Albums helping me through Quarantine
Quarantine is really tough on the mind, body, and soul. Everyday feels like the previous normal won't be coming back. That's scary, all change is scary; but it's important for us to try to flow with time, and resist against anything looking to do us harm. What I mean by this, is it feels like we are in a very important point in history, and what all of us collectively do now will affect the future far more than normal. My anxiety, and many others' is that things will change for the worse. However, this is also the time where we can change our old systems into something new, and better. Look what you can do locally to help others in your community, if you're able, look at what you can do for other communities as well.
Also, if you can, support the people fighting for their freedom. There are a lot of protesters on the ground right now.
Anyway, that small rant was a writers blockage I've been feeling for a bit. So now let's talk about the albums I've had on repeat the last few weeks...
ADHD - Joyner Lucas
Joyner has hit it out of the ballpark with this album. Blending fabulously produced hip hop beats, and smoothly written raps; ADHD is an exploration into his childhood diagnosis with... ADHD. I guess I just relate to a lot of the content being presented. My favourite songs are definitely Lotto, 10 Bands (featuring the legendary Timbaland), and Will; a love letter to the legendary Will Smith. The album consists of four skits, two of which depict very uncomfortable counseling sessions.
What I get out of this album is the mental health connection. I find it easier to connect with some of the subject matter, because I've felt like this in my life. It's a journey of self-acceptance, and telling the world "this is who I am."
I think the only major downside is that Chris Brown is on a track. (Yeah I went there)
Everything Now - Arcade Fire
Canadian super group Arcade Fire returned with another album in 2017; Everything Now. The first thing I had heard from this album was the titular song, which samples the friggin Coffee Cola song by Francis Bebey. The album was also partially produced by one-half of Daft Punk. It's definitely apparently caused a stir with fans, but hell, I still enjoy this album. I'm just bummed I missed it when it came out.
Arcade fire usually sticks to indie rock, but transitions into synth-pop among other genres in this album. Everything Now flows beautifully, and seems to ooze the unrest my generation is feeling in our daily lives. Right from the opener, to the titular track, over to the closer, back around to the opener; this album is a loop.
Oh yeah, my favourite songs are Everything Now, Signs of Life, and Good God Damn.
Man on the Moon: The End of Day - Kid Cudi
This one is a french hand kiss classic. Kid Cudi dropped Man on the Moon: The End of Day (The title is needed) all the way back in 2009. I remember watching VH1 at my dad's place, and seeing an interview with Cudi about Day n' Nite, and since then I was hooked. The album is an exploration into dreams, and Cudi takes you on a *cough* chill trip through his imagination. Skits in the album act as a gateway between sections, and really makes the whole thing feel like a journey. My must listens from the album are Simple As..., Alive, and Up Up & Away.
There are many ways to view this album, and I think that's why it was so wildly popular. Images appeared so vividly to me, a silly little dream in high school was to make a visual accompaniment to the album. I think now that isn't needed, this album should remain what you yourself see in it.
I'm not done talking about the Man on the Moon yet though...
Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
Boom, just over exactly one year later the much anticipated sequel was released. Kid Cudi dropped Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager in 2010 and once again blew a young Ben's mind. Continuing on the continuity of the previous album, Cudi once again takes us on a super chill trip through other parts of his imagination. Doing away with most of the skits, the album focuses more on the songs themselves. The best songs in my opinion are Erase Me, REVOFEV, and Mr. Rager. Kid Cudi has always had very soothing vocals, and I definitely think that this album works so well because it can balance the louder aspects with the soothing nature of the vocals.
We got a lot of great hits from this album as well. We've gone from the lulling highs and the deep dark lows of the previous album, to a more active tone. That's not to say we still don't get these, but The Legend of Mr. Rager adds action to the narrative, it embodies the second act in a play.
Unfortunately Man on the Moon III seems destined to remain just a thought.
The New Abnormal - The Strokes
Man, this album just oozes indie. That's okay though, that's what brought me in after their 'Is This It' album. The New Abnormal is a masterclass in this sound, and Julian Casablancas nails the vocals. The new album actually released last month, and is still pretty fresh on our minds. My favourite songs from the album would probably have to be The Adults are Talking, Selfless, and At the Door. At the Door especially is fantastic, and gives such a heavy vibe of trauma. The accompanying video in the song has been interpreted a lot, but I believe it's about trauma, self-harm, and suicide. If you have a chance, check that out too, it has a gorgeous 70s style rotoscope animation.
Once again, I am talking about millennial unrest. Maybe it's my own emotions reading into these albums, but the New Abnormal seems like a conversation on our current times. The title even feels like a nod to this, as these crazy times are the New Abnormal. The overall mood of the album however, feels like a chill living room concert; just gotta close your eyes.
