wintry mix
November 21, 2009 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Looking for music that feels like winter.

I'm making a winter mix and need recommendations. I've read the old threads, which yielded some results, but I still need more. I'm specifically looking for songs that sound like winter. To me that sounds like sparse instruments and reverb on the vocals. I'm not so much looking for songs that are lyrically about wintertime - just songs that sound and feel like a winter day.

What I'm not looking for:
-christmas songs
-songs with the words "Winter" or "December" in the title.

Examples of what I am looking for:

-Anything by Fleet Foxes, Marissa Nadler, and Bon Iver
-Andrew Bird - The Giant of Illinois
-Phosphorescent - Wolves

posted by samsarah to Grab Bag (92 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
Low on Ice by Alec Empire
Probably all of Beach House's albums
posted by zennoshinjou at 6:59 AM on November 21, 2009

Mumford and Sons
posted by fire&wings at 7:01 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Nina Nastasia and Jim White's album, I Follow You. Examples. Seriously, when I listen to this album I always have the sensation of walking through a sunny, snow-covered meadow.
posted by otolith at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check out Low (here) from the Things We Lost In The Fire album.

Or Talk Talk (here) from Laughing Stock. The last three Talk Talk albums are about as winter as it gets - I could have picked any song randomly and it would have fit your description.
posted by crapples at 7:12 AM on November 21, 2009

Antarctica by Vangelis
Imogen Heap has a bit of a wintery feel to me as well
posted by wundermint at 7:15 AM on November 21, 2009

A lot of My Morning Jacket's stuff would fit in your criteria. Specifically songs from The Tennessee Fire like "The Bear", "They Ran", and "I Think I'm Going to Die".
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:15 AM on November 21, 2009

Best answer: My favorite wintery album is Birds of My Neighborhood by The Innocence Mission. Some are lyrically about winter, but the overall sparseness of the sound just feels like winter.
posted by The Deej at 7:16 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sufjan Steven's "For the Widows in Paradise," off the Michigan album, which I think pairs excellently, thematically and musically, with Joel Mabus's banjo instrumental "The Flowers of Michigan."
posted by SomeTrickPony at 7:17 AM on November 21, 2009

Oops, the name of the album is actually You Follow Me.

Also, depending on your tolerance for Modest Mouse, I find that the side project, Ugly Casanova, has some wintry moments. Smoke Like Ribbons especially.

You might also like Callers. Especially the tracks Rone and O Family.
posted by otolith at 7:20 AM on November 21, 2009

A good acquaintance of mine made a mix last winter, "Vetur konungur" (or "Old King Winter", approximately). IMO it's in exactly the vein you're asking for.

Linked blog in Icelandic - mix is international.
posted by krilli at 7:22 AM on November 21, 2009

i was going to suggest "re: stacks" by Bon Iver, since that song feels like January, but i see you've got that covered.


morning hollow by Sparklehorse (i don't have a Last FM account, but apparently you can listen to the track there if you log in.)

take me home by Aqualung.

postcards from far away by Coldplay.

a bird is a song by Chris Walla (same deal with Last FM.)

maybe it's unsustainable by Chris Walla (Last FM.)

most things by Girls.
posted by gursky at 7:25 AM on November 21, 2009

Christina Rosenvinge's Frozen Pool has a number of wintry songs.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:27 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't find my CDs of these to doublecheck how well they'd work, and oddly I haven't ripped them into iTunes, but what comes to mind are lush atmospheric/electronic zone-out albums:
múm - Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is OK
Manitoba - Start Breaking My Heart
Stars of the Lid - Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life
posted by knile at 7:31 AM on November 21, 2009

A lot of Iron & Wine calls to mind those spindly bare trees and frigid mornings, at least to me.

Sigur Ros' ( ) album, too, although I get more of a snowy feel from that.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 7:31 AM on November 21, 2009

I listen to a lot of Ida in winter.
posted by sugarfish at 7:44 AM on November 21, 2009

I Am a Rock
Kathy's Song
posted by watercarrier at 7:50 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Pantha du Prince.
posted by subtle-t at 8:02 AM on November 21, 2009

The Postal Service - "This Place is a Prison"

Bjork - Homogenic (whole album)

Sibelius - Symphony No. 1 (very wintry, though it doesn't match your request for "sparse instrumentation" or "songs")
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:15 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I find all the Godspeed You Black Emporer related bands make me think of winter. Like beautiful cold winds singing through a still, snow covered city. Exhaust, Esmerine, Molasses...

