When I was in high school, I made mixtapes for every month. My car didn’t have an iPod hook-up so it was pretty much the only way to keep fresh tunes flowing through the car. By the end of the month, I’d get sick of all 15 of the songs and archive the CD in my closet. I’m sure there are still many there, collecting dust slowly but surely. Anyways, the point it, my most favorite name for one of these tapes was “February Aid” because, as many of you know, February is the absolute worst month of the year. Sometimes we need a nice mixtape to push us through the short, wintry torture chamber we call a “month”, and so today, I present you with a modern and updated version of February Aid and maybe it can help you as much as it’s helping me!
1 – “Life Round Here” – James Blake ft. Chance the Rapper
You would have to have been living under a stone for the past year to not notice the tidal waves he’s made throughout the entire music industry in such a short time. One of my personal favorites was when Chano stepped outside of his comfort zone for a track with English electro-indie artist James Blake. What resulted was both fantastic, and has been in constant rotation since I’ve moved to London.
2 – “Count On Me” – Lucki Eck$
I can’t promise that this is the last hip-hop track on this playlist, but I can promise that it’s the last one for a little while. Lucki has impressed me very much as of late, hailing on his debut project Alternative Trap, which has launched the 17 year-old into the limelight of Chicago’s budding rap cosmos. His laid back style carefully toes the border with too relaxed, especially for the subject-matter, but when he does succeed, he’s spot-on in a way that no other artist really has been.
3 – “Luna” – Bombay Bicycle Club
The quartet from North London dropped their 4th album this week, and to surprisingly pleasant reviews, at that. The addition of a female vocalist really made So Long, See You Tomorrow a top-notch record, and if you just listen to this track, I think you’ll see why.
4 – “Fly Girl Get ‘Em” – BJ the Chicago Kid
No, BJ doesn’t rap, but he does have one of the smoothest voices in the city, let alone, the country. This track is a perfect example of that.
5 – “Underground” – Ben Folds Five
Every day I wish I was born at a slightly earlier time, when Ben Folds Five was at the height of their popularity. This track is one of the reasons why. What the hell does “Slammin’ the pit fantastic” even mean, anyways? I don’t know, and I don’t care, because I love Ben Folds.
6 – “Burn One Down” – Ben Harper
Maybe this will be the first year I go to Bonnaroo. If not, I’ll just listen to Ben Harper.
7 – “Shot You Down” – Isaiah Rashad
Ok, the hip hop is back. Isaiah Rashad started as a bit of an enigma. Out of nowhere he was signed to Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment label, and then came a period of relatively little movement from the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based rapper. Since then, he’s released his debut project and has had excellent success because of it. This video, which was the first one from his new project, Cilvia, introduced Isaiah to the world and so it’s fitting I use it to introduce him to you.
8 – “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2
I generally detest everything that has to do with the 80′s…you know: the hair, the clothes, Ronald Reagan, etc. This track, however, is almost enough to make me change my attitude. Some day, I will go to a show at Red Rocks. Some day.
9 – “Stuart Gets Lost Dans Le Metro” – Someone Still Loves Your Boris Yeltsin
I’m generally not too big on melancholy soft songs, but they’ve served a much-needed purpose in my life, as I’m sure they have done with many others. This was the album I think I played the most when I used to work at a record store in high school. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
10 – “Always On My Mind” – Phantom Planet
If the last track bummed you out a little bit, use this one to pick it back up. No, it’s not overtly peppy or extremely high-energy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It’s been really fun studying abroad so far, but it’s also been hard being abroad and away from all of those I love. I think I took some aspects of normalcy at UIUC for granted, and while I’m happy for the cultural experience I’m gathering, this track serves as a reminder that everyone back home is almost certainly always on my mind. Cheers, guys, and thanks for reading.