List season can be kind of a lot at times, plus the holidays come with their own craziness. We’re all trying to wrap up our year be it at work or finishing up the semester at school. From tackling to-do lists, making lists of lists to catch up on, and solidifying holiday plans there’s not much time to sit back and enjoy the season. So this is my attempt to clear the clutter and roll ‘em into one.
This is by no means a definitive list of the year’s best albums. In all honesty it’s fairly subjective and includes the records that I couldn’t put down. I put together a “Choose Your Own Adventure” list for the first half of the year. To avoid redundancies, any albums on that compilation are not featured here.
Think of this as your holiday escape plan. Each record is paired with a setting and a winter drink. All you have to do is figure out which one you'll try first.
Irish Coffee (Irish Whiskey + Freshly Brewed Coffee + Sugar + Heavy Cream)
William Tyler’s Impossible Truth is the ideal companion for an early morning. You’ve been home for a few days and your extended family’s much too big for the small house. If you can squeeze in a quiet sunrise coffee it’ll do leaps and bounds for your sanity. Luckily no one’s in the breakfast nook yet. Grab a book or simply sit with your thoughts and dig into to this record (and an irish coffee). There you go, that feels better right?
Rose Gin Fizz (Gin + Lemon + Fentiman's Sparkling Rose Lemonade + Ice)
This is by far my favorite record from She & Him. Even though it was released in May, it fits perfectly with brisk, wintry Saturdays. It’s also an ideal driving record. You can grab some fresh air (no matter how chilly) on your drive to the store. Even better – give it a listen when you’re en route to meet an old friend for a drink. It’s new, but familiar in all the right ways. Once you make it to that cozy little hole-in-the-wall bar you love, grab a rose gin fizz. It’s not quite the lemonade you grew up with, but chances are it’s even tastier.
Dark & Stormy (Dark Rum + Ginger Beer + Lime + Ice)
If you cornered me at a party and demanded to know what my favorite record of 2013 was (which I don’t know why you’d do this, it’s fairly aggressive – you could just ask), I’d answer Dream River. Bill Callahan is notorious for being pretty private about his personal life as well as his music. So in that spirit, I’d honestly rather not talk about why this record means so much to me. Suffice it to say that it’s a beautiful listen and you won’t be able to walk away once you drop the needle.
If you’re flying home for the holidays, this is the perfect album once you reach altitude. If you’re grounded, go for a long walk (bundled up of course). It’s minimal and expansive, revealing and secretive. That’s why it’s mate is the dark & stormy. A solid standby with a twist.
Scotch & Lime
This dual natured record has topped many a year-end list, and with good reason. On one end it’s introspective, on the other a rager. If you look at it’s essence, it really fits the holidays. Loneliness comes with the season, it’s sort of a package deal with the inherent nostalgia. The back end dovetails nicely with the onslaught of holiday parties you juggle. Eggnogin’ & Cheersin’ y’all. If you feel like throwing down with old high school friends – bring along Danny Brown. Even though it wouldn’t be his drink of choice, opt for a classic scotch & lime. No frills, but solid as hell.
Winter Whiskey Sour (Rye Whiskey + Lemon Juice + Brown Sugar + Cynar + Egg White + Allspice Berry)
King Krule’s Archy Marshall has one of the most distinct accents around. It makes for slurred, almost imperceptible lyrics – and one of my favorite albums this year. Under a persistent haze you’ll find jazz breakdowns, shimmery and reverb soaked guitar, and plenty more where that came from. This is the record for the after-party. Whether it’s post-rager or post-family dinner, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is made for winter nights. Pair it with some bundled up star-gazing or quality time by the fire. It’s a mesmerizing listen, and well worth some alone time. Try a winter whiskey sour with this one. It packs a punch with a strong accent, and you’ll have to fight yourself from wanting more.