BY JUSTIN GILLETT
It has been raining in San Francisco for what feels like two weeks. People are wet, stodgy, cranky and depressed. The rain does things to people. It makes them want to hunker down and bundle up within the confines of a warm living space. Because of the severe lack of sunshine, listening to any music with any sort of uplifting tendencies would be sacrilegious. During these dark days, the only suitable listening material is music with downtempo rhythms and despondent lyrics or tones that perfectly accompany the feelings of self-imposed hibernation and opiate-induced laziness that accompany rainy weather. In a ploy to chisel down the myriad of albums that cater to such sentiments, I’ve created a list of Top 10 Rainy Day albums. They are as follows:
Mazzy Star – So Tonight That I Might See
“Fade into You,” the opening track of Mazzy Star’s 1993 album So Tonight That I Might See, manages to perfectly encapsulate the female singer/songwriter’s gorgeous LP. It’s a doleful and strikingly beautiful song that alludes to a romance that never materialized. Lovelorn and despondent, the album is perfect listening material for a sunless day.
Beck – Sea Change
Drawing upon the emotions of a recent breakup with a longtime girlfriend, Beck’s doleful inspiration produced Sea Change–an album full of songs about desolation, heartbreak and nostalgia for a better time in life. Departing from his characteristic style of upbeat instrumentals with ironic and witty lyrics, Sea Change has been looked at as a stylistic signpost for Beck’s career.
Air – Moon Safari
Air’s best album, Moon Safari, is full of gloopy synths and slow melodies set under an overarching theme of attempting to escape the inanity of modern society. Need I say more?
Cocteau Twins and Harold Budd – The Moon & The Melodies
The result of a one off collaboration between the Scottish dream pop outfit Cocteau Twins and American avant-garde composer Harold Budd, The Moon & the Melodies is a tonal excursion that panders to a sense of experimental tranquility. With Budd’s moody piano arrangements and Elizabeth Fraser’s emotive voice and oftentimes indistinguishable vocals, the LP manages to encapsulate a sense of longing–longing for better days and better weather.
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul
Written by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse lead songwriter Mark Linkous, shortly before Linkous committed suicide in 2010, Dark Night of the Soul is an album that arguably helped kill Linkous. With song titles like, “Revenge,” “Pain” and “The Man Who Played God,” the LP strikes at what it truly means to be a human who’s forced to cope with the inherent feelings of remorse, mortality and dread.
Spacemen 3 – Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs to
Perfect sonic fodder for a lazy afternoon spent indoors sprawled out on the floor while the rain pours down outside, Spacemen 3’s 1986 collection of songs aptly titled Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs to is an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Parsed together by the English neo-psych duo Spaceman 3, a group that didn’t hold back about its drug use preferences or proclivities, the LP sounds woozy and undoubtedly evocative of the mind-states of the two Spacemen while they recorded.
This Mortal Coil – It’ll End in Tears
Named after a poetic term that’s used to describe the troubles of daily life and grievance of the world, This Mortal Coil was a gothic dream pop supergroup formed by Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the seminal British imprint 4AD. While never a band per se, This Mortal Coil was referred to as a “unique collaboration of musicians recording in various permutations.” The outfit’s 1984 effort, It’ll End in Tears, is as diverse as it is dark. With contributions from Big Star’s Alex Chilton, Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerrard and members of Wire, It’ll End in Tears sounds chilling, callused and opaque.
Hall & Oates – Private Eyes
Though it’s important to deplore the trajectory and current state of humanity on rainy days, it’s nevertheless just as important to remember that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Dark days come to an end and the sun shall rise again. Hall & Oates’ characteristic feel-good, yacht rock-tinged pop is the perfect reminder. Private Eyes’ blend of blue-eyed soul vocals and sparkly synth arrangements combine to create some cheerful music that’ll undoubtedly fend off feelings of melancholy…if only for a little while.
Brian Eno – Ambient 4: On Land
Eno’s fourth and final installment of his ambient series is by far his darkest. Though malevolent in sound, Eno’s synthesized sonic landscapes also possess tranquil, halcyon and contemplative qualities, ideally suited for solitary engagement or social isolation.
Sigur Ros—Ágætis Byrjun
It’s difficult not to be struck by the beauty of the densely arranged, lush instrumentals set against ethereal vocals that fill Ágætis Byrjun. Although this beauty is oftentimes clouted in many of the songs, the music’s subtitles help provide a sense of finding beauty after a storm.
Honorable Mentions: Wild Beasts–Smother, School of Seven Bells—Disconnect From Desire, Nightmares on Wax – Carboot Soul, Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden, Julee Cruise – Floating into the Night, The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands, Morphine – Like Swimming, Big Star—Third/Sisters Lover, Emancipator—Soon It Will Be Cold Enough, Olivia Tremor Control – Music From an Unrealized Film Script, Badly Drawn Boy – Hour Of Bewilderbeast, Gregg Allman—Laid Back, Miles Davis—Workin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
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