Februeezing Our Asses Off: Today's Cold, Hard Winter Playlist


Oh, you can play "Good Vibrations" all you want, but it cannot diminish the fact that this year's February is the harshest on-record.  That's right, for as long as they've been keeping historical weather statistics, this February is the worst February the city of Chicago has ever seen.   When you think about it, that's really saying something since this city is known for its biting, uncompromising winters where Mother Nature seems to take an active role in making us fucking miserable. 

Sure, it's funny as hell watching other folks slip on the ice outside your building, but when it happens to you in front of someone else's, suddenly this whole winter thing has gotten old and you begin to dread the sight of poor Tom Skilling.  

Thankfully, February is the shortest month...I guess.  Before long, we'll all be jogging along the lake in shorts and a t-shirts trying to jam as much living as possible into our brief three-month window of warmth before we start the ceaseless trudge toward yet another winter hibernation.
So embrace the chill, layer-up and enjoy today's FEBRUEEZING OUR ASSES OFF playlist.



Pezband - Baby, It's Cold Outside

This seminal suburban power pop band nails the youthful futility of life, love, and Chicago winters with this melodic blast of plaintive pop.  Mimi Betinis and the boys were never better than on song one, side one of Album #1 - their self-titled masterpiece from 1977.  Last time I heard this on local radio, the DJ mentioned that Clarence Clemons played sax on the track when, in fact, he did not. While Clemons appeared on the band's album, which was recorded in New Jersey, it was on the track "Let's Dance".  John Payne played sax on "Baby, It's Cold Outside".

While the song enjoyed large regional radio success, it failed to break nationally and the band would break up after two more unsuccessful releases.  In 2012, however, the band formally reunited for recording and touring purposes.  Last year, in fact, the band played dates with Dwight Twilley and are expecting to perform throughout 2015.



Insiders - Ghost On The Beach

Call us crazy, but this song has always sounded more like a winter tune than the summer one the title would suggest.  Maybe it's because when I hear this tune, the ghosts I see along the beach are those from summer pasts frozen in time (literally) until this brutal, unceasing winter lessens its chokehold on our souls.

It might also have to do with the fact that the first time I heard the song, the band - yet to release their debut album of the same name for Epic Records - was playing an outdoor gig, in November no less.

As a biting wind blew off the lake, singer Gary Yerkins jokingly hoped that this would be their last outdoor gig of the year as the crowd erupted in laughter and applause just so we could get the blood moving again.  Though the band's major label run began and ended with this album, the song has become an enduring staple of the XRT playlist.



Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

You might prefer Pentatonix's by-the-numbers cover, but there's just something perfectly chilling about Fleet Foxes original version, delicate and human about Fleet Foxes ethereal gem "White Winter Hymnal" that recalls a simpler, yet more difficult time, where people talked face-to-face, shook hands, and helped each other out to get by.  With earthy harmonies and organic instrumentation, life's hardships are celebrated in song much the same as when our ancestors decided Hey, it's cold and miserable in these parts for most of the year, why not put down some roots here?



sleepmakeswaves - It's Cold, It's Dark, It's Winter

Australian instrumental post-rockers sleepmakeswaves are one of those bands whose obscurity on this continent is inexplicable, especially when you consider the staggeringly cinematic quality of their music.  Capable of wielding Pelican-like power and aggression, it is when the band opts for simplicity and restraint that they create their most stirring musical statement.

Without words, the band is still capable of setting a scene...after the snow storm, digging out our cars as the sun shows its face for the first time in days, giving off just enough warmth to remind us of the summer to come in this temporary calm before we get hammered into oblivion again.



Mayhem - Freezing Moon

It's winter, you can no longer feel your extremities, and the snot has frozen inside your nose.  What better time to blast some Norwegian black metal and watch the snow fall off the rooftops around the neighborhood as you crank up the volume.

Whether your a fan of "cookie monster metal" or not, every so often a song like this is a preferable method of getting the blood flowing to scraping one's bared knuckles across a frozen windshield when one's 99 cent ice scraper breaks.

If that doesn't send a chill of sorts down your spine, keep in mind that before this album was released, singer Dead committed suicide and guitarist Euronymous was murdered in cold blood by former member Vikernes.

Brrrrrr.



Kanye West - Coldest Winter

Ah, you just had to know this one was coming:  From petulant acceptance speech-crasher West's 2010's 808s and Heartbreak, this track combines tribal drums with orchestral synth-strings and lyrics that draw on West's memories of moving to Chicago with his mother in what seemed at the time like the coldest winter ever.

In the four years since this song's release, West has become more famous for his non-musical exploits, but this song stands as a stark reminder of what the man can accomplish when truly inspired.

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