As Barnumbia students experience another harrowing finals season, Bwog Staff brings you the albums that kept us (somewhat) sane this fall. We’re back again, baby! And we hope to be back again in the spring. Baby.

Julia Tolda

Stranger in the Alps by Phoebe Bridgers

If albums were places, Stranger in the Alps would be home. Colder, emptier, and quieter, but still familiar. If this semester was a feeling, it would be nostalgia. The return to campus two years too late, the strange closeness of bodies, the bitter-sweetness of beginnings. For the past four years, Phoebe Bridgers has been my trusted companion. Now that I am as old as she was while writing her debut album, it feels almost too intimate to listen to. But it’s coming up lavender. The future is unwritten, the past is a corridor, and I am loved by people who roll the windows down for me. I might have emotional “Motion Sickness,” but it’s only because I can’t get enough of this beautiful world.

Charlotte Slovin

Return to the Moon by EL VY

To explain my obsession with Return to the Moon is to present a much longer timeline of my obsession with the band The National. The so-called “dad grunge” band with their broody voices and depressed lyrics that only middle-aged men should relate to came into my life when I was twelve years old. For whatever reason, I was hooked. The year was 2013 and their album Trouble Will Find Me had just come out and it was on repeat as I went through the seventh grade. EL VY is the side project consisting of The National’s lead Matt Berninger and Ramona Falls band member Brent Knopf. The two made EL VY’s one and only album Return to the Moon in 2015. At that point I was two years into my National obsession and happily listened to this project but in a notably more passive way. So why did Return to the Moon return to my headphones this semester, making EL VY the top artist of my Spotify Wrapped? In all honesty I have no good answer. But upon this second listening my fondness for the album significantly increased. Berninger and Knopf created an album that perfectly balances what I can only imagine is the sad state of being middle-aged and a cheekiness that is the ridiculousness of life. Their world-building, seen both musically and lyrically, is really what makes the album stand out. Following both fictional characters and real people in Berninger’s life, each song shares a small vignette producing a strange intimacy throughout the album. Berninger is not afraid to be honest, messy, and vulgar, adding to the sense of authenticity in his storytelling. One gets a sense that being stuck in nostalgia is normal, that people are gross and that life is difficult, a strange but refreshing–and somehow playful–message to receive.

Solomia Dzhaman

Solar Power by Lorde

Solar Power shows us the beauty in the mundane: holding your partner’s hand, the taste of fruit, warm sun on your face, a dog at your feet. Being so full of love for the people around you that you don’t know where to place it. Lorde is witty and tongue-in-cheek, her music is airy and comfortable. But it all isn’t some corny bubble gum pop album, because underscoring everything is this sense of mourning. Mourning our planet’s imminent demise, mourning childhood, mourning people and things that are no longer with us. And so, Lorde tells us that yes, everything sucks, but at the same time, all you can do is focus on the good.

This bittersweet album is Lorde growing up, leaving behind her past teenage angst and her breakup anthems. She doesn’t need anger anymore, what she needs is love. And I think that that is a beautiful message. As I struggled through my most difficult semester to date, the whole way through, Lorde was there, gently holding my hand: everything sucks, focus on the good.

