Playlist: Late Winter Songs #MusicMonday

Monday, February 03, 2014

Now that we're in February, we are in what I like to call "The Worst Time Of Year." February all-too-often seems like the armpit of the winter -- nay, the year. Though it's the shortest month of the year, it magically manages to seem like the very longest.

But that's what playlists are for, and I subscribe to a very certain type of music during these molasses-like months of winter: sleepy-but-hopeful songs. There is, truthfully, very little difference between the songs I enjoy for fall and the songs I enjoy for late winter, except for one thing: fall songs are allowed to be melancholy, but there is none of that allowed in February.

Without further ado, here's what I'm listening to this February ...

"Once," Laura Marling
Okay, this is a pretty depressing song. But sometimes when you're down in the dumps, you don't want to hear about happy people in their happy lives. This Laura Marling song is about, in a few words, losing one's innocence. But the melody, and especially the chorus, is sluggishly hopeful, even if the lyrics aren't.

"Winter Winds," Mumford & Sons
"But if your strife strikes at your sleep / remember spring swaps snow for leaves / you'll be happy and wholesome again / when the city clears and sun ascends." Need I say more? Mumford and company get it.

"Northern Lights," Allo Darlin'
Now we're talking. Here comes the upbeat stringed instruments I'm so fond of listening to to keep me warm and ... upbeat. Have we noticed a pattern of England-based artists yet? I'm particularly fond of listening to English artists in the dead of winter, and I can't figure out why. And it's definitely not because England knows its fair share of gloom, because trust me -- the U.S. knows it better during the winter months. I think it's something about the general honeyed mood and languidness of English singer-songwriterly music that fits this season so well.

"Warm Water," Banks
Here we have an artist who was signed by a London-based record label before she was signed to one in her native U.S. "Warm Water" is another song that has the ambience of amber, but Banks' California upbringing adds a splash of West Coast laidback-ness. It sounds like Haim before sleep.

"Limit To Your Love," James Blake
"Limit To Your Love" is similar in message to Laura Marling's "Once," but it takes a very different approach in storytelling. This is song for the turn of winter to spring, at least for me. It infuses a house beat into its otherwise dark, wintery melody, and thus calls upon visions of cool clubs in Miami ... or maybe not-yet-warm Berlin.

"Middle Of The Bed," Lucy Rose
This one's for the stormy, grey remnant days of winter. The ones that pop up in April between true, "balmy" spring days, like a sneaky uninvited guest at a wedding. You've got cabin fever and want nothing more than to pack away your unraveling knit pom-pom  hat, your water-logged mittens and salt-stained boots. But you can't, not just yet.

"Oh Juliet," Joel Crouse
A late winter playlist is not complete with a generic country song, because country songs most often have the uncanny ability to lift one's mood. Even if it's full of clichés about breaking Juliet's heart like this one is. Plus, there's a nice moody electric guitar in the song's break.

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