We are knee-deep in springtime here in the ‘Burgh. If optimists and newcomers to the area thought that the transition of seasons would be a steady one, they must be rethinking that assumption now. But just because the sun cannot be depended on just yet, there is no reason to feel that the drizzly days are mucked up.
To help you stay impervious to the changeable weather, here is my advice: Get your galoshes on and your iPod loaded. On top of anything jazz or blues, check out the following songs to keep you jiving during these rainy times:
Thom Yorke — “And It Rained All Night.” The song is brilliant in its frenzy of electronica sounds, funky beats, and clever lyrics. The rim shots mimic the sound of falling rain while the searing synth exudes a paradoxical type of mellow aural lightening. The overall effect is a Radiohead vibe with the exact “indefatigable” motion needed to carry anyone through the grayest of days.
Anne Peebles — “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” The sound is simple: percussion, plucked stringed instruments, very light keyboards, great female soul vocals. Not a huge hit outside of Europe when it was first released, “I Can’t Stand the Rain” gradually arrived at the position of acclaim it deserves. Peebles sings moving lyrics for when it is really pouring.
Tracy Chapman — Let it Rain. I cannot select just one song from the 2002 release; the entire album is just such a solid art piece. Chapman’s voice is strong and genuine. I recommend the title track and “Almost” in particular, but if you have time, sit with your favorite hot drink and relish the entire thing.
Josh Ritter — “Rainslicker.” Ritter’s whole album Hello Starling is worthwhile and alt-country and folk in persuasion. “Rainslicker” is a definite personal favorite because of its poetic lyrics and acoustic style. The song is calming and charming with its feeling of reverie — I catch myself singing to it every time.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — “Sunshine and Clouds (And Everything Proud).” I cannot explain why I love this song — all 1:02 of it. Instrumental, it is like a defunct music box. It starts, builds, and finishes with its manic funkiness before you realize what hit you.
Beirut — “Elephant Gun.” I just saw on my play count that I have succumbed to “Elephant Gun” a whopping 76 times, and I just got the album Lon Gisland EP a couple of weeks ago. It is smooth, clashing, moody, and layered with trumpet and accordion, and somehow Bavarian in sound. As the band advises, “Let the seasons begin."