Victoria Borlando

A Beginner’s Mind by Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine

The excitement for A Beginner’s Mind actually began in the middle of summer for me, when the first singles, “Reach Out” and “Olympus,” dropped on all streaming platforms. From the second I clicked “play,” I knew this album, which wasn’t even going to be out for another three months, would become not only my album of the semester but my album of the year. The day the album dropped, I proceeded to put the entire suite on Sufjan lockdown (and also wrote a lengthy, semi-review of it on Bwog), and could not find it in me to listen to anything else. And for a great reason too! I think that this album is some of both the artists’ best work as it both continues the familiar, iconic sound of the simple acoustics and un-altered voices fans of both Stevens and De Augustine love so much, but departs from the sadder, heavier topics from other iconic albums (I’m talking to you, Carrie and Lowell) and instead embraces the overwhelming nature of every feeling, including love and joy. In other words, there is actual happiness in this album: songs like “Reach Out” and “It’s Your Own Body and Mind” radiate joy and an overall comfort with the weirdness of the universe and intense emotion. “Back to Oz” and “Fictional California” are absolute bops, and they bring a dance-y, playful aspect never really seen before in the Sufjan Stevens discography (well, I’ll make an exception for “Video Game” because it’s undeniably catchy). As someone who went through an overwhelming amount of emotions only to end up being content with all of them, I felt like A Beginner’s Mind began a newer, sunnier, happier phase of my life that finally reconciled with things out of my control. Also, this is the album that helped to bring me and my boyfriend (hi, boyfriend!) together, so I got to give these two guys some credit. Hooray for finding love and comfort in the weird world we live in I guess!

Lillian Rountree

Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo by Aimee Mann

I’ve known Aimee Mann’s music for quite honestly as long as I can remember—I have memories of listening to this album, alongside CDs Lost in Space and The Forgotten Arm, in the car as a kid. There’s just a wonderful straightforwardness to her music, which is not to say that her lyricism isn’t elegant or anything, but just that she cuts directly to the point, like in “Deathly,” which begins with the lines “Now that I’ve met you / would you object to / never seeing each other again?” There’s such a comfort in listening to this album that came out the same year I was born (eek), an album I remember daydreaming little stories to at a mere eleven years old, and an album that contains the song I played on loop when I was facing high school graduation (“Ghost World,” about high school graduation, of course). I’ve made my way around Aimee Mann’s discography this semester—”At the Frick Museum,” from her latest release, has been on repeat, which is surely an indication of how well or not well I’m doing—but Bachelor No. 2 is the most reliable landing point for me. Maybe because it was an album that she released while in her 30s (aka older than the age of most of the artists I listen to), its weariness feels comforting, experienced, something to lean on, as bleak as its outlook can be. At the end of any given day this semester, I can put on the album’s closer, “You Do,” as I brush my teeth and get ready for bed, and it will be as much a reflection of my mood as a salve. 

Shira Michaeli

Tapestry by Carole King

Tapestry is Carole King’s most beloved album. King herself, an American emblematic singer-songwriter, has a discography and songwriting credits spanning some of the greatest hits of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. From the sweet tender “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” to the powerful “Natural Woman,” King’s work is an inspired insight into what it means to her to be a woman. As a woman™ raised by my grandma’s Doo-wop classics, this album was background music too much of my childhood, even if I didn’t know it. It’s also important to me to mention that if you want an interesting modern update to this music, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical has a wonderful cast recording I alternate in and out with Tapestry. While you may not know her as an independent artist, her music. from “You’ve Got a Friend,” to “Where you Lead,” Carole King has written the masterpieces of the American songbook. While Tapestry is the quintessential oldies, its heartfelt melody and effortless lyrics make each song a banger to this day.

Kyle Murray 

Antisocialites by Alvvays

My best friend sent me a song a year and a half ago. He sends me a lot of songs. I usually forget to listen. This time was different. He added a fateful plea to this recommendation, something along the lines of “I think you’d really like it” or “if you listen to anything, please listen to this one.” The request continued for a few days until I got the hint: listen! I played the song and it changed my life. I was hooked—led astrally astray by soundscape waifs, melodic lollipops, and harmonic heys.

Antisocialites is the sophomore album from the Canadian indie-pop band, Alvvays. Released in 2017, Antisocialites first toured around my life as a 2020 favorite and now arrives with a transformed secondary meaning this semester. I found myself library-listening to the album and rediscovering old friends. “Hey” shuffled on and it was nirvanic with a hint of hallucinogenicity. All I could do was sit back and feel. Songs like “In Undertow” or “Not My Baby” offered solace for some situational strangeness while “Dreams Tonite” and “Forget About Life” initiated incorporeal introspection. My conclusion? Man—this life is messy! But answers were always just a few tracks away. 

