cover170x170Going Blank Again
1992, Sire Records

Ride’s second studio album Going Blank Again, is the ultimate road-trip record. It’s a sunny shoegaze album full of songs perfect for going to faraway places, or dreaming of them. Recently, I had a chance to speak with Mark Gardener, Ride’s vocalist and guitar player, and he mentioned that the album was partly inspired by touring the U.S., the North American landscape, and the feeling of not knowing where you’ll end up next. The album opens with “Leave Them All Behind,” a soaring, anthemic, six-minute song that makes you want to hop in a car and drive for hours, while Andy Bell and Mark Gardener’s beautiful vocal harmonies evoke journeying with your closest friends. Going Blank Again is dazzling: Every summer I listen to it on repeat, whether I’m traveling or just staying put in my backyard. —Meagan

Vampire Weekend
2010, XL

Real talk: I want my summer to be like Contra. There are so many island vibes on this record that it’s hard not to visualize myself on a deserted strip of land while jamming to this. The song titles are just begging listeners to get up and go: “Taxi Cab,” “Run,” “Holiday,” and “Diplomat’s Son,” scream go and experience something else. The year Contra came out, I was on winter break from high school and I just remember listening to it over and over again, taking numerous mental vacations. SO, what I’m really saying is: If you’re stuck at home this summer, crank this all the way up, dance it out, and pretend you’re visiting the tropical destination of your dreams. —Chanel

2014, Hardly Art

NVM is my go-to happy-making album. Whether Tacocat is singing about escaping to Hawaii (“Bridge to Hawaii”), getting your period (“Crimson Wave”), or waiting for a late bus (“FU #8”), their upbeat, surf pop vibe makes me grin like I’m enjoying a sunny day at the beach. On “Hey Girl,” they take on something that seriously makes me want to scream and run away from the world forever: catcalling and street harassment. Their sarcastic comeback, “Oh, it helps my self-esteem / ’cause you finally noticed me,” packs the perfect punch. If you want sunshine, sisterhood, and pure fun in your life, Tacocat will deliver. –Stephanie

cover170x170-4Handsome Furs
Sound Kapital
2011, Sup Pop

Sound Kapital’s driving beats always give me visions of red and white lights passing by fast on a highway at night. Dan Boeckner (previously of Wolf Parade) croons and yelps super-simple lyrics, influenced by the agit-punk pioneers Suicide. The textures of his gutteral voice and grimy guitar lines interplay in neat ways with Alexei Perry’s sharp, bright synths. The pair wrote this album after extensive touring in Eastern Europe and East and Southeast Asia, and the songs identify themselves with disaffected young punks so earnestly that it sometimes comes off as ironic. In “Cheap Music,” Boeckner sings about “mega-Bucharest, mega-Belgrade, mega-Bangkok, mega-Beijing,” and he sees “a thousand lonely kids making noise in the basement.” He tells them, “Oh, I know / You’ve been low / Tell ’em what it feels like / Tell ’em what it feels like.” The record’s fist-pump-y, danceable anthems always say to me that even when I feel stuck in one spot, I can still go anywhere. —Annie

2013, Loyauté

Upbeat and sunshine-infused, Bankrupt! is full of poolside party jams that’ll have everyone swaying, hopping, and head-bobbing. The punchy beats and playful synths make this an easy album to groove along to whether you’re with your friends driving around town or sipping lemonade alone by the pool. Every song is incredibly catchy and easy to sing along to, despite the ambiguity of some of the lyrics: I will give $100 to anyone who can tell me what “It’s a jingle jungle / Jingle junkie-junkie jumble” even means. To top it off, Thomas Mars’ smooth vocals are downright dreamy and transform every song into a whimsical summer dream. —Mads

BestCoast-CaliforniaNights-packshotCalifornia Nights
Best Coast
2015, Harvest Records

I have always lived on the East Coast, which must be why I’ve created such a dreamy view of the West. Best Coast’s album California Nights only adds to my wanderlust; it literally makes me want to get on a plane and experience whatever constitutes “A Night in the Golden State.” The melodies vary from upbeat to slow and hazy, and put me in mind of escape: whether that’s physically going somewhere bright and sunny, changing or getting away from your own feelings, or just mentally taking a break from yourself. —Chanel

cover170x170-1Turning Into Small
All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors
1998, Gern Blandsten Records

A relaxing getaway can take place entirely in your mind, which is exactly where Turning Into Small takes you. I stumbled upon this record when I was 18 and was immediately floored; I’d never heard music so transportive or extraordinary. I replayed this record lying on the floor with my eyes closed, imagining the otherworldly planes from which it must have come. The hushed vocals sound like they are coming from space, while the flying synths and guitars craft the barest echoes of melody, and meet scorching harmoniums. The album’s crown jewel, “Your Imagination,” is a psychedelic jam that sounds like it is falling apart at the seams, held together only by ghostly voices; the latter half of the song is a trembling rocket ship going straight for extrasolar worlds. I can’t recommend this amazing piece of music enough. Over the years it has taken me on many incredible sonic journeys—where will it take you? —Meagan

41HMXB28N8LBecause I Can
Katy Rose
2004, V2

Katy Rose takes all of her angst and puts it into Because I Can, which is all about the desire to just get away. On “Overdrive” (which you might recognize from the Mean Girls soundtrack) Katy’s heart is running away from her, figuratively of course. On “Snowflakes” she laments sunny Los Angeles, which she calls “Hell A,” and yearns to go someplace different. And what better way to cap off the album than with a song called “Vacation” which is about, you guessed it, taking a vacation. I love the mix of enthusiasm and melancholy on this album, which mirrors the highs and lows of chasing after dreams and fantasies. Because I Can shows the ways in which escape can be freeing and exhausting all at once. —Chanel

cover170x170-3Tomorrow Is My Turn
Rhiannon Giddens
2015, Nonesuch

Sometimes I mourn when a member of a beloved band makes a solo album outside of the group I fell in love with. Thankfully, the Carolina Chocolate Drops singer, Rhiannon Giddens’ debut solo record still celebrates African American, old-time music but adds a fresh, forward-looking voice. From diverse vocal styling to instrumental versatility, Giddens’ soulful solo effort evokes bluesy, jazzy, and Appalachian folky accents that make her music one of a kind. With tributes to lesser known musicians, as well as legends like Dolly Parton and Nina Simone, Giddens’ musical landscape blends old-time sound into beautiful fusion. Even though I watched Rhiannon perform her ballad “O Love Is Teasin'” and “Shake Sugaree” on a stage in San Francisco, her hauntingly beautiful voice made me nostalgic for sleepy and sultry summers in the North Carolina mountains. —Jamia

cover170x170-2Sparkle and Fade
1995, Capitol Records

Even though Everclear was decidedly not cool in my punk rock crowd, this album became a secret escape for my best friend and me toward the end of high school. The song, “Summerland,” which begins, “Let’s just drive your car, we could drive all day / Let’s just get the hell away from here,” summed up just how desperately we ached to leave our hometown for bluer horizons. Sparkle and Fade is full of songs that capture longing, whether it’s staring at the “Pale Green Stars” on your ceiling at night or, feeling “lonely and dreaming of the West Coast” (“Santa Monica”). If you are feeling trapped and restless, listening to this album late at night in your room or while driving around aimlessly can provide a sense of release to daydream about better places and ocean waves. —Stephanie ♦