Top Five Songs to Include on a Mixtape For Your Indie Beloved

14 Feb

Trying to think of a way to introduce a Valentine’s Day-themed list article while avoiding all the common tropes (pro-Valentines, anti-Valentines, pro-anti-Valentines, etc.) is becoming harder and harder; there’s very little middle ground to walk between flower-burning and chocolate-gorging.

To try and skip over the debate, this T5R article instead provides five non-conventional songs that you ought to use when making that time-tested classic gift: the mixed-tape.

More specifically, here are 5 songs that absolutely have to go into your next mixed-tape for your present and/or future beloved; this way, you won’t have to reuse “With or Without You” for the 900th time.

5. “Absolutely Cuckoo” by The Magnetic Fields


The Magnetic Fields’ three-volume concept album 69 Love Songs contains exactly that: 69 love songs. Despite the fact that the album is about love songs, and not love itself, “Absolutely Cuckoo” definitely works as an unconventional inclusion on any romantic mix tape. Stephen Merritt manages to condense all the neuroticism of an early relationship into barely a minute-and-a-half, by imploring her not to fall in love with him just yet (since he might be cuckoo). In the process he admits to falling in love all the same, and also builds up the most fantastically in-depth worst case scenario of what would happen if things went south. The song’s beauty lies in the fact that we’ve all done this. We’ve all caused our what-ifs to pile up until all we can do is wallow in neuroticism. “Absolutely Cuckoo” takes this tendency and turns it around to create a song that’s so warm, well-crafted and mildly humorous that it effectively reveals the emperor’s nudity, while also providing an absolutely endearing song with which to bring you and your steady closer together.


4. “Stealing the Moonlight” by Gold Motel


Gold Motel’s upbeat jangle-pop infused “Stealing the Moonlight” from their debut album Summer House perfectly articulates the emotions of the early days of a recently- re-enamored social introvert’s relationship. Greta Morgan’s aloof, unencumbered vocals combine with a bouncy set of guitars, bass and drums (provided by Chicago colleagues Eric Hehr, Dan Duszynski, Matt Minx and Adam Coldhouse)  to capture the warmth and fuzziness of early love. The wide-eyed innocence that “Stealing the Moonlight” conveys is instantly relatable (in a way which reminds me of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles) and works well on any mix.


3. “Hotel Yorba” by The White Stripes


If you can ignore the mild creepiness of Jack and Meg White’s relationship at the time, as well as the slightly off-centre music video, The White Stripe’s “Hotel Yorba” works as a pretty great love song. Against the backdrop of foot-stomping upbeat country and garage rock, Jack White allows himself time to ruminate about an almost whimsical life in the backwoods with his missus. It’s an easy song to get carried away by: the infectious optimism about the future that the song radiates is bound to transmit itself into your inamorato/inamorata, and that can never be a bad thing. Plus, brownie points for being used in the extended pilot of Arrested Development.


2. “Ghosts” by Laura Marling


“Ghosts” takes a rather different approach to the aspects of a new relationship, by looking at that two-tonne tether to the past, i.e. exes. Laura Marling channels the 90s café singer-songwriter in her to produce an acoustic-driven ballad that absolutely has to be shared with your main squeeze. It’s nearly impossible to enter a new relationship without carrying the emotional baggage of the past (as practically 90% of all sitcoms can testify) , and Laura gets that. “Ghosts” conveys the inner turmoil of a man as he approaches his new lover, at once admitting both his haunting by his past and her role in helping with the exorcism. This is a relationship in all its reality – not in isolation, and not under any pretension, but still hopeful.


1. “Northern Sky” by Nick Drake


“I never felt magic crazy as this

I never saw moons knew the meaning of the sea”

Everything about Nick Drake’s world in “Northern Sky” is magical, ethereal, and beautiful. Nick’s easy-going baritone melds with piano, guitar, keyboards and bells as he invites his lover into his world through the simple gesture of telling her exactly how he feels about her.

Nick Drake’s poetry, combined with the gorgeous musical backing, makes “Northern Sky” a timeless work of art. Including it in a mix is a no-brainer.


Happy Friday and/or Valentine’s Day, from the T5R Team!

– Karthik M. (with a little inspiration from Pune).

4 Responses to “Top Five Songs to Include on a Mixtape For Your Indie Beloved”

  1. mason moore February 16, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    will you mind if I promote this on twitter?

    • topfivemusic February 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      Not at all. Go ahead! You can also follow us @TopFive_Records.

  2. The Play Button February 16, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

    I Found You ~ ALABAMA SHAKES.
    It All Feels Right ~ WASHED OUT.
    Why Do You Let Me Stay Here ~ SHE & HIM.
    Bright Whites ~ KISHI BASHI.
    I’m In Love With A Girl ~ BIG STAR.

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