A bit of easy listening for your end-of-semester woes
At its most effective, music is an artform that evokes a physical response. Whether you’re dancing, moshing or grooving along, the medium creates a sense of euphoria that can’t be replicated. But sometimes you just need a good album to put you in the zone. Here are our staff picks for the best albums to study to.
Alt J – An Awesome Wave
Katya Teague, editor-in-chief
Alt J’s sleeper-hit debut, An Awesome Wave, is mired in Radiohead-style electronica and indie-rock quirks. Twisting and turning from art rock tendencies to a cappella vocal interludes and jangly guitar rock, Alt J channels immediate pop accessibility without compromising their more experimental leanings. The record is rich with a variety of sounds but maintains a palette of glitch-heavy electronica beats at the album’s forefront.
Homeshake – Midnight Snack
Maggie Hope, arts editor
Homeshake’s Midnight Snack is a comforting indie LP laden with spacey R&B textures and an overall laid-back ambience. Known for his stint as Mac DeMarco’s back up guitarist, leading man Peter Sagar composes songs with a kind of easy-breezy infectiousness that actually comes off as more earnest than its slacker demeanor suggests. Locking into moods that soundtrack rainy days, Sagar adopts a delicate falsetto and pairs it with bubbling synths and bass to compose an album that’s utterly relaxing in its lethargic moments.
Luciano Pavarotti – Nessun Dorma
Kenneth Gibson, video editor
Nessun Dorma is an expressive aria melody from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot. The song achieved mainstream success after Luciano Pavarotti’s recording was used as the main theme for the BBC’s coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. The song has long been established as a seminal piece of opera. That reputation is undoubtedly felt, as the album of the concert went triple platinum in the United States and went on to be the most sold classical recording in the world.
Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons
Candice Pye, news editor
The Four Seasons is a series of four violin concerti by famed Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. Each piece is an expression of the four seasons in a year. Vivaldi published the concerti with a set of sonnets that eluded to each season the music was meant to represent. This is one of the very first instances of music structured with a narrative component.
Beach House – Depression Cherry
Alex Hutchins, photo editor
Beach House fluctuates between a dynamic dichotomy of beauty and melancholy. The duo’s 2015 effort, Depression Cherry, dials back on the muddy lo-fi production of their early work in exchange for a lushly orchestrated experience filled with dazzling instrumentation and vocal performances that are the stuff of dreams. The album spins in a web of its own ethereality, unperturbed by outside forces, and instead focused on progressing with sounds of grace and beauty.
Nosaj Thing – Parallels
Kirubel Mehari, assistant photo editor
This project from L.A. producer Jason Chung is a dissonant collection of meditative soul grooves. Chung mixes various genres into a synthesis of unique musical flavours, dipping his toes in everything from neo-soul to trap. The melodies are rich with layers, but the approach is minimalistic, revealing subtle embellishments in the mix.
Matthew Coyte, assistant sports editor
These mixes on Youtube interweave hip-hop instrumentation with a lo-fi aesthetic, culminating in a millennial interpretation of ambient music. The beats are basically wallpaper music, creating an effective mood for zoning out, chilling out or simply getting lost in your mind. The artists and song names are usually never mentioned, creating a sense of ambiguity while maintaining a linear listening experience.
Hans Zimmer – Inception: Music from the Motion Picture
Mia Anhoury, assistant life editor
The soundtrack to Christopher Nolan’s accomplished film Inception is towering in breadth and absolutely halting in its approach. The sounds aren’t exactly the most complex in the world, but composer Hans Zimmer uses this minimalism to create an emotionally harrowing atmosphere out of a mere three or four droning tones.
Andrea Bocelli – Romanza
Nicholas Di Giovanni, sports editor
Despite it being a compilation album, Andrea Bocelli’s Romanza was the singer’s first release in the United States and Canada. It is widely considered Bocelli’s most accomplished work, selling over 20 million units worldwide and garnering the Italian singer an international following in the process. On top of that, the album topped charts all around the world, further cementing Bocelli’s status as an operatic pop icon.
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin