April can be a bit of a dreary month. While the weather perks up a little in temperature, that momentary glee is washed out by buckets of downpour which are enough to harsh the buzz of your spring fever boner considerably. Fear not though! As usual we’ve prepared a little mixtape to complement the weather and remind you that endless precipitation can at least inspire. Here’s what we dug up for this year’s April Showers mix.
How to Dress Well — “Endless Rain”
The entirety of Tom Krell’s debut as How to Dress Well sounds hidden away. “Endless Rain” is one of the few times where a beat emerges from the hissy murk of “Love Remains,” feeling like a brisk walk out right in the misty night air. While that record is stooped in the third generation tape aesthetic, his followup EP, “Just Once” unveils a new level of clarity that’s arresting in its beauty.
The Weeknd — “Coming Down”
Canadian crooner The Weeknd‘s debut mixtape “House of Balloons” is as dreary as it gets in terms of nightlife gone wrong. “Coming Down,” while not its most popular track, might be its most human and exemplary, conveying the deplorable loneliness of depressants when their initial effects wear off.
Led Zeppelin — “The Rain Song”
Rain isn’t all about moping; Led Zeppelin’s epic ballad “The Rain Song” is a purifying rinse that culminates in a full band climax followed by some stately arpeggios from Jimmy Page and a mellotron solo by John Paul Jones. One of their best and most underrated songs.
The Jesus and Mary Chain — “Happy When It Rains”
The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s “Darklands” is a record stooped in early spring. With songs like “Nine Million Rainy Days, “April Skies,” and this one, it’s a record designed for grey skies and bright green trees. This clip of the tune is from the show The Roxy whose host is pretty pumped about their mimed performance.
Milli Vanilli — “Blame It on the Rain”
The story of Milli Vanilli is one of the most infamous frauds in rock & roll history. When Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan were outted by producer Frank Farian as not being the actual vocalists on their album “Girl You Know It’s True,” the duo faulted their record company for pressuring them into the fiction. Gotta blame it on something…
Tanlines — “Rain Delay”
More about a fleeting relationship than the cancellation of a ball game, this Tanlines track’s title seems to reflect more the feel of the music rather than its lyrical content. The song blares open with a hook that sounds like a spraying sunshower obscuring the instruments. Check out our recent interview with the band here.
Garbage — “Only Happy When It Rains”
Industrail pop/rock band Garbage first hit it big with this single from their eponymous debut in 1995. It’s title and sentiment were lifted from the previously posted JAMC song, but they still managed to put together an equally clever tune behind it. Garbage just recently reunited and will be releasing their first album in eight years, “Not Your Kind of People” next month.
Tilly and the Wall — “Let It Rain”
Saddle Creek band Tilly and the Wall put down the clogs for this ballad from their debut “Wild Like Children” which plays like a slow and cozy car ride with Madonna playing softly on the radio.
The 6ths featuring Lou Barlow — “In the City in the Rain”
The 6ths was a project started by Stephin Merritt as a way of making a tribute album to himself. The act went on to make two records, both using the same personnel as his Magnetic Fields records but with a different guest vocalist for each track. At the time of their debut ,”Wasps’ Nests,” released in 1995, Lou Barlow had been out of Dinosaur Jr for over five years and was now an indie star as the co-founder of both Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion. His contribution is a gentle vocal to this song’s laid back salsa groove.
Peter Gabriel — “Red Rain”
When Peter Gabriel had slowed down his album-a-year pace he had been going strong with since his departure from Genesis in the mid-70s, it was uncertain if he would come back to standard album oriented music or go further down the soundtrack path after composing music for the film “Birdy.” When he returned in 1986 with “So,” not only did he prove he could still write song-oriented music, but he could actually write great pop songs (like this lead-in track) as opposed to the experimental rock that dominated his four self titled albums.
Tom Waits — “Rain Dogs”
In 1983, Tom Waits had transformed himself from an eccentric piano crooner, to an all-out junkyard bluesman with his landmark record “Swordfishtrombones.” As monumental as that record was, it would nearly be eclipsed by “Rain Dogs” in 1985, which has remained his most beloved, original work. Explaining the title once in a Rolling Stone interview, Waits said, “You know how after the rain you see all these dogs that seem lost, wandering around. The rain washes away all their scent, all their direction. So all the people on the album are knit together, by some corporeal way of sharing pain and discomfort.”
The Smashing Pumpkins — “Raindrops + Sunshowers”
At the time of its release, The Smashing Pumpkins‘ ’final released album (excluding its free, online only sequel released later that year) was “MACHINA/The Machines of God.” A bad title certainly, but it was a record that got an undeserved rap from the music press who seemed fed up with Billy Corgan’s descent into pomposity and sadomasochist fashion. Flood’s engulfing production on the album was also a bit off-putting for many fans, but underneath that glossy fuzz lay a set of great songs that deserve further listening. To get a better idea of this song in particular, check out this live acoustic version from 2000.
Prince and the Revolution — “Purple Rain”
prince film purple rain by lepoulpe33
A perfect closer for just about any mix, but especially this one, Prince’s “Purple Rain” remains his most monumental ballad, coming at a time where he represented the zeitgeist of everything that was happening in music. Lush, massive, and dangerously catchy, the song remains the perfect backdrop for torrential downpour.
And there you have it. Hope that was enough to bring you up from the downpour.
Also remember to be prepared…
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z — “Umbrella”