Albums To Get You Through: Winter 2018

Albums To Get You Through: Winter 2018

Well, it’s that time of year again: winter is here, and will get worse before it gets better. The cold and darkness tend to take it out of a body from time to time, and every now and then it’s necessary to take a break and recharge in the soft glow of a salt lamp with some warm, soothing music playing to relax the mind and relieve the muscle aches. Hopefully some of these albums can provide that moment to catch your breath.

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1. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Until the Hunter
One of the all-time great works from Mazzy Star frontwoman Hope Sandoval, Until the Hunter is a woozy, sedated trip through wintry woods: from the meandering, aimless opener “Into the Trees” to the crashing psychedelic closer “Liquid Lady,” Sandoval’s narcotic voice and delicate, crystalline compositions paint a sonic portrait. Perfect for those three-in-the-morning moments spent in quiet contemplation, drifting off into the void.

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2. Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
Renowned virtuoso of all things laid-back, Kurt Vile, dropped his latest LP earlier this year. True to form, it’s laced with bright, clear-eyed guitar and Vile’s elliptical, winding vocals. His storytelling and playful demeanor are sure to induce a grin, possibly with eyes closed and head nodding. The luminous production and his rambling, sauntering vocals give off a wonderful shimmer and a hopeful atmosphere, warming the bones in the dead of winter.

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3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – IC-01 Hanoi
One of the most consistently surprising bands in the new echelon of neopsychedelia, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s IC-01 Hanoi was recorded entirely in its namesake city, and the vibe is plainly evident in the humid, monsoon-style free-flowing nature of this collection of tunes. From quick bursts of sloshy, frenetic urgency to colossal epics of free-form avant-garde jazz fusion, the heat is palpable and immediate. A nice quick scorcher to blaze as the sun goes down on another cold night.

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4. Wooden Shjips – V
Combining melodic drone with glittering psychedelia, Portland’s Wooden Shjips delivered V this summer, and it has the unique distinction of being just as appropriate for the snowy nights as the hot summer days. The fuzzy effects are enveloping and the reverb-soaked vocals and dancing lead guitar lines soar over the rock-solid bass and drums, in a supremely melodic and welcoming swirl of colorful, tasty jams. Great for driving to work or walking through the snow to clear the head.

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5. Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples
In terms of exciting new music this year, few albums hold a candle to the Japanese group’s newest effort. As they grow and become more of who they want to be, musically speaking, Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese for “geometric patterns”) have taken their blend of psychedelic folk, traditional Japanese melodies, and rock and roll, and launched into the stratosphere. Replete with the dazzling sitar and juicy effects they’ve come to be known for, Masana Temples is a true experience. From moody and brooding to jubilant and ecstatic, the album warms the heart and takes the mind on a trip.

Honorable mentions:

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Wasteland
A crushing, monolithic take on harrowing late ‘60s heavy metal, complete with all the Ozzy-style Black Sabbath indulgence one could ask for: dominating riffs, blazing solos, hair-raising vocals, and a brain-shattering rhythm section. Drifting from chilling acoustic wanderings into gargantuan breakdowns, this is great for the blasted hellscape of the dead of winter.

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Slowdive – Pygmalion
A seminal work of ambient beauty by the British shoegazers, this is another one great for late at night, lights low, maybe a candle burning, with no interruptions. Best listened to in one sitting for full effect. Delicate, sparse arrangements of sparkling effects and spacey, watery songwriting and offbeat sounds with ethereal, wistful vocals. Turn off the lights, sit back, and relax.

Hopefully somewhere in this list there’s some music for everyone to help make the coming winter a little easier. The short days and long nights can be a lot to handle, and every now and then we all need a break. So plug in some headphones, light some candles, get your mind right, lie back and dig in.

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