Sounds for snowfall II: A wintertime playlist

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Sounds for snowfall II: A wintertime playlist

Sam Mwakasisi, Editor-in-Chief

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While the phrase “winter is here” may currently be lost on Mother Nature, there’s no denying that it’s that time of the year, and few things can get you truly in tune with the season like a good song.

Around this time last year, I uploaded a series of music recommendations to get you into the winter spirit, and now, instead of a myriad of full albums, I instead present a playlist of songs built to guide you through a winter’s day and perhaps keep you grounded during finals week.

The playlist is meant to be listened to in order, and is formatted so that every other song will shift between cold-sounding and warm-sounding.

Links to listen to this playlist on Apple Music and Spotify will be included at the end of this article.

I. Songs to Wake Up to

Whether they’re alarms or go-to listens, this pair of dreamy, ambient instrumentals is a perfect way to start your day.

Broken Social Scene, “Capture the Flag”

What does it sound like? An ethereal mesh of beautifully hazy texture, built from synthetic instruments that ebb and flow, linking hands with a section of horns to leap towards a sudden climax.

What does it feel like? Sinking in an oversized baby blue cashmere sweater.

Sigur Rós, “1970”

What does it sound like? An atmosphere of meditative warmth constructed with longing, distant guitar chords and glued together with electronic twinkles that sparkle with character.

What does it feel like? Watching a sun setting from a mountain.

II. Songs to Contemplate to

Put on these songs and watch the snow fall, optional cup of coffee or tea in hand.

Sufjan Stevens, “Lonely Man of Winter”

What is its sound? Subtly layered, chilly indie folk with knit-together acoustic guitar, piano, sleigh bells, and vocals.

What is its meaning? As Stevens contrasts sonic wonder and lyrical melancholia, he paints a bittersweet portrait of winter from the perspective of the jaded adult.

What does it feel like? Going through a photo album of past winters more fond, reliving those memories almost to the touch, but knowing they will only be just memories.

Björk, “Frosti”

What is its sound? An intricate, intimate music box piece with a sense of space and weight that leaves an impression but refuses to wear out its welcome.

What does it feel like? Rearranging a cupboard of your grandma’s favorite spices.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, “Painted Sun in Abstract”

What is its sound? An arrangement of synthesizers and piano driven by a sense of energy that is both pressing and pensive.

What does it feel like? Warm feet hitting a cold wood floor and walking towards productivity.

“Viento_Variation AM_” – Tennyson – warm

What is its sound? Snug, cute, and energetic ambient techno that pulls human atmosphere from an undeniably robotic maelstrom of beeps, whirs, and clicks.

What does it feel like? The tiny little robot friend you’ve perhaps wished you could have making you breakfast.

III. Songs for Passing By

These songs are best fit for casual commutes.

milo, “zen scientist” (feat. Myka 9)

What is its sound? Soft, lush hip-hop defined by a mix of airy production and rapping from an emcee with philosophical musings that will make life’s minutiae look enthralling.

What does it feel like? Flying through the streets, six feet above the ground.

Joomanji, “Chasin Rhymes” (feat. Saara Maria)

What is its sound? Warm, soulful hip-hop nestled in a neo-soul ambience of jazzy production, bolstered by a sultry featuring singer.

What does it feel like? Coasting through space on a giant stick of butter.

inc., “Angel”

What is its sound? A soothing R&B blend of sparse, breezy production and breathy, sensual vocals.

What does it feel like? Looking up at the clouds through a BMW sunroof.

Kero Kero Bonito, “Fish Bowl (Frankie Cosmos Remix)”

What is its sound? A gentle, succulent indie pop rendition of a bubbly electropop song that retains its warmth but with a unique tenderness all of its own.

What does it feel like? A song that would play in the vinyl section of a Barnes & Noble.

IV. Songs for Snowball Fights

A set of high-energy tracks for your high-energy needs.

Daft Punk, “Give Life Back to Music”

What is its sound? A combination of smooth, funky disco and trademark vocoder-processed crooning that creates an irresistible groove.

What does it feel like? An alternate universe in which Soul Train was created by robots.

Pogo, “Aye Aye”

What is its sound? Upbeat, straightforward dance.

What does it feel like? A song that would play in the vinyl section of a Barnes & Noble.

Sweet Trip, “Dsco”

What is its sound? A futuristic crossover of glitchy, digitized pop and raw, shoegaze-influenced rock.

