10 albums to lose yourself in while social distancing

This list of 10 albums will help you pass the time while you isolate at home

As the new coronavirus continues its spread throughout the world and across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended people stay home and isolated, advising against gatherings with 10 or more people. 

Governors and mayors nationwide have begun taking measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, such as banning gatherings and closing businesses. Life as we know it is beginning to skid to a halt as we grapple with and fight the pandemic.

The rapid changes in how we are expected to live our daily lives are frightening, but staying home and away from large gatherings is vital to ensuring we fight the coronavirus pandemic amply.

Some Americans have been adhering to popular guidelines while still salvaging a semblance of normal life, such as maintaining a 6-foot distance when talking to neighborhood friends, while others ignore common sense guidelines in lieu of spring break fanatics.

If you’re settling into the new Zoom format for ASU classes and implementing precautions into your daily routine, you may find yourself with a hearty amount of spare time. Here are 10 albums to lose yourself in while practicing social distancing.

1. "Devotion" by Tirzah

"Devotion," the 2018 debut LP of English singer and songwriter Tirzah, is a soothing amalgam of slinky R&B, with repetitive 8-counts rolling over each other like waves in the sea and a croon crying out for love and loss. 

Candid yet simple lyrics swirl around and toy with softened trap beats with ease on this 39-minute LP. This album is perfect to put on while cleaning, or while you simply light a candle and tumble into the black hole that is your headspace for a sliver of time. "Devotion" stands most strongly when listened to in full, but standout tracks are "Fine Again," "Holding On," "Basic Need" and "Devotion."

2. "Lucid" by Raveena

American singer and songwriter Raveena shines in the glory of "Lucid," her debut LP. An album that Noisey called a "dreamy R&B universe," "Lucid" explores issues relating to identity within an array of marginalized communities, while also navigating love, pain and fear in the midst of life's chaos. 

Delving into personal issues such as toxic relationships, physical trauma and letting go of past mistakes, Raveena crafts a wonderland of twangy guitar gliding hand-in-hand with a supple voice over synthesized compressions. This album is perfect for unwinding after a stressful day of watching the news, or it can act as a soundtrack to that romance novel you’ve been meaning to engross yourself in. Standout tracks on this album are "Hypnosis," "Salt Water," "Mama" and "Still Dreaming."

3. "Kaputt" by Destroyer

Canadian rock band Destroyer, sustained by the effortless warble and songwriting of Dan Bejar, struck gold on their ninth LP "Kaputt" in 2011. Landing itself a cushiony spot on numerous best-of-the-year lists from the likes of Pitchfork and Uncut, "Kaputt" has solidified itself over the years as a staple of both alternative music and the band’s lengthy discography. 

The album finds itself slipping and sliding between influences from jazz, pop and soft and hard rock through the 50-minute sonic journey. Feeling lush with trumpets and pedal-altered guitar, "Kaputt" feels rich likes a tropical island's ecosystem with the number of instruments incorporated to complete the album. 

"Kaputt" is perfect to zone out to, and you won’t even realize you’ve finished listening until the synthesized drones and tasteful tambourine of "Chinatown" worms its way into your ear canals. Standouts on "Kaputt" are "Blue Eyes," "Savage Night at the Opera," "Kaputt" and "Downtown."

4. "The OOZ" by King Krule

King Krule, or Archy Marshall, pleased fans in 2017 with the release of "The OOZ," his second album under the moniker. "The OOZ" highlights Krule's signature angsty vocal style, along with offering him the reigns on production and engineering alongside Dilip Harris

Marrying cryptic lyricism with near-perfect production, Krule finds himself in a musically dystopian world of his own design on "The OOZ." This album is one to be dissected in privacy, preferably with the helping hand of a set of headphones. Standout tracks on "The OOZ" are "Biscuit Town," "Dum Surfer," "Emergency Blimp" and "The Cadet Leaps."

5. "Mama's Gun" by Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu's followup album to her ever-iconic debut "Baduizm," "Mama's Gun," was released in the chaos of Y2K anxiety and remains a staple of both Badu’s discography and the genre of R&B. 

Taking the opulent and groovy sounds from her past work and molding them into a more developed sound, Badu solidified herself as a historic figure in music with "Mama's Gun," an album loved by fans for Badu’s slippery voice, dance-worthy beats and intricate time structures. 

The album's lyrics delve into concepts such as interpersonal growth, abandonment, romance and striving for a better future. The pinnacle of "Mama's Gun," however, is Badu's vocal quality, which shifts effortlessly from a syncopated flow to a singing voice that mimics a swan's fluttering departure from a sunlit pond. 

Listening to this album while cooking yourself a Badu-approved meal will have you swaying your hips and rolling your neck for a full 72 minutes as one track tumbles into the next. Standout tracks from "Mama's Gun" are "Penitentiary Philosophy," "Didn’t Cha Know," "Cleva," "A.D. 2000" and "Bag Lady."

