Warm Songs for Cold Months

Warm Songs for Cold Months

With the upcoming arctic blast heading our way, it’s one of my favorite times of year: that time when we can take a little staycation and hunker down inside in the warmth. As we gear up for the cold, as always music is there to guide us through the night. Here are some of my selections for top-notch winter tunes this year.

1. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Vol. 1
First released back in 2010, this is the ultimate DIY project from British musician Kevin Starrs. Pressed on vinyl for the first time this year, Vol. 1 is a screaming, freewheeling, Black Sabbath-style love letter to twisted, fuzzed-out psychedelia. Having finally been given the professional attention it deserved, the recently released LP sounds amazing on the turntable, and it’s an amazing record that blisters the ears and melts the brain.

2. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Polygondwanaland
The fourth album out of a potential five this year from the demented Aussie septet is an earth-shaking, primeval foray into scorching deserts, dinosaur-filled jungles, churning green oceans, floating castles, and the otherworldly unknown. The music itself is towering, majestic, and precise. The return of the acoustic guitar to the Gizzverse is a welcome reunion, as it races the flute up and down the lead melody lines, while the gorgeous synths and boiling rhythm section wrap it all up in a surprisingly warm cocoon. Bombastic, pensive, and filled with influences from krautrock, drone rock, and blistering psychedelia, it’s another feather in the cap for Stu Mackenzie and Co. From colossal album opener “Crumbling Castle” to the beauty of “The Castle in the Air” to the Tool-meets-Can groove in “Searching…” to the blazing and triumphant closer “The Fourth Color”, Polygondwanaland finds King Gizzard at the top of their game, breaching the atmosphere and soaring to another galaxy.

3. Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic
Look, if you’re not already aware of Steely Dan’s greatness, go take some time and get familiarized. Back? Good. As one of the group’s finest albums, Pretzel Logic is simply a flawless jazz-pop record. Featuring the highest charging single from the writing duo of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”), once the record starts the very idea of stopping it is absurd. From all-out ‘70s funk in “Night By Night” to soaring, uplifting vocals like “Barrytown”, and of course the absolutely gorgeous “Any Major Dude Will Tell You”, Pretzel Logic stands as some of Steely Dan’s best-loved work, and a terrific album to break the spell of the cold hard months ahead.

4. Black Moth Super Rainbow – Dandelion Gum
This is one of the most intriguing albums I’ve ever heard, and one of the most unique bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. Flying under the radar, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s laid-back concoction of vocoders, acoustic guitars, drill-bit keys, and dripping synthesizers makes for a supremely chilled-out listening experience. Songs like “They Live in the Meadow”, “Sun Lips”, “Rollerdisco”, “The Afternoon Turns Pink”, and of course the magnum opus “Forever Heavy” exemplify bandleader Tobacco’s penchant for 8-bit style analog sounds that break somewhere between old-school Nintendo games and electronic psych rock. Put this one on when you want to retreat from the cold to a sun-soaked meadow with a yellow sky and a hazy technicolor mist shrouding your senses.

5. Ween – Quebec
This has been my favorite winter album for quite some time. The tone is dark and moody, like a cold night around two in the morning. The subject matter throughout the album is personal and gut-wrenching, combined with some of the most achingly beautiful material Ween ever recorded. As is usually the case, this record is best listened to straight through, preferably with low light and candles burning. Gener and Deaner run wild creatively here; the music is all over the place, from shifting and ominous to straightforward and upbeat, dusky and overcast to nebulous and expansive. I have yet to find an album that can equal the moods this music evokes, especially at this time of year.

Hopefully some of these tunes can warm your heart throughout the cold months ahead. I for one look forward to spending nights cozy in the living room with my dogs and fiancée, fighting the freeze with some hot tunes. I hope there is something in here that you can enjoy as much as I have. Happy listening, and stay warm!

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