Anyway, I am not nearly knowledgeable in music to give comprehensive opinions, just what I feel.
How to be a Human Being - Glass Animals
I've loved this album for a few years now. Glass Animals released their album How to be a Human Being in 2016, to much popularity. They apparently wrote this album while on tour, and used stories they heard from different people. The band would then write songs as if coming from these people. This created a fantastic flow to the album, with one coherent sound and many different viewpoints. The songs I enjoy the most from the album are Youth, Season 2 Episode 3, and The Other Side of Paradise. Dave's naturally soothing vocals offsets the more serious tones of the album perfectly, never making you feel overwhelmed with serious subject matter.
One common theme does present itself often in the album. It seems that the feeling of not being good enough is mentioned or at least hinted at frequently. Maybe this was on purpose, to unite these ideas. Presenting that in our current society, many of us just don't feel like we're ever doing enough; creating a downward spiral.
This was also the second album I've ever gotten on Vinyl.
Oasis Nocturno - TOKiMONSTA
TOKiMONSTA wasn't somebody initially on my radar. I've personally moved more away from EDM and Electronic lately. (It comes in phases, bipolar and music is a wild ride) However, after hearing several songs from this album, I fell in love with the music. Oasis Nocturno released in 2020 as well. TOKiMONSTA has a fantastic sense for music clearly, and it shows with the mixing of her album. Like previously mentioned, the album leans heavily on it's EDM influence, but isn't afraid to dip into other genres as well. I think like most producers, she's strongest with features, but her solo songs are actually the highlight of the album.
If you want an electronic blend of music, I think this album is the one to check out. It has a very positive vibe, and different cultural influences. I do think my favourite songs from the album are Love that Never, Get me Some (Featuring Dumbfoundead, and Drew Love), and Fried for the Night (Featuring EarthGang).
Give this album a chance, because I think TOKiMONSTA will be going places.
Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders - AWOLNATION
It's been years since AWOLNATION Sailed their way into our ear canals, but now they're back with their 2020 Album; Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders. We all know what this band is about now, great indie rock and a mix of soothing and loud vocals. Alongside this, there are synth beats that tie the sound of the album together. This one is meant to be a ride throughout, and once again AWOLNATION nails the energy it takes to get people moving.
The best songs from the album (in my opinion) are Slam (Angel Miners), Pacific Coast Highway in the Movies (Featuring Rivers Cuomo from Weezer), and Half Italian.
I'm sure there are music experts that can explain this, but the band truly knows how to make a catchy hit. We saw it with their biggest single Sail, which caught different outlets of the internet by storm. I wasn't as into their previous album, but I truly think this is a return to form for the band.
It's also neat that Rivers from Weezer collaborated on a song. I don't know what else to write here.
LiL' RED RIDIN' FROM THE HOOD - CHLOBOCOP
I don't know what everyone's obsession with the caps lock is. (Pause for studio laughter) CHLOBOCOP seems to be a newcomer? Honestly I don't know a whole lot about her. What I do know, is she has a great rap flow, and each of the songs are strong on their own. LiL' RED RIDIN' FROM THE HOOD came out in 2018, and actually only consists of seven songs for a total runtime of thirteen minutes. Doesn't seem like a lot of time to grab attention, but it gives a greater focus to each song; and highlights her verses beautifully. The runtime also is ideal for an short, easily digestible experience. My favourite songs from the album are MR NiCE GUY, and ViRGO.
CHLOBOCOP has a great voice for a more chill, subdued rap; not dissimilar to Kid Cudi. She definitely seems like someone to look out for in the future. Hopefully we can get a full EP release from her soon, because I need more of her verses!! Even caught Kyla's attention, and I always look to her for women rapper recommendations.
Let's see what CHLOBOCOP has in store.
I am hoping some of these albums are a help for others. I enjoy my playlist, and try to scour Spotify for new music constantly, but it began to feel stale in quarantine. It felt like I was constantly listening to the same music over and over again. That's why I always love to go back to albums. I've collected CDs for years since high school, and began collecting Vinyl in the last several years. Streaming music has been awful for artists admittedly, the pro however has that it's been easier than ever to find songs. Albums have fell by the wayside for some people I believe, and it's still super important to check out albums; and if you love it supporting the artist is super important too!
Especially right now, local businesses are struggling with lockdown procedures. Buying albums from local record stores, whether they're CDs or Vinyls, is a great way to support local businesses as well.
Anyway, hope everyone is doing alright, take this time to educate yourself on the disgusting things happening to PoC right now, and have a fantastic day!