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.
Editor’s note: It’s been a little while since The Young Folks has compiled an edition of the TYF Monthly Mixtape – last September to be exact, and much has changed since the columns’ hiatus. This includes some of our new TYF music writers, who are making their mixtape debuts this month, as well as our hopes for the return of concerts and other musical events
This month I was inspired by Bo Burnham’s new special ‘INSIDE,’ to explore isolation and how to overcome it. Taking some of my favorite electronic artists like Porter Robinson and LCD Soundsystem, the playlist starts with a lot of loneliness (“New York, I Love You”), forced to deal with anxious and sentimental thoughts (“That Funny Feeling,” “Twin Falls,”). But by the end, it reflects (thanks to Beach Fossils and REM) and ends in the joyful and ridiculous “…And Carrot Rope.”
May has always been a transitional month for me. The endless rain of April still persists, but the warm weather of summer hasn’t fully arrived yet. The music of May also reflects these changes. It’s also quite melancholy for various reasons. The centerpieces of this mix were “Simile #7” by Slauson Malone and “Try Not To Be Afraid” by DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ. “I need some help”, a young voice proclaims on the former track. His voice is followed by a chopped, glitched sample of Slauson Malone asking “Are you scared?” It sounds like an AI experiencing sentience for the first time, but being unable to process what they’re feeling. It’s a somber minute of immense vulnerability . Contrasting that, DJ Sabrina delivers her textbook brand of “hallmark-wave”, a genre she coined herself. “Try Not To Be Afraid” is life-affirming, soaring house music. It provides this undeniable warmth that feels all too rare today. In a way, these two songs me speaking to myself and telling myself that everything will be okay.
This month’s playlist is a mix of both new songs I adore and older music that I’ve been replaying. In the first column, there’s the irresistible jangle-pop of the English band Bull, the detail-heavy lyricism of Lucy Dacus and Dry Cleaning, and the virtuosic guitar playing of Mdou Moctar. I’ve also added an album cut from quirky British post-punk band Squid’s incredible full-length Bright Green Field, which delivered on the promise of the singles and EPs they’ve put out over the last few years. In the latter category I’ve been undergoing a deep dive into the music of New Zealand’s Split Enz over the last few weeks. Outside of New Zealand, the band’s discography is perhaps overshadowed by Neil Finn’s later group Crowded House, but they are one of the country’s best-loved, most influential and inventive bands with a very rewarding discography full of challenging art-rock and indelible pop. Their representation on this playlist “One Step Ahead”, one of their many incredibly catchy singles and one of the few managed to break through to American radio. The playlist ends with Los Campesinos!’ “Tiptoe Through the True Bits”, an outtake from their 2011 album Hello Sadness that has floated around the internet for a decade and is at last available officially through their new Whole Damn Body compilation. A good thing too, as its one of the cultly adored Welsh band’s very best songs, marrying their misanthropic lyrics with lush horn and string arrangements.
A lot of this had to do with movement in its many formes. Leaning heavily into my more involved spelunking into dance music, with some downtempo cuts interwoven. Cities Aviv made a welcome comeback in my life with “My World Is Full” , my only prior knowledge of his work being “If I Could Hold Your Soul”, an equally eclectic piece. Two anniversaries as well, with Kaytranada’s 99.9% turning five years old and Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” turning 25 years old (even though I found out exactly two months after its actual anniversary shhh it’s fine). India Jordan and recent favourite salute have been electrifying me during the most mundane of tasks and I’d never underestimated the power of dance music more than the experience I had listening to “Feierabend” during a thunderstorm.
What music did you put into heavy rotation last month? Let us know in the comments!