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Music on trial

Molly Raben , Music Columnist
December 1, 2012 • 8,013 views

Has the cold weather been getting you down? Do you often find yourself in a funk following a jaunt in the frigid climate of the Hill? Please do not worry – much can be done to warm your spirit. Always remember to bundle up when going outside and take solace in the music culture surrounding you.

This Saturday, following Christmas Fest, check out Minneapolis-based, self-described “dream pop” duo Strange Names at 10:30 p.m. in the Pause. They have quickly been gaining popularity and have been featured many times on 89.3 The Current. If you have listened to this radio station anytime in the past few months, you have likely heard their most recent hit single, “Potential Wife.” A super-catchy song with a fine blend of bouncy electronic beats and live instruments, their performance of this tune will surely bring you back to earth after a heavenly two hours spent in Skoglund that evening. If you would like to further prepare yourself for their show this coming weekend, I recommend checking out their website (www.strangenamesmusic.com) and listening to their recently-released album available for online streaming. Besides their single, a highlight of the work for me is the track “Luxury Child,” with its traces of early pop influence: an incessant rhythm guitar line, tight vocal harmonies and driving backbeat. This feel-good song will surely get you pumped up for the performance on Saturday night.

If an evening performance is not enough to satiate you, tune in online to 93.1 KSTO radio (www.stolaf.edu/orgs/ksto) at 11 a.m. Saturday to hear an in-studio performance by local alternative-folk band Hope Country, led by the rich talents of frontman Brent Johnson. Johnson was born and raised on a farm in rural Wisconsin, and his music provides clear evidence of that fact. The warm sound of his quasi-country tunes make one feel right at his or her Midwestern home. Furthermore, this event will showcase the recently-renovated KSTO studio and its awesome equipment. You will not want to miss out.

If you cannot tune in or attend either event, I have compiled a list of songs to curl up to during the coming cold months.  I asked a number of friends what they listen to when the weather turns cold and have received numerous responses: Bon Iver’s self-titled album on “those cozy days when I am also sad,” almost anything by folk singer James Taylor, “River” by Joni Mitchell – a melancholy song perfect for gray winter days – and finally, a poem written by my dear friend Anna:

 

when the weather is cold/my feelings are roilin

i put on some elliott smith and start the tea kettle boilin

 

but when i really wanna feel warm, i put on orishas

machete control and the (black-eyed) peas

 

music coming from south the equator ‘sa pleasa

i listen to it under the blankets while i sip on the tea(s)

 

I certainly hope you can find warmth in these recommendations through all of the cold days and nights of this season!

 

raben@stolaf.edu

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