Sure, there are plenty of songs about winter. Between those seasonally inescapable Christmas carols and the preponderance of “Let It Snow”-type chilly charmers, there’s no shortage of odes to the supposed magic and mystery of the winter season.
But they don’t really capture the spirit of winter, do they? Jack Frost doesn’t concern himself with the oppressive sleet, harsh winds, and insidious black ice of the winter we have to live through each year.
Here then are ten songs to play while you’re waiting at the bus stop, trying to keep snow off your laptop case and wondering why you didn’t just move to Florida like your grandma said you should.
10. Sally Shapiro – “Anorak Christmas”
Finally, a wintry song you can dance to. Actually, just pick up the 2007 album from which this track comes, entitled Disco Romance. Before long you’ll be belting out Sally Shapiro songs in the long, hot showers you take after spending the morning shoveling show off your driveway.
09. The Emeralds – “Double Helix”
Beneath the cold, electronic surface of this song beats a pensive heart with an unabashed love for all things ambient and experimental.
08. Radiohead – “Kid A”
Have you heard of this band? They’re from England and they make super-cool rock music equal parts guitar-based and synth-driven. The title track from their seminal 2000 album is eerie, sad, and heartbreaking, like a child’s tricycle half-buried in the slushy snow covering your neighbor’s front lawn. Heads on sticks sold separately.
07. Grouper – “Wind And Snow”
Grouper makes hazy, reverbed, ethereal folk-pop music. Imagine if you downed a bottle of cough syrup and listened to the Cocteau Twins (please don’t actually do this).
06. The Shins – “Young Pilgrims”
God, I played the hell out of Chutes Too Narrow back in high school. Join James Mercer and “Watch the ice melt on the glass” while you listen to the sister song to their classic “New Slang.” I kind of like this one better, actually—but maybe that’s because Garden State didn’t ruin it for me.
05. Au Revoir Simone – “Another Likely Story”
This shimmering mid-tempo ballad from these Brooklyn-based synthesizing ladies is the first track off their 2009 album Still Night, Still Light. It’s gorgeous, as is the entire album. You might start crying when you listen to this song, but you’ll also want to hear it again and again. Oh, beautiful pain.
04. Beach House – “I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun”
Okay, so this song is indeed about winter, but this mp3–released as a gift to their fans–follows the undeniably excellent Teen Dream and deserves mention here for that fact alone.
03. Sun Airway – “Infinity”
These Philadelphia-based psychedelic dream-poppers released their debut LP, Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier, in October of last year, but the album’s just gotten a UK release—and it provides the perfect soundtrack for checking your local public access channel to see if you have a snow day.
02. The Knife – “From Off to On”
Shed your gay apparel and brood to this icy meditation from the Swedish pop duo’s critically acclaimed 2006 album Silent Shout.
01. Biosphere – “Poa Alpina”
If there’s one thing they know about in Norway, it’s the cold. But as Geir Jenssen proves, the Norwegians also have a firm grip on the delicate art of abstract ambient music. His seminal 1997 album Substrata not only sounds like the whiteout conditions of the worst Scandinavian blizzards, but more impressively, it makes them sound tender, engrossing and weirdly beautiful.