Monday, February 02, 2009

Songs for February

Here at Chez Milam, I'm staring a new running feature:

Milam's Monthly Playlist!

At the beginning of each month, I'll post several songs that might fit the mood/climate of that particular season. As Poet Laureate Scott Weiland once said, "So much depends on the weather." Accordingly, the way I experience music is largely affected by the time of year I hear it. For example, I might love Beach Boys' "Do You Wanna Dance." But I only listen to it when the weather's warm and the windows are down. Some music just isn't made for February.

Thankfully, here are 28 songs fit for the coldest, bleakest, grayest, quietest, ugliest, most depressing month of the year. Grab six hot toddies, pop in the headphones, wonder why nobody loves you enough, and revel in the moody blues of...

Songs of February!

1) Fleet Foxes - "White Winter Hymnal"
Quintessential winter music, so hushed and pretty it belongs in a chapel.

2) Simon & Garfunkel - "I Am a Rock"
I don't care what month Paul Simon says it is (December, for the record), finger-picked songs about being insular sound like February to me.

3) The Walkmen - "The Rat"
For a song with such frenetic energy, it still sounds cold. Perfect for driving in a freezing car, pissed off.

4) Feist - "Sealion"
February can be temporarily upbeat, as long as it's still harmonic and spare.

5) MGMT - "The Youth"
I probably associate MGMT with wintertime because this record came out winter '08. Despite the huge arrangement, all their stuff is palpably sad.

6) R.E.M. - "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1"
No clue.

7) Lucero - "The Only One"
I can only listen to this record (That Much Further West) in January and February. This song moves slowly, like the cold months tend to.

8) Ryan Adams - "My Blue Manhattan"
There is a time and a place for Captain Adams' "suicide music." Savor the flavor, because this is it.

9) Elliot Smith - "Needle in the Hay"
Hey, speaking of suicide music... Brilliant, spare songwriting.

10) Iron and Wine - "Sea and the Rhythm"
Iron and Wine's actual genre is called "Acoustic February." Fact.

11) Ingrid Michaelson - "The Chain"
Her best song, methinks.

12) Tom Waits - "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You"
...Depressed yet?

13) Bonnie Prince Billy - "I See a Darkness"
...How about now?

14) Pearl Jam - "Fatal"
...That'll do it. Play this for your Valentine at your own risk.

15) Radiohead - "Morning Bell/Amnesiac"

Nobody does cold, haunting arrangements better.

16) Cory Branan - "The Snowman"
Unreleased gem full of wintry images and post-breakup anger/depression. Equal doses sad and of the best songs Tom Waits never wrote.

17) Harlan T. Bobo - "Left Your Door Unlocked"
As long as we're on the acoustic, post-breakup tip... By the way, if you're desperate for a sad singer/songwriter to ease your February pains (or just reflect them), I can't recommend Mr. Bobo and this record (Too Much Love) highly enough.

18) The Drifters - "There Goes My Baby"
Lest we forget the uber-sad uber-oldies. The lead-vocal is heartbreaking and gorgeous.

19) The Replacements - "Unsatisfied"
A moody playlist without the Replacements? What kind of amateur do you take me for?

20) Band of Horses - "St. Augustine"
Heavy vocal reverb makes its 1,000th appearance on this mix. Why does February sound so much like reverb, acoustic guitar, light piano, and baroque harmonies to me?

21) Death Cab for Cutie - "I Will Follow You Into the Dark"
I didn't want to like this song, but they left me no choice. Quintessential February music.

22) Stereophonics - "Lying to Myself Again"
I can never tell if the Stereophonics are underrated stateside or appropriately anonymous. Either way, this is a rare piano track from them.

23) Bob Dylan - "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
Even The Bob's jangly tunes sound like wintertime to me. "I do believe I've had enough" pretty much sums up my feelings by the end of the month.

24) Wilco - "The Lonely One"
Being There always gets heavy rotation in the winter, and this is its low-point/high-point.

25) My Morning Jacket - "I Will Be There When You Die"
I challenge you to find a more morbid song title.

26) Josh Ritter - "The Temptation of Adam"
Intimate vocals, acoustic guitar, sad and brilliant song about a doomed relationship, complete with cold war imagery? This song is the February jackpot.

27) Ben Nichols - "Toadvine"
Stand-out off the new record, about hoping for brighter days.

28) Jim James - "Goin' to Acapulco" (cover of Dylan & the Band)
Because, by February 28th, who isn't daydreaming of blue skies and happier times?

What are YOUR Songs for February?

Don't see nothin' but the light,

(***Even though I'm listing one song for every day in February, each song isn't meant to correspond with that date. I'd recommend not listening to "Fatal" on the 14th. Unless you're an unbelievable masochist, in which case it's a great idea.)


