From binge-worthy boxsets to suitably melancholy music; the Arts & Culture present a set of recommendations for art to get you through this winter.
In any year, the winter is a typically a time spent inside – especially for us here by the Scottish coast. However, this year the chilling effect of the cold weather is compounded by lockdown restrictions giving us yet further reasons to stay inside – and leaving us in even greater need of distraction. The Arts & Culture section presents a series of recommendations of books, films, pieces of music, and other works that are ideal for getting you through the winter months.
For the last few years, my go-to winter listens have been Elliott Smith’s first two albums, Roman Candle (1994) and Elliott Smith (1995). Largely consisting only of acoustic guitar and Smith’s soft, thin, Chet Baker-esque vocals, backed by the occasional harmonica, they have a sparse, cold atmosphere that conjurs images of sunsets over snowy streets, frost glistening under streetlights. As a lyricist, he had a brilliant eye for minute details (“The street’s wet/you can tell by the sound of the cars”, runs one of my favourite lines on “Clementine”), and listening to him has always made me more attentive to the harsh beauty of my own surroundings during the Scottish winter. These albums seem made for walking home through the cold wind, then laying inside, staring out the window. It bespeaks something of Smith’s inimitable talent that, just a few years later, he recorded one of the great LA albums in Figure 8 (2000).
– Milo Farragher-Hanks
I approach the subject of wintertime reading the same way I approach global pandemic reading: I don’t really want to remind myself how horrible things are by reading extensively on that topic. I enjoy distracting myself and my brain through delving into a good mystery. Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is a fantastic winter-themed read. An avalanche stops the Orient Express just before a passenger is found murdered in one of its carriages. Luckily (unluckily?) for the 13 strangers, the famous OCD detective, Hercule Poirot, is a last-minute passenger. Curl up with a hot cup of chocolat chaud, this thrilling mystery, and an appreciation for mustaches as the nights start to get longer, and I guarantee the cold Scottish gales will be the last thing on your mind.
– Mairi Alice Dun
The upcoming Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy is a much-awaited winter feast premiering on 14th November. Lasting longer than a decade, this medical drama has influenced generations and built a strong fan-base. The dramatic personal histories of the characters coupled with the heightened tension of heart-rendering medical stories make Grey’s Anatomy’s a major treat. Not only does it focus on tales drawing solely upon medical evidence but also those which are inspired by true stories. Grey’s Anatomy is also said to have made the medical careers of so many whilst immortalizing the stories of countless people struggling with life-threatening maladies. Some episodes of this new season are said to honour and pay homage to all those doctors, nurses, and medical staff working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grey’s Anatomy is considered notorious for having killed a majority of their characters; however, this has to some extent allowed the audience to grow with the characters. The triumphs and losses have been shared by the viewers offscreen as much as by the characters onscreen. The use of a vast collection of songs in their episodes, from Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ to The Fray’s ‘How to Save a Life’ – has given them an iconic status of their own. Altogether, Grey’s Anatomy may not be everyone’s cup of tea but surely changes an individual in its wonderfully articulated profundities.
– Sairaa Bairns
When winter is upon us, I like to take a brief moment of introspection to listen to avant-garde singer Nico’s (of The Velvet Underground fame), sophomore release, The Marble Index. An album that can be described as paying homage to European classical and folk music, it is intriguing to note that Nico’s sound on this record was immensely inspirational for later groups of the 80’s goth-rock movement, including The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees. So one could say that Nico’s music has both an old and new charm for the listener. An aspect of her work that I enjoy pondering as the days become shorter and the ground is covered by a fresh blanket of snow.
– Serafina Paladino
The circumstances in which Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon released his debut album ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ perhaps has never had such potency. Moving to Wisconsin after a band dismemberment, Justin spent the next four months of winter in a remote cabin which would later produce the eerie and tragically lonely sonic power of the album. While it will always be impossible to truly capture what any artist goes through in the duration of a project, one cannot help but feel a strong entanglement towards the eternal yet painfully intimate soundscape that is painted throughout the record. Whether he is displaying his falsetto soaked in the natural reverb of the space in songs such as ‘Lump Sum’, or stripping down to just guitar and vocals in ‘Skinny Love’, there is never an opportunity missed to connect with the listener – and as many of you, myself included, have spent alone in this troubling time, a connection can be just the thing we need.
– Marcus Judd