When I felt disconnected, dissociative, detached, desolate, or deserted, I turned to Antisocialites as my comfort album merging the old and new. I let the dreamy opening chords of “Saved By A Waif” uplift my spirits; I let its drumbeat blow wind into my sails; I let that explosive chorus shoot me into the stratosphere. I let it play as I’m brushing my teeth at 2 am and unintelligibly singing, untraceably spinning, and undeniably surviving. 

Eliza Staples

5 Seconds of Summer by 5 Seconds of Summer

Yes, this is my second time writing about an early 2010’s boy band for this feature. Let me live. This eponymous album was my favorite thing to play this semester when I was running late to something (my usual state of being) and needed to book it down Broadway. Nothing like a bunch of unhinged Australian boys to push you along your way. A number of favorites: Heartbreak Girl is a teenage boy’s cringey pissed-off take on being friend-zoned. Don’t Stop is a series of thinly veiled sexual innuendoes. But it’s so damn catchy! Come to think of it, a lot of the songs are simply unbridled teenage angst and passion, punctuated by insane drum solos (proud Ashton girl over here <3). 5SOS was delivering on pop-punk, and for that, I owe them a great deal. This semester, I felt a lot of weird resentment (? not exactly sure what emotion, tbh)  about having lost a year on campus, and the over-the-top, dramatic nature of 5SOS’ brand of pop-punk helped me just catharsis that shit out. 

Wasting Light by Foo Fighters

This is maybe cheating because this is an album that has defined my life, but has developed new importance recently, so I’m allowing it in this post. When this album dropped in 2011, it was on a constant loop in my household: my older brothers were in the throes of teenage angst and latched on to Wasting Light‘s gritty rage. I, on the other hand, was 10, and since I was listening to it during a key stage in the development of my pre-frontal cortex I subliminally learned all the lyrics. I rediscovered this album this fall, and it felt like recalling a forgotten language of my childhood. What an album. It’s angry and bitter, as well as tender and nostalgic, and never feels like it’s “faking it” on either side of the emotional spectrum, which is a musical feat. Consider listening to this album as your homework before reading frontman Dave Grohl’s new book, which is my Christmas present to both of my brothers (spoiler alert!). So many bangers but here is a non-comprehensive list. 

Walk: God, I love this song. It’s my go-to running song: the bridge featuring the lyrics “I’m on my knees, I never want to die, I’m dancin’ on my grave, I’m runnin’ through the fire” makes me run 150% faster. Beyond its speedy properties, I love the line “Gettin’ good at startin’ over// Every time that I return” which is very appropriate for our first semester back on campus, which has combined a return to familiar ways with the opportunity (and maybe the need?) to start over in many areas. We’re all just “learning to walk again”. 

Arlandria: for if you simultaneously know you can never live in your hometown again, but feel a strong urge to return. Also very applicable to our first semester back on campus.

These Days: for when you feel old and tired when confronted with youthful innocence. It hits different as a semi-jaded junior who’s not entirely sure how she got to her third year of college and sometimes feels so ancient when seeing younger students interact with College Life TM for the first time. 

Grace Novarr

Marry Me by St. Vincent

This album came out in 2007 but I only discovered it very recently and it became the soundtrack to my semester. I love St. Vincent’s earlier style, the earnestness mixed with the plinky instrumentals. The title track is my absolute favorite, so cheeky while sounding so sincere. I love when she sings, “We’ll do what Mary and Joseph did… without the kid.” She’s a genius. I love her. I love “All My Stars Aligned”, a heartfelt ballad about the pointlessness of trying to get things to go your way when nothing ever does. Truly a mood for this semester. I really love “Now, Now” and “Jesus Saves, I Spend”, as well. It’s kind of impossible to describe this album; you just have to listen to it. I saw St. Vincent in concert in October and it was utterly spiritual, and I believe that this semester will be one that I always associate with her. Cara Delevigne was onto something; I too am in love with Annie Clark. 

