10 Songs To Travel Home To This Thanksgiving Break

At this time last year, I became a part of Her Campus. What a journey it has been.

With this theme of “journey” in mind, I found it only appropriate for this week to return to where I began and to curate yet another traveling playlist for your listening pleasure. As we all struggle to pack one bag to bring home for Thanksgiving break (and let’s face it: we always stumble into our houses under a mountain of overstuffed bags), you probably don’t have the time to whip together something to listen to. Traveling without music is straight-up awful. Luckily for you, you’ve got me to make your travels as painless as possible.

Whether you’re traveling 20 minutes home or three hours home, any traveling experience is enhanced with a great soundtrack. Tune out all of those questions your parents are asking about your academics; tune out the guy next to you snoring directly into your ear; tune out that screaming baby on the One Train. This is the part you don’t hear about Thanksgiving. No one talks about the strenuous traveling experience that must be done before you can engorge yourself on hot turkey, only to pass out on a couch moments later.

“Coming Home” by Leon Bridges, off of his record, Coming Home.

I’ve been really digging musicians these days who have returned to a classic soul sound (think Picking Up The Pieces by Fitz & The Tantrums and jazz-singer Gregory Porter). Leon Bridges has a straight-up golden voice that is the main feature of this track. You have your wordless female backup singers, gentle pianos and repetitive melancholic drums.

This song effortlessly captures the intense bittersweet moment that is leaving campus for home. Whilst you happily pack your bags, you’re (understandably) sad that you’re leaving your second family. There is a latent brightness in this track despite Bridges’ warm, saddened drone, hinting at a constant hope. In Bridges’ case, it’s the hope that “he’ll be around” for his beloved. In your case? That’s up to you.

It’s only fitting to begin a travel playlist with a song called “Coming Home,” is it not?

“Autumnal” by Teen Daze, off of his album, Glacier.

I feel like I should be banned from listening to Teen Daze because I am no longer a teenager.

It’s no secret that I am a big proponent of the chillwave genre. “Autumnal” is a chillwave masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned. It is a song that is the musical embodiment of the autumnal chill. It is wordless and harmonious. The recurring piano melody is haunting and will echo in your head for the rest of your travels.

Sometimes you just need a song that will put you into a musical trance. You know, forget about the fact that you’re packed like a sardine in a bus or in the back of your parents’ car (if you are so lucky to have parents who will pick you up for Thanksgiving break).

“Tolerance” by Heavenly Beat, off of their record, Talent.

Heavenly Beat is a band that sounds like it’s playing right in your bedroom. John Pena’s voice is a wispy drone, but don’t let that detract from the hypnotizing experience that is “Tolerance.” I mean, how many songs do you know of that utilize synthesized steel drums? Not many.

His voice comes in like a whisper in the chorus, somehow mitigating the blatant creepiness in the lyrics, “Think about how I’m so hard / When can I take all the things I want from you? / …you’re so soft / Laughing off the things I want to do to you.”

“Tolerance” is the perfect background sound. It’s soft, intimate and doesn’t beg for your attention. It’s flamenco-inspired guitars attempt to distract you with their sun-stained chords from the very one-sided romance narrative the speaker tells. Who knew that tropical-sounding music could be so cold?

“Runaways” by Mirror Kisses, off of his album, Heartbeats.

Let me contextualize this song for you. I sat in Locke’s for lunch, familiarizing myself with my recently discovered music (as one does), when this song began to play. Mirror Kisses opened his mouth for the first verse and I missed my mouth and dropped my fry into my salted ketchup, absolutely stunned.

Think Tears For Fears meets the vaporwave genre. The synthesizers are dark, haunting the listener with its repetitive nature. Mirror Kisses’ has a voice that is full of passion and soul, demanding that you fall to your own knees as you sing along with him, cursing every lover that ever scorned you (even if you never were). This is not your typical pop song - this is a pop masterpiece that absolutely deserves your attention.

Remember shoegaze? It’s a perfect time to break out those dance moves once again. Yes, you can absolutely cry to this song (“I don’t wish to settle down / I don’t wish to lose a friend / You might have someone now / But I’ll still be waiting in here”). Frankly, if you don’t, are you even human?

“Poison Touch” by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, off of their record, Days of Abandon.

“Poison Touch” is a fun indie-pop song featuring saccharine-sweet vocals from Jen Goma. It’s an upbeat tempo - something you can easily nod your head to (if you’re boring. If you’re not boring, I fully expect a full-body shuffle).