Also, I must second that Nina Nastasia album with Jim White. Really great stuff.
posted by molecicco at 8:22 AM on November 21, 2009

The small netlabel Stadtgruen has a great voiceless ambient/downtempo compilation called Janus that might have the winter feel you're looking for. Now that I think about it, on the glitchy electronica side Autechre's Amber might fit those role. Gridlock's Trace too.
posted by zer0render at 8:23 AM on November 21, 2009

One of the most wintery albums of all time -- and one of the overall best -- is Veedon Fleece by Van Morrison (sample).
posted by crapples at 8:25 AM on November 21, 2009

Lately I've been enjoying the recent Sea Wolf album, White Water, White Bloom. It's winter all over--you can see the snow sparkling in the air, and feel the chill in your bones. Lyically, also, the album focuses a lot on winter imagery. Also recommended:

- The National's Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers; try "90-Mile Waterwall" or "Cardinal Song".
- Great Lake Swimmers' Ongiara
- Sara Lov's The Young Eyes EP (less so her subsequent full-length)
- "Sleeping in Our Clothes" by Musee Mechanique
- "Not Going Anywhere" by Keren Ann
- "January" by Headlights
posted by teamparka at 8:28 AM on November 21, 2009

you've got bon iver, check out volcano choir (bon iver's singer is part of that)
yo la tengo on "and then nothing turned itself out" feel like winter to me, indoors, but cold outside.
definitely low and sigur ros
what about ambient? biosphere's records have a very wintry feel to them (he's from northern norway, go figure)
posted by gijsvs at 8:31 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

(Lyrically, I mean.)
posted by teamparka at 8:32 AM on November 21, 2009

Bjork - Homogenic (whole album)

I came here to write:

Bjork - Vespertine (whole album)
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 8:46 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mazzy Star (and Hope Sandoval) are wintery to me.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:46 AM on November 21, 2009

Anything by Paavoharju.
posted by neroli at 8:56 AM on November 21, 2009

Bjork - Vespertine (whole album)

Oh yes, especially the first song, "Hidden Place."
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:00 AM on November 21, 2009

Also, check the lovely instrumental work by French electro-acoustic artist Colleen (Cecile Schott).
posted by neroli at 9:06 AM on November 21, 2009

"Joutsenet muuttavat" (Swans Migrating) from Cantus Arcticus by Einojuhani Rautavaara. Part of an orchestral piece which features recordings of arctic birds. Maxes out the winteriness scale for me.


"Domino" by the Cocteau Twins.
posted by rongorongo at 9:08 AM on November 21, 2009

It doesn't suit your particular genre criteria, but Closer by Joy Division is a very, very wintry album for me.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 9:10 AM on November 21, 2009

'Walk into Winter' by Aztec Camera

Outside of your scope, but that icy violin solo in 'Winter' from 'The Four Seasons' by Vivaldi kicks ass.
posted by ovvl at 9:17 AM on November 21, 2009

George Winston - Winter to Spring
posted by Axle at 9:29 AM on November 21, 2009

Holy jesus, Horse Feathers. They're a folksier, more orchestral version of Bon Iver. Start with Rude to Rile, Albina and Curs in the Weeds.

Julie Doiron's Desormais is great. I am shocked no one mention Mark Kozelek's music, specifically Red House Painters (Have You Forgotten and Mistress) and especially Sun Kil Moon (Carry Me Ohio is so wintry)
posted by zoomorphic at 9:30 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Mum (like icier Sigur Ros light)
Husky Rescue (dreary days indoors on a snowy, slushy saturday)
(who knows winter better than Icelanders / Finns?)

Ladytron's Witching Hour is pretty chilly electronica - winter in the city
And along that vein, Girls in Hawaii (kind of like Nada Surf - oh for that matter, Nada Surf's Let Go - but more... Belgian and dark), and The Fields (also darkish winter sunset)

And if you lean that way, Tori Amos' first album Little Earthquakes is nice and spare and cold and white.

and I second the band Low. They've got a fantastic Xmas album, too. The album Trust is where I started with them.

And I big time second Joy Division, but I'm biased as they are a favorite. Winter in Manchester.
posted by HolyWood at 9:35 AM on November 21, 2009

Also, Cat Power has some very melancholy wintry music: Metal Heart and Sea of Love. Jose Gonzalez is also great. The Notwist, but not so much their new album. Nthing Sufjan Stevens.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:36 AM on November 21, 2009

Sting's "If on a Winter's Night..." may have "winter" in the title but it feels like winter anyway.
posted by Slothrup at 9:40 AM on November 21, 2009

Veedon Fleece by Van Morrison

Really? That album defines spring time for me.

