Staff Picks: Albums for the commute


Kaycee Orwig | Assistant Visual Editor

Staff writer Anna Ligorio recommends Mac Miller’s album “Circles” to accompany your morning coffee and commute.

By The Pitt News Staff

Pitt recently announced that the absolute earliest we’ll be able to attend class in-person is Sept. 14. But when that day finally comes — whether in a few weeks or a few months — no one should have to drive, take public transportation or walk to class in silence. From bops to bangers, French pop to local rap, these are the best albums to listen to while on the move.

“Comment te dire adieu” by Françoise Hardy // Charlie Taylor, Culture Editor

When I leave home in the morning, I don’t want to be like just anyone. I want to be a suave, saucy, seductive French woman, ready to take on the world with my charm. That’s how “Comment te dire adieu” — “how to tell you goodbye” — makes me feel. There’s a reason why this 1968 album from the height of the yé-yé movement is a classic for the French and Francophiles alike. Inspired by the Beatles and adored by American musicians such as Bob Dylan, Françoise Hardy’s style is universally beautiful.

“Comment te dire adieu” isn’t the best choice if you want to feel upbeat in the morning — it’s mellow and downright sad during certain tracks, like “Où va la chance” and “Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux.” But even if I’m dragging my feet along the streets of Pittsburgh while dressed head to toe in sweats, Hardy’s sultry voice makes me feel like I’m sitting in a historic Paris apartment, draped in a silk robe and reading a letter from one of my many lovers.

“Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

Post Malone’s latest album, “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” is an option a little more on the mainstream side for this list. But I’ll gladly be basic if that means I’m listening to all the highs and lows of this album on my way to class. It is surprisingly varied and full of all kinds of songs with different tempos, moods and many featured artists to accompany you around campus.

The track “Wow.” is the typical club banger, making you yearn for some multicolored lights and a smoke machine to follow you around. But then there’s the more bouncy and uplifting duet “Staring at the Sun” featuring SZA, which evokes some serious summer romance vibes. After that, I suggest you immerse yourself in the star-studded “Take What You Want” featuring Travis Scott and Ozzy Osbourne, who goes all out every single time he sings.

Malone is a megastar and many of his songs have made it to the top, but he also sings with heart and anger, keeping himself focused on real-life issues of today’s younger generation. As a college student, there’s no better album or artist to listen to, because Malone is someone who embodies both the wildness and the pain of being young.

“Circles” by Mac Miller // Anna Ligorio, Staff Writer 

If you’re in need of a mellow album to accompany your morning coffee and commute, look no further than the posthumous album “Circles” by Pittsburgh native Mac Miller. With gentle synths, stripped-down beats and soulful melodies accompanied by live arrangements, Miller explores his struggles with depression in a more subtle style than his previous hip-hop and rap works.

While deeply personal to Miller’s life, “Circles” is reflective of how many of us are feeling in 2020. In “Complicated,” Miller stresses over the seemingly endless troubles of daily life and wonders why everything has to be so, well, complicated. In “Good News,” the album’s only single, Miller expresses frustration with those around him who only wanted to see the “good” side of him while he was struggling with depression and addiction.

Part of a departure from his signature rap that began with his last studio album “Swimming,” “Circles” shows Miller’s constant artistic evolution and his genre-defying talents. Although we may never hear what more he had to offer, we can still honor the life of the late musician by listening to his music while walking the sidewalks of the city that he loved so deeply.

“Brothers” by The Black Keys // Lucas DiBlasi, For The Pitt News

Add some stomping and strutting to your walk to class with the powerful blues-rock of The Black Keys’ breakout album, “Brothers.” Take in the Grammy-award-winning album cover, flip on the first track, “Everlasting Light,” and get carried down the stream of its tastefully falsetto stylings. The Akron, Ohio, duo will suck you into their world of historically influenced, guitar-centered riffs from Dan Auerbach and idiosyncratic grooves supplied by drummer Patrick Carney.

The album shines not only in its forcible instrumentation and delivery but also in its spacious production and in Auerbach’s ear for vocal melodies that will grab your attention until you have to remove your earbuds for the beginning of lecture.

“Brothers” was released just more than a decade ago, but its themes of loss, anger and the lowest blues seem to fit with the world of today. The album can simultaneously transport you back to when the world was irreducibly different while also relating the comfort in shared suffering that the blues have offered audiences for hundreds of years. Just be sure not to hit anyone with your air guitar on the way to lecture.

“Life Without Sound” by Cloud Nothings // Simon Sweeney, Staff Writer

Cloud Nothings is among today’s most vital indie bands, the only heirs apparent to Hüsker Dü’s legend in creating a perfect blend of hardcore punk and unabashed pop hooks. When you’re just looking to fill the morning with a little bit of cheer as you trudge to whatever godforsaken corner of campus where COVID-19 has forced your first class to, “Life Without Sound” is what you’re looking for. It still has a punk edge, but it’s drawing primarily from bands like Sugar –– open chords, cleaner guitar tones, a little bit of piano and a sense of freedom, even delight, brought to the proceedings.

While Dylan Baldi, the group’s primary songwriter, has always had an affinity for rock-solid hooks and unexpected chord structures, he had never given into them so totally as he does here. The record’s centerpiece is a two-song sequence –– “Enter Entirely” opens with an almost lazily played, off-the-cuff riff before erupting into a chorus and solo worthy of endless adulation, and “Modern Act” forms a pure representation of the record’s mission statement, a purely catchy masterwork, jangling its way into your heart and, I guarantee, setting you up to have a pretty solid day.