By MILES PREKOSKI
This period of time, if nothing else, has given us the opportunity to finally get caught up on our long list of entertainment that naturally expands faster than we know it. For some, it may be watching a season of TV that we’ve been unable to catch up on. For others, now is the perfect time to curl up in a corner and finish off a book series. The point is, we’ve all got time to kill.
This is no exception for fans of music, who now have more reason than ever to try out a new artist or listen to an extensive discography. While friends on social media and record companies continue to overload you with what’s new, it’s hard to know which recommendations are worth the listen.
Here are three albums that are tailored to these isolated times. A batch of artists that aren’t in the Hot 100 right now hopefully allows for a greater sense of discovery, so you won’t find the most popular albums of the year here. Plug your headphones in, put down the homework that you’re already not doing, and get listening.
Album #1: Earl Sweatshirt – “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside”
Earl Sweatshirt’s second studio album sees the young prodigal odd future member do more with less. At 10 tracks, this half-hour project showcases Earl taking things at his own pace, rapping at almost half the speed of what he did on his debut studio album, “Doris.” Fans of Earl might be disappointed that he no longer can be compared to MF Doom or Eminem on “IDLSIDGO,” but his lack of trash-talking doesn’t make this project worse. Everything on this record feels smooth and effortless, from the organ-filled opener “Huey” to the Vince Staples guest verse on “Wool.” Earl sounds like himself more than ever on this album. Favorite tracks: “Huey,” “Grief,” “Wool”
Album #2: Tame Impala – “Lonerism”
Tame Impala lead singer and driving creative force Kevin Parker’s second studio album will make you feel weird and happy and a little bit scared all at the same time. Tame Impala’s reputation potentially had a lot on the line with the release of its second album, given that its first, “Inner Speaker,” sparked colossal critical acclaim and took control of the #1 spot in Rolling Stone’s 2010 Albums of the Year list. “Lonerism” doesn’t disappoint in the slightest sense, as its charting songs (“Elephant,” “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”) and revivalist psychedelic rock boosted it to first place (again) on Rolling Stone’s 2012 list. Everything about this record is more propulsive, more confident and less driven by its influences than “Inner Speaker,” and listeners get the chance to really see what Kevin Parker can do with a piano and some synthesizers. A musical and philosophical adventure, “Lonerism” will surely keep you interested in quarantine. Favorite tracks: “Apocalypse Dreams, “Elephant,” “Led Zeppelin”
Album #3: Nas – “Illmatic”
This is the album that sets the bar for every other album in its genre. Commonly regarded as the greatest rap project of all time, “Illmatic” turns a 20-year-old kid from Queens into a legend in his city. Every song on this album bombards you with a hail of words on top of a skeletal beat, using only one or two samples and a couple instruments at most. Despite its minimalism, this album gave birth to some of the most famous rap lyrics and phrases of all time (“Sleep is the cousin of death,” “New York state of mind,” “I’m out for dead presidents to represent me”). It’s a perfect depiction of mid-’90s New York if there ever was one, and there’s a reason that there’s no “Illmatic 2.” Nas knew when he made this that it tapped into a moment that couldn’t be replicated or followed up, and that’s what makes this album one of the best ever. Favorite tracks: “The World Is Yours,” “One Time 4 Your Mind,” “Life’s a Bitch