The Waterboys song December is, of course, a blatant rule breaker, but man, does it conjure winter. Great swirls of snow across empty landscapes.
posted by philip-random at 9:54 AM on November 21, 2009

For me, "Come on Feel the Illinoise" by Sufjan Stevens instantly conjures up nostalgic wintery feelings. Also "Black Star" by Radiohead, but that one may just be me.
posted by Captain Najork at 10:04 AM on November 21, 2009

"Knights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues always evoked a winter feeling for me. I don't exactly know why.
posted by wv kay in ga at 10:14 AM on November 21, 2009

Funeral by the Arcade Fire is very evocative of wintry images. For me, anyway. The whole album, but Neighbourhood #1 [the first track] is the one I'd pick if I had to pick just one track.

Also recommending bjork, sufjan, and great lake swimmers.

[And just for me, Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger album.]
posted by Acari at 10:26 AM on November 21, 2009

Bjork - Vespertine (whole album)

Seconding. It's like diving into an ice cave of wintery aural delights. Totally bummed me out though so I haven't listened to it for years; still beautiful though.
posted by wackybrit at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2009

Rautavaraa and Bjork (and I think Vespertine & the track Frosti rather than Homogenic) are spot-on. Black star by Radiohead is wintry, but it's English-town-depressing-grey wintry rather than icy or crisp winter.

The first very wintry song that came to my mind was 'The Little Pot Stove' by Nic Jones but on listening it to again, it's mostly from the lyrics. Carries over a lot of the sense of being inside in the warm when it's cold outside though.

Rachel Unthank and the Winterset - Whitethorn.
posted by calico at 10:44 AM on November 21, 2009

Snowfall, by the Halo Benders.
posted by pdb at 10:55 AM on November 21, 2009

Yep, some of this is subjective but I completely agree about Knights in White Satin, wv kay in ga. Highway Song by Aztec Two-Step (can listen here ) works that way for me (something about the guitar).

Also I would not completely disregard songs with winter lyrics. Sixties and Seventies stuff like Simon and Garfunkle's Hazy Shade of Winter and The Mamas & the Papas' California Dreamin' have a great contrast between the melodies and mournful lyrics.
posted by gudrun at 10:59 AM on November 21, 2009

"eishalle" by paysage d'hiver - extremely chilly ambient

"white lake" by deaf center is icy cold and somber.
posted by extrabox at 11:01 AM on November 21, 2009

Yoko Ono - Listen the Snow is Falling, or this version by Galaxie 500 for all you haters.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2009

Tom Verlaine's "The Scientist Writes a Letter" from Flash Light always does it for me. Something about the tinkling piano bit in the middle and the talky bit where the scientist is reading the letter aloud to his former love:

"It's snowing again, seems like it's always snowing. Sit
down to write and it's so cold. Outside my window, there's
a tree so white I can hardly look at it.

It's quiet here. I look thru my glass at patterns
all so well defined. Please send my winter coat soon as you can ... I find I have no other lines."
posted by vickyverky at 11:37 AM on November 21, 2009

Die Stadt
posted by Seeba at 11:44 AM on November 21, 2009

I agree with Jaltcob on Sibelius, and recommend anything he composed.

IMO there is also something very wintry about Death Cab for Cutie's Meet Me on the Equinox and I Will Follow You into the Dark.

Also recommend Laura Veirs, esp. songs on her album Carbon Glacier including Snow Camping, Icebound Stream and Ether Sings.
posted by bearwife at 11:51 AM on November 21, 2009

"Super Falling Star" by Stereolab (the lyrics, which are in French, have absolutely nothing to do with winter, but it has a cold, desolate but beautiful feel to it).
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:15 PM on November 21, 2009

Radiohead, Kid A and Amnesiac
Arvo Part, Fratres
John Tavener, The Protecting Veil
Brad Mehldau, Live in Tokyo
John Abercrombie, Open Land
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:24 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

David Bowie's instrumental collaborations with Brian Eno on Low and Heroes have a wonderfully chilly sensibility about them (esp. the last 4 tracks on Low).
posted by scody at 1:03 PM on November 21, 2009

