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 is the first regular edition of this column since May, and we have plenty of music to talk about that we loved in August.
I probably spend too much time each month figuring out the structure of these playlists, which songs work best next to one another and how to ease from one style to another. I didn’t need to all that much of that this month because this one is mostly hazy dream pop. It also helped that “August” is one of my favorite songs off Taylor Swift’s great new album Folklore, and I thought it would be need to compare and contrast it with a song by the jangly, bookish British band The Sundays, whose influence (whether intentionally or no) can be felt on a lot of that album. There’s also a bunch of stuff here that I picked up off Bandcamp over the last month or so; This includes a calm but monolithic single from the Northern Ireland band New Pagans, a great guitar rock song from Oceanator, a slow burning indie rock version of Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” from the British band Big Joanie, an extremely catchy indie-folk rock number from Boston singer-songwriter Anjimile, and some sublime shoegaze from Slow Pulp.
Typically, I’d be putting together the perfect “back-to-school” playlist around this time of year. However, the pandemic changed my plans, and I’m now taking a semester off and living in Los Angeles. Therefore, this month’s TYF playlist largely functions as a compilation of my favorite tracks about the Golden State, ranging from the starry-eyed (“Venice,” “West Coast”) to the bittersweet (“Hollywood,” both “California”s). I’ve also included some songs from films I’ve enjoyed recently. Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love,” the poignant theme from Call Me By Your Name (which I finally watched three years too late), is here. So is Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino’s cover of Roxy Music’s “Love Is the Drug,” the thematically confusing but completely showstopping duet that closes out the otherwise grim Sucker Punch. Additional highlights include The Neighbourhood’s slickest single in ages and the stunning new 100 gecs/Fall Out Boy collab.
My August playlist has a bit of new stuff, a few sentimental oldies, and some random tracks for good measure. The new includes recent songs from Future Islands, The Killers, Perfume Genius, the Beths, and Phoebe Bridgers. 2020 has been pretty great for music, and I’m enjoying savoring these albums slowly. I’ve included a few songs I love listening to, always, including Caroline Polachek’s “Ocean of Tears” (those high notes!), and “Always on My Mind” by the Pet Shop Boys. The Monster Rally and Dick Dale songs I found somehow on Spotify, and they make for excellent mood tracks. This month the vibe is calming down, being good to yourself, and listening to the songs that make you feel positive emotions. And that’s mostly all of these.
In the past month, my music taste has seen a revival of electronica, and a continuation of ’90s indie rock, and this highlights the best of each. Doug Martsch’s guitar-playing hasn’t invented many new techniques or sounds, but it explores just about every one that has been established with immense beauty. Pavement’s initial two releases excel heavily in songwriting and lyricism, and arguably popularized indie rock as a specified genre. When it comes to electronica, each subgenre has their group. For IDM, it’s Boards of Canada, for new-age disco, it’s Daft Punk, and for dubstep, it’s Skrillex.
What music did you love in August? Let us know in the comments!