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Religion aside, Sundays are sacred. Sundays are your time to relax and unwind. To slow down and reflect on the past week and the one ahead. Sundays are your time to tinker around the house, read, cook, spend quality time with loved ones, etc.
Or watch football, I guess?
There are few things better equipped for forcing you to slow down and enjoy your day than records. The process is simply therapeutic: pick one out, clean it, put it on the table, flip it, change it, and repeat. Records provide the perfect Sunday routine.
Though this list is not an exhaustive one, think of the ten records below as your “Sunday Stack” starter kit. They’ll provide the perfect backdrop for everything a Sunday should be: reflective, delightful, and a little productive.
Zeppelin III is mind boggingly the most underrated Zeppelin album. It was even considered a failure at the time of its release. It signaled the band’s movement towards greater emphasis on folk and acoustic sounds, which apparently fans weren’t ready to accept yet in the '70s.
It opens with the classic and somewhat jarring screeches of “Immigrant Song,” but quickly evolves into a primarily acoustic and thoughtful album. I can listen to “Friends,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” “Tangerine,” and “That’s The Way” over and over again all day. As you wake up, let the album transport you to the back of a VW van in 1970.
Whether you’re a pour over or a French Press person, Paradise and Lunch is the perfect album to go with your first cup of coffee. To start, in classic Cooder fashion, his fingerpicking and slide guitar are on point. It’s the perfect, “slow down and appreciate time” music.
Ry Cooder didn’t see mainstream success until the release of Buena Vista Social Club in the '90s. A great album and project, sure. But those who haven’t ventured to listen to his other albums are missing out. His 1974 album of covers, Paradise and Lunch, is my favorite $1 vinyl I ever purchased. The songs are classics and the collaborators are legends, including Earl “Fatha” Hines, Blind Willie McTell, and more.
If you haven’t immersed yourself in New Orleans R&B, it’s time to stop neglecting yourself. Allen Toussaint - who passed away in 2015 - was (not so) arguably the most influential artist in the genre. The album is titled Southern Nights, but it sets the perfect mood for Sunday morning regardless of where you are. The sax sounds, funky basslines, and groovy piano chords are infectious in the best possible way. You’ll find yourself dancing your Sunday breakfast off in no time.
Ready for the real dance party segment of your Sunday afternoon? Toe-tapping to the opening track, “Start Me Up” will quickly evolve into uncontrollable clapping and stomping throughout your house as the album progresses. The album is the follow-up to Emotional Rescue and is mostly composed of studio outtakes recorded during the 1970s. Although it topped the charts upon its release, it gets overlooked far too often today.
It’s worth noting that many people who think they don’t like the Rolling Stones have probably never listened to an album from start to finish. The Stones are meant to be listened to as an album band, not single by single, and many Stones fans consider *Tattoo You *their last classic. Put it on for a trip through history. Can’t think of a better way to spend your Sunday.
It might be surprising that I went with a Cash album from the '90s. But it’s even more surprising that it’s his 82nd album (!!). And it’s a must-listen. American II: Unchained focuses more on covers than it does originals and is backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It will bring your heart rate back down from after your Stones dance party. Take some time to appreciate the rawness and stellar musicianship showed on the album. You’ll also find guest appearances by Flea on "Spiritual," as well as Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood (both of Fleetwood Mac) on "Sea of Heartbreak.” Favorite track: “Rusty Cage.” Listen for the details while you enjoy your lunch.
Three of the greatest songwriters of all time on one live album recorded in one of Nashville’s institutions? Sold. Though it hasn’t come out on wax yet--paging Vinyl Me, Please!-- this album is meant for vinyl. So, take a break from turning records and bump this one on your streaming service of choice. You've been up and down off the couch all day at this point. You deserve the rest.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting in the Bluebird on a Sunday afternoon (if you’re not familiar with the Bluebird, here you go). You’re listening to some of the most thoughtfully crafted songs you’ve ever heard, played perfectly on old, beat up acoustic guitars. Pretty perfect for a Sunday, right? Even if you think you don’t like country, give it a listen and try not to fall in love with it.
Jana Hunter, one-half of Lower Dens, is a force to be reckoned with. Their songs manage to strike the perfect balance of chill and powerful. Twin-Hand Movement is the perfect antithesis to Together At The Bluebird Cafe. Equally romantic and empowering, it will wake you back up and get your body moving again -- but not too much.
Hunter’s hauntingly beautiful vocals will leave you in a reflective, introspective, and dreamy state. It’s perfect for your Sunday afternoon hobby time. Whether you’re into painting, crafting, making beer, or re-organizing your vinyl for the 10,000th time, Twin-Hand Movement is the perfect background music.
If you don’t speak Portuguese, you’re not going to understand many of the lyrics, but that doesn’t matter. Manual, by Brazilian psych band Boogarins, is the perfect combination of reverb and melody to put you into a state of calm on a Sunday. The New York Times review described parts of the album as, “light, shimmery textures that seem to start from nowhere in particular and be heading nowhere in particular, and then sudden decisive surges...”
If you wish your OJ was a mai-tai, then this is the record for your Sunday afternoon.
Introducing Karl Blau opens with a beautiful cover of Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got to Memphis.” From there, the Washington-based musician continues to tell colorful stories that will transport you to a rocking chair on some old wrap around porch down south.
Though he hasn’t reached mainstream, Blau has heavily influenced the indie rock and singer-songwriter scene, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Starting in 1997, he’s put out eight LPs and is a member of the Knw-Yr-Own/K Records collective. If you’re working on or thinking about a new project on your Sunday, Blau is the perfect inspiration.
Kevin Morby is often referred to as the “Dylan of today.” Dylan is the Dylan of today because he is still alive (and will hopefully be forever), but that claim tells you a lot about Morby’s music. He’s a poet and an incredible musician, as are the members of his band.
In many ways, Singing Saw is the album to best sum up 2016. Parts are incredibly sad, but also have lingering hope threaded throughout it. Some tracks are political. For example, “I Have Been to the Mountain” (named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech) is about the death of Eric Garner. The album in its entirety is thoughtful in terms of lyrics, production, harmony, and sequence. Most importantly, it’s downright beautiful.
Personally, Singing Saw was my most played album of 2016. I’ve listened to it in the mornings, at night, to sleep, to travel. I’ve listened to it at home, on trains, planes, bikes, cars, and on walks. I’ve cried to it, I’ve been uplifted by it. I even have a tattoo inspired by “Black Flowers.” I only hope that it brightens your Sundays as much as it has mine.