Lady M said...

Bon Iver's album For Emma, Forever Ago was made in a desolate winter and reflects as much. Perfect February music. Pull up The Wolves (Act I and II). mmmmmm.

Michael said...

I do like that Bon Iver album quite a bit - my personal fave: "Re: Stacks"

I've also been enjoying "Furr" by Blitzen Trapper. Can't speak for their name or the rest of the album ...but I dig that song.

ross k. said...

"Still Loving You" by the Scorpions rocks the house but is dark and minor enough to give you a twinge of angst, it just doesn't send you over the edge.

"Nude" by Radiohead feels meditative and transformative. The lyrics are so negative that at first I tried to forget them. Now they don't unbalance me, but read at your own risk. Anyway, it's one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

Glenn Gould's recording of the Brahms intermezzi is a real find, some of the best money I've ever spent. Finally, Glenn Gould romantic.

In the Beach Boys vein, I've been listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and as with the Beach Boys, I savor those brief, beautiful moments of doo-wop melancholy when I discover them amid the cheese. Like Jell-o, there's always room for doo wop.

Chris Milam said...

I knew I was late to the Bon Iver Party...turns out I'm really late and probably shouldn't show up at this point, at least not without some decent wine and an apology.

Too much?

Isn't "Nude" the one off Rainbows that you told me sold the record for you?


Lady M said...

I must admit, "Re: Stacks" is my favorite, as well. Especially the last line. Perfect end to the album.

Lady M said... could use some tweaking, but looky what I Feb 2008 playlist. Here you go:

Hurt—Johnny Cash, American IV
World Without Tears—Lucinda Williams, World Without Tears
Hockey Skates—Kathleen Edwards, Failer
Time—Sarah McLachlan, Afterglow
Hurt Can’t Haunt Us—Disappointed By Candy, Disappointed By Candy
Lookin’ Forward—Over the Rhine, Drunkard’s Prayer
Keep Your Distance—Buddy & Julie Miller, Buddy & Julie Miller
Transatlanticism—Death Cab For Cutie, Transatlanticism
Black River—Amos Lee, Amos Lee
Trapeze—Patty Griffin, Children Running Through
Linger—The Cranberries
Winter—eastmountainsouth, Eastmountainsouth
Fly—Patty Griffin, A Kiss In Time
Tomorrow Is A Long Time—Nickel Creek, Why Should The Fire Die?
My Poor Old Heart—Alison Krauss & Union Station, Lonely Runs Both Ways
I Can’t Remember—The Thorns, The Thorns
Just Another—Pete Yorn, Musicforthemorningafter
What Are You Waiting For?—Kathleen Edwards, Back To Me
No Someone—Kalgren/This World Fair, Promo
The Shadowlands—Ryan Adams, Love Is Hell pt 1
Angel—Sarah McLachlan, Mirrorball
Hurricane—Mindy Smith, One Moment More
Suitcase—Over The Rhine, Ohio [Disc 1]
Tennessee—The Wreckers, Stand Still, Look Pretty
St. Patrick’s Day—John Mayer, Room For Squares
You’ll Ask For Me—Tyler Hilton, The Road Mix
Insomniac—UW Madhatters, State Street
Strange—Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits
Another Little Hole—Aqualung, Strange & Beautiful
The Offer—Katie Herzig, Weightless
Beautiful Girl—Andrew Osenga, Photographs
Rain—Patty Griffin, 1000 Kisses
First And Last Waltz—Nickel Creek, Why Should The Fire Die?
In Repair—John Mayer, The Village Sessions

Michael said...

I'll give it a go as well - this is straight off of my charts from rhapsody:

Furr - Blitzen Trapper
Keep Yourself Warm - Frightened Rabbit
Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend (don't judge)
Soldier's Grin - Wolf Parade
Fools - The Dodos
Skinny Love - Bon Iver
Tallahassee - Mountain Goats
Re: Stacks - Bon Iver
Plasticities - Andrew Bird
The River - Anathallo
Let's Dance To Joy Division - The Wombats
Acid Tounge - Jenny Lewis
Lord, I'm Discouraged - The Hold Steady
I will possess your heart - Death cab
White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
fly low carrion crow - Two Gallants
Grapevine Fires - Death cab
Down in the flood - The Derek Trucks Band

ross k. said...

Wow, people out-itemed me. I can't even read all that.

Yes, Chris, "Nude" is my favorite song on In Rainbows. My other two favorite songs on it are the last one ("Videotape," maybe?) and "All I Need." I think these three make the record no matter which one of them you prefer.

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