Sara Kirkham

The Turning Wheel by Spellling

As a secret hardcore Anthony Fantano fan, I was pretty perplexed when he gave his first 10/10 this July to Spellling, an artist I’d never heard before! Over the next few months and throughout this semester, I fell hard into the magical world of Spelling.

The Turning Wheel is Spellling’s third album. The album twists classic fairytales and myths into whimsical commentary on politics, self-questioning, and a general sense of longing. The whole sound transports you to a magical, theatrical world with dark twists. When I listen to the album, I’m transported to another world that feels familiar and totally new all the same. The closest way I can describe it is the feeling when seeing a really great musical. I promise, I’m not that much of a theater kid, but I can’t deny the power of a strong ballad. 

On a personal note, the opening track, “Little Deer,” absolutely reminds me of my dog. Not to bring the whole “my dog died” thing into an otherwise heartwarming list, but this album and in particular “Little Deer” has been by my side throughout the grieving process.

Overall, I hope I remember this album is how I remember the fall of 2021. This album has offered a bright spot of magical and peaceful escapism for an overall pretty terrible semester.

Victoria Melkonyan

Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair

Long before Mitski or Phoebe Bridgers was the original raw female artist: Liz Phair, whose music was so deliciously risqué and self-reliant that it often had to be censored. Her debut album, Exile in Guyville, was released in 1993 to widespread and mainstream critical acclaim despite its uncomfortable themes and is widely considered one of the best albums of all time.

Moving to New York City to go to college is a process marked by loneliness—and, for those of us attracted to men, especially complicated feelings on the “men” front. In Exile in Guyville, Liz Phair distills nearly every single one of these feelings into an album that’s less than an hour long. This semester, I’ve found myself listening to this album more and more often because while it acknowledges all of my feelings, it doesn’t make me feel sad about having them. Her punk-rock, alternative feel puts agency back in my hands, especially after encounters where I’ve felt like I’ve been hurt or I haven’t been fully in control. Without knowing my experience, Liz Phair is able to perfectly articulate how I’ve been treated and why it’s so hurtful when I, myself, am unable to do the same thing. She makes me angry for myself, and she gives me the words to express why certain behaviors are problematic even when they do not seem so on the surface.

Liz Phair is anything but vulnerable and delicate, but she does not reject her femininity in her attempt to be raunchy and raw. If anything, she does the opposite, embracing her passionate feelings for the members of the opposite sex while speaking out loudly about how men’s problematic behavior is often dangerously subtle. Exile in Guyville doesn’t make me cry; I go to other music for that. This incredible debut album makes me conscious, makes me strong, and gives me the ability to articulate how not only myself but generations of women have been hurt by men, all while keeping me emotive.

Maxwell Lurken Tvrdik

69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields

Moving away from my tiny hometown has been hard and lonely, but this album is the embodiment of love. The Magnetic Fields hold a special place in my heart as I grew up listening to them and even saw them in concert here in New York. 69 Love Songs can be classified as indie pop, indie rock, or indie-folk, but it explores a variety of other genres and musical styles as well. While there are 69 songs to listen to, the album is split into three individual discs of 23 songs each. Each disc is about an hour long and conveys a different theme that is openly interpretable based on your emotions or mood. The songs are short which removes an element of repetitiveness and boredom because the songs fly by. Every song is sung with intense passion and emotion is ever-present in the different singers’ voices. While nearly every song on the album is unique and excellent, well-known songs from the album include The Book of Love, All My Little Words, I Don’t Want to Get Over You, and I Think I Need a New Heart. My personal favorite top three songs are, in no particular order, The Way You Say Goodnight, Busby Berkeley Dreams, and The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side. Although I could rant about every individual song on the album for hours, I do believe there is at least one song that will strike close to home for everybody. That being said, this is a fantastic album that you cannot give up on. Give it a chance. If you don’t like the first song, there are 68 more to listen to. I mean the album time has 69 in it (nice), what else can you really ask for? :)

Ava Morouse

Sling by Clairo 

This album means so much to me, I got it tattooed. Immunity, Clairo’s debut album meant so much, aligned so well with my senior year of high school and arrival to NYC for freshman year when it was released in 2019, and perfectly encapsulated the warm, dreamy feeling of newness and nostalgia and one’s first wlw relationship and all of its ups and downs.

