It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Skis and snowboards are properly waxed, Subaru tires are filled or replaced, and best of all, snowsports eardrum food is replenished like King Soopers shelves. AT Charger 303your well-being is paramount. So, like last year, a playlist is in order. A playlist that spans many genres with one goal in mind: to provide the people of Denver with a well-deserved audio guide for the next trip to Keystone or Copper or wherever your curious heart desires. Let The Blackbyrds provide the bassline on your mogul run, or Barbara Lewis help your soulful après-ski. All things aside, allow this season’s rendition of “The Perfect Ski Run-Ready Playlist” to be your muse on snow days – enjoying local and national acts spanning decades and genres.
Bismillah (2019) – Peter Cat Recording Co.
Genre: Jam rock, alternative rock, gypsy jazz
Favorites: “Memory Box”, “Floated By”, “I’m This”
Take the soul and spirit of Denver’s favorite new jam band, Goose, combine it with powerful Frank Sinatra-like crooning and you have Peter Cat Recording Co. The mysterious quintet hails from Delhi, India, a place which is most shocking to discover. As a result, the familiar tempo of Colorado’s base sound is steeped in Southeast Asian influence. On songs like “Memory Box” and “Floated By”, he is omnipresent. Plucked strings and loose drums act as a bed of soft grass on which Suryakant Sawhney can lay his deep, resonant voice. There are, however, no limits to PCRC’s approach – see ‘I’m This’, a record that begins as a spiritual journey draped in synth keys as large as an aspen forest and ends as a ballad acoustic nestled between the bumps.
The Blackbyrds (1974) – The Blackbyrds
Genre: R&B, funk, jazz-funk
Favorites: “Reggins”, “Do It, Fluid”, “A Hot Day Today”
Perhaps no instrument fits so well into the cadence of ski turns as the electric bass. Slow, fast, clear, muted – rocking back and forth to the beat of a four-string riff feels right law. Perhaps that’s why the DC outfit is working against the backdrop of a day in the mountains — something none of the members certainly envisioned when releasing their funky, self-titled debut album. Joe Hall’s bass guitar is mesmerizing to say the least. On “Reggins”, he shines, playing three or four chords at a dizzying pace. The Blackbyrds will turn any rush-to-base run into a ride down Broadway.
Three deep dimensions (2022) – Mark of Amber
Genre: Alt-R&B, singer-songwriter, bossa nova
Favorites: “One”, “Bubbles”, “FOMO”
Amber Mark’s sound is one of a kind. Upon release 3:33, a critically acclaimed 2017 EP, listeners eagerly awaited his feature debut. It wouldn’t be received until early this year, but was more than worth the wait. Born to a German mother and a Jamaican father in Tennessee, before moving to a monastery in Darjeeling, India so his mother could master thangka painting, Mark’s influences are far reaching. At Three deep dimensions, each of its individual style toolbox has a chance to shine and work perfectly together. “One” is an intro that smiles and screams neo-traditional R&B, but a few songs later the listener is floating above a dancehall in Rio De Janeiro playing “Bubbles.” It works on chairlifts, in snow parks or after skiing.
Vintracks: the sounds of the soul (2021) – Funk Leopard
Genre: R&B/Soul, Instrumental
Favorites: “Bluebirds”, “The Heat”, “Fly High”
Enter the coolest elevator music on the planet. Or load screen music into a Tokyo-based adventure video game. How about “please wait” for a public access channel on adult swimming? Whatever Funk Leopard music is, one thing is certain, it’s a perpetual dose of dopamine in the spine. His pension for a gentle, soothing and irritating creation relaxes the brain. You will find yourself dozing on the gondola to the sound of this kind of music. It seems rare, and rightfully exists for an assortment of settings. Fire up “Fly High” and do just that the next time the mountains scream your name into the vivid void.
Glox Ivory (2020) – lost
Genre: Soft rap, hip-hop, R&B
Favorites: “Everything’s Purple”, “Prolly in Malibu”, “Siditty”
“Mellow rap” is what someone does when they know they’re cool. Glox Ivory, in the case of sstray, is what someone does when they know how to project their freshness naturally. Take a look at “Everything’s Purple”: boombox clicks and synth-phony dives straight into looping keyboard lines. His delivery on this song and all the others spanning Glox Ivory is not urgent, but to call it anything other than unctuous would be an injustice. It’s like your wisest uncle giving advice three beers deep, and it’ll occupy every inch of the brain yearning for fresh powder.
new morning (1970) -Bob Dylan
Genre: Rock, singer-songwriter
Favorites: “The Man In Me”, “If It’s Not For You”, “Three Angels”
Of all the masterful albums in Bob Dylan’s catalog, new morning might be his most “casual”. Usually it’s Dylan’s voice that instills a sense of comfort and belonging, but on his turn-of-the-decade project, the instrumentation helps him in his effort to loosen up. For any fan of historical cinema, “The Man in Me” serves up instant nostalgia, as the song accompanies The Big Lebowskis unforgettable intro sequence. “If Not for You” takes up the same space as many Grateful Dead songs. His deals are made for an aimless cruise on an end-of-season day in April. “Three Angels” is classic Dylan songwriting, but its background of soothing piano chords and slow, woozy drum orientation feel like they’re floating above the previously traveled ski slope.
speed kills (2021) – Chubby and the Gang
Genres: thrash metal, punk rock
Favorites: “Pariah Radio” “Chubby and the Gang Rule OK?” “Moscow”
Why not? The cornerstone of any good ski/snowboard/skateboard movie is thrashing rock. It’s the only type of music that can match the breathtaking speed of action sports. Sure, none of us are ripping twelve-step rails or sticking 720s, but it’s nice to feel capable, especially when the music is talking. Chubby and the Gang resurrected an otherwise forgotten corner of rock music’s many reckless subgenres, and they did it pretty well. They’re doing tunes for the first race of the day – it’s the kind of thing you yell and yell about going (what you believe) three hundred miles an hour on a wide-open green track, blowing through the signs that tell you “SLOW: THERE ARE CHILDREN BELOW.” If “Chubby and the Gang Rule OK?” doesn’t create a sense of degeneracy in even the most law-abiding citizen, then it is not a Chubby and the Gang song.
Hello Stranger (1963) – Barbara Lewis
Genre: Motown, Soul
Favorites: “Hello Stranger”, “Love is a Castle”, “Does Anyone Want a Lover”
Like last year’s iteration of “The Perfect Ski-Run Ready Playlist,” we come to the closing blurb reserved for the songs that perform best on the way back to normal. The sun slowly sets behind the mountains on Highway 6, and you’re in a car full of people you care about – or yourself, enjoying quiet peace with one of the greatest songbirds of the last century. Let “Hello Stranger” and other tracks from this quintessential hits compilation be your sound buffer between snowy paradise and the working world, as it holds your hand and guides you home.
Listen to the full playlist below!