The Guest Room

A Hong Kong blog that does a lot more than blog

Griffin it! 5 Winter warmers

Wall of Records

To me, certain artists, styles of music, albums or even individual tunes are seasonal. That’s to say, they take on an added dimension depending on the time of year.

Roy Ayers’ vibraphone sounds better in the summer, for example. The shuffling drums of some Fela Kuti afrobeat reflect the promise of spring. And when autumn comes around, you can’t beat a bit of John Coltrane.

But it’s very much winter here now in Korea. The peninsula’s winters are cold, dry, drawn-out affairs. At this time of year, the sounds of my iPod’s ‘Recently played’ list are characteristically different to other seasons; slower, more instrumental and with a heavier lyrical element.

I’ve compiled a quick list of five of my personal perennial winter albums.

Jose James – The Dreamer (Brownswood, 2008): This man has a voice smoother than sow’s ear. This year, he signed for the legendary Blue Note records. The Dreamer was James’ first long player, released out of Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood stable.

Ego-Wrappin’ – Night Food (Universal Music Japan, 2002): Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Ego-Wrappin’ play a variety of styles from jazz to ska, and are brilliant live.

Ray Lamontagne – Trouble (RCA, 2004): Lamontagne’s voice possesses that rare quality of being at once hoarse, yet crystal clear.  Not for the background, this is definitely an album that deserves your undivided attention.

Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguar, 2008): A lo-fi album of both tremendous simplicity and depth. It was recorded by vocalist Justin Vernon in the isolation of his parent’s Wisconsin cabin, following the break-up of a long-term relationship (and during a particularly harsh bout of glandular fever!).

Frank Sinatra – Christmas Compilation (Columbia, 1994): Because you just have to!

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