February 2016 has been as unpredictable as Kanye West’s demeanor. One minute, it’s too-cool-for-school; next thing you know, there’s a meltdown. As a snow bunny, I prefer the former. I’m not prepared to handle the heat, so I guess as they say, it’s time to get out the kitchface. (For those of you not in the know, that’s a portmanteau of “kitchen” and “Kanye-West’s-resting-bitchface.”) Without further ado, here are five wintertime wonders, an indie playlist offering to the snow gods, as I pray for just one more blizzard this year.
1. Cold Water – “Wolf Willow”
Haunted by country howls that drift in and out and brim with nervous tension and dark poetry, this track is immediately reminiscent of True Blood’s eerie theme song “Bad Things.” The howls of Cold Water’s Canadian frontman Kevin Stebner, however, echo from a barrel-chested voice that’s an entire octave lower than that of fangbanger Jace Everett. Stebner’s rumblings are every bit as gripping as a blast of Arctic air, a tundra chill that glazes roadways, encases trees and powerlines, and freezes listeners in their spot with emotional heaviness.
2. Late Night Alumnni – “Empty Streets”
One of my favorite things to do on winter nights, especially when there’s a full moon after a fresh snow, is to cut all the lights in my house, open the front door, and stare out across the moon-lit hills of Chester Country. In the background plays a Buddha Bar Chill-Out compilation, lingering in the darkest of corners, filling the vastest of spaces. “Empty Streets” is the perfect hushed reverie for such a chill lounge-house soundtrack — listening to its soft-as-snow trance vocals is akin to watching breath crystallize in the winter air.
3. George Ezra – “Budapest”
This spirited indie-rocker will get you out of your blizzard-burried house, making you eager to run outside and greet the surge of snow like a cabin-fever kid with a spankin’ new sled. Spurring your merriment is the song’s feel-good fuzziness, which wraps around like a colorful scarf, adding a layering of sentimentality that’s both playful and snug.
4. Bombay Motorcycle Club – “Carry Me”
With a jangly guitar that’s nearly trombone-like in brassiness, juxtaposed with a distorted dual percussion that’s expanded by cymbals, this experimental clatterer is a fascinating journey from start to finish. Its fidgety textures and unorthodox arrangements excite, while the whirring samples and repetitive vocals soften the edges and spread the sound with ease. “Carry Me” shuttles along at a riveting pace, much like Santa’s sleigh skipping across rooftops.
5. Other Lives – “Tamer Animals”
In the same vein as Fleet Foxes, this indie rock band from Stillwater, Oklahoma taps on the door of grandeur without ever seeming pretentious. Wide-open and ambitious, “Tamer Animals” is pastoral, never straying too far from being fleshed out in organic ways. The song immerses itself in a spontaneous process as its harmonic arrangements paint a vivid wintertide landscape.