kacey-musgraves-same-trailer-different-parkSame Trailer Different Park
Kacey Musgraves
2013, Mercury Nashville

Kacey Musgraves sings about life in a small town, faded hopes, feeling stuck, and trying to make the best of things in this collection of wistful, dreamy, and sometimes defiant songs. You can almost feel the summer heat bearing down on your arms as you listen, the smell of grease and smoke hazy in the air. It’s beautiful, sad, sometimes funny, and always relatable, especially for anyone who has ever felt stuck in their hometown. It’s a record for people who want better things in life but can find a weird beauty in what they already have while waiting for that dream to come true. —Pixie

220px-On_the_Beach_-_Neil_YoungOn the Beach
Neil Young
1974, Reprise

This album is comfortably melancholic, like being wrapped in a blanket on a cold, misty shore, squeezing the last few moments out of a summer day. The songs are deep, solemn, and foreboding—the song “Revolution Blues,” for example, was written after Neil met Charles Manson…spooky! Neil’s unease with his celebrity status is evident on much of the album—“On the Beach” and “Motion Pictures” capture the loneliness that can accompany fame, and the unsavory taste of stardom. One of the prettiest tracks, “See the Sky About to Rain,” includes beautiful drawls of lap-steel guitar punctuated with electric organ and harmonica. It’s bleak but full of soul, like most of this album. On the Beach is cloudy and somber but completely captivating, and it gives you a window into Neil’s beautiful loner world. —Dylan

220px-Romeosantosforumalvol1Formula, Vol. 1
Romeo Santos
2011, Sony Music Latin

Bachata music used to be called “musica de amargue,” which translates to “music of bitterness,” and the whole genre was designed to promote love songs about heartbreak and desire. Judging by the constant thrum of his debut solo album pumping out of peoples’ cars and apartments for what seems like three summers straight in my heavily Dominican neighborhood, it would appear that Anthony “Romeo” Santos, former lead baby in the Bronx-based bachata group Aventura, is possibly the biggest bachata star right now. His solo jams deal with such themes as falling desperately in love with a woman due entirely to her intoxicating smell (“You”) and worshipping a woman because he thinks she is a goddess (“Mi Santa”). If you are a fan of dudes singing in sweet falsetto while almost bursting into tears, bachata is your jam! —Julianne

61NM7sO-WsL._SL500_SS500_So Tonight That I Might See
Mazzy Star
1993, Capitol

I listened to this album throughout most of high school. The song “Fade Into You” is good for when you’re fantasizing about what kissing would be like, which may explain how it eventually became my favorite make-out music. “Five String Serenade” and “She’s My Baby” kept me company as I walked my dog past my crush’s house, and the last half of the album always reminds me of driving around with my best friend on the hottest summer days, wishing we could either go back to childhood or speed ahead into the future. It’s about being nostalgic and hating nostalgia at the same time, and about mad, desperate love. —Stephanie

americanfootballAmerican Football
American Football
1999, Polyvinyl

This novella of an album is a portrait of a suburban teen’s post-graduation heartbreak. Just like the average heartbroken person’s feelings, the songs ebb and flow between unwavering certainty that it is over for good (“Never Meant”), waves of remorse that the relationship ever ended (“But The Regrets Are Killing Me”), and desperation for a lost lover’s return (“Stay Home”). Suggested venues for listening include your empty bedroom, a late-night train with your face pressed against the window, and an abandoned pier where you can watch the sun rise in solitude. Don’t listen in a public place unless you feel like explaining to strangers why you’re crying (your heart has just shattered into a million pieces). —Suzy

4f9e9833e7a03937e9363110.L._SX300_“Late at Night”
Big Red Letter Day
Buffalo Tom
1993, Beggars UK-Ada

No one smashed more dishes when My So-Called Life was cancelled—I felt like my LIFE had ENDED. Thankfully, I had already burned into memory what was destined to become my favorite TV scene of all time, the slow-motion validation of nerdy girls silently pursuing their crushes everywhere: that tender moment when the beautiful, broken Jordan Catalano (finally coming to his damn senses) chose delicate, weird little Angela Chase to be his girl while literally the entire cast looked on, including a heartbroken Brian Krakow and a super-confused Sharon Cherski. The band Buffalo Tom was featured heavily in the series, and their song “Late at Night” accompanied this quiet, uncertain moment perfectly, cementing itself as an anthem for aching hearts everywhere. —Danielle

7104c3c61d2eaf7a64424dbadc9fa310Tiger Army III: Ghost Tigers Rise
Tiger Army
2004, Hellcat Records/Epitaph Records

