Music to Jet To: 12 Albums to Download Before Your Next Flight (date, or dinner party…)

Old Fashioned Music Player Illustration by Cristian Amoretti on Shutterstock

One of my favorite things about traveling is the time spent in that anonymous-yet-familiar place high above the clouds. I get some of my best writing and reflection done at 35,000 feet – earphones on, journal out. And even though I’m no music expert, having good tunes on my iPod is critical to getting me into the groove. These are some of my go-tos when it comes to travel music (if there is such a thing). They also happen to be excellent tunes for working, lounging, entertaining, and just about anything that needs a mellow-but-rhythmic soundtrack: (In order from slowest to fastest.)

  1. Gem Club, Breakers – Slow, moody and dark. Love this album for writing to. 
  2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver – If you don’t know Bon Iver, please just download. 
  3. The National, High Violet – Dark, soft, indie rock.
  4. Angus & Julia Stone, Down the Way – Julia Stone is my favorite artist right now. Her music is airy, light and soulful.
  5. Massive Attack, Heligoland – The original trip-hop group delivers electronica at its finest in this beautiful and delicate album.
  6. Frank Ocean, Orange – Soulful R&B with a dash of synth.
  7. The xx, Coexist – Indie electronic/dream-pop.  The xx is one of those bands that you either get or you don’t. In my opinion they are one of the greatest groups of our generation, and this album might even be better than their first.
  8. Waldeck, Ballroom Stories – Jazzy, swingy, soulful R&B. Great for dinner parties.
  9. Best of Hôtel Costes by Stephanè Pompougnac – I have almost all of the Costes albums after hearing one at the hotel in Paris. This compilation features latin infused and electronic beats.
  10. Cat Power, Sun – Cat creates her own brand of magical indie pop with this soothing, upbeat album.
  11. Chromatics, Kill for Love – Where do I begin? The Chromatics are another favorite group of mine but they’re not for the faint of heart. Best described as dark, electro-pop-slash-disco, this album includes a remake of Neil Young’s Into the Black.
  12. Miike Snow, Miike Snow – Indie electronic. Another album that will go down as one of the best of our time; Miike snow perfectly balances rock, pop and electronic.
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Climb… Is all we know.

It’s been nearly 12 years since I left California for New York. 13 years since the days when my friends and I would drive to the top of Skyline Drive in Cowan Heights to escape whatever it was that we wanted to escape that day: school, work, family, boyfriends, whatever. We used to sneak into an abandoned mansion at the top of the hill, share stories, dreams… bottles of Boone’s.

Now, more than a dozen years later, there’s another mansion being erected on the property and another generation of dreamers parking along the cliffside shoulder.

Cowan Heights View, by Meagan Kirkpatrick

View from Cowan Heights overlooking Irvine / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

I’ve always had a thing for heights. I’ve been taking flying trapeze classes for years and one of my favorite things to do is to stare out of airplane windows at the cities below. There’s just something so soothing and intoxicating about looking down at the world – at the days passed – and reflecting in a place that’s both familiar and anonymous.

Reflecting on the Past, Photos by Meagan KirkpatrickI can’t help but wonder though, why is it that we humans feel the need to look to the past for answers about the future? It’s like an invitation to carry all that weight with you wherever you go.

When I’m feeling deep and reflective, Bon Iver is at the top of my playlist. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to his self-titled album this week. Wash is one of my favorite tracks and the lyrics are the perfect companion for a skyline view.

Wash. Bon Iver

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