By Becca Roithmayr
As I sat with my headphones on and my eyes glazed over, a former professor walked by me. She asked what I was always listening to and why it was so important. Noticing the puzzled look on my face, she went on to say I seem entranced. Until this moment, I never recognized how my personal connection to artists was noticeable to those around me. What she was witnessing was an experience parallel to listening to advice from a trusted friend.
Integrating music into my daily life has been a form of healing since I can remember. It has gotten to the point where I sometimes forget how strong of an influence an album can have over my mood. The connection that one can feel even on days of isolation and self-doubt while listening to an empowering artist is indisputable. Here are four of the top albums that have held my hand through the past few years. Who knows, maybe you’ll hold on too.
- “Hot Fuss” — The Killers
Must listens: “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Andy You’re A Star,” “Mr. Brightside”
Every once in awhile, when we’ve done enough good to receive something back from the universe, entrepreneurs of self-discovery come together and form a band like The Killers. The band then assembles itself to curate new music with a beautiful balance of tragedy and recovery. In 2004, this took form in an album titled “Hot Fuss.”
This album embodies the best memories of guitar hero and matured teen angst. Question the system, resist the common mindset, redefine norms. “Hot Fuss” revels in the vulnerability of experiencing life and leads the listener through a journey of self-empowerment. This album taught me how to seek help, guide others and perhaps most importantly — get through life.
Ultimately, The Killers accomplished sharing a motivational message in a way that others could cheer along to. There’s a reason you can’t go a weekend without hearing Mr. Brightside being drunkenly rehearsed as a college student’s anthem. The lyrics resonate with the frustration of handling unintended consequences. They then offer a roadmap to the other side of poor decisions, where lessons are learned and life goes on.
- “A Moment Apart” — ODESZA
Genre: Dreamy electronica
Must listens: “Higher Ground,” “Across The Room,” “Just A Memory”
After experiencing this album live two nights in a row, I would be doing you an injustice by not encouraging a listen. The sound mimics an elastic band pulling and retracting around two people falling in and out of love like mirrors. Constantly debating the reward of fulfilling one’s most sincere wants and desires. Releasing control and allowing oneself to trust someone in the most satisfying of ways — commonly known as love. The notes form a silky sound that encaptures you in the feeling of slipping on a satin robe.
Beyond the quality of composition, the inclusion of lyrics in a traditionally EDM setting allows for a mix of Lana Del Rey, Moon Taxi and Lost Kings. The album brings a similar emotion to the first time you realized your hand could move like a dolphin outside the window of a moving car. Welcomed confusion, a sensation of centeredness and the type of peaked attention that relaxes one’s mind can be expected.
- “channel ORANGE” — Frank Ocean
Genre: Alternative R&B
Must listens: “Super Rich Kids,” “Thinkin Bout You,” “Forrest Gump”
Frank Ocean is a pioneer for integrating music into a platform for social change. Ocean used this album for a monumental moment in his own career by alluding towards his sexual exploration with other men. Perhaps the most paradoxing element of this decision was the need to admit something that’s naturally a part of his being. Imagine going up to a friend, feeling oddly ashamed and vulnerable and saying “I thought I should let you know, I have two arms and two legs.” Your friend gasps in response and immediately becomes unsettled. Weird, right? It would be absurd for someone to seem alarmed by something that you were simply born with, yet sexuality is constantly questioned and constrained. It takes regular conversation and daily exposure of a buried topic to reduce the negative stigmas that surround it.
As a woman in her 20s who has personally struggled to defend my sexuality, Ocean’s music is euphoric. He puts into his lyrics a deeper understanding of how human intimacy becomes an integral part of one’s existence and to rid yourself of judgment. This judgement extends beyond your perception of others and arguably most importantly, onto yourself. Allowing yourself to exist how you feel naturally at peace takes time and mindfulness. “Channel Orange” brings one into these moments of clarity and calmness.
Beyond this, Ocean exploits the less romanticized side of drug and alcohol use that is frequently washed over in media. Funky beats and notes embodying a nostalgic melancholy are used throughout to set the tone of self-discovery. Overall, the album is attributed to overcoming what overwhelms and prohibits you from being your authentic self.
- “Fate” — Dr. Dog
Genre: Indie Rock
Must Listens: “The Breeze,” “Army of Ancients,” “My Friend”
You’re hiking the Appalachian Trail and find a group of welcoming strangers at a rest stop. Each having just met each other, they take out an instrument and communicate through music. A unique and unconventional sound is curated. Whimsical flutes, tropical drum beats and the familiar sound of a salt shaker collide into a magnificent melody. This group of atypical intellectuals is what I imagine when listening to Dr. Dog. Sinking into a comfort similar to the warmth of returning to your childhood bed.
Beyond the raw and authentic talent of each individual band member, they collectively communicate a combat against life’s more hidden insecurities. The beginning of the album starts off with a song titled The Breeze which has gotten me through some of the darkest corners of my own mind. Depicting the imagery of getting high and feeling euphoric becomes innocently attainable when linked to music. Instead of becoming dependant on something that can negatively overwhelm your life, turn to something that rejuvenates you.
Dr. Dog suggests using music as a tool for healing. Alternative healthy solutions to the obstacles life throws your way are crucial for self-care. Because of my genuine passion for integrating music therapy into the treatment of mental health issues, this band has taken up a part of my heart. If you have dealt with feelings of isolating or suffocating silence, I encourage you to give these guys a listen. They don’t shy away from discussing typically avoided topics and integrate lessons of healing into each song:
“Are there dark parts to your mind?
Hidden secrets left behind?
Where no one ever goes
But everybody knows
It's all right”
- “American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story” — Kevin Abstract
- “Dopamine” — BORNS
- “How Do You Feel Now?” — Joywave
- “Warm On A Cold Night” — HONNE