When Sling was released this past year, it emerged as a completely different energy than Immunity: a jazz-fusion collage of growing up, loneliness, longing, nostalgia, and feeling like living in a snowy, east coast small town. Previously boxed into the realm of “dreamy” and “bedroom pop,” Claire overturned any previously ascribed labels with this album, moving to the mountains of upstate New York with infamous producer/collaborator Jack Antonoff, who has worked with artists such as Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo on some of the most-anticipated albums of this past year. 

Vulnerable and delicate, Sling so perfectly embodied the transition from summer to fall in New York City and the beginning of the first semester back on campus. Growing older, feeling alone and isolated, but also finding beauty in discomfort were the central themes of this album, and ones that resonated so deeply with the person I was becoming over the course of this unpr*c*dented past year. 

Cat Zhang of Pitchfork writes, “In place of the heady ambiguities of young love are themes that Clairo once believed were ‘too emotional or intense to unravel’: ‘Motherhood, sexualization, mental health, and a lot of my own mistakes and regrets,’ as she wrote in a recent newsletter. You can read the album, like many artists’ second projects, as an attempt to prove seriousness and maturation, to illustrate depth beyond what initially made her famous. For Clairo, Sling was a necessity: ‘This record has changed everything for me because I was fully going to quit music,” she told Rolling Stone.” (

Reminiscent of a late-60s singer-songwriter diary album, Clairo references Joni Mitchell on both Immunity and Sling. Soulful and understated, this song abandons any resemblance of a “bedroom pop” Spotify pipeline and/or TikTok commodification of tweens, and illuminates the deep fears of a woman coming of age, and also the complexity of a woman coming into herself. 

This album will always remind me of leaves on the stone paths of Riverside Park, painting in a cold, sixth-floor walkup, and the feeling of wanting to call your parents late at night just to sit on the phone (emo, yes, sad, no). The album does not beg to be sung, but it does invite the listener to sit with it, and stands out in the complexity of its mixing, simplicity of Claire’s vocals, and the whispers and swells of poetic lyrics. 

I had the opportunity to meet her at an album signing at Rough Trade record store, and it was truly a dream come true. Without any photos or videos allowed, the conversation that I had with her, and the personal attention and respect that I felt, was unreal. She wrote in my journal and I got to tell her how much her music has and continues to mean to me :) Love this girly! 

From Pitchfork’s review of the album’s closing song: “The song slows, as if to alleviate her worry: woodwinds flutter like bluebirds, everything swoons in relief. Sling may be an album concerned with time, fears of obsolescence instilled by a vampiric music industry. But it also finds exuberance in stillness, a kind of gentle unburdening.”

Seeing the growth of Clairo as an artist has been such a fulfilling and sentimental experience, especially after witnessing her rise to mainstream notoriety and the struggle that she had to embody a pop star when she never really was one. I continue to be so impressed by her improvement in musicianship, songwriting, and growth into personal artistry and identity as a musician. 

Anyways, stream Sling and Immunity if you’re a sad and/or queer girly feeling a lil lonely this winter season :) 

Marino Bubba

Brother, Sister by mewithoutYou

Two weeks before I moved to the city and officially became a student, I found myself sleeping on a sidewalk in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania having just rocked out to a mewithoutYou concert. It was awesome and terrifying. Then I came to this school. Which was awesome. And terrifying.

