8 essential albums for the end of winter
From Kaytranada’s 'BUBBA' to Soccer Mommy's 'Color Theory', these new releases provide a much-needed escape from the bitter cold.
This winter has been cool and crisp, and the music that’s come with it has matched that. From the soothing medleys and introspective tone of Orion Sun’s debut album to the pulsing beats and impressively chill feel of Kaytranada’s BUBBA, the last few months have given us tracks that can help us relax and escape the bitter cold for a little while. Here, for your own listening pleasure, are some of our favourite releases this winter.
The latest record from Haitian-Canadian beatmaker Kaytranada, BUBBA, is both sonically consistent and full of daring range. Every song is distinct and features a different artist -- the DJ worked with the likes of Masego, Kali Uchis, Goldlink, Pharrell and more on the album. From the disco-like “What You Need” to the more techno-leaning “Gray Area,” and everything in between, when any track from BUBBA comes on, you just can’t help but dance.
While some songs on 99.9% like “You’re The One” and “Glowed Up” properly showed off the artist’s impressive capabilities, BUBBA stands out as a unique, genre-bending collection. His funky, psychedelic sound will light up even the coldest of winters.
Moonstone EP, Raveena
Fresh off the release of her excellent debut album, Lucid, Raveena gives us another gift in the form of an EP. According to the artist’s Instagram, Moonstone is “a sweet little collection of songs we wrote while making Lucid but that felt like their own project.” A quick listen proves this -- while Raveena’s previous releases are more flowery and optimistic, Moonstone shows a slightly darker, unexpectedly experimental side of the artist’s work.
As is typical for Raveena, every track on Moonstone is sweet, soothing and functions as a healing balm for the listener. The collection is modest, but the transition from track to track is flawless, and the overall theme of loneliness in love ties the songs together nicely. “Headaches” is a standout track that captures the artist’s new sound from the dreamy instrumentals to the captivating lyrics, which make for a transcendent listening experience.
Moonstone is a reminder that we have to face darkness before we can embrace the light; the perfect soundtrack for a night in during these chilly months.
Free Nationals, Free Nationals
Free Nationals, the eponymous record from, well, Free Nationals, is deliciously funky; the chill and experimental sound that imbues every song at once pulsing and calm, giving listeners a chance to sway, dance, or simply sit and listen. While there are stand out vocals throughout the album -- Kali Uchis on “Time” and Syd in “Shibuya” -- the backing instrumentals from the band carry the collection.
The album is beautifully curated, every song blends seamlessly into the next and several different musical styles exist in perfect harmony. “Apartment” resembles an old school Motown ballad, and blends right into “Gidget,” an experimental R&B hit featuring Anderson .Paak, which is followed up a few songs later by the aforementioned “Time,” a slow, almost indie ballad featuring vocals by Kali Uchis and Mac Miller. Despite the variance of artists and genre, Free Nationals use their excellent instrumental skills to ensure that every track fits into the unique musical styling that the band has created. The band has firmly established themselves as one to watch this winter and beyond.
The Slow Rush, Tame Impala
Tame Impala returns with his newest album, The Slow Rush, which furthers the artist (real name Kevin Parker) and his experimental, psych rock sound that has kept fans hooked for years. It’s his first since 2015’s Currents.
The Slow Rush is fun and weird in all the ways you’d hope. While some songs are more slow and experimental like the album title suggests, the collection also includes a great deal of songs that are upbeat, like “Instant Destiny”, “Breathe Deeper” and “Tomorrow’s Dust.” One of Tame Impala’s greatest strengths is his refusal to conform to one genre or musical styling, even within a specific song. The early single “Borderline,” for instance, has both upbeat moments in the song’s toe-tapping beat, and chill elements in Parker’s soothing harmonies and use of flute in the backing instrumentals.
Modus Vivendi, 070 Shake
070 Shake is no stranger to making mesmerising and unique music, but her debut album, Modus Vivendi, is by far her best work. The collection is packed with songs that will put you in your feelings all through Pisces season, and the brave lyrics, captivating beats and eerie production make this album a stellar one for this winter and beyond.
There are several excellent tracks on Modus Vivendi, but “Guilty Conscious” stands out -- its slow instrumentals and pensive lyrics create a lush, chill vibe. From the opening notes of “Don’t Break The Silence,” it’s clear there will be many moody tracks in the collection, but songs like “Morrow” and “Rocketship” add a little more vibe and upbeat tempo.
A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams, Orion Sun
Orion Sun has produced her best work yet in her debut album. A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams is a sweet collection of songs that touches on the themes of love and self-reflection with powerful simplicity and refreshing honesty.
In each song, Sun reveals a radically different musical strength that the artist expresses so naturally. The opener, “Orion” is a slow and acoustic ballad; the second song “Antidote” is a more traditional indie R&B tune.
What’s most endearing about the album is its honesty; through songs like “Antidote” and “Intoxicated,” Sun sings about her love life with a sense of earnest wonder. While the album title in some ways captures the essence of the songs, the album is more than “a collection of fleeting moments and daydreams;” it’s a collection of uniquely profound observations about love and self-discovery.
1123 (Deluxe Edition), BJ The Chicago Kid
On 1123, everything from BJ The Chicago Kid’s buttery vocals to the production, and the easy flow of the lyrics puts the listener in a trance and encourages them to sit back and relax.
But it’s nearly impossible to chill out while listening to 1123; many of the songs like “Time Today” and “Close” are heavily instrumental and feature an old school sound, imbuing the listener with a wave of sweet nostalgia. But the soothing nature of 1123 comes from more than just the instrumentals; it’s clear that BJ The Chicago Kid took care to include elements in each song that would put listeners at ease. In the opening song of the album, “Feel The Vibe,” for example, it’s clear from the very first note we have been invited to do just that. On top of the instrumentals, the artist layered everyday sounds like records scratching, people talking, and children screaming, adding to the whole vibe that he’s created. Many of the songs on the album, like “Feel The Vibe” and “Get Away,” provide a wholesome, healing message that can drive away any winter blues.
Color Theory, Soccer Mommy
It makes sense that Sophie Allison, also known as Soccer Mommy, would release her sophomore album at the height of Pisces season, right when we would need some new music to put us all in our feels. Color Theory is dreamy, beautiful and will quench all of your musical angsty needs. “Bloodstream,” the opening song on the album, is a beautiful, acoustic medley, while songs like “Night Swimming” and “Yellow Is The Color Of Her Eyes” are slow, melancholic tracks. Every song is bursting with emotion in the way that only Soccer Mommy knows how: whether she is singing about painful childhood memories on “bloodstream” or trying to stay strong for a loved one in “circle the drain,” the artist puts her whole soul into the song, making for a sweet and cathartic listening experience.
Soccer Mommy seems to have truly found her sound on Color Theory and the deeply personal album, which moves through three distinct emotional worlds (visualised thematically as the colours blue, yellow and grey), will comfort you when you’re deep in the throes of the winter blues.