Maybe Tomita's recordings of Footprints in the Snow and Snowflakes Are Dancing by Debussy.
posted by various at 1:14 PM on November 21, 2009

Mythos, November
posted by tel3path at 1:14 PM on November 21, 2009

Bjork - Vespertine
Caroline - Murmurs
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:21 PM on November 21, 2009

Best answer: Some things that have been mentioned before that I must +1:
múm - Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK
Radiohead - Kid A
Anything by Sigur Rós (especially the live stuff from Heima)
Björk - Homogenic

New Suggestions:
The Microphones - The Glow Pt. 2
He Can Jog - Middlemarch
Oval - 94 Diskont
Tin Man - Wasteland
Burial - "Archangel"
The Knife - "From Off to On"
The xx - xx

It's not surprising that Björk, Sigur Rós, and Múm have all been mentioned multiple times.
Icelandic music = winter music
posted by azarbayejani at 1:42 PM on November 21, 2009

Ever since I first saw the video for Enya's On My Way Home, hearing that song always makes me think of winter.
posted by shelayna at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2009

for no particular reason, John Coltrane's My Favorite Things sounds "wintry" to me. Ironic, since that album also includes "Summertime".
posted by lex mercatoria at 1:54 PM on November 21, 2009

Tori Amos's "Silent All These Years."
posted by lilac girl at 2:05 PM on November 21, 2009

Neko Case's album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, particularly the songs "Margaret vs. Pauline" and "At Last."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:22 PM on November 21, 2009

And if you lean that way, Tori Amos' first album Little Earthquakes is nice and spare and cold and white.

I agree with this recommendation, and the best song on it happens to be ... "Winter"!
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:27 PM on November 21, 2009

Shearwater, at least Rooks. There are similarities with Bon Iver, but as a whole it's a much more operatic feel.
Le Loup's The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly is an album with heavy apocalyptic imagery that I always feel is good for winter, too.
posted by Schismatic at 2:56 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hector Zazou's Songs from the Cold Seas. (Zazou is the producer, not the artist, although I think he plays on some songs.)
posted by homelystar at 3:08 PM on November 21, 2009

Jason Molina, Smog, and The Faint for a sexy, sexy winter.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 3:50 PM on November 21, 2009

oh I should have specified Jason Molina as Song: Ohia and not his newer band. Songs such as Fairwell Transmission, The Lioness and Captain Badass, specifically, have that thick, yearning, slow like molasses rhythm that I associate with wintery goodness.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 3:58 PM on November 21, 2009

Rachael Yamagata
posted by SarahElizaP at 4:17 PM on November 21, 2009

Was listening to this earlier today:
Mazzy Star - Flowers in December

Also, can't go wrong with Neko Case. Fox Confessor is amazing, and so is the follow up. Also, try out Midlake.
posted by Gideon at 6:34 PM on November 21, 2009

George Winston's December album is all time for me. It complements perfectly the silence of a snow storm.
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:42 PM on November 21, 2009

Billy Joel: Waltz No. 3, Op. 9 "For Lola" says holidays to me.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:41 PM on November 21, 2009

Echospace: The Coldest Season.

This album is winter.
posted by googly at 8:03 PM on November 21, 2009

Based on what you say you're looking for, I highly recommend Winterpills.
posted by kelseyfrost at 8:21 PM on November 21, 2009

Library Tapes: [audio] [video]
posted by prinado at 8:47 PM on November 21, 2009

Brian Eno's Music for Airports.
posted by zinfandel at 8:51 PM on November 21, 2009

Best answer: Seconding Songs: Ohia, Sigur Ros, Iron & Wine, and Imogen Heap.

I'd also suggest Dar Williams--the album Mortal City sounds like winter to me, as does the song If I Wrote You from The End of Summer.
The Mountain Goats often strike me as wintery, especially Moon Over Goldsboro and Maybe Sprout Wings.
Genevieve by Girlyman
First and Last Waltz by Nickel Creek
posted by MeghanC at 9:47 PM on November 21, 2009

Best answer: Laura Gibson is definitely winter for me. One of my favorite artists, ever.
posted by sherber at 10:25 PM on November 21, 2009

Vashti Bunyan's Just Another Diamond Day
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:04 AM on November 22, 2009

Ache by Jawbreaker is late November, hoping winter starts a little late, cheered through the early freeze by memory of a phone call with a friend you haven't heard from in forever. ("Another winter's coming on...these things go wrong so often.")

