Alright college students, I know we’re all in the same boat here. It’s just hit Thanksgiving break and your sights are set on Winter Break, but it’s not here just yet! We still have the rest of the semester and finals to worry about. Add these albums to your study playlist in order to make the end of the semester study sessions a bit more tolerable:
7. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys
For some reason, I never cared to learn the words to this album. It landed an “Honorable Mention” on my favorite albums from 2011, but I just never learned the lyrics. Which I guess, in hindsight, is a good thing, because now I use the album to study. Okay, if it’s not obvious, as soon as I know the lyrics to songs, I can’t not sing them, I almost always have to. So for me to not know the lyrics to this album, allows me to focus on everything else while enjoying it.
The only exception is the last track, “Stay Young, Go Dancing.” I consider that my celebration song, which is why I try to finish my work before that song starts. That way I can belt out the best track on the entire album.
6. The Front Bottoms – My Grandma Vs. Pneumonia
This one was tricky, since I love this album and know most of the words to these songs. But there’s a certain time and a certain place when this album really motivates me to get my work done. Eighty percent of the time, The Front Bottoms just make me want to dance, but that other twenty percent of the time, they keep me focused on the work at hand, and keep distractions to a minimum. I don’t know how they do it, but they do.
I try to race the album (but I’m weird, so ignore me) and finish a certain amount of problems before I reach “The Distance That I Fell.” that way I can scream that song in a celebratory manner. But again, I’m a very strange person, so following in my footsteps, although may be a good idea, might make you seem a bit off your rocker.
5. Into It. Over It. – Proper
Don’t have a lot of time to sit down and study? Have a quick assignment due real soon? Into It. Over It. can help you out with their 34 minute album Proper. I don’t know quite what it is about this album, maybe it’s the quickness of the tracks, but it always gets me to where I need to be. I tend to play this one if I’m working on several quick assignments, since each couple tracks seem to carry a different aura. If I change assignments every couple tracks, I tend to finish it by the time the next two tracks are completed.
But of course I do take a small break to sing my favorite lines off the whole album “You play the part of the thoughtless romantic/in the busy rotation of what goes wrong/but I can’t make the lines out.” Inevitably, “P R O P E R” comes on and immediately tells me to get back to work.
4. Lost In the Trees – All Alone in An Empty House
Lost in The Trees is a marvelous orchestral folk band who focus a lot on the music as well as the lyrics, which is why I use them as a studying tool. Although their lyrics are amazing, the instruments are what really gets me, since sometimes it reminds me directly of classical music (which has been shown to improve focus). Plus, “Song for The Painter” is a nice break about ten minutes in where I sing along and know the words, and then get right back to work when “Fireplace” starts.
The trick to this album is to try not to learn the lyrics, because you risk the chance of turning a great study album, into a great sing-along album. I’ve started to do this, where I know a few lines here and there, and trust me, you do not want to do this. Keep this one for your all nighters. It’s upbeat enough to keep you awake, but calm enough to keep you focused.
3. mewithoutyou – Ten Stories
This newbie had to make the list, as it got me through my 18 page English Literature final last semester. I worked for close to seven hours the final night to put finishing touches on my essay, and mewithoutyou’s 2012 release was played at least five times completely during that time. It’s something about their type of music that tells me I should buckle down. Their lyrics are so poetic and metaphoric that something they wrote probably made it’s way into my final somehow (but hey, I got a 99! So, let it happen!).
Ten Stories is actually supposed to make up one larger story about a circus train that crashes because the elephant tries to free all the animals. A fantastic premise for an album, and an even more fantastic jumping off point when analyzing literature. (Seeing as it was all inspired by a children’s book…)
2. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Fix
I do not know a single word to any Bombay Bicycle Club song, because I primarily listen to them when I study. I can’t explain what it is about them, really, I just hear A Different Fix and immediately my brain thinks “Huh, music. Okay, so about that giant Environmental Science Project that’s due…”. It’s a blessing, actually, because the album itself is fantastic and I should learn to enjoy it outside of painstaking study sessions.
It’s an album that will, for sure, put your mind at ease and keep you focused. It’ll get you through the worst of assignments and the most irritating essays. Just put it on and start working.
1. Kevin Devine – Split the Country, Split The Street
I’m sorry, I tried so hard to keep him off this list, but I just can’t. I’ll be honest, I’ve been listening to this specific album the entire time while writing up this article. The part that stands out about this one, though, is that I know every word, every note, every swelling piano part, every difference in album/live versions; but I don’t become unfocused because of it. It has to be the nature of the album, as it’s not entirely acoustic, nor is it recorded entirely with the full band. The perfect combination of the two is what makes the album such a nice collection of tracks that will get me through the worst of study sessions.
All the tracks sort of follow the emotions I go through while I’m writing up a paper, or studying for a test. “Cotton Crush,” the first track, comes off strong when I’m really gun-ho about the freshly started study session. We move through to “No One Else’s Problem” and “Buried By The Buzz” where good ol’ KD really gets how frustrated I am with that statistics project. By “Alabama Acres” I’m ready to breakdown crying from frustration, but “Yr Damned Ol’ Dad” is where I put myself back together. KD totally wrote that album with my study sessions in mind entirely.