Moody Winter jams.
So, I’ve been brainstorming various ideas to provide guaranteed, stable content streams on this here site so that those dead patches of time where absolutely nothing gets added – or when there are just endless Box Office Reports and nothing else, which arguably looks worse since that screams “I can put in the effort and energy to make abysmal jokes once a week but not enough to put together content of substance” – for extended periods can be minimised. Just short, fun little articles that provide proof that I’m not dead and don’t take too much effort to put together and that I therefore can’t justifiably shrug off not doing. One idea that stuck for a while came from my enjoyment of music, my enjoyment of sharing music recommendations, and my 80s Teen Movie fixation of crafting mixtapes; ergo, why not do a monthly feature where I craft a playlist of stuff I’ve listened to that month?
So here we are. Welcome to The Mixtape. Each month – assuming I decide to keep this up, and excluding next month cos that’s the Top 50 Songs of 2016 countdown (which I barely have enough for at the moment given how I really haven’t listened to a lot of New Music this year) – I’ll put together a Spotify playlist of some of the stuff that’s been most going around my head during the previous 28/30/31 days. Each playlist will last around about an hour, include only one song per artist with (hopefully) no track repeats from month-to-month, and be organised into two halves that I’ll designate on this post. I’ll also include some text about some/all (depends how I’m feeling) of the included tracks to help explain why they’re on here. Maybe I’ll inspire some nice debate and discussion over what’s been included and perhaps even inspire others to make and share their own mixes! Or, more likely, no-one will care about any of this and I’ll be suitably dragged for some of my less consensus-liked picks. Either works.
Well, with that all set up, here’s the inaugural instalment of The Mixtape! Please Note: it is missing “Love Drought” by Beyoncé as the introduction to Side B because Lemonade is not on Spotify. OFF TO A GREAT START!
The Mixtape: December 2016
15 tracks, 1 hour 1 mins
01] DJ Raff – Latino & Proud
Yep, I finally started watching Broad City this month… for all of an hour before it was removed from Sky On Demand services! Still, what I did see I really dug, and the theme music was already something I was anticipating for each of the (3) episodes I managed to watch. Cool, Latin (and proud), and maddeningly catchy, I went and snapped it up pretty much as soon as I finished watching the show and it’s been cropping up in my head repeatedly throughout the month, unprompted.
02] The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You?
Not really related to this song specifically, but I had to babysit my cousins last Tuesday whilst their parents went off and saw The Cure in Manchester. Apparently the whole crowd was really old and it made them feel super self-conscious as a result. I, meanwhile, acted like a super responsible sitter and left my cousins to play videogames together whilst I raided the vinyl collection, before watching The Breakfast Club after I put them both to bed. I have not time warped back to 1988, I promise.
03] The Heavy – What Happened To the Love?
The Heavy come just like their namesake live. Energetic, charismatic, and full of pure joy at being able to play music live for a devoted crowd even if the venue is only half-full at most, they are just a tonne of fun. This closed their main set, and is a highlight of latest album, Hurt & the Merciless. They really need to get past their habit of crafting albums that are super front-loaded and taper off majorly in the second half, and always with one song on the whole record that is head and shoulders above all of the others, but I feel that The Heavy really deserve to have a bigger following than they do. If everyone would try and look past “How You Like Me Now” and “Short Change Hero,” outstanding tracks they are, I think they’d really like what they see. Hear. Whatever.
04] Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl
As you might know if you read the latest What I’ve Been Watching, I re-watched The Punk Singer in preparation for seeing The Julie Ruin tomorrow (if you’re reading this on the day it goes up). “Rebel Girl” is a super obvious choice, I know, but it is one of the greatest songs of all-time – don’t even bother attempting to argue about this, I cannot be budged – and The Julie Ruin have taken to closing out their shows with it on this recent tour, which is going to be super cathartic for myself and Lucy after this godforsaken year, let me tell you.
05] Red Hot Chili Peppers – Parallel Universe
No, wait, come back! I know that it’s “uncool” to admit to liking the Chili Peppers but, you know what, I’m willing to go to bat for them. They’ve written a tonne of fantastic songs, Flea is obviously a super-talented bassist, and John Frusciante is a criminally-underrated guitarist and songwriter. Aside from having finally bought it as DLC for Rock Band, I don’t know why this is the one that has refused to leave my brain this month, but there we go. Listen to some Chili Peppers, dammit! Join me in despising the muddy production hack-job that Rick Rubin and Vlado Meller performed on these great songs!
06] A.T.F.C Presents OnePhatDeeva – In and Out of My Life
At the beginning of the month, I was in the throes of a really strong bout of my depression, and I would consequently put off going to bed at decent hours because I spent far too much time based around my bed and wanted to pretend that I was doing something with my days. So I took to flicking around music channels in an attempt to stave off the inevitable, and it was on one of these aimless flicks that I stumbled across this mashup of the titular track and Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here Right Now.” I dug it, so I thought I’d share it here with you.
07] Justice – Alakazam !
