By Erin Caine
Now that we’re almost a quarter into the year, warmer weather and blooming flowers seem just on the horizon in the coming weeks.
As Percy Shelley said, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” In honor of hanging up winter coats, studying outdoors, and a well-deserved spring break, here are a few songs to get you in the spirit.
This list is the perfect addition to all your seasonal occupations, from study sessions, to tossing a frisbee with friends, to just lounging around and daydreaming.
Whether it’s something instrumental and relaxed or upbeat and infectiously catchy, each of these tracks makes you feel as if spring is finally here.
1. “Rise to the Sun,” Alabama Shakes. Southern blues rockers Alabama Shakes formed in 2009 and, with the help of singles like “Hold On,” rose to prominence after the release of 2012’s “Boys & Girls,” their first album. “Rise to the Sun,” a track off that album, showcases Brittany Howard’s rasping, old-school vocals and the band’s soulful, robust sound.
The song’s hopeful lyrics about inner strength and fighting to realize your ambitions it a great way to energize yourself to finally get something done that you’ve been putting off. “I wake up, rise to the sun, [and] I go to work,” Howard sings, like an inner voice driving you forward.
2. “Flowers,” Nujabes. Celebrated Japanese producer, composer, and DJ Jun Seba (better known by his stage name, “Nujabes”) released three studio albums, collaborations, and singles, and also worked on the acclaimed anime series “Samurai Champloo.”
His second album, “Modal Soul,” came out in 2005 and featured collaborations with various hip-hop and jazz artists. “Flowers,” a track from the album, is, however, purely Nujabes, and features all the hallmarks of his music.
The song’s gorgeous layering of lo-fi rhythms, piano riffs, vocal samples, orchestration, and jazz trumpet submerge the listener in a lush and serenely wistful landscape.
3. “Just a Little Heat,” The Black Keys. In 2006, Ohio duo The Black Keys released their fourth album “Magic Potion,” which was recorded in drummer Patrick Carney’s basement after a label dispute.
Despite not having the same quality of equipment at their disposal, the band still managed to produce some of their most acclaimed and notable material. “Magic Potion” has all the bluesy grit of previous efforts, such as 2002’s “The Big Come Up,” and all the creativity of later albums. “I’m leavin’ this place,” Dan Auerbach croons over fuzzy electric guitar riffs and Carney’s forceful snare. This song, like most songs by the group, is great road trip material.
4. “Green and Gold,” Lianne La Havas. British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas released her second album “Blood” in 2015, a sophomore effort which helped garner her a Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album. “Blood” is a huge stylistic departure from her debut, though incredibly it manages to avoid any dip in quality or originality.
“Green and Gold” is a song that describes in tender, intimate detail La Havas reconnecting with her Jamaican and Greek heritage as she was writing new material. With a comfortable, warm sound, the track lets you unwind at the end of a long day and appreciate La Havas’s rich vocals and satin-smooth instrumentation.