Tom Waits' Nighthawks At The Diner album is staying inside a NYC jazz club at midnight, circa harsh winter of 1975, looking at the weather outside and not looking forward to leaving, though Waits does what he can. ("Warm beer and cold women...")

No City Life by Laura Distasi is wet flakes leaking through the apartment window after a break-up, feeling stupid you left it open. ("What have you been, out of all that potential? More walls, different kinds, colors, sizes and models.")

&Serenading by Mineral is the last real storm of the winter, it just has to be, taking the car a bit too cautiously through the mess outside on your way to see the sibling you miss. ("So why am I so deaf at 22, to the sound of the driving snow that drives me home to you?")

And how is it possible I'm the first to mention The Last Time I Saw Richard by Joni Mitchell?

(Also, Pedro The Lion's The Longest Winter *does* have winter in the title, but it practically exemplfiies the feel being aimed for here.)

Honorable Mentions:
Sometimes, by Sunny Day Real Estate
Pink Light, by Laura Veirs
posted by Ash3000 at 9:37 AM on November 22, 2009

I can't believe I forgot Rise by Rainer Maria. One of my strongest memories from college is arriving home for holiday break, taking my brother's car through the old neighborhood, just kind of alone with my thoughts, and stopping on a side-street. I put on my new Rainer Maria CD, and this song has, ever since, just felt like winter for me, specifically the wish for spring to come and rescue sad, so hopeful, so pretty.
posted by Ash3000 at 9:42 AM on November 22, 2009

Life in a Northern Town, by The Dream Academy
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:27 PM on November 22, 2009

Asobi Seksu (nthing Blonde Redhead, too)
Au Revoir Simone
Electrelane, as mentioned above
Songs: Ohia, especially "7th Street Wonderland"
Low. They even have a Christmas album, if that's your kinda thing.
Julie Doiron. Canadian, and a ton of her work is explicitly about winter depression and coldness and staying under the covers all season.
Black Heart Procession
Disco Inferno
Piano Magic - "Angel Pie," "I am the Sub-Librarian", "French Mittens," "Wintersport," "Fun of the Century"
Sigur Ros, of course
Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen (whereas 1965 is totally summer-in-the-city music)
Mahogany - "Springtime, Save Our Country," "Supervitesse," "My Bed is My Castle"
Cocteau Twins
This Mortal Coil
The Cure's Faith and Disintegration
Codeine. Their two main albums are called Frigid Stars and The White Birch, after all...
Thalia Zedek's first album
posted by ifjuly at 12:29 PM on November 22, 2009

And I totally agree with the suggestion of Christina Rosenvinge--"Hunter's Lullaby" is one of the winteriest songs ever, both lyrically and whatever else. About being pregnant and squirreled up to near hibernation while your lumberjack hunter dude is out in the snow.
posted by ifjuly at 12:32 PM on November 22, 2009

And by the way, I know you said you didn't want songs with a winter theme in words/lyrics/title only. The suggestions I gave with winter lyrics or titles sound like winter to me, which is why I suggest them anyway...
posted by ifjuly at 12:34 PM on November 22, 2009

And in the vein of watercarrier, Red House Painters, including their cover of "I am a Rock"

Oh, and Regina Spektor's "December"
posted by ifjuly at 12:49 PM on November 22, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the incredible suggestions. I favorited the ones that I loved on first listen, but I'm sure many more will make the final cut. Thanks!
posted by samsarah at 2:45 PM on November 22, 2009

I love love love John Mayer's St Patrick's Day-- everything about the 7th chord structures, the strumming, the lyrics add to this hazy, wintry, snowy blue texture. Everytime I hear this song I think of snow, fireplaces, hot chocolate, laughter, SWEATERS. No kidding.
posted by chalbe at 9:07 PM on November 22, 2009

Yeah, I nth (or 2nd?) Funeral by the Arcade Fire. Especially the first three songs on there.
Also, I love Nina Nastasia and Jim White's You Follow Me, but I find her On Leaving to be even winterier.
Also the Black Heart Procession.
posted by prior at 5:00 PM on November 23, 2009

People are SO going to roll their eyes at this due to its, ahem, current affiliaton, but:
Bon Iver - "Roslyn"
posted by ifjuly at 12:01 PM on December 5, 2009

Sunset Rubdown's "Wicked/Winged Things" fits the bill for me - sounds just like like snow falling on a crisp, dark winter night in Montreal.
posted by Devika at 6:12 AM on December 6, 2009

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