1. “It is a beautiful 75 degrees outside and I would like to imagine that I am sailing around Europe even though I’m just casually sunbathing in my backyard.”
I suggest the Kings of Convenience 2004 album, Riot on an Empty Street. This album has an undeniable tranquilizing effect, while also maintaining a European flair that makes you feel like you are strolling around a small foreign city or hammocking in Croatia. It’s calming enough to read to because it makes perfect background noise (tracks like “Gold in the Air of Summer” and “Cayman Islands”). I would definitely classify this album as “soothing yet bouncy” folk-pop. If you haven’t already, just listen and you’ll understand what I mean.
Despite its soothing nature, it’s just a very fun collection of tracks that are also often delightfully upbeat (such as “Misread” and “I’d Rather Dance With You”).
Other possible albums that fit this category: The Year of Hibernation by Youth Lagoon, Break it Yourself by Andrew Bird, Life of Leisure by Washed Out
2) “As I prepare for (insert exciting nighttime occasion here), I realize that I have never looked nor felt better than I do right now. How did I become so cool and stylish?”
If you are 1) about to go out to drinks with your friends, 2) preparing for an unexpected rendezvous with someone you’ve been seeing, or 3) trying to make your room feel like a ridiculously posh nightclub, there is no better soundtrack than Disclosure’s new album, Settle. If you enjoy “deep house” or whatever new way they are choosing to describe this particular breed of catchy electronic music, then nothing will make you feel fresher while you prepare for your night out.
Specific tracks that might make you feel the sexiest include: “Confess to Me,” “Latch,” and “When A Fire Starts to Burn.” Tracks that might make you feel like you are strutting down the runway of life in your finest attire with paparazzi at your back: “You & Me,” “January,” and “Defeated No More.” I honestly don’t know how anyone could ever listen to Disclosure without grooving.
Other possible albums that fit this category: Free the Universe by Major Lazer, Trouble by Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, 1991 EP by Azealia Banks
3) “I am the happiest I’ve ever been with my current disposition (at work, school, within a relationship, or in life in general) and I need music that is both cheerful and beautiful enough to keep up with my rapidly accelerating mood.”
Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend’s album, remains the soundtrack of my final college summer. It debatably contains their most enjoyable work so far. This album is full of blissful summery tracks that somehow embody the feeling of simultaneously ripping open Christmas presents as a child, eating your favorite flavor of fro-yo, jumping on an enormous trampoline, getting an A+ on a test you thought you failed, and holding hands with your crush for the first time.
With that said, don’t get the impression that this album has a “spastic” happiness to it. The joy of this album pours into you slowly so that it’s never too much at once; it is well-contained within Vampire Weekend’s lovably recognizable Africana-laced punk and Ezra’s flawless vocals. Listen to “Obvious Bicycle” or “Ya Hey” while you watch the sunset from a campsite. Listen to “Unbelievers” or “Finger Back” when you feel like drunkenly dancing like a Charlie Brown character in the middle of the day. Listen to “Hannah Hunt” or “Everlasting Arms” when you realize you are in love with your best friend and you can’t stop smiling. Or just listen to all of them because you are so gosh darn happy.
Other possible albums that fit this category: This is an Adventure by The Lighthouse and the Whaler, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities
4) “I’m so in love that I don’t know what to do with myself!”
When you are sprawled out in bed next to your significant other (or by yourself, happily thinking about the object of your affections) and your heart is exploding with romanticism, The Weatherman from Gregory Alan Isakov should be playing in the background. Songs like “Amsterdam” and “Time Will Tell” will make your loving gazes towards one another feel so much sweeter. “Second Chances” and “Saint Valentine” have some of the most beautiful lyrics on the album, all accompanied by Isakov’s incredibly catchy acoustic sound. “Honey, It’s Alright” and “She Always Takes It Black” may ring true for you if you are amidst a struggle with the one you love.
You could honestly play the entire album from start to finish whilst in the presence of (insert name of that one person you cannot stop thinking about) and it is sure to make the time you share so much sweeter. All of Gregory Alan Isakov’s albums have this quality and I must recommend them all, especially This Empty Northern Hemisphere. Fall in love with his music as you fall deeper in love.
Other possible albums that fit this category: Hummingbird by Local Natives, The Recordings of the Middle East by The Middle East, We Are The Tide by Blind Pilot, Time Without Consequence by Alexi Murdoch
5) “I’m in the midst of a complicated yet exciting thought process, and I need music that speaks to that.”
Whether you are deeply involved in a creative project of some sort, making important decisions about your future, or wholeheartedly embracing a “fresh start” in life, Instinct by Niki & the Dove is sure to fit the bill. Each track on this album is so completely different from the last, so it is important to approach it with an open mind. I have personally found it to be a truly electrifying compilation of songs with complex intellectual implications.
At the same time, Instinct never takes itself too seriously. It’s fun to listen to, even more fun to dance to, and leaves you wanting more with each eclectic track. For kooky Euro-poppy songs that make you want to jump and sing along to, check out: “Tomorrow,” “DJ Ease My Mind,” and “In Our Eyes.” For epic songs that make you want to proudly stand nude in front of waterfall and plunge in feet-first, listen to: “The Fox” or “Under the Bridges.” Honestly though, the entire album is golden.
Other possible albums that fit this category: Miracle Mile by STRFKR, Lucky Shiner by Gold Panda, Just Movement by Robert Delong, An Awesome Wave by alt-J