Rated R. Playlist #1: Joe Brookes

In celebration of Rated R.’s new Spotify channel, we’ve asked each of our music editors and our chief editor to make a mixtape. From TLC to T-Rex, here’s what they came up with, starting with Joe Brookes.

Radiohead – Everything in its Right Place
Plunging into this majestic organ line makes me think immediately of rising pyramids in an endless modern metropolis, the perfect opening song with its suggestive title, and poignant for when I’m arriving into London by train, when it sprawls around me as does the song’s warmth.

Wild Beasts – Smother
Lying post-coitus and dreaming of home, this song takes me back to the innocence of those long summers with old school friends, before the melancholy and sin of London took hold.

Warpaint – Shadows
James Blake has been dating Theresa Wayman from Warpaint, so jealousy makes me instantly hate all of his music; these Californian sirens are one of the sexiest bands around for all you nerdy stoner-monkeys, their hooks are reptilian in that they wrap around you and squeeze, as is the hazy energy which pulsates and shivers on all of their tracks.

Tame Impala – Endors Toi
Another perfect opening song for any playlist, this song takes psychedelia to new swirling heights, with an Airbag-esque pull/push drumbeat which hammers Kevin Parker’s production genius home on every listen.

Darondo – Didn’t I
This track has the power to seduce anybody, trust me. It makes even me feel smooth, and that’s saying something! So put it on at the next party you go to and stare at someone you fancy (I’m kidding).

T. Rex – Cosmic Dancer
For all the cosmic dancers who are freshers this year, when the sticky floors of the Nicki Minaj tourist clubs like Ministry (which you’ll inevitably be dragged to by your new flatmates) get too much, slip into your own little universe and listen to this teary toughy.

Deerhunter – Sailing
Another one to kick back to. The album from which this is taken, Halcyon Digest, is better listened to as a whole, and this is the midway break where all the electronic brilliance on it washes over you and sinks in. A space to breathe, a place to collect yourself.

Nick Drake – Hanging on a Star
One of the final recordings before his untimely death, prepare to squint as his broken voice stretches, giving us one last glimpse of the sense of doom which must have touched his soul by this point.

Television – Rhyme
Let Tom Verlaine’s luscious vocal on this lull you in. It became the recent soundtrack to a trip to New York for me, the city where Television turned CBGBs into punk Mecca, but its waves of drowsy guitars could pierce through any twilight flat as you lose you head in the legs of another.

Talking Heads – The Great Curve
Another New York band, but I’ve realised that the two cities are siblings, so feel the thud of these African-inspired rhythms thumping you round the concrete jungle, while David Byrne describes the walk of a pretty lady down the pavement (or should I say ‘sidewalk?’).

Interpol – PDA
I’ve woken up dazed on couches far too many times, which is something Paul Banks touches upon in his blistering lyrics here. However, I’ve always found that it’s the tube ride home, when you are properly reawakened to the harshness of the city morning, that confuses hope and fear, and nothing captures the confusion of those emotions better than the coda section which ends this debut gem.

Hot Chip – We’re Looking for a lot of Love
Hot Chip are masters at toying with the pop genre, and never has their quirkiness been more gently unwound than in these blissful synths. I don’t think I’ll ever hear a song which captures the distant chemical grind of an East London comedown any better than this.

Nick Drake – From the Morning
Another leaving song from Drake, although this one has that certain melancholic peacefulness that makes the masterful Pink Moon an album which takes you close enough to darkness with quiet acceptance. I can see why the lyrics from this song are printed on his headstone.

The Velvet Underground – The Gift
Proving the Velvets’s literary relevance, a short story by the whacky experimentalist John Cale twits over their characteristic oozing riffs. Let it build as your own long-distance love story tightens its belt around your throat.

Donovan – Atlantis
One of my all-time favourite songs, a subtle piano melody instills hope for the future, and another spoken vocal line builds royally until that oceanic chorus makes you feel like a lonely sailor in a sea of heads, awakening to paradisiacal ideals, standing against stuffy archaism, and reaching Atlantis!

Ravi Shankar – Raga Jog
The complex improvisational build of Shankar’s music is unique yet dignifiedly retrospective, bending time signatures in superhuman ways and perfectly soundtracking the movement of the sun above the earth. A true virtuoso, and the best place to start for discovering a fascinating instrument and tradition.

Fela Kuti – Water No Get Enemy
A prime example of when politics and music converge. This has a vocal that will leave you gasping in its breathy intensity and melodic looseness, fourth-dimensional instrumentation, all from the pioneer of Afrobeat.

John Martyn – I’d Rather Be The Devil (Devil Got My Woman)
Hearty vocals about that old pair love and lust, but it’s the heady technicolour of the free-jazz section at the end of this track which makes it so otherworldly.

Radiohead – Fog (Again) – Live
I think the real test of any songwriter’s mettle comes when their compositions are reinterpreted for a minimal range of acoustic instruments, and here Thom Yorke characteristically makes something even tearier than the original.

Real Estate – All the Same
I don’t know whether I could end my playlist with any other song; the title of the album from which this is taken is Days, and the general tone of that masterpiece is precisely that: a daze. This is for when the long summers of university become a giant blur from smoking too much. I’ll admit, it was a tough pick between this and Deerhunter’s Circulation, whose coda provides much the same function, so stick that on as-well!

 

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  1. Pingback: Rated R. Playlist #2: Oscar King Davies - Roar!

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