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  • Writer's pictureKaralynn Cromack

SPOTLIGHT SOUNDS: Cold songs for cold weather from cold countries

Right now, if you're in Chicago, we would typically be in that weird season where we’re cold, and I'm not happy about it, but sometimes it's really lovely. And people will make it very evident that it was nice at some point this week, but now it's cold. In my opinion, it’s been surprisingly mild this spring. On that note, here are some albums that I feel embody cold places and that also happen to be from artists in cold countries.

  1. Elsker by brenn. (2019) 

Elsker Album Cover

Starting with some heavy Scandinavian rock, I found this band from their song Ingensteds, which got me to memorize lyrics in a language I had never fluently spoken (I’m sure I still butcher it). After this, I had a brief Google-translate-aided conversation with them and decided to venture further into the album. My research concluded that this album is jam-packed with bangers from start to finish. There are some more experimental elements in songs like "Du og Jeg," which reign in themes similar to techno, alt-rock, lofi, and some good ol’ screaming all in 3 minutes. The most mind-blowing part is how the whole of the song still honors each part. Each song is something I imagine would play in a Tony Hawk skating game, but if it was an extreme skiing game instead where every player was geared up in wool sweaters. What has sold me on this group is just keeping up with how they grow on social media. It really does heal something in my soul to see these two guys have fun and play music.

  1. ÁTTA by Sigur Rós (2023)

Moving into something maybe less hardcore but just as intense, this collection of songs reminds me of cold seasons in the sense that when you look out to see the sun scattering pink reflection onto the blanket below, causing the earth to blush in its harmony of warmth and chill. Sigur Ros is an Icelandic band that creates what they call cosmic post-rock. The song "Klettur" (Rock) is my go-to here because it could be the backing track to seeing the world from a million miles away or staring at your ceiling fan. It is truly cosmic in every sense and deserves all the recognition people can offer. I would bet money that you could play this album in any order and let the songs bleed into one another while losing track of time, only to be happy that you did. I don't have much to say about them as a group because I'm a pretty recent fan other than I’m glad that I found them.

  1. For Lovers by Lamp (2004) 

For Lovers Album Cover

The title track of this album truly is for lovers. Every backing coo and muffled guitar pluck is the tone of coming home from a blizzard, changing into some fresh, dry clothes, and sitting with a bowl of soup in the company of good companions. The Japanese trio sets up a harmonious and radiant album for listeners. Many of the instrumentals incorporate a bedroom jazz softness. Some cheerful melodies are also given in songs like Tomorrow Comes I Will, in which the groove resembles some of the enthusiasm felt in late '60s acts. At any stage of this album, I can see myself sitting on the train watching strangers exchange smiles and pleasantries, which I believe is well-needed in the cold months. 

  1. “KINO” in cinema (1987) or "КИНО" в кино

What says cold better than a Soviet-era rock band? This has been my personal favorite off of this list and it is ideal for walking around with your hands in your pockets, shoulders high, and wearing a jacket that isn’t warm enough but looks cool. Bonus points if it’s an overcast day. The different pieces of each track layer in a cohesive yet raw manner. While still having bouncy bass tabs and a sense of funk, the overall tone feels isolated. With the set, there is something to enjoy about each track, which is what makes it so hard to pick a favorite. If I were hypothetically forced to choose one, I would choose “Blood Type” or “Группа крови” for its range of synth and nearly orchestral feel. Another thing that makes this band so fun is how they played the punk role. I would highly recommend looking into this Leningrad/ St. Petersburg group and their role in rebellion in Russian Soviet history.


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