This track is painfully bright despite that the lyrics are the complete opposite. The speaker is brutally honest, singing, “you’ll go your way / and I’ll go mine / and you’ll be fine / but me, I just don’t know.” You’ll be dancing to this indie-pop track with tears streaming down your face.

The song charges on, not once letting you to develop concrete feelings about the song itself (at least the first time you’ll listen to it). However, it’s set at the perfect beat for zooming down a freeway home (should you be so lucky).

“Your beautiful smile and your poison touch” is a beautifully-constructed lyric. The contrast, my friends! The contrast!

“Tearing Me Up” by Bob Moses, off of their album, Days Gone By.

It’s bands like Bob Moses that make me question why any bands who formed outside of New York even bother. We’ve got this dark, mysterious, effortlessly-cool thing down pat. Take your skinny jeans and dirty hair and go back from whence you came.

New York-based duo Bob Moses has turned deep house into an organic production in their seven minute song, “Tearing Me Up.” Vocalist Tow Howie’s voice is sultry and dark; the guitar even moreso. The song tells the story about the speaker being seduced by a woman in a relationship. You’ll be bouncing between utter disgust and bliss because the bassline is too groovy. Yes, the bass will drive you to sin.

You don’t get this kind of bassline often. This track is perfect for late night drives, especially if you’re feeling sleazy (or just trying to get home).

“Make Me Feel” by Gold Fields & KLP.

Let this song whisk you away to dreamland as KLP unleashes her cool dream vocals over Gold Fields’ brilliantly warm synthesizers.

“Make Me Feel” is a wonderful example of Australia’s talent in electronica (Cut Copy - do I need to say more?). This track is the opposite of “Tearing Me Up” by Bob Moses, presenting a brighter, warmer sound to its audiences (also, the narrative content certainly won’t elicit disgust in you).

The constant drums lull you into a trance where traveling for excessive hours doesn’t frustrate you to no end. You’ll want to get up and dance (but don’t because you need to wear a seatbelt - idiot). You can impress your family members with your drunken moves on Thanksgiving. Time and place, people.

“Boat Behind” by Kings of Convenience, off of their record, Declaration of Dependence.

As the weather progressively gets colder this season, the warm sound from this violin is desperately needed.

A bossa nova-inspired piece, “Boat Behind” tells a story about separated lovers who reconvene, but realizing that he or she could “never belong” to him or her. Kings of Convenience, as always, find some way to turn an otherwise depressing song into something that causes you to dance - it’s a real enigma.

This is a perfect staring-out-the-window song. You can tap your foot and smile as Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe, with their soft and welcoming voices, beckon you on home. You’ll be in your bed soon.

“If She Wants Me” by Belle & Sebastian, off of their album, Dear Catastrophe Waitress.

I don’t understand how bands from notoriously-grey and cold countries (Scotland and Norway, specifically) are writing such summery, warm songs. Perhaps I should keep my big mouth shut and enjoy the music.

The guitars in “If She Wants Me” are easy to dance to and almost beg for a singer who rips through his or her vocals or a speaker who is full of attitude. None of these things are present in this song. Stuart Murdoch’s voice is quiet and nearly shy at times - the contrast of the groovy guitar and his fragile voice frankly confusing for your ears.

“If She Wants Me” is a feel-good song, plain and simple. It’s meant to be played when you’re surrounded by your best friends and family. In short? You’ve got the perfect listening atmosphere this Thanksgiving break.

“My Kind Of Woman” by Mac Demarco, off of his record, 2.

Let’s bring it down a notch. By the end of this playlist (a.k.a. now), I hope you’ve arrived home safe and sound. You’re tired; you’re cranky; all you can think about is a hot shower and your bed.

Let Mac Demarco serenade you to sleep as he croons about how you’re his “kind of woman.” There’s something tear-jerkingly romantic about this song, even though the speaker is “down on [his/her] knees / begging you please, baby.”

The guitar is simple; the drums even moreso. It’s a slow song that can put you into a daze. The whirling sound of the electronic organ sound spins your thoughts into a colorful mess. Trust me on this one (as I almost got hit by a car walking to Leo because I was so enthralled).

Don’t do that this Thanksgiving. You’ve got mashed potatoes to eat. Safe home, my fellow Jaspers. May your journeys be filled with happiness, food and free of the question: “So, what’s a Jasper?”

You can listen to this week’s playlist via Spotify.