In our TYF Monthly Mixtape feature, our music writers share Spotify playlists of the songs – new and old – they’ve had on repeat for the last month. This column is back for 2020, and this time we’re sharing some of the songs we’ve loved in April.
The theme behind this month’s playlist is inspired by a quote by Matty Healy of the 1975. When describing the band’s musical influences, Matty noted the allure of My Bloody Valentine saying, “all their songs are pop, but pop songs that sound like they are drowning.” For me, I loved this juxtaposition of the inherent bliss that exists within the pop music sphere with the dreaded realities of the day-to-day routine. Life’s not easy, we all know this. Quarantine has been such a crushing experience for all of us. Many times, it feels like I’m struggling to keep my head above water. The songs in this month’s playlist, in some way or another, explore this dynamic. There’s something really beautiful about dancing your heart out when it seems like the world is ending.
My playlist for this month begins with the irresistible “Potions” from the synth-pop project Day Wave, whose new release Crush is only four songs long, but that entire quartet is some of the catchiest music released so far this year. I tried to make this playlist a good representation of the stuff I’ve been playing often in April. I’ve revisited the work of John Prine, who sadly passed away from COVID-19 on April 7, particularly his remarkable debut album that features several of his most beloved compositions right out of the gate. Two albums, Phish’s Sigma Oasis and Fiona Apple’s Catch the Bolt Cutters, defined new music in April for me, and I’ve included my favorite songs from each. I also love The 1975’s new single “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” and its throwback to late 1980s AOR-adjacent new wave. A similarly great ’80s throwback-style track I’ve been playing a lot lately is “Confirmation” by Westerman, which came out two years ago but will be appearing on his debut full-length Your Hero is Not Dead in June. “Confirmation” sounds like the best possible Sting solo song: A jazzy slice of sophisti-pop with some great guitar work.
It’s been a struggle getting this playlist down to 20 songs. The majority of the tracks on here are from Questlove’s #QuestosWreckaStow, whom I’ve been listening to daily. He just has so many great tunes on there that you just want to have them all. There are also a couple of new releases like The Rolling Stones and Hamilton Leithauser, but it’s still mainly music from Questlove’s daily sets. Maybe a bit narcissistic, but I’d say this is a pretty smooth and funky playlist.
My April mix is a combination of new songs (there are so many good ones, I can’t keep up) and oldies that feel weird enough but also warm-weather appropriate to fit this April 2020. It starts with “Cuckoo” because I recently had my love for Moonrise Kingdom reignited and the song begins with an April reference and I’m corny. Then, toss in some “Marea Baja,” old Radiohead and Cure for some haunting quarantine vibes. New songs include tracks by M. Ward, Caroline Rose, Haim, Waxahatchee, and of course Fiona Apple. The playlist ends with “Reach Out of the Darkness,” which I cannot help but hear as darkly ironic since it’s cynical use in an episode of “Mad Men.” Listeners of the playlist can take it how they want to.
What music did you love in April, or whatever month this is was because we’ve kind of lost track? Let us know in the comments!