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20 new music albums to inspire you during the pandemic

Including Taylor Swift's album that transports you to a fantasy world.

new music albums
Beth Garrabrant

Taylor Swift just dropped an album. Let me repeat: Taylor Swift just dropped an album.

But before you TSwift fans expect another compilation filled with club headbangers, Folklore isn't it. It's rather a mix of soulful sounds that are more melancholy and sweet. It's exactly what we need during a pandemic.

"Before this year I probably would've overthought when to release this music at the 'perfect' time," Swift said in an Instagram message announcing the album. "But the times we're living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world."


Last month, John Legend also dropped an album entitled Bigger Love as a reminder to celebrate romantic love and family during these uncertain times. "During these painful times, some of us may wonder if it's ok to laugh or dance or be romantic...It's important for us to continue to show the world the fullness of what it is to be black and human. Through our art, we are able to do that," Legend said on Instagram.

If you're looking to add to your musical collection, you've come to the right place. Whatever your musical preferences are, we've got you covered. And, by the way, if you haven't heard "Baby Girl" from Chloe x Halle's newest album, Ungodly Hour, you're totally missing out. Check it out, and listen to these other new releases below to keep you sane during a pandemic.

Here are the new albums we're jammin' to this summer:

  • Lianne La Havas—Lianne La Havas
  • Taylor Swift—Folklore
  • Teyana Taylor—The Album
  • Ellie Goulding—Brightest Blue
  • Oumou Sangaré—Acoustic
  • John Legend—Bigger Love
  • The Chicks—Gaslighter
  • Pop Smoke—Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon
  • Lupe Fiasco + Kaelin Ellis—House
  • Roberta Flack—First Take (50th Anniversary Edition)
  • KLLO—Maybe We Could
  • SaultUntitled (Black Is)
  • Chloe x Halle—Ungodly Hour
  • Protomartyr—Ultimate Success Today
  • Keleketla!—Keleketla!
  • Bob Dylan—Rough and Rowdy Ways
  • Derrick Hodge—Color of Noize
  • Norah Jones—Pick Me Up Off The Floor
  • Noveller—Arrow
  • Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers—Just Coolin'

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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