Monday, December 13, 2010

We ain't seen nothin' yet...

Winter Streets Vancouver by Brian Simons
So, we haven't exactly seen the fluffiest and most picturesque introduction to the winter season yet. We've had more of the sleety, ugly stuff that doesn't moderate the plunging temperatures and makes it easy to despise the month of December. But, I refuse! I remain optimistic that the times will change, Mother Nature will beautify the city streets, and soon enough I won't want to hop the next plane to Aruba every morning when I set foot outside at the outrageous hour of 7:00 am.

My first installation of winter songs were essential, but only a mere warm-up (ironic word choice) to what everyone needs to be playing this season. I've got my winter song collection on full blast at this point, and have learned that it's a grand help when trying to persevere through the dark mornings and brisk evenings at this nippy time of year. The songs I mention may seem to follow a warm and lovey pattern, but, despite the universe's attempt to make me otherwise, I can't help it - I'm just a big ball of love who feels that these glowing songs can light up even the darkest and coldest of times.

I hope you get the chance to light a fire beneath your inclement little abode with more of this winter playlist, and survive the worst that is yet to come!

 1. I Love You 'Till The End - The Pogues: No explanation needed really. One of my favourite and most timeless songs from the vault, it says everything us cold-blooded humans sometimes aren't able to say - except with an irish accent and breathtaking instrumental simplicity.

Paris lights
2. Paris - Friendly Fires (featuring Au Revoir Simone): I realize it's an unlikely track for this frigid time of year, because it sounds like it's fit for a night at a European rave, but nonetheless I highly associate this song with the cold weather. It's glam and sparkling persona resembles that of the Eiffel Tower alit, office tower lights shining in the cold night sky, and flashy New Years dresses swaying against snowy white legs on a Friday night. Au Revoir Simone's juvenile moan against the pumped-up trance beat of Friendly Fire's original is incredible. The empowering, neon build-up is enough to make any woman out there brave the dastardly cold with lips painted red and sky-high heels crushing the snow of the weekend winter streets.

3. Baby, You're My Light - Richard Hawley: A precious sweetheart croon meant for some sort of 1960's snow ball, this lovely ditty is straight off a snowflake covered cobblestone path. The chiming bells and swaying guitar alongside Hawley's happy words will literally warm your heart as you hang your lights, and for just a second, life will be as easy as pie.

4. Blood Bank - Bon Iver: A darker and more honest piece, Justin Vernon's lyrics stall time with his words hanging like the fog of your breath in the still air of a stalled car. The reminiscent, questioning tone in Vernon's voice is unlike many others, and will raise individual questions in all that listen. "I'm in love with your honour/ I'm in love with your cheeks," he aches in this acoustic guitar-driven blend of harmonies.

5. Skinny Boy - Amy Millan: Stars female front Millan lays it out on the table with this recording off her solo debut Honey from the Tombs. A mixture of waltzing acoustics and echoey vocals make up this starry-eyed track about a school girl longing for someone unattainable, despite knowing that when it's done she'll "drink champagne to the lonely."

6. Colours - Hot Chip: "Colours are what keep me alive," chirps quirky electropop lead singer Alexis Taylor before The Cure's "Close to Me" beat kicks in with the fluorescent finger-snapping melody. This song is light-hearted and fun, exactly what you need when you're hopping snowbanks and dodging snow plows.

7. The Ghost in You - Counting Crows: One of my favourite Counting Crows songs of all time (which many people oddly seem to have never heard), this song is like an acoustic candelight poetry reading, progressing from verse to chorus and back again with complete ease. Originally an 80s pop hit by The Psychelic Furs, Adam Duritz's pained cries will strike a chord in any lump of coal heart, because the incredible lyrical revelations read like classic English literature: "All the papers lie tonight/ Falling over you is the news of the day."

8. Real Love - Regina Spektor: Our favourite Russian-New Yorker builds the beauty of this gorgeous John Lennon classic with a broadway-ballad voice and angelic classical piano. Without bells, whistles or any copycat agenda, Spektor honours the heavier original with her pixie voice and elegant keys, fitting it for any introspective walk in an empty, snow-covered park.

London City Lights
9. Babylon - David Gray: This track is an instant smile, a blast from the past, a claim of clarity. "The love that I was giving you was never in doubt/ Let go in your heart/ Let go in your head/ And feel it now". Gray's London drawl and twinkling acoustic guitar build a case near this time of year - inspiring all of us to let failures be forgotten and resolutions be kept.

10. I Hear The Bells - Mike Doughty: Let this fun and triumphant one march you across the city as the first signs of winter set in. Doughty's falsetto story recognizes the onset of the season, calling out for the girl of his dreams in a candid and upbeat manner that calls for people everywhere to join him for a party in the streets.

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