What does it feel like? Having a single-person mosh pit in your bedroom.

Broadcast, “Goodbye Girls”

What is its sound? Hypnotic indie-tinted electronica led by crunchy, lo-fi, synthetic production and innocent female vocals.

What does it feel like? A song that would play in the opening credits of a 2007 Ellen Page movie.

Interludes (or, The Rose in Your Cheeks)

After all of this good music, you need a break. Here are two short but sweet instrumentals to help you cool down.

Jeff Parker, “Para Ha Tay”

What is its sound? A conglomeration of loose drums and even looser jazzy keys.

What does it feel like? A song that sounds like it came out at least 40 years earlier than it did.

Little People, “Intermezzo”

What is its sound? A single idea: a downtempo, beat-driven, slightly lo-fi rhythm with a skip and jive.

What does it feel like? Walking home through a bustling city after getting out of work.

V. Songs for Sunsets

It seems like the evening is among us. Let’s soundtrack these pastel skies.

Nujabes, “Counting Stars”

What is its sound? Relaxed instrumental hip-hop led by guitar and strings.

What does it feel like? A good song to do homework to.

Nujabes, “Luv(sic), Pt. 4 (LASTorder Remix)”

What is its sound? Similar to the above song, but with more vibrance and a slightly different take on Nujabes’ production style.

What does it feel like? A restaurant at closing time.

King Krule, “Czech One”

What is its sound? Aquatic, anxious, and wholly soulful jazz-rock.

What does it feel like? Flying over a city, through a dark blue sky, and realizing how lonely it gets up there.

froyo ma, “there”

What is its sound? Quirky R&B with eclectic character that squeaks, squishes, and slides all the same.

What does it feel like? A song an awkward teenager would make for a girl he liked.

VI. Songs for Bumps in the Night

The soundtrack to a dark nightlife.

James Blake, “Overgrown”

What is its sound? Nocturnal, somber, and urban-flavored R&B.

What does it feel like? Traversing a desolate, snowy street several hours past midnight.

Burial, “Loner”

What is its sound? An ethereal seven-and-a-half minutes of brooding house music with an ungovernable spontaneity that makes for a thrilling listen.

What does it feel like? An underground shelter beneath a nightclub.

iamamiwhoami, “Drops”

What is its sound? A fantastical, mysterious atmosphere of rainy, muffled synthpop that is simultaneously danceable and in the midst of an unignorably artistic essence.

What does it feel like? What a distant alien race probably gets down to.

Machinedrum, “Where Did We Go Wrong?”

What is its sound? A haze of ambient noise momentarily pierced through by repetitions of distorted vocal samples.

What does it feel like? Floating in a rapid of violet water.

VII. Songs to Lounge to

Songs with incredible senses of introverted energy containable within the space of a bedroom.

Benny Sings, “We Ain’t Going Nowhere”

What is its sound? Glossy and gorgeous, with an economical yet still effective arsenal of rhodes, drums, and vocals.

What does it feel like? A song that you would play at midnight with five of your best friends cramped on your bed.

Corinne Bailey Rae, “Till It Happens to You”

What is its sound? Velvety R&B/soul headed by beauteous female vocals.

What does it feel like? A song that you would play with five of your best friends cramped on your bed.

Bon Iver, “Beach Baby”

What is its sound? Austere yet affectionate acoustic guitar-led indie folk, accompanied by a heartstring-tugging slide guitar towards the end.

What does it feel like? Reminiscing times gone by.

Justice Der, “Bleach” (Brockhampton cover)

What is its sound? Quiet, and led by an electric guitar with bleeds with passion, no matter how soft-spoken.

What does it feel like? Collapsing onto your bed, turning on a lava lamp, and staring at the ceiling.

VIII. Songs to Sleep to

It’s been a long day. Let’s send you off to sleep in style.

Deru, “1979”

What is its sound? Dusty electronic ambience, with an array of pianos and warbled bubbly sounds punctuating the background.

What does it feel like? Chilling at the very bottom of the ocean.

Radiohead, “Treefingers”

What is its sound? Alien, cryptic, yet nevertheless mesmerizing ambience with a masterful sense of space and encompassing mix that pulls you into a different world.

What does it feel like? Floating in space.

If the above widgets do not work, here are direct links to Apple Music and Spotify.

From everyone at North Star News, we hope you have a successful finals week and a happy winter break.

Featured image by Sam Mwakasisi; components from Pixabay