This year marked the 10 year anniversary of mewithoutYou’s third album Brother, Sister, which is basically just one big contradiction. It vacillates from experimental rock and post-metalcore to soft folk, embodies angsty screaming and tender whispers, and tries to search for meaning in the world while asserting that truth doesn’t exist. It is as confused as I am.

As a messy man, I can say that the album starts off relatably with the first track Messes of Men. It then moves on to some bangers such as Wolf AM I! (And Shadow) which contains the superb lines:

I’m not something, more like the absence of something, so Shadow am I!

This material world seems to me like a newspaper headline-

It explicitly demands your attention and may even contain some truth.

But what’s really going on here?

I love it so much. So many great questions! Am I something? (No.) Have I been click baited into engaging with the material world? (You’re darn tootin’.) What is really going on here? (Heck if I know!)

Wolf Am I! then fades into the track Yellow Spider, which tells the story of an aging spider on an aging leaf. Two-thirds of the way through the album, the tune will return as Orange Spider, this time telling of a dying spider on a dying leaf. As the album concludes, the same tune will appear again, dropped a key, as Brownish Spider. By this point, the spider and the leaf have died. If that ain’t what this semester felt like, I don’t know what is.

On the second to last Sunday of the semester, I went to see mewithoutYou play again, this time in New York. I went with a friend I met at school and I slept in my dorm room afterward. It was nice.

I leave you with the first and last line of the album:

I do not exist.

Rania Borgani

Melodrama by Lorde 

“I’m waiting for it that green light, I want it”

So begins the chorus of Lorde’s sophomore album, Melodrama. While this album came out almost five years ago, it has a remarkable ability to transcend time. Having just come out of a relationship, Lorde waits and waits for the light to turn green, literally signaling her ability to move on. She imagines what it will be like to finally hit the gas and move off the brakes. And, yet, she is still waiting by the end of the song, stuck in the purgatory of a red light. A sophomore myself, I thought this semester would be my “green light”; I thought all the expectations and hopes I put on this semester while being at home over the past year would come to fruition. And, yet, I feel I am on red, wanting to move forward yet yearning for the past. But I continue this mantra of “I’ll be okay when the light turns green.” Of course, the punchline is the light never turns green, and I continue to passively wait and wait and wait and…

The album itself takes you through stages of love and heartbreak and although Lorde is speaking of a relationship, I think about it in the context of the semester: the new obsessive feelings followed by the adoration that quickly grows old and begins to break down. Lorde sings, “We told you this was melodrama. You wanted something that we offer” and it’s true. I glorify, I dramatize, I hope more than I should. I’m left with overwhelming emotions and nothing tangible to grasp onto. I may be 19, but I am most certainly not on fire. And yet, Lorde ends her album with the line “What the fuck are perfect places, anyway?” It’s comforting to know that I don’t need to have it all figured out now. All the anguish and distress that came along with this semester by far wasn’t where I should have been, but there’s no reason to strive for an ideal that doesn’t exist. Maybe I’ll never be through the green light, maybe I’ll take a detour, and maybe that’s okay. 

Aditi Misra and Zach Fisher

Donda by Kanye West

It all started with the anticipated drop of Yandhi in 2017 that never happened. Four years later, we got three listening parties with incredible stage design and two albums, Donda and Donda Deluxe. You may remember us from our 2019 entry for Jesus is King, and we’re back to tell you all to stream this top 5 Kanye album. Released in one of the most interesting rollouts seen in the history of hip-hop, Kanye truly redefined what it meant to receive feedback on an album. Throughout the process, he would continuously debut what the public assumed were final versions of the album—only to go back and refine his work by adding and removing portions of songs at will. What resulted, in the end, were three very distinct and different versions of the album—each presented in a spectacular way. The album itself stands alone as a sonic journey bridging gospel music with more traditional hip-hop collaborations, however, as a physical manifestation the album stands as one of the strongest performance statements released by an artist in the modern internet era. Week after week Kanye would break Apple Music’s (where he held exclusive streaming rights for the debut) streaming record while also selling out stadiums where the entire performance was listening to Kanye PLAY his new album for you. These stadium release “parties” slowly morphed into performances where controversial figures such as Marilyn Manson were seen simply standing on stage, and where Kanye would set himself on fire amidst a burning recreation of his childhood home. Days before release he would lock himself in a single locker room in his rented out Mercedes Benz Stadium (where much of the album was recorded) and would live-stream his entire day (eating, sleeping, working out, recording). He attended soccer games in the stadium under disguise asking fans for feedback on the original versions of the album, while also leading fans on week after week promising false release dates. The album in this case does not simply include the music but also the performative aspect of the release rollout. 

