world once this indie jam comes thundering in at around four minutes.
7. The Ghosts We Knew – Mumford and Sons: True to suit – and why wouldn’t they be – the newest Brit superstars turn another folky page in their hymnal for the insightful soul searcher seeking refuge in the Church of Mumford. Flowing acoustics and wavering vocals lead you towards the beautiful (and typically Mumford) rise mid-song when Marcus shouts “Give me hope in the darkness, that I will see the light” – something everyone needs preached when winter sweeps in.
8. One – Damien Rice (U2 cover): In light of U2’s classic album Achtung Baby turning 20, a number of artists came together under Q to cover the amazing collection of songs. It’s only right that Rice – the minimalist Irish rocker most women envision marrying someday – covers the legendary plea to the world first put forth by social/musical revolutionary Bono. Rice’s simplistic vocals, featherlike piano and guitar are all the song needs to be heard, again.
10. Princess of China – Coldplay and Rihanna: I’ll admit I was severely confused when I let Mylo Xyloto play through for the first time last month, and heard the pop princess’s voice chime in. Unexpected? Yes. Pretty cool? Also yes. On the newest and most electro-infused Coldplay release yet, they asked Rihanna to help out with this sparkly, beat-heavy track that features a whole lot of synthesizer trickery and two-step potential. Martin is known for dipping his toe in all sorts of musical waters (cites Hova as one of his BFFs) – so it’s only natural he picked the Caribbean superstar to join the party.