Eve Hurrell Atkins, Delara Youssefian and Iona Holmes serve up some tunes to keep you going through quarantine.
Listening to music is a great way to relax and unwind, or alternatively, to let your hair down and get your groove on. Here are some suggestions for albums to listen to, dances to learn and music vids to enjoy…
5 Concept Albums to Listen to in Lockdown
Being a bookworm my whole life has led to a love of close-reading, finding themes, concepts and narratives through just about any outlet, and music is no different. I’ve put together some of my favourite concept albums; sit down, chill and work your way through these albums in song order and relish in their complex and beautiful ways of exploring identity, love, tragedy, memoir and travel.
Here’s a playlist of my selected tracks from these albums, as well as some others from albums not mentioned…enjoy!
Lemonade – Beyoncé
Lemonade beautifully conceptualises the importance of the experiences of black women, as well as the narrative being provocative of the breakdown of a marriage and explores the emotions of anger, despair, hurt, grief and love. Beginning with an emotional plea to be caught watching her husband cheating (Pray You Catch Me), and ending with an anthem of female solidarity and identity (Formation) and a demo of the iconic Sorry.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Ms. Lauryn Hill
One of the greatest woman MCs and hip hop masterminds of the last few decades, Lauryn Hill explores themes of spirituality, liberation, heartbreak and motherhood in this incredible album. It accounts her experience of love, loss and womanhood and is truly wonderful start to finish, blurring genres of hip-hop, reggae and Motown-era soul.
Hejira – Joni Mitchell
Released in 1976, this folk jazz album by Joni Mitchell was largely written on a road trip from Maine to LA. The imagery throughout the album tells the story of small towns, large roads and the weather. The travel element and idyllic imagery creates a stunning flow through the album and Mitchell described her inspiration as ‘the sweet loneliness of solidarity travel’.
A Grand Don’t Come for Free – The Streets
This renowned album follows the narrative of the protagonist’s (voiced by Mike Skinner) life as he loses £1,000 and his relationship with a girl called Simone. Blending garage beats with alternative hip-hop, this album articulates the experiences of lad’s holidays, falling in love, breakups and drug/rave culture all through one storyline, pinched with humour and pockets of realism that are all too relatable.
I Love You, Honeybear – Father John Misty
Father John Misty is the alias of Joshua Tillman, former drummer of Fleet Foxes. This album is a rich, complex recipe of stories, characters and expressions of love. At times it is difficult to decipher the narrative but it is pinned together by the underlying theme of true love, inspired by Tillmans’s recent marriage. It has been billed as ‘a concept album about Josh Tillman’; a beautiful folk rock compilation.
I’m cringing myself out by writing this too, but succumb to the temptation if you haven’t already, and download TikTok. Not only will it provide you with hours upon hours of entertainment watching people remake viral dances, making pottery and showing off their adorable pets, but at some point you too will be sucked into the void and you’ll find yourself watching tutorials on how to do each viral dance. Fast forward three hours and you’ll be exhausted, pretty sweaty, but feeling extremely satisfied and kool ready to hit the club with your new dance moves when everything re-opens.
Music Vids for the Eyes and Ears
- Colors: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Qw1dzXDBAZPwS7zm37g8g
Colors’ impressive repertoire is guaranteed to feature some of your favourite artists, and is a great place to discover new voices from around the globe. Aesthetic styling, smooth vocals AND new home-recorded sessions every day during the lockdown – what more could you ask for.
- NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts:
NPR host performances from a range of artists in their office. The intimate setting really emphasises the talent of these vocalists, as they perform with minimal backing musicians and none of the frills they’re used to. Personal favourites include H.E.R, Jorja Smith, Lizzo and Tyler the Creator (trust me).
Live electronic music performances in incredible locations around the world – from FKJ on Bolivia’s salt lakes, to Peggy Gou in Palais de Beaux-Arts de Lille, these are the sets you never knew you needed.
Artwork by Aggie Tait.