Coldsnapped tunes that (hopefully) portend better days

If you're reading this right now, chances are that you're really cold, you were really cold recently, or that you're about to be cold -- or maybe you're thinking about how you don't wanna think about how cold it is outside, because thinking that way will turn you into a popsicle. We're only a handful of days into the new year, but this is without question one of the cruelest Januarys in recent memory, what with its stinging, unforgiving gusts and snow squalls and sub-zero temperatures.

If you're like me, you'd rather be somewhere warm, and you'd rather be engaged in a different, more satisfying line of work -- something you actually like to do. (Don't get me wrong; I dig this music blogging stuff. It's my day job that sucks.) Sound familiar? If it does, then this rundown of thematically chosen tunes -- I won't call it a mini-mixtape if you won't -- is for you.

Aloha "White Wind"
Elegaically marital in its construction, "White Wind" evinces a desire to escape -- to wipe slates clean, to start over -- so intense that it stirs similar feelings in listeners. "I count my take, and make my escape," frontman Tony Cavallario sings. "Everything's for sale, down to the nails," he later insists, coming off like the world's most detached, dispassionate auction caller. "Take all the evidence that we ever lived here, and light it up." I'm not entirely sure what this song is about -- physical distance and the emotional toll it takes? missing a dead lover? the aftermath of a love affair? -- but it's certainly thought-provoking, in its self-nullifying way.

Coldsnapped tunes that (hopefully) portend better days

Pavement "Box Elder"
Pavement early rarities comp Westing (By Sextet and Musket) is full of great, standoffish lyrics. Take this one, from "Angel Carver Blues": "When I fight with you, I fight but I don't care." All shearing guitar blare, knockabout fuzz bass, and Jolly Rancher tunefulness, and out-and-out fuck-you battle fatigue, "Box Elder" heedlessly marks the next giant leap towards (or headlong into) relationship disintegration, where romance has soured to the point where an epic spat and restraining-order worthy egress are the sole remaining options. Break-up songs don't get much more anthemic than this; Matador would do well to find room for "Elder" somewhere on Pavement's forthcoming greatest hits/reunion tour-related cash-in extravaganza.

Bjork "There's More to Life Than This"
The other day, when I was walking out to my car to drive home from work, a brace of lyrics I hadn't thought of in year leapt into my mind's ear: "We could nick a boat, and sail out to this island/We could bring your little ghetto-blaster/There's more to life than this." It's an apt lyric for this moment in my life, sure, but this happens to be the only Bjork song to lodge itself, splinter-like, in my memory; I'm aware that at one time or another I heard "Hyper-Ballad" and whatever songs she did with Timbaland plus some others, but don't ask me to hum any of that. (Okay, wait: "It's Oh So Quiet"? That song is the shit. And so is "Human Behaviour." But "Life" still gets top billing.) "Life" is kind of a cross between club, choir, and pop, and I love the feeling it gives that we're following Bjork around in some vast cavernous rave space while she dances and does that weird Icelandic enunciating thing she does, and then out of nowhere she ducks into a restroom - the music fading to a dull, removed roar -- so she can sort of mutter the above lyric to us, intimate-like, before bum rushing the dance floor again.

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