It’s that time of the month again. With January comes a new year, a new semester and a new playlist to get us through what is basically the start of a long, cold winter. It may seem desolate, but with the right music it’ll pass by in the blink of an eye. There are some bands that emulate the chill, while others make the brutal weather feel almost vibrant.
To begin, let’s start with an artist who seems to be a jack of all trades in the entertainment world.
1. Childish Gambino
Ah yes, the rap alias of the talented Donald Glover. This man seems to have his foot in almost every aspect of entertainment, from comedian to writer, actor and musician. CG recently released his second album, Because the Internet, back in December. The album’s music has a perfect winter sound because the majority of it was actually written last winter. CG works through several themes in the album, including his struggle with his own identity. Is he Donald Glover or Childish Gambino? Is he either, really? CG also wrote a script to accompany the album (which you be read on becausetheinter.net). The album has several tracks that are bound to get your blood pumping, and a few that will tone the room down. Suggested tracks include “3005,” “Worldstar,” “Zealots of Stockholm” and “No Exit.”
2. St. Lucia
South African-born Jean-Philip Grobler is the man responsible for the electronic synth sound that defines St. Lucia. The musician has two EPs and a full-length album, When the Night. Its upbeat tones illuminate the winter and emphasize the brisk air in a brilliant way. This might have something to do with the fact that St. Lucia is a Brooklyn-based musician, where harsh winters are a norm. Recommended tracks include “Elevate,” “September,” “Before The Dive” and “All Eyes On You.”
3. Local Natives
Local Natives have an indie pop sound that Pitchfork described as “afropop-influenced guitars with hyperactive drumming and hooky three-part harmonies,” and that description is pretty accurate. While their sound would also be great in the summer, some of their music creates more somber tones that go well with winter dreariness. I recommend songs such as “Wide Eyes,” “Breakers,” “Heavy Feet” and “World News.”
4. Yung Lean
How does one describe this rapper? Well, he’s Swedish, about 16 or 17, and a very sad boy. Obviously, this rapper boasts some ridiculously weird music. Yung Lean raps about how he and his friends are sad. Yep. The lyrics and music sound like a post-Lil’ B genre, who happens to be one of the Swedish teenager’s influences. Yung Lean raps about various topics, including his drug use and his love for Arizona Tea. Because he’s so sad, his music goes well with this often depressing season. Seriously though, listen to this guy by starting off with some favorites such as “Hurt,” “Kyoto,” “Oreomilkshake” and “Oceans 2001.” P.S., I never get tired of this video.
5. William Arcane
I have to admit that I just discovered this musician earlier this week when I was watching Teen Wolf (screw y’all haters, I’m obsessed with this show). His song “Departed” played during a heated make-out session between two characters (who shall remain nameless at this time in case it spoils the show for any readers) and I fell in love with it immediately. Upon further research, I found that Arcane’s dark, synthy beats are excellent for January. Besides “Departed,” other suggested tracks are “Safety,” “Not the Only One” and “Paradigms.”
6. Now, Now
Formerly known as Now, Now Every Children, it’s almost guaranteed that this Minnesota-based indie rock band was born to make great wintery music. I love them at any time of the year, but listening to their music on my cold morning walks to class helps me appreciate the bitter chill a little more. Vocalist Cacie Dalager’s voice is beautifully soft and soothing, which makes me envy and love her all the same. My favorite songs include “Little Brother,” “Wolf,” “Prehistoric” and “Sleep Through Summer.”
7. Silversun Pickups
I started listening to this band in winter, which explains my association. Silversun Pickups have been compared to several other bands, notably The Smashing Pumpkins due to their distorted guitar sound. This band has created their own unique sound that’s guaranteed to mellow listeners out to its smooth jams. Classic Silversun Pickups songs include “Panic Switch,” “Lazy Eye,” “Draining” and a new song called “Cannibal.”
Most people will recognize this eighties alternative band by “Where Is My Mind,” a song Fight Club made famous. But this band has so much more to offer music lovers. Several genres influence their sound, including indie, psychedelic and noise rock. The band came out with new music in 2013 on an EP appropriately titled EP1. EP2 and EP3 are both expected to come out sometime this year. “Indie Cindy” is a recommended song from EP1, along with classics “Here Comes Your Man,” “Monkey Gone To Heaven” and “Wave of Mutilation.”
9. The Knife
Of course the Swedes know how to write wintry music. This synthpop duo produces a dark ambient sound that captures the feel of cold winter nights. This band defined their sound with unique musical production and the variety of songs they’ve created throughout the 2000s. Suggested songs are “Heartbeat,” “Still Light,” “Pass This On” and “A Cherry On Top.”
One more Scandinavian band to add to the group is none other than Röyksopp. This Norwegian electronic duo has been producing their trip hop/nu jazz sound since the late ’90s and is still going strong. Their music is ideal for listening to while relaxing at home during this long month. They will undoubtedly put listeners into a trance-like state that is amazing for the soul. Recommended tracks include “Stronghold,” “Electronic Counterpoint (Milde Salve),” “Across The Graveyard” and “Keyboard Milk.”
What are your January jams? Let us know if you check out these songs in the comments, or let us know what you think @SpeakeasyMag!