6. "Stranger in the Alps" by Phoebe Bridgers

American singer and songwriter Phoebe Bridgers delivers breathy trills, symphonic production and mitigated acoustic guitar on her debut album "Stranger in the Alps." With a title birthed from a cheeky reference from "The Big Lebowski," Bridgers crafts tunes of heartbreak and devastation that would leave even Walter Sobchak in a self-made puddle of tears. 

Bridgers' lyricism, which encapsulates Gen Z's anxiety and underlying sadness, is the pinnacle of this release. She pens on "Smoke Signals" that "The future's unwritten/The past is a corridor/I'm at the exit/Looking back through the hall." 

Coupling folk rock with lyrics that seem to be pulled directly from an Instagram spam account allows listeners to delve into Bridgers' world and transfer the meaning of her songs into their own. This album is a perfect soundtrack for a lengthy walk around your deserted neighborhood, with or without your dog. Standout tracks on "Stranger in the Alps" are "Smoke Signals," "Motion Sickness," "Demi Moore," "Scott Street" and "You Missed My Heart."

7. "The Best of Sade" by Sade

Sade, pronounced Shah-Day, is an English band that worked primarily in the 1980s and '90s, pumping out music with influences from soul, smooth jazz and pop. The band is named after Sade Adu, the sultry sounding lead singer, who brings her instantly recognizable voice to form the band's first greatest hits album "The Best of Sade." Harmonious saxophone, a backbeat and an enticing vocalist in tow, Sade has been successful at holing out a spot for themselves in music’s lengthy history. 

"The Best of Sade" chronicles work from the band's first four albums, with the first being "Diamond Life" in 1984. There is no voice that can rival Adu's, and her effortlessly blissful lyrics detailing love and heartbreak carry her vocals like a translucent plane cascading over mountains of clouds. Standout tracks on this album are "Hang On To Your Love," "The Sweetest Taboo," "Is It a Crime," "Paradise," "Like a Tattoo" and "Cherish the Day."

8. "Beach Music" by (Sandy) Alex G

"Beach Music," released in 2015, is the sixth studio album by genre-bending crooner-turned-heartbreaker Alexander Giannascoli, known professionally as (Sandy) Alex G. "Beach Music" offers listeners an intimate listening experience, with Alex G's vocal quality landing somewhere between a wail and a whisper, and his lyrics being even more obscure. 

Nevertheless, Alex G curates a 13-track listening experience that toys with themes of fleeting romance, lost hope and melancholic self-reflection. Electrifying and, at some times, piercing guitar rips through the multiple layers of finger plucking and bass lines to counter Alex G's muted vocality.

This album will sound perfect in a claw-footed tub filled to the brim with white foam, while you relax surrounded by candles of different shapes and sizes. Standout tracks on "Beach Music" are "Bug," "Thorns," "Salt," "In Love," "Walk" and "Snot."

9. "Watch This Liquid Pour Itself" by Okay Kaya

Blending ambient, disco, pop, folk and techno to craft her newest record, Okay Kaya released "Watch This Liquid Pour Itself" in January 2020. Delving into a quest for self-exploration and expression, Okay Kaya sings of messy boyfriends, being institutionalized, visions of a distant future and sexual wellness. 

A hymnal voice singing about layman concepts fits into an array of production choices with ease, and Okay Kaya somehow transitions leisurely folk into hip-thrusting disco effortlessly. This album would pair well with a dinner with loved ones, or it could act as motivating background noise to a morning of productivity. Standout tracks are "Baby Little Tween," "Insert Generic Name," "Psych Ward," "Asexual Wellbeing" and "Mother Nature’s Bitch."

10. "Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1" by Jill Scott

Nominated for best R&B album at the 2001 Grammys, "Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1" is a blend of facile cool sounds and beats holding hands to create what is Jill Scott's debut album. On "Jilltro," Scott asks the essential question to prelude what is arguably one of the best R&B albums of all time: "Y'all ready to settle down and, and get with this?/You know settle into this feeling?" There are no tracks that one will grow tired of on this 73-minute piece of musical superiority. 

With immense control of a heavenly upper register, Scott sings of past relationships, the current state of love, yearning and passion. On "Honey Molasses," Scott laments "And too, I wondered, were you thinking about me?/And if you were, why was I feeling so lonely?/By the phone, alone to the bone." Precise and deliberate production offers listeners a relaxing and funky sonic experience that Pitchfork called "a neo-soul chronicle that brought love and sex to the everywoman." Standout tracks on Scott's debut album are "Do You Remember," "A Long Walk," "It’s Love," "Love Rain" and "Try."

In this new era of social distancing, listening to music can offer us an escape from the stressful realities of the year. As students adjust to online classes, they should engross themselves in music that can act as an offset to what is going on around them.

Listening to any of these albums in full is a perfect activity while practicing the right thing to do as the coronavirus continues to grip the nation: staying home and away from crowds, even small ones.


Reach the reporter at stellefs@asu.edu and follow @samtellefson on Twitter. 

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