From the dawn of the cassette player, the mixtape has been a go-to method for amorous advances. While the physical medium has changed over the years, from tapes to CDs to Spotify playlists and the like, few gestures are as sweet and time-tested as curating a playlist for your dear someone. Sure, flowers and chocolates are nice. But making a mixtape takes time and, more importantly, thought to ensure that you send just the right message. In that regard, in our admittedly biased opinion, the mixtape remains the ultimate romantic expression.
So here's a little mix we made just for you, consisting entirely of local tunes released in the last year or so. Why? Because we like you.
Making a mixtape is an art. The two most important tracks on any mixtape are the first and last. And the opener is especially critical. You want to set the tone and grab attention, but you don't want to come on too strong. Warm and inviting, Alpenglow's "Catskills" is a perfect choice. And it's beautiful, like you.
Almost as key as the opener is how you follow it up. You want to build the intensity here, but you don't want to be overbearing or reveal too much. In that sense, "Thirty Weeks" by Paper Castles is perhaps a risky selection. It's a little downcast, floating in the gray margins of an uncertain romantic future. The hope is that you appreciate its subtle sense of longing — not to mention its angular little groove.
Since the line between sweet and sappy is a fine one, the worst thing you can do with a mixtape is become mired in slow songs. So we're picking up the mood with this surfy little cut by Persian Claws, because "Warm Chills" are exactly what we feel every time you're near. (Was that line too sappy? Let's move on...)
We're entering the heart of our mix, and it's time to dispense with the foreplay. With its slinky R&B groove, exultant horns and irrresistibly sensual vocals, "All About You" by Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band leaves no doubt about what this tape is, well, all about.
One of the oft-overlooked aspects of a good mix is flow. Especially when pulling from so many styles of music, easy transitions are paramount. So we're sliding from sexy soul to smoky jazz with this reimagined take on the Sinatra classic, "The Best Is Yet to Come," by local chanteuse Audrey Bernstein.
When Waylon Speed's Kelly Ravin sings, "I'll start the fire, I'll start the blaze," on "One More Go" from his 2013 solo record Leathered, Weathered, Worn and Wiser, we get chills. We're hoping you will, too, when Ravin's aching rasp hits your headphones.
When we first heard Love Wait What Yes by Violette Ultraviolet, we mistakenly thought it was about losing love. But it's actually about finding it. If ever there was a song that captures that kind of romantic ambiguity, it is "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. So VU's homage, "Leonard Coen," serves a double purpose. One, it's a lovely ode to longing. Two, it's something of a test, because if you don't pick up on the not-so-subtle references to the Cohen classic — VU even tease the song's chord progression — maybe this isn't gonna work out after all. Bonus points if you note VU's — we hope intentional — misspelling of Cohen's name.
We're cheating a little here ... not that we make a habit of such things, of course. "Matador" by tooth ache. was originally released a few years ago, before the local electropop songwriter rerecorded and rereleased her debut full-length, Flash & Yearn, last year. But we dig the song's metaphor — love as a simultaneously elegant and brutal game, a bullfight — so much that we're including it here. But please don't play games with us.
We've brought the mood down a bit with the previous cuts, so it's time to pump it back up before the finale. "This Is What Livin' Feels Like" by Caroline Rose should do the trick. Rootsy and rambling, it evokes the endless possibilities and adventures of a wide-open road ahead, a road we're hopeful you'll travel with us.
We've reached the end of our musical love letter. By now, we really hope you know how we feel about you and that our choice of tunes has left you both entertained and thinking sweet thoughts. So we'll sign off with this comfy little number by the DuPont Brothers, "Tapped In." With Zack duPont's warm croon couched in soft stylistic traces of Nick Drake, we think it's a perfect song for cozying up on a late winter's morning — maybe the morning after Valentine's Day? Wink, wink — with our favorite person.