If you're sheltering in place right now, you know full well how every morning is starting to feel a bit like the last morning, and the morning before that, and the morning before that... suddenly our snooze buttons are much more appealing. In an effort to break the cycle (or at least shake it up a little!), we've come up with a simple solution to sluggish mornings:
Each morning, while you brew your coffee, put on music. And not just any music: A full album. There's something about listening to an album from start to finish that feels so much more immersive than a playlist, and appropriately "slow" for the current situation.
It can be anything—your favorite band from high school, a live concert, a new release, or an all-time favorite. Let yourself enjoy it in full as you settle into your day over breakfast, your inbox, or a good book. You'll notice a nearly immediate shift in your mood (bonus if you're listening to it on vinyl). Our team shared our favorite albums below—and snippets of the Slack conversation that inspired this post—to get your creative juices flowing:
If there's one album that sums up my childhood, it would be Graceland by Paul Simon. Beyond the fact that every song on it is perfection, it's the opening notes of "The Boy in the Bubble" that instantly transforms my mood. The album is the quintessential music to play if you want to dance around your kitchen while cooking, have on in the background during a dinner party, or to listen to while having your morning coffee. So basically: any time, any place.
Nirvana Unplugged was released shortly after Kurt Cobain’s death, so in some ways it’s both a tribute and final album for Nirvana. It captures the raw intensity of Kurt’s songwriting in a minimalist and more subdued format, including a number of inspired covers from his favorite artists. Despite the fact it came out during the height of the grunge music era, this stripped-down and mercurial assortment of songs is timeless.
While Abbey Road is objectively the best Beatles album of all time (don't @ me, Sgt. Pepper's fans), 1965 was a magical year for the fab four with Help! and Rubber Soul. I could go on forever about the intro to "I'm Looking Through You," the dark undertones to what John has called his "least favorite Beatles song," the twangy rhythm of "What Goes On" (the only song credited to Lennon, McCartney, and Ringo!), the excellent use of tambourine in "Wait," the lyric, "Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight"... It was my first-ever favorite album and still gives me chills!
Honorable Mentions: Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (no surprise there, since Rubber Soul inspired Brian Wilson to create it), Graceland by Paul Simon, Lover by Taylor Swift though Jess makes an excellent case for 1989, and Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe
If Taylor Swift is my religion, then 1989 is my Holy Bible. It displays T-Swift at her best: joy-inducing pop hits ("Blank Space," "Shake It Off," "Style," "Bad Blood"), moody and symphonic ballads ("Wildest Dreams," "I Know Places," "Clean"), and vulnerable, revealing anecdotes set to catchy beats I still can't get out of my head ("All You Had To Do Was Stay," "I Wish You Would"), plus three bonus tracks that didn't deserve to be demoted to the deluxe edition (if you haven't heard them, "New Romantics" is possibly my favorite song on the whole album). I'd say I think this is peak Taylor, but honestly, I know she's got an endless supply of top-notch albums that will be released across my lifetime.
Is it even possible to definitively rank all of Radiohead’s nine albums?! If I am forced to choose only one, OK Computer is it (I had a poster of the album cover on my dorm room wall for at least two years in college, if that tells you anything about me). The lead single, “Paranoid Android," stole its name from a character in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy and was written after an “unpleasant experience in a Los Angeles bar,” which pretty much explains everything about why I love it so much. Other favorites include literally the entire album minus “Fitter Happier.”
Honorable Mentions: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Whenever I listen to Ziggy Stardust, I am immediately transported to the living room at my parents' house. David Bowie is also one of my dad’s all-time favorites, and many a Sunday afternoon growing up was spent listening to this album on vinyl while working away on a crossword puzzle. I think Ziggy may be the first album I ever learned to appreciate as a full body of work, rather than a few disconnected songs, and it continues to move me even now. I admire Bowie tremendously for his artistry, rejection of conventional rules, and honest commitment to being authentically himself. He is sorely missed.
I've loved Billy Joel my whole life, which I owe to my family, but my boyfriend and I really connected over The Stranger. When we first met, I bought him The Stranger on vinyl, telling him it was one of my favorite albums from start to finish. He told me it was one of his, too, and he already owned it (we kept both). One of our songs is "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," but you can really sing along to every song because Billy Joel is such a great story teller. So, in a nutshell: nostalgia and love.
Room on Fire by The Strokes is so nostalgic and holds so many good memories for me! It was an essential album for me in high school (although it came out years before) ,and coincidentally was the first CD I had in my first car so I would scream-sing it almost every day.
I often find myself coming back to the album Ctrl by SZA. The 2017 album has become a timeless mixture of edgy and chill with SZA’s smooth and deep voice (this as edgy as I get, people). I love how short and different each song is and how easy it is to sing along to. I have as close as it gets to a tone-deaf voice, and find it hard to binge-listen to artists who have incredible vocal ranges because I get discouraged when I can’t sing along with them (so selfish, I know). I can put this album on any time and love the fact that I can sing pretty much every word to every song on the album without it being a strain to my mediocre voice. The songs are fast, so there are definitely moments when you don’t know exactly what she is saying... but it’s fun to murmur what it sounds like! I can’t tell you how long I had been singing “all the stars are kosher” instead of “all the stars are closer.” Does anyone else love it when this happens? Just me? Cool.
Listening to this on shuffle can be a bit jarring, but listening to it from start to finish is a journey! 😉