The album is first and foremost dedicated to his mother who died in 2008, which he blames himself for and continues to grieve. Looking at the rollout for the album, the theme of him losing his mother is present: being lifted in the Mercedes Benz stadium to be closer to her, recreating his childhood home in his hometown’s stadium, etc. Knowing all of this, the album becomes much more meaningful especially when you hear samples of his mother’s lectures and speeches weaved throughout songs detailing how religion helped Kanye regain purpose after losing someone so close to him.  Looking at the songs specifically, I would describe Donda as the child of The Life of Pablo and Jesus is King. We’re reintroduced to classic Kanye on songs like Off the Grid where he arguably delivers one of his best verses of the last 5 years. He allows his features to be in the spotlight and do some of their best work which I find is especially true for Playboi Carti and Lil Yachty (“Off the Grid,” “Ok Ok”). 

There’s also heavy emotion in the production and lyrics of other songs, making this album versatile in what it’s trying to express. While the aforementioned features find themselves on more hype songs, people like The Weeknd, Don Toliver, and up-and-coming artist KayCyy add smooth vocals to songs with themes of loss and love (Hurricane, Moon, Keep My Spirit Alive). Kanye himself sings unlike he has never before on Come to Life where he’s accompanied with one of the most beautiful piano pieces I’ve heard on a track. Choirs add to the depth of emotion as it did on JIK, although now on a deeper level knowing the connection to his mother. I feel it the most on 24, a song that ends with Kanye repeating “we gonna be okay,” a phrase that feels empowering despite the pain he feels and has felt. Overall I think Kanye did a great job of dedicating this album to his mother; it was also beautiful to be a part of his creative process as he consistently responded to feedback at each listening session (Mike Dean also sought advice from a subreddit). To dislike this album is to misunderstand the emotion and pain of 13 years that Kanye has been holding onto. “Donda” finally allows him to release it in the best way he can—through his music.

Honorable Mentions:

Julia Tolda – songs by Adrienne Lenker; ~~~ by Ana Roxanne.

Charlotte Slovin – The King by Sarah Kinsley; <atrás/além> by O Terno.

Solomia Dzhaman –  Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast.

Victoria Borlando – Changephobia by Rostam; Any Shape You Take by Indigo De Souza; Gone Now by Bleachers; Geidi Primes by Grimes.

Lillian Rountree – Queens of the Summer Hotel by Aimee Mann; Valentine by Snail Mail; The Baby by Samia.

Elizabeth Walker – Speak Now by Taylor Swift.

Sarah Braner – Mercurial World by Magdalena Bay; Nurture by Porter Robinson; About U by MUNA; WOMB by Purity Ring.

Grace Novarr – Daddy’s Home by St. Vincent; evermore by Taylor Swift; Doolittle by Pixies; Songs for Dads by The Walters; Alvvays by Alvvays.

Kyle Murray – I Want to See Pulaski at Night by Andrew Bird; How To Grow a Woman From The Ground by Chris Thile.

Rania Borgani –  How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? by Big Red Machine.

Shira Michaeli – Best Of Simon & Garfunkel by Simon & Garfunkel.

Albums Galore! via Ava Morouse