Has anyone had the pleasure of receiving a mixed cassette tape from someone? A physical cassette someone sat next to and recorded each song onto while thinking of you? As my biased words suggest, I have received such a thing and it’s a game changer! For me, mixtapes evoke adolescence (and all the angst, hope, and assorted feelings that come with). This week’s mix is an ode to the old, teenagery mixtape. And in the spirit of true mixtape bliss, today’s post will have a bit more music, fewer words, and just the right amount of nostalgia!
Without further ado, let’s get into the mix!
First up is “Hey Love” by the Austrian based, filious (with contributions from members of The Kooks). From the opening guitar lick, to the crunchy drum groove, I’m in a happy nostalgia cloud on this one. The vocal delivery is also extremely convincing; when “hey love” comes in, I am completely swept away into a sepia-tinted, sun-drenched memory of holding someone’s hand for the first time.
Keeping on theme of young love, we have a truly sweet offering from Maryland based, Zaamwé, titled “Blimey Limey.” This track is about what could have been if Zaamwé had worked up the nerve with an old crush. On first listen, I stopped at the lyric, “I was being sweet, should have just went smack” and then realized “smack” is a kiss (funny how that word has two opposing meanings…that’s a whole other blogpost). For now, please enjoy what a peaceful daydream sounds like in audio-form!
“Living Room,” by New York based Sammy Rae, keeps the reverie moving along with this more cerebral record. There’s a bit of Broadway, Regina Spektor, David Mead, and Elton John in here. For me, Sammy Rae has an instant classic, timeless sound.*
The last track of Side A, “Heather,” by USA based, Conan Gray is a sort of modern “Crimson and Clover” (a mixtape classic!). It’s super queer and I can feel my teenage self (and current self) both jumping up and down with how times have progressed, while also simultaneously sobbing with the echo of unrequited-love angst (that so many of us have living somewhere inside of us and hopefully can happily grow out of someday).
“Autoimmune” by Swedish based ANNELIE kicks off Side B with some super cool production. The intro starts, and I feel like we’re in some triplet time signature (though the bass hints we are not!), then the kick comes in at 0:50 and my head does a little kaleidoscope-like twist to adjust to the meter. Also, what the heck awesomeness is going on at 1:19?! And it’s followed by 80s-influenced key changes!? YES!
Next up, USA based project, Margot Polo’s “This Old Thing.” This track reminds me of early Copeland music in some ways. I remember listening to Copeland (a band) while waiting in the ER of a hospital in Alaska. Copeland was perfect company during those excruciating moments. I feel a similar warmth flow in me when I hear “This Old Thing,” as it’s a rare treat to find music that is comforting, wistful, and hopeful at the same time. It is from this track that we have our mix title: “this old thing can fly.” Beautiful.
Good mixtapes tend to weave in and out a variety of genres and tempos, so we’re picking the energy up with “Tell Me” by Scottish band, Dancing on Tables.** Conan Gray shared an underrepresented (in that case, gender queer) take on angsty love, and here we have a different emotional point of view to consider: wishing the object of one’s affection would say anything other than “it ain’t over!” This feels empowering somehow, more so to me than most angsty break-up songs, plus, it makes you want to get up and move!
To end our mixtape, I present “Eyes Closed” by USA artist, Lorelei Marcell (who was 17 at the time of recording this track). Teen angst has sounded different throughout the ages, but it I’m betting it feels fairly consistent. I love the line, “now that I can see you, I can see you with my eyes closed.” This track brings up longing feelings I often felt as a teen, and I wanted to end this mix with some modern, beautifully produced and recorded, teenage angst. Plus, it leads us solidly back into Side A!
And now, here we are, at the end of our time together today. Hope you enjoyed, and thank you for spending your precious time with me.
*If you’re looking for more Sammy Rae, I recommend this track and video:
**In case you’re wondering what else goes into a good mixtape, here are some of my mixtape guidelines:
– hand-written tracklist
– good flow in and out of each song
– title that sums up the mix
– last song of the mix leads back into the first song (mega flow!)
– a unifying theme (…songs that make me think of you, songs I think you will like, songs we listened to last winter, songs about dogs, etc, etc)
– no more than 30 seconds of silence at the end of either side (you may have to fade partial tracks out by hand or rearrange your tracklist!)
– buy all the tracks you use on the mix — support the music you love!
– make with love, joy, and care