Help me create a playlist that doesn't make people want to down a quart of whiskey.
May 8, 2007 8:33 PM   Subscribe

I like making mixes, but people keep telling me they're a bit depressing--not to put them down, but just like, "Oh, I really liked it, but I wouldn't listen to it all the time, too depressing."

Here's the playlist from my most recent mix:

1) New York, New York: Ryan Adams
2) Satellite: Guster
3) Be Be Your Love: Rachael Yamagata
4) Breathe Me: Sia
5) Makers: Rocky Votolato
6) Crosses: Jose Gonzales
7) Waiting for My Real Life to Begin: Colin Hay
8) Something Pretty: Patrick Park
9) Song for You: Alexi Murdoch
10) Honestly: Cary Brothers
11) La Cienega Just Smiled: Ryan Adams
12) These Streets: Paolo Nutini

My taste runs to the indie-emo-Zach Braff movie soundtrack variety. What can I start listening to in order to make my mixes still guitar-strum mellow, but happy, too? Especially newer stuff, no GoGos or anything. Extra points for "Hey! I just decided I love you!" songs.
posted by sweetkid to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
As a dedicated listener of the most depressing stuff ever, I've found that even I need a break from the doldrums now and again. These are recent bands that make me smile. Giggle, even. Sing in the shower, certainly.

The Softlightes
I'm From Barcelona
The Pipettes
posted by MrVisible at 8:50 PM on May 8, 2007

If you like Braffish music, go for the Shins.

Or twee pop. It's sort of a love-it hate it thing. Architecture in Helsinki, Boy Least Likely To, Belle and Sebastien (maybe they don't fit the genre... I hate them anyway). Also, Moldy Peaches is fun to put in mixes (the band, not the fruit.)
posted by tmcw at 8:59 PM on May 8, 2007

Check out these great videos of various current indie bands doing impromptu street shows in Paris: Take Away Shows. They're freaking great. Try a bunch to see which bands you dig. Try the Hidden Cameras. Try the Islands. Try things at random.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:59 PM on May 8, 2007

a better link, which shows all the available shows. The Shins are on there, if you want to take a listen.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:01 PM on May 8, 2007

This (youtube) is anything but depressing.
posted by null terminated at 9:03 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: LobsterMitten, those TakeAway shows are freaking me out. So great! Oh, and I do know about the Shins, but they've been described as depressing too. Maybe I have easily-depressed friends?
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 PM on May 8, 2007

:) Glad you like them; I can't stop watching them, myself. The Arcade Fire one is really good - or wait, maybe I'm a big sap? It makes me believe in the power of music and youth, or something. Yes, probably a big sap.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:15 PM on May 8, 2007

The Lucksmiths
Ruck Rover
posted by pompomtom at 9:15 PM on May 8, 2007

Going down iTunes:

Arcade Fire
Architecture in Helsinki
Bloc Party
The Bravery (might be a little too dance-y for you)
Citizens Here and Abroad
The Dandy Warhols (again might be a little too dance-y)
The Ditty Bops
The Gossip
The Hives
Imogen Heap
The Knife
Le Tigre
Maximo Park
Modest Mouse (almost anything from the Moon and Antarctica is great)
The New Pornographers
Of Montreal
The Servant
Shout Out Louds
Snow Patrol (most anything from Final Straw)
Stars (might be a bit to bleak, actually)
Tegan and Sara
Wolf Parade
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
posted by nerdcore at 9:17 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Why not just choose more upbeat songs from the same artists? And they don't even have to be "happy" songs -- for instance, Guster's "So Long" is an angry break-up song.
posted by robcorr at 9:21 PM on May 8, 2007

Response by poster: Actually, if you can figure out what IS so depressing about songs like the playlist I posted--is it really the content? Or just that it's all strummy-chill?
posted by sweetkid at 9:33 PM on May 8, 2007

Maybe "depressing" is just a polite way of saying that they're boring the living shit out of the people who listen to 'em.

For a little bit more upbeat, but still pretty mellow, you could start looking at the twee and freak folk genres. Animal Collective, Devandra Barnhart, Patrick Elkins, Fred Thomas, all are good starts at broadening your music base.

Plus, as general advice, what's the goal for these mixes? Where are you going to listen to them?

Or, if you'd like to get more homeworky, find an album that you really like and think of it as a mix. Then, one after another, swap out songs for ones that fit the same mood and tempo— albums tend to have an ebb and flow to them, and getting a sense of that can help your sequencing.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 PM on May 8, 2007

I don't know all the songs on that list, but I can certainly attest to the fact that any mix with "Breathe Me" on it will make me at the very least contemplative.

Maybe Jonathan Coulton? search or youtube for his mellow "baby got back" to see what I mean.
posted by crayolarabbit at 11:07 PM on May 8, 2007

Extra points for "Hey! I just decided I love you!" songs.

Check out "Skips A Beat" by The Promise Ring. Might fit the bill for you.
posted by chriswarren at 11:12 PM on May 8, 2007

There's nothing wrong with "depressing" music. I personally listen to stuff that others claim really brings them down, but for whatever reason uplifts me. Rant over, now onto your query (direct mp3s, culled from my mp3 blog)...

Magenta Skycode - Luvher Oh Hater
The Apparitions - She Burned Out Their Eyes
The Race - Walls
Actor/Model - Laptop Dancing
Small Sails - Aftershocks and Afterthoughts
Zookeeper - Delivery Room
Loveninjas - My Lust is Dead
Bent - Stay Out All Night
The Appleseed Cast - February
The World/Inferno Friendship Society - Brother of the Mayor of Bridgewater
Moving Mountains - Cover the Roots, Lower the Stems

All 2006/7.

If you don't find something you like among these, I'll go cry myself to sleep.
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:28 AM on May 9, 2007

Try the album Penturbia by Troubled Hubble.
posted by msalex at 7:29 AM on May 9, 2007

Check out the basics

You can't listen to their music without cheering up... even their depressing stuff... :)
posted by jonathanstrange at 7:50 AM on May 9, 2007

It can never hurt to start a mix out with "Mix Tape = Love" by The Tah-Dahs.
posted by awesomebrad at 8:51 AM on May 9, 2007

Great post. I too have been known to do this. I find a healthy dose of some childhood favorite to be the perfect antidote to the "bummer mix." Think cheesy or chilling. A Journey or Fraggle Rock tune might help.
posted by Meemer at 7:38 AM on May 11, 2007

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