I do not own Woman yet and that fact upsets me as a major fan of Justice. I’ve been subsisting off of “Safe and Sound” and this – “Safe and Sound” is most likely to end up on my Top 50, by the way, which is why “Alakazam !” is the one in the mix this month – and all they’re doing is raising my hype levels to disproportionate amounts! It’s the way that “Alakazam !” melds together the night disco of Cross with the daylight prog rock of Audio, Video, Disco that really gets me, it feels like the natural balancing of the two incarnations of Justice so far. That, and they’ve also cribbed a sound effect from the Crystal Worlds of the original Spyro the Dragon, and I’m a sucker for that shit.
01] Wolf Alice – Blush
I retreated really deeply into this song throughout the Summer. I think it’s the combination of the general mood of the song, which walks the fine line of being moody without being hopelessly miserable – comforting is the term I’m looking for, I believe – and the lyrics, which are pretty clearly about depression and achingly sung by Ellie Roswell. It crops up every now and again whenever I dip to a certain degree, so why not pop it in the inaugural mix in order to make me have to try harder in following months!
02] The xx – On Hold
Oh, thank God, they’re finally back! I mean, they were technically back last year with Jamie xx’s phenomenal solo album, but it’s nice to have the real thing back. It’s also abundantly clear upon listening that In Colour was absolutely the unofficial third xx LP, since its influence is all over this track. There’s the structure and chorus-sampling of “Loud Places,” the melancholic euphoria of “Far Nearer,” and the lyrics are treading the same ground as “Chained” from Coexist (as well as nicking the melody from Hot Chip’s “Ready for the Floor,” natch). Unlike a rather loud minority of the xx fanbase, I have no problems with this evolution, cos every xx record so far has managed to provide me with exactly the sort of comfort that I need at the time of its release, and I See You looks to be no different, and this is also just a damn great song anyway. That Hall & Oates sample is such an indescribable earworm!
03] The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather
I had actually never heard of this song prior to my getting it with Rock Band Rivals at the end of October. Apparently it was everywhere, though? Eh, whatever. I can take or leave most of what else I’ve heard from this try-hard Indie Pop band – an inadvertent American mirror version of The 1975 that appeared at the same time and who nobody asked for – but this is a certifiable Jam, and its mood is perfect for this time of year.
04] Jagwar Ma – Uncertainty
“How can you/How can you/Look so gloomy/When you’re gloomy/Howlin’/Looks so good to me.” Over and over for all eternity. That’s a madness mantra, the kind you only need to implant in somebody once and which they will subsequently never stop saying because it is never leaving their brain. Just going round and round and round in circles because it sounds so delightful. I heard this song for the first time at a friend’s Halloween party, because this the end of October was apparently the period for me to hear every fluke Indie hit from 2013 for the first time.
05] The 1975 – She’s American
I’ll write a long thing about The 1975 if I decide to do a Best Albums of 2016 piece despite only having really listened to 10 albums all year – because I might decide to get into a thing at year’s end and forget to stop – but in the meantime, here’s the obvious highlight from I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It that’s not the actual highlight because that’s guaranteed for the highest reaches of my Top 50 Tracks list. Pretty INXS-y, I think you’ll agree.
06] Capital Cities – Safe and Sound
Exact same deal as with “Sweater Weather” and “Uncertainty,” with this one being much more baffling since I’ve been aware of, and a fan of, this band’s “Kangaroo Court” for a couple of years now, yet this totally slipped my radar until it came with Rock Band Rivals. In any case, this is a Tune and it’s been quite comforting to listen to this past month, which at least makes the title not a misnomer.
07] The Julie Ruin – I Decide
Remember how I said I’m seeing The Julie Ruin tomorrow? Cos I’m seeing The Julie Ruin tomorrow. Gonna be like 5 feet away from Kathleen Hanna and I’m gonna die from the pure fangirling that’ll ensue on my end! It’s kind of surprising that this is the song off of Hit Reset that I find myself humming along to randomly the most, since it’s one of the album’s more abrasive and non-Pop moments, but then I remember that melody and it all makes sense. Also, Hanna’s voice on this track is just brilliantly atonal.
08] David Bowie – Fantastic Voyage
Halfway through my mission to own every David Bowie album ever – started at the beginning of the year due to shamefully only owning Let’s Dance and Best of Bowie when he died, despite him genuinely having a huge impact on and meaning a lot to me; stalled out from the Summer onwards due to end of uni restricting HMV access and the old standby lack of money – and I’m stumping for Lodger as my favourite Bowie album. It’s a weird one, blatantly transitional and struggling for a concept to grasp onto, GEE I WONDER WHY I’VE CONNECTED SO TOTALLY TO IT? I’d also put “Fantastic Voyage” in his Top 3 Songs, GEE I WONDER WHY I’D DO THAT? It’s consequently closing out this inaugural instalment of The Mixtape thanks to that extended fade-out, purposefully leaving things unresolved as the playlist gently shuffles out of the room or you feel compelled to start things up again for some kind of completionary catharsis. Either works.
The Mixtape: December 2016, Spotify embed
Feel free to leave feedback or your own mixtapes in the comments! Who knows, maybe I’ll actually keep this up as a regular feature rather than a one-off curio for once!
Callum Petch, at your request, compiled a list of his top five resolutions for this year. Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!