When I saw this psychobilly band live, I was immediately blown away by the speed with which Geoff Kresge played the stand-up bass. Their song “Santa Carla Twilight” reminded me of the movie The Lost Boys (one of my favorites), and I went straight down to the merch booth to get the album. Tiger Army’s songs make you feel like you’re strolling the beach with vampires, tripping around a haunted house with Edgar Allen Poe, and searching for true love all at once. Who knew psychobilly could be so filled with longing? —Stephanie

small-cover-web1Magnetic North
Kellie Lloyd
2012, self-released

When Kellie Lloyd played in my hometown with her former band Screamfeeder, I faithfully attended as many all-ages performances as I could. I was in awe of Lloyd, and I had the band’s CD on heavy rotation in the mid-to-late ’90s, when it often provided background music for summer adventures with my misfit friends. This self-released solo album has all of Screamfeeder’s intensity but adds a sweet urgency. Lloyd’s lyrics are angry and sad and human, and her hypnotic, piano-driven tunes are ethereal and unrestrained. This is a perfect dark-pop record to listen to on a hot summer night while naming the stars. –Bianca

MakewayfordionnewarwickMake Way for Dionne Warwick
Dionne Warwick
1964, Scepter

If you’re gonna sulk, do it to the sounds of Dionne Warwick. First, you have to set the scene. Turn the lights down low. Make yourself some tea. Lounge around your living room, forlorn and fabulous, in a silk robe and heels (or whatever makes you feel glamorous). Then play this album. If your face hasn’t melted into a teary little puddle by the end of “They Long to Be Close to You,” then it surely will have by the time you hit “Walk On By.” Warwick sings about agony with a gentle, timeless finesse. —Suzy

517O-BdIQWL._SL500_AA280_Dreams That Breathe Your Name
Elysian Fields
2004, Diluvian

I’ve been captivated by Jennifer Charles’ sultry, breathless voice since I was introduced to the New York duo Elysian Fields via a mix CD my guy made me when we first started dating. Charles’s vocals breathe life into her intelligent lyrics with an old-world charm and sophistication. Dreams That Breathe Your Name encourages me to believe in love. –Bianca

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 9.21.25 PMWhat’s the 411?
My Life

Mary J. Blige
1992 and 1994, MCA

I was deep into R&B in my youth, and one of my favorites was Mary J. Blige. She is tough as hell, and her songs have always been rich with emotion, love, and heartbreak. She isn’t afraid to get angry, but she also isn’t afraid to weep. I have spent many, many hours alone with her music on days when love and life just weren’t going right. It doesn’t necessarily sound like a compliment, but I think what she nails best is pain, a sister feeling to longing. Start with “Real Love” and “Sweet Thing,” make your way to “I’ll Be There for You/All I Need to Get By” (a duet with Method Man), and by the time you get to “Not Gon’ Cry,” you’ll be a true Blige-o-phile. —Emma

imagesA Northern Soul
The Verve
1995, Hut/Vernon Yard

This record will take you on a roller coaster of feeeeelings. The song “A New Decade” is a hopeful high point, and the dark, bitter “History” encapsulates that end-of-a-relationship moment when you have to face everything you’ve done. It’s the ultimate emotional journey, suitable for wallowing in or purging your pain. —Stephanie

PJ_Harvey_-_Is_This_Desire-Is This Desire?
PJ Harvey
1998, Island Records

PJ Harvey is a rock star, a poet, and a master storyteller with a voice that can go from scathing whisper to banshee howl in nothing flat. This album is more experimental than her earlier, more rock & roll ones like Dry and Rid of Me. You’ll still hear distorted guitar on Is This Desire?, but Harvey adds synths and samples to give the songs a kind of weird, spectral moodiness. Every time I listen to it, it blows my mind. —Bianca

51Hb5XIu4PL._SY300_Songs of Pain: Early Recordings Volume 1
Daniel Johnston
1981, Dualtone Music Group

Songs of Pain is an album about unrequited love that sounds like it was recorded in a tin can. Johnson’s nasally, shaky voice is accompanied by a bare piano, making it easy to focus on the dour lyrics. His jaunty little melodies—against which he sings about working your fingers to the bone and marching to hell—are a stripped-down reminder of love that never begins. —Anna F.

imgresSink or Swim
The Gaslight Anthem
2007, XOXO Records

The Gaslight Anthem’s first album is rife with nostalgia. Frontman Brian Fallon is great at telling stories and building characters into songs, and the overall sound is reminiscent of the sound of another famous New Jersey native, Bruce Springsteen, but with a manic punk energy that kicks in from the opening chords of the first track. Listen to Sink or Swim while you drive around with the windows rolled down, tooling around till the sun comes up. —Stephanie ♦