Packing for a trip to Europe, or anywhere really, can be daunting. But the only thing you absolutely need, besides a passport, is music. Music to listen to while snoozing on that twelve hour flight, or to soothe your frazzled brain as you shuffle through a foreign airport. Or a soundtrack to accompany endless glasses of wine and cigarettes and gelato and pasta and all the seafood you can get your hands on. So before I took off on a three-week tour through the South of France and Italian Riviera, I cleared out my iTunes and restocked on some new albums, essential listening, and music I couldn’t do Europe without. Check out my playlist from the Mediterranean below, and dip into that piggy bank and get lost somewhere this summer. –Maya Eslami
Cigarettes After Sex
“Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby”
Off their 2012 album I., which founder Greg Gonzalez referred to as “basically an accident; kind of an experiment”. A beautiful accident. This whole album rules.
City Music, Morby’s most recent album and follow-up to the stunning Singing Saw, is filled with gems. This one reminds me of Springsteen’s “Philadelphia” for some inexplicable reason, but listen and see if you hear it. This song haunts me.
And of course, Morby reminding me of Springsteen leads us here. “State Trooper” is my favorite track off the infamous Nebraska, the album of demos (sung and played entirely by Springsteen), demos intended to be recorded with the E-Street band that somehow slipped through unscathed and wonderfully intact. I love demos.
Beach Fossils haven’t released an album since 2013, and they definitely made the wait worth our while. My favorite part of this song is the cascading cellos. Yes to strings, always.
“Message from the Mirror”
Couldn’t do a playlist without throwing some kind of fuzzed stoner metal in the mix. CFM’s sophomore album Dichotomy Desaturated is pure elevation, and a reminder that Charles Moothhart will shred your face off.
The Mamas & The Papas
“Dedicated To The One I Love”
The first leg of my trip was at the Cannes Film Festival, and Netflix premiered a film by Korean director Bong Joon-ho, Okja, starring unicorn Tilda Swinton, among other famous faces. Anyway, the trailer for the film uses this song, and it reminded me of how much I love Michelle Phillips’ voice. Also this movie looks sick.
“Out Of My Head”
Tashaki Miyaki, the bedroom pop baby of singer, songwriter Paige Stark, has been around for a while. So when their debut album finally dropped, I soaked it up. Still soaking, really. Imagine Brian Jonestown at their most sensitive, dressed up in female vocals aching with betrayal and heartbreak.
“Sugar for the Pill”
And of course there’s Slowdive, returning after years – 22 YEARS – with their incredible self-titled reunion show. “Sugar for the Pill” is stripped down and moody and raw, well, as raw as it gets with Slowdive.
“This Old Dog”
This Old Dog, Mac Daddy’s new album, is real Mac- less light, less facetious, though we do love facetious. But we always prefer real. It’s only good if it’s real. And “This Old Dog” nails the realness in.
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
I was in Naples on Bob Dylan’s birthday, of all places. The sunset was bright cotton candy pink, and the cab that swooped me up had some sort of classic rock station dialed in on the radio. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” came on, but of course the cover by Guns N’ Roses. Bob’s version is better.
Michael Nau’s album Some Twist is two parts folk, one part soul and a pinch of blues, and goes down like a warm gulp of whiskey. Drink it up.
Another breathtaking followup album to come out this year, Capacity followed me through my entire trip, and I’m still somehow listening to it, relentlessly. Granted, I was hooked on Big Thief from the start. But this album is mature, next level indie folk for the emotionally inclined daydreamer.