Unpopular opinion: I LOVE WINTER. I love all of it, the cold, the holidays, the crowded stores, but most of all, I love the music that puts me in that indescribable, wintery spirit—and I’m not talking about Christmas music. If you aren’t a fan of the same six Christmas carols being played over and over by different artists or if you’re just needing music to listen to after the holidays end, this is for you. For me, there’s something about this season that just opens you up, leaves you vulnerable, and puts you in those deep feels. For Colin, winter is all about acoustic music that makes you feel happy and nostalgic. To try and give you the best of both worlds, Colin and I have compiled a list of bands and artists that will sound great on your winter playlist. Enjoy!
The Decemberists – Make You Better
The Decemberists do a really amazing job of walking that thin line of upbeat vs. chill and relaxed. The vocalist, Colin Meloy, has a voice similar to the vocalist of Death Cab for Cutie but The Decemberists, in my opinion, have a more powerful sound. Upon the first listen, “Make You Better” seems really sweet but it’s actually a heartbreaking song about striving to cure personal problems through relationships.
King Charles — Gamble for a Rose
British folk singer-songwriter, King Charles, is one of Colin’s go-to artists. “Gamble for a Rose” is the title track of his second album, which has been described as “stripped back” with heavy influences of Mumford and Sons—makes perfect sense, because the album was actually produced by Marcus Mumford.
City and Colour — Northern Wind
City and Colour’s “Northern Wind” holds a special place in my heart, so I will admit that I am a bit biased for putting it on the list. In my defense, Dallas Green’s voice is purely beautiful and the winter weather only heightens how incredible he is—not to mention how raw the lyrics of “Northern Wind” are.
Longfellow — Elastic Heart
Colin recently found UK based band, Longfellow, and their cover of Sia’s “Elastic Heart”. Colin believes that their cover is better than the original and I totally agree.
Jake Bugg — Slide
I’ve been a huge fan of Jake Bugg since his debut album back in 2012. His first album showcased his unique, folky vocals and raw, emotional lyrics and I was so in love. Since then, he’s been putting out harder sounding albums. Even though his second album, Shangri La, wasn’t as acoustic and emotional, I was still really into the stories behind the music. In 2016, his latest album, On My One, was released and I can’t say I’m a fan anymore. Personally, I just feel like he’s trying too much to have a hard, mainstream-like sound. I miss the old Jake Bugg, so if you need me, I’ll be reliving 2012 with his song, Slide.
Alt-j — Hunger of the Pine
Alt-j is one of the biggest names in alternative music these days and it’s not hard to hear why. All of their music has super chill vibes and really great beats. “Hunger of the Pine” is one of Colin’s favorites from Alt-j, check it out!
Ben Howard – Black Flies
Black Flies by Ben Howard is well into my top ten all-time favorite songs. Howard’s music is so intense, yet soothing at the same time. Just the lyrics alone almost kill me every time—the last line in the song: “I don’t want to beg your pardon and I don’t want to ask you why, but if I was to go my own my, would I have to pass you by” hurts my heart and gives me chills. If you aren’t already familiar with Ben Howard, I strongly, strongly recommend him.
The Lumineers –Slow It Down
In my opinion, Slow It Down is The Lumineers’ best song yet. Frontman Wesley Schultz’s vocals are shown off beautifully with just the acoustic guitar backing him up. His voice cuts right through you and the lyrics are practically overwhelming.
The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
I and Love and You is the title track from The Avett Brothers’ sixth album, released just over seven years ago. Even though its almost a decade old, I And Love And You is still so popular because it’s a great example of beautifully written and performed indie folk music.
Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I & II)
I know, you’re shocked that I’m adding Bon Iver to the list. How unexpected. BUT, Bon Iver does have one of the most famous winter-themed albums ever—For Emma, Forever Ago is legendary, you can’t argue that. My pick from that album is Wolves (Act I & II) because to me, it showcases what Bon Iver is all about: it’s raw, it’s beautiful, there’s a lot of noise going on at once that somehow all works together, and the lyrics are about owning up to your mistakes, moving on and trying to be better. The message in the lyrics is a great motto to hold onto as we transition into a new year.
Mumford & Sons – Winter Winds and Cold Arms
I don’t feel near as qualified to give a review of Mumford and Sons as Colin is, but I’ll do my absolute best not to disappoint. Cold Arms by Mumford and Sons was a completely new song to me before Colin requested that it be on the list but I think I’ve listened to it at least 400 times in the last 24 hours. Mumford and Sons is known for having a huge sound with many instruments but Cold Arms has a kind of bare, acoustic sound and focuses more on Marcus’ incredible, heartfelt vocals.
If you know me well, you know that I love songs that tell stories. For me, every Mumford & Sons song is like it’s own moment, it’s own memory. The love story I interpreted within Winter Winds hits close to home for me, but I think everyone can tailor their own interpretation to fit their own life. Winter Winds by Mumford and Sons seems to be the perfect place to wrap up the list, so, I’ll leave you with this infectious beast of a song.