(Just to get this out of the way: I have some really obscure music taste, so, no judgement please!)
6. Pentatonix (the album) by Pentatonix
Genres: a capella, pop, contemporary R&B, soul
I start this list with a fairly popular album. It has that energetic vibe that stays with you all day long, and without explanation you could five songs in your head simultaneously. Even the slower songs like “Light in the Hallway” aren’t dragging the album out of that upbeat feeling. Instead, they wrap around you like a cozy blanket and you can forget your troubles for three minutes apiece. Whenever I listen to Pentatonix, I’m not only inspired but also highly motivated. I recommend putting this on when you have a pile of math assignment awaiting you, or for a lab report that has been sitting in the back of your mind for days. Pentatonix does nice covers, but their original works are their best by far.
5. Departure EP by IHF (Imagined Herbal Flows)
This is definitely one of the more random ones on my list. I guarantee most, if not all, the people reading this list will have no clue who IHF is. Most people don’t. All you need to know about IHF to appreciate his music is: he’s a musician. He makes electronic music, and it sounds so good. The EP only has six songs, but they all have such a peaceful, uplifting quality to them with a unique, beautiful sound. I especially like “Evolve” for its interesting rhythm and otherworldly feel.
4. A Head Full of Dreams by Coldplay
Genres: alternative rock, post-Britpop, pop rock
I saw Coldplay on their HFoD tour this summer, so I might be a tad bias on this one. It’s just a complete 180 from their previous album, and I couldn’t be more pleased. As the album art may suggest, it’s a very colorful song selection. They’re all feel-good selections, and listening to the whole album feels sort of like looking through a kaleidoscope (hence the name of the earlier EP, I would deduce). A lot of hits are on this album, from “Hymn for the Weekend” to “Adventure of a Lifetime.” While those two are great songs, my favorite on this album is the unearthly “Up & Up.”
3. Oh Wonder (the album) by Oh Wonder
Genres: indie pop, electro pop
When I think of Oh Wonder, two words come to mind: those harmonies. It’s a duo of singers Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. I don’t know much about them as people, but their voices certainly are a match made in heaven. Their songs all have the same quiet enthusiasm and gentle wonder about them, whether they’re singing in hushed tones with subtle devotion, or a bit more sympathetic as they lament being trapped in a difficult relationship. My favorite song on this album is “Landslide,” a number about being there for someone, no matter the cost. I just love how much emotion this duo can convey with such simple melodies.
2. Robot Face by Caravan Palace
Genres: electro swing, new wave
I only discovered this French band recently, after it popped up in my recommended list on YouTube. After listening to one of their most popular tunes, “Lone Digger,” I decided I needed more of that crazy, fast-paced amazingness. And so, I invested myself in yet another band and have been listening to them whenever I have the chance. The main vocalist, Zoé Colotis, has this absolutely enchanting voice that reminded me vaguely of Josephine of Oh Wonder. However, Zoé’s voice had a different quality to it. It was less innocent and gentle, and more reckless, and almost urgent. This made all of Caravan Palace’s songs have a certain quality to them, like they were stories being told in secret, to avoid being discovered. Then again, some of the songs don’t have many words at all. Maybe my artist’s brain is just overdramatizing things again.
1. A Moment Apart by ODESZA
Genres: indietronica, chillwave, electropop, future bass
I don’t get chills. When I’m really enchanted by something, I maybe sigh unintentionally, or tear up. But I don’t get chills. When I tell you the transition between the first two songs on this album gave me chills, I am not joking in the slightest. It didn’t just happen the first time, either. Every time I put this album on, it’s like being shown a slice of heaven. I feel kind of bad, being a fan of this duo. Not because I don’t like them, no, I love them. But my problem is that the YouTube comment section suggests that there is a very large amount of ODESZA fans, yet every time I say I’m an ODESZA fan, people look at me as if I have three heads. I’m sad because they don’t know what they’re missing. Therefore, I have resorted to converting everyone I can to this music. It’s just too beautiful to remain underground. This may seem a little mean of me to say, but I wish to one day say “Wow, that ODESZA song is so overplayed.” That’s how you know the band has reached the top.