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This Is Your Alternative Rainy Day Playlist

Mike Lawrie, Getty Images

California is getting pounded by rain as I write this, a welcome respite from the worst drought the state has seen in 1,200 years. That’s a hard time frame to grasp. By way of comparison, that’s roughly the same amount of time that elapses between Pink Floyd albums.

I’m giddy at the sight of all that water falling from the sky, but I don’t want to leave the house. No, cold Pacific rain is better enjoyed through a window, preferably with a refreshing beverage and some tasty cuts. And if I’m going to be listening to music, why not crank a list of rain songs?

Rain has been a favorite of songwriters forever. One can sing in the rain, be a fool in the rain, wonder who will stop the rain, or let it fall on your head like a memory. Sometimes it’s sad, others frivolous, and often cleansing. Now and then, oh God, you need a drink, of cool, cool rain.

Rather than flood you with a deluge of rain songs, here are a few better suited for the discriminating alt-indie listener. Enough chatter, let it rain:

‘Ocean Rain’

Echo & the Bunnymen



The greatest band that isn’t the Beatles to come out of Liverpool? Echo & the Bunnymen get my vote. Their string of albums released from 1980-84 are mandatory listening.


‘Rain When I Die’

Alice In Chains



Any reference to death from a singer who died always has a little extra poignancy. This track from Alice In Chains‘ sophomore album, ‘Dirt,’ sounds even heavier in retrospect.



The Vines



Can you believe the Australian band’s ‘Winning Days’ album turned 10 this year? Geez, I’m getting old, but into everyone’s life a little rain must fall.


‘Rainy Day’

Shuggie Otis



Does Shuggie Otis belong on an alt-indie playlist? Shuggie belongs on any playlist. Son of the great Johnny Otis, child prodigy, bassist on Zappa’s ‘Peaches en Regalia,’ author of the classic ‘Strawberry Letter 23.’ There aren’t too many things one needs to do in this life, but listening to Shuggie is one of them.


‘Red Rain’

The White Stripes



‘Get Behind Me Satan’ won a Grammy for best alternative album in 2006. With cuts like ‘Red Rain,’ is it any wonder?



‘So. Central Rain’




Is this the greatest song R.E.M. ever recorded? One would be hard-pressed to argue otherwise. This cut is from the brilliant ‘Reckoning,’ the follow-up to the even more brilliant ‘Murmur.’


‘Dry the Rain’

The Beta Band



If you only know the Beta Band from this track’s appearance in John Cusack’s ‘High Fidelity,’ do yourself a favor and go exploring. Over three EPs and three albums, the Scottish band laid down some great music.


‘Insanity Rains’

Satellite Party



Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Ferrell stays busy. Some of his side projects have been wildly successful, and others not so much. Satellite Party fell into the latter category, but it’s still a cool album, and perfect for a rainy day.


‘Let It Rain’




OK Go’s ‘Oh No’ was the band’s breakout, mostly due to the exceedingly clever ‘Here It Goes Again’ video. They’re still kicking around by the way — their fourth album ‘Hungry Ghosts’ was released in October 2014.


‘Only Happy When It Rains’




You knew this list was going to end with the lovely and talented Shirley Manson, didn’t you? If this cut doesn’t get your head nodding, you’re dead inside.


Next: Classic Alt Rock Album Covers Reimagined With Legos

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