*Written By: Elizabeth Hollensbe*
For the last two days, I have sat at the same desk in the same sweats I have worn for the previous nine months. The only hiccup in this cycle is, of course, trips to the washer and dryer once in a blue moon to clean said sweats. I spend my time daydreaming about when the days and weeks will unravel from the slurry haze of Zoom classes and Netflix binges. Only one thing has kept me sane in this blinding, chronic boredom: music. Whether you prefer pinching yourself out of this trance with a soul emptying cry or riding out a tidal wave of euphoria and distraction, here are ten albums you’ll need in your quarantine repertoire.
“River” is one of the best songs ever created. Save the blend of retro, bluesy rhythms and contemporary R&B like “Better Man” and “Daisy Mae” for 7:30 pm in the kitchen. Gospel meets Pop in Bridges’ first album which takes notes from both Usher and Sam Cooke, a reach for some artists, but an effortless blend for Leon Bridges. I could seriously chop onions to this album all day; just like the title states, his music feels like coming home.
With a six-member family full of varying music tastes, from my classic-rock-loving, occasional-Hannah-Montana-indulging dad to my bedroom-pop-R&B junkie brother, it says a lot about an album when my whole family knows every lyric to every song. Composed of studied lyrics and sweet folk melodies, this album is just begging you to hear it over and over again. Brandi Carlile has one of the most show-stopping voices of the generation, clearly exemplified in “The Story,” from which my favorite lyric reads, “all of these lines upon my face tell you the story of who I am.” I often ponder the first time I heard Carlile’s now 13-year-old album, with only the hazy memory of my tiny seven-year-old feet thudding into my dad’s office to absorb the expertly howled bridge in her title track. While memories fade, that single listen triggered a nearly unhealthy obsession with Carlile’s thirteen-track masterpiece that still lasts years later.
These silky early 2000’s melodies feel like they’re wrapping you up in a blanket fresh out of the dryer. The lyric “don’t know why I didn’t come” resonates with all of the homebodies out there, and I’m just glad we’re all finally getting the representation we deserve! With all the panic that COVID-19 embodies, Jones’s soothing musicality brings unmatchable moments of peace.
Lorde’s debut album produced the sweeping hit “Royals,” which we all doubtlessly blasted through the speakers of our moms’ suburban in 2013, but don’t overlook the rest of the album. Her unique, dynamic sound and introspective lyrics make me want to reel “through the midnight streets.” P.S. I don’t care what everyone says, “Ribs” isn’t a sad song!
Justin Vernon, a.k.a. Bon Iver, debuted his solo album For Emma, Forever Ago, a work of art that can lull any heartache. His soft acoustic sound and unexpected vocal range tug at heartstrings and prove the perfect match of beauty and gloominess for any rainy morning. My favorite songs from this album include “Skinny Love,” “Re: Stacks,” “Creature Fear,” and “Flume.”
This EP is anything but boring. It has everything a good album should: a sad song, a song with a perfect beat drop, a coming of age song, a song about loss and love. What more could a girl ask for? King Princess’s refusal to be just one thing is incredibly refreshing and inspiring. Just listen to “Holy” and tell me you don’t feel like the world is yours for the taking.
I genuinely want to thank the person who decided to unite this unlikely Holy Trinity. Labrinth’s soulful tone, Sia’s incredible reach, and Diplo’s unique electro beats combine to make one of the most individual and groovy albums of the decade. Just as “Audio” proclaims, “we can’t live on without the rhythm.” Whoever said, “less is more” was wrong. Plus, look at that incredible cover art! As if this combo couldn’t get any more immaculate, Lil Wayne accompanies the remix of “Genius.”
LÉON’s debut is the perfect album for a late-night drive. Her soothing voice on top of incredibly upbeat tracks makes me want to swim in a pool of this idyllic orange from the album cover, something I never knew I wanted, but now am sure I need to experience. While I’m unaware of any existing sunset-colored pools, listening to this incredibly soulful album is a close substitute. For a flawless sad bop, listen to “Hope Is A Heartache.”
Young is right. Nineteen-year-old Charlotte Lawrence may be just starting, but her EP is fresh and terrifically catchy. Songs like “Just the Same” touch on the back-and-forth, continually changing relationships of youth while still managing to get everyone up on their feet at your next house party (when you can safely host one, of course, sans Covid). Queue “I Bet” or “Sleep Talking” if you get the chance to navigate the ever-so-coveted aux, and you won’t be sorry.
She is coming, she saw, she conquered. Despite her bumpy portrayal in the media, this EP proves to be one of Miley’s most potent and redeeming gifts to society (besides all four Hannah Montana albums, obviously). My favorite track goes by the name of “D.R.E.A.M.” This song has syncopation so captivating I can feel it in my chest. But this album isn’t just a couple of pop songs haphazardly thrown together with hopes of reaching the top charts. Between fierce numbers such as “Unholy” and “Mother’s Daughter,” a softer, more vulnerable “The Most” emerges to reflect on the notion of turning away from those who most care for us.
Music carries the perfect combination of escape and inspiration that allows me to hold hope during quarantine. Louis Armstrong once perfectly put that “music is life itself.” Through this emotional and terrifying year, this music allows me to grasp onto the beautifully everyday life I so desperately crave.