By: Staff –
To celebrate the release of Joe McLeod’s debut album, Cloud Berries In Alaska (out now), the Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist curated an exclusive “Songs to Get You Through the Winter” Spotify playlist to make the cold season a bit more bearable.
“I feel like often during the winter months my music taste varies from either extremely somber, emotive and moving lyrical ballads OR super energetic, fun, light-hearted musical journeys to help ease the short dark days,” said McLeod. “Therefore, for this playlist I decided to go with the feel good tunes on my 2022 winter repeat list (with maybe one or two somber tunes because I am a big sappy guy and find it hard not to include them).”
Sammy Rae & The Friends – “Jackie Onassis”
I first heard this song in the fall after a recommendation from a friend and very quickly Sammy & The Friends became my go-to feel-good dance band. They are so full of energy and feature some really complex and interesting musical elements. The combination of Sammy’s silky voice, a driving rhythm and the warm horn section culminates in the ultimate winter bop. This song is a perfect substitute for the lack of sun during the winter.
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers – “Find Me”
First of all, I always have to support fellow Joe’s in the music biz! Apart from that, this tune will hit the groove bone of anyone who listens. It will make you want to tap your toes or dance through the snow falling (at least in Canada). The line “there are times when we need someone by our side” hit me right in the heart when I first heard this song; it speaks volumes to our current place in the world. I think during the winter season, we all need someone by our side more than ever! I am also a sucker for good horn lines and near the end of this song there is some horn magic going on!
William Prince – “Old Souls”
I discovered William Prince in the last few weeks of 2021 and I was completely taken aback by his voice and lyricism. This song particularly hit me because the rhythm and the strings make for a really potent movement and back beat to rest on but the lyrics really dig deep. To me this song is about being a good person and trying to carry that mentality into your older age. I find winter is a time when I feel extremely reflective over my past year, past decisions and future aspirations and this song really helped me zone in on that feeling. The entire album where I found this song is absolutely breathtaking.
Scenic Route to Alaska – “Love Keeps”
What better medicine for the soul over the cold winter months than an energetic Canadian indie rock unit. In my opinion, this song SLAPS. Whenever I have finished a long day and am feeling drained, popping this song on instantly re-energizes my mood. It makes me feel innocent and reminiscent of the feelings of first love, the first time breaking the rules and the first time really defining yourself in the world.
Gregory Porter – “Concorde”
Really, what’s a good winter playlist without the vocal stylings of grammy winner Gregory Porter? This fella’s voice is the closest thing to pure gold I may have ever heard. Gregory has such a commanding presence with his writing that every song demands your attention. The jazz drums, slick horn lines and soaring vocals makes this song feel like a warm sunset against the cold white snow.
Bear’s Den – “Conversations With Ghosts”
I first discovered this band in 2015 when my friend sent me their full album as a gift on iTunes with the caption “You need to listen to this whole album.” I don’t think I had ever received an album on iTunes before so I immediately plugged into some headphones and listened intently and was BLOWN AWAY. Since that moment I have loved this band, their writing and their sonic musical presence. This song is catchy, beautiful & a somber feel good song… If that makes any sense? It talks about the people in your life who you may have let get too close to your heart and are now moved on to something or someone else. The lyrics are reflective and deep but the musical elements are uplifting and fierce.
Julie Title – “Green”
“Green” was the very first song I heard by Julie Title and I was immediately entranced by the haunting beautiful voice and the simplicity of the music. I was hanging on every word Julie sang. “I’ve been trying to make you see that I’ve been broken badly” is one of the most wonderful lyrics I have heard in quite some time. Like I mentioned above, I think winter is a time for reflection and I also think it is a time for healing, growth and re-emergence. This song makes me feel like although I may be wounded in some ways, I can and will pull myself out. This song is a perfect reflection of what winter represents to me.
The Brook & The Bluff – “Halfway Up”
This song has all the things I like; groove, unique musical movements, a lovely voice and thoughtful lyrics. The attention to detail within every bar of the song is something that you don’t hear every day. “When I was everything you wanted and I was on the path to being honest.” These are the thought provoking lyrics that I like to listen to in the colder months. I can’t emphasize the fact enough that I LOVE songs that make you reflect and connect with something within yourself. The EP this song is off of does just that! I really want to see this group live one day soon if the world allows it.
Juice – “Workin’ on Lovin’”
There are a multitude of reasons why I chose this song BUT the main reason is how filthy (in the best way) the violin solo mid song is. When I first heard this song, I was camping in northern Washington and immediately had the stank face (musicians you know) when I heard the solo and since then this has been on repeat. I LOVE violin and think it brings such a deep feeling of expression which is why I included it on this playlist to get through winter. This song is the definition of feel good vibes. If this song does not make you want to groove, sing or scream from the top of a mountain, I don’t know what to tell you.
Mt. Joy – “Rearrange Us”
Speaking of groove bone certified tracks, Mt. Joy usually has an appearance on this sort of list! From the first note, the guitar riff is so gosh dang catchy. My head started bobbing along from the start and never stopped. The message behind the song is moving; it speaks to the reality of our time. We all have growing pains and periods of time when things don’t feel like they will be okay in the end but as we grow, we realize these are the things that propel us into our future selves. I am a big fan of songs that have this sense of duality, you can listen passively and groove along or you can listen with intent and find a deeper meaning.
Joe McLeod – “Something Inside of Me”
Last but not least I figured I’d sneak in a little winter listening song of my own. I wrote this song last winter and the idea is really about the butterflies you get when you feel something special with someone. Do they feel the same way? How can you test the waters? It’s the sense of immediacy that comes with the excitement of the unknown. I try to emulate that duality in this song, it is catchy and able to be listened to passively but if you zone in on the words, there is a story being told that runs much deeper about human emotion and how it relates to love or loss.