Listen – The Perfect Ski-Run Ready Playlist

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Skis and snowboards are properly waxed, Subaru tires are refilled or replaced altogether and — above all else — food for the snow-sport eardrum is restocked like King Soopers shelves. At 303 Magazine, your well-being is of utmost importance. So, like last year, a playlist is in order. A playlist that stretches across numerous genres with one goal in mind: to deliver the people of Denver a much-deserved audio guide for the next trip to Keystone or Copper or wherever your curious heart desires. Let The Blackbyrds provide the bass line on your mogul run, or Barbara Lewis aid your aprés ski melancholy. All things aside, allow this season’s rendition of “The Perfect Ski Run-Ready Playlist” to be your muse on snow days — enjoying both local and national acts spanning decades and genres.

Bismillah (2019) – Peter Cat Recording Co. 

Genre: Jam rock, alt-rock, gypsy jazz

Favorites: “Memory Box,” “Floated By,” “I’m This”

Take the soul and spirit of Denver’s new favorite jam-band, Goose, combine it with a powerful crooning akin to Frank Sinatra and you’ve got Peter Cat Recording Co. The mysterious five-piece hails from Delhi, India, a location that shocks most upon discovery. As a result, the familiar tempo of Colorado’s staple sound is drenched in Southeast Asian influence. On tracks like “Memory Box” and “Floated By,” it’s ever-present. Plucking strings and loose drumming act as a bed of soft grass for Suryakant Sawhney to lay his deep, resonating voice upon. There is no limit, however, to PCRC’s approach — see “I’m This,” a record that begins as a spiritual journey draped in synth keys as big as a forest of aspen trees and ends as an acoustic ballad tucked between moguls.

The Blackbyrds (1974) – The Blackbyrds

Genre: R&B, funk, jazz-funk

Favorites: “Reggins,” “Do It, Fluid,” “A Hot Day Today”

Perhaps no instrument fits as fluidly into the cadence of ski turns as nicely as the electric bass. Slow, fast, clear, muted — carving back and forth to the beat of a four-string riff just feels right. Maybe that’s the reason why the D.C. outfit works into the context of a day on the mountain — something none of the members certainly envisioned upon the release of their funky self-titled debut. Joe Hall’s bass guitar is hypnotizing to say the absolute least. On “Reggins,” he shines, playing three or four chords at a head-spinning pace. The Blackbyrds will turn any peak to base run into a stroll down Broadway.

Three Dimensions Deep (2022) – Amber Mark

Genre: Alt-R&B, singer-songwriter, bossa nova

Favorites: “One,” “Bubbles,” “FOMO”

Amber Mark’s sound is one-of-a-kind. Upon releasing 3:33am, a 2017 EP, to critical acclaim, listeners anxiously awaited her debut full-length. It wouldn’t be received until early this year, but was more than worth the wait. Born to a German mother and Jamaican father in Tennessee, before moving to a Darjeeling monastery in India so her mother could master thangka painting, Mark’s influences are far and wide. On Three Dimensions Deep, each of her toolbox of individual styles has a chance to shine and work together perfectly. “One” is a smile-inducing intro that screams neo-traditional R&B, but just a few songs later, the listener is floating above a dancehall in Rio De Janeiro playing “Bubbles.” It works on chairlifts, in terrain parks or apres ski. 

Vintracks: 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 loading screen music in a Tokyo-based adventure video game. How about “please hold” tunes for a public access channel on Adult Swim? Whatever Funk Leopard’s music may be, one thing is for certain, Vintracks could act as a shot of dopamine to the spine. His pension for smooth, calming, scratchy creation relaxes the brain. It’s the sort of stuff you doze off on the gondola to. The audio in question feels welcoming, and justly, exists for an assortment of settings. Throw on “Fly High” and do exactly that next time the mountains call for you. 

Glox Ivory (2020) – sstray

Genre: Mellow rap, hip-hop, R&B

Favorites: “Everything’s Purple,’ “Prolly in Malibu,” “Siditty”

‘Mellow rap’ is what someone makes when they know they’re cool. Glox Ivory, in sstray’s case, is what someone makes when they know how to project their coolness naturally. Give “Everything’s Purple” a gander — boombox clicks and synth-phony dives directly into looping keyboard lines. His delivery on this song and all others spanning Glox Ivory isn’t pressing, but calling it anything but butter-smooth would be an injustice. It’s like your wisest uncle delivering advice three beers deep, and it’ll occupy every inch of the brain that yearns for fresh powder. 

New Morning (1970) – Bob Dylan

Genre: Rock, singer-songwriter

Favorites: “The Man in Me,” “If Not for You,” “Three Angels”

Of all the masterful albums in Bob Dylan’s catalog, New Morning could serve as his most “laid back.” Generally, it’s Dylan’s voice that instills a sense of comfort and belonging, but on his turn-of-the-decade project, the instrumentation aids in his easing effort. For any fan of landmark cinema, “The Man in Me” serves instant nostalgia, as the song accompanies The Big Lebowski’s unforgettable intro sequence. “If Not for You” inhabits the same space as many a Grateful Dead song. Its chords are made for aimless cruising on a late-season day in April. “Three Angels” is classic Dylan writing, but its backdrop of soothing piano chords and slow, woozy drum orientation makes one feel as though they’re floating above the ski run previously traveled. 

Speed Kills (2021) – Chubby and the Gang

Genre: thrash metal, punk rock

Favorites: “Pariah Radio” “Chubby and the Gang Rule OK?” “Moscow”

Why not? The cornerstone of any great ski/snowboard/skate film is thrashing rock. It’s the only sort of music that can match action sports bone-splitting speed. Sure, none of us are shredding twelve-stair rails or sticking 720s, but it’s nice to feel like you can, particularly when the music is doing the talking. Chubby and the Gang has resurrected an otherwise forgotten cranny of rock music’s many reckless subgenres, and they’ve done it rather well. They make tunes for the first run of the day — it’s the sort of thing you whoop and holler to going (what you believe) is three-hundred miles an hour down a wide-open green run, blowing by the signs that tell you “SLOW: THERE’S KIDS BELOW.” If “Chubby and the Gang Rule OK?” doesn’t create a sense of degeneracy, even in the most law-abiding citizen, then it’s not a song by Chubby and the Gang. 

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 arrive at the closing blurb reserved for songs that work best on the ride back to normalcy. The sun is slowly falling behind the mountains on Highway 6, and you’re in a car filled with people you care about — or yourself, enjoying tranquil peace with one of last century’s seminal songbirds. Let “Hello Stranger” and other tracks on her quintessential hits compilation be your sonic buffer between snow-filled heaven and the working world, as Lewis holds your hand and guides you home.

Listen to the full playlist below!