It's been in the single digits, teens, and twenties in Louisville for the past couple of days which has been infuriating, but also reminded me that it's high time to praise albums that sound the best in the cold. I'm a pretty firm believer in listening being determined by weather and emotional state (or desired emotional state). So, now that I'm not in sunny Southern California, I've had a chance to relisten to some of my favorite cold weather albums.
1. Sufjan Stevens - Greetings from Michigan the Great Lake State
Steven's first masterpiece is fine for cold mornings going to work or driving around on a sunny clear cold day with nothing to do. It's the instrumentation that makes this one work for me. The xylophone crackles when it's cold. Since it's not as spare as Seven Swans, there are times when you may feel that the winter is playing along with you. And just by the time you've made it thru "Oh God Where Are You Now?" into "Vito's Ordination Song" it feels like the weather's about to turn and spring is on its way.
2. Sparklehorse - It's a Wonderful Life
"Little Fat Baby" now there's some good winter listening. Put it together with "Gold Day" and the warm strums on "Piano Fire" and you've got not only a great album, but one that makes the best of days where you're bleary eyed going to work and it's not even light out. This record is totally intoxicating from beginning to end, including the Tom Waits' guested "Dog Door." It won't start a dance party, but it'll get you home from one.
3. Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
So, it's freezing balls, you wanna meet up with some people but you don't know where they are. That's cool, Yo La Tengo's got your back. For folks who don't know about Hoboken, NJ's own, this is where that I tell them to start. It helps if they start on a brisk Feb. night after meeting a girl they like and trying to run into her without seeming creepy. Then, you'll get the hang of it, friend.