If January seemed like it was going to drag on indefinitely into eternity, February went by in the blink of an eye. My first full month in Leeds was packed full of weekend trips to Oxford and Edinburgh, lots of afternoons spent at coffee shops drinking flat whites and inhaling caramel shortbread, yet another viewing of Call Me By Your Name (whoops), and spending time with a lot of new friends who are quickly becoming some of my favourite people. The month seemed to slip between my fingers, and although I am sad to see it go, there is so much good on the horizon, and I cannot wait to step into it all.
February’s playlist took a little while to construct. With weeks dissolving quickly into nothingness, I felt like I didn’t have time to collect a well-rounded list of tracks. I spent the first half of the month listening to the same four songs on loop, occasionally switching them off in favour of The National’s Sleep Well Beast, which I can’t seem to stop playing. Eventually I got up to eleven or twelve songs, and this playlist is one of my favourite ones to date.
With so many road trips over the past four weeks, I turned to some old favourites to keep me company along the journey. ‘Soundcheck’ by Catfish and the Bottlemen is essentially my dream come true, a catchy track about a band guy trying to make a relationship work with a girl he likes. ‘All We Got’ by Chance the Rapper is a rediscovery, something I haven’t really listened to since I saw him in concert last May. The horns in the intro get me every time, and I love how smoothly it starts before going into an all-out celebration of music and life.
Aside from those two, February involved a lot of new discoveries. I’ve already written about ‘Mistake’ by Middle Kids, which is punchy and honest. Another new favourite is ‘Rough Boy,’ one of the stand out tracks from Public Access T.V.’s newest album. It reminds me a lot of The Clash, simple and to the point and fed up with the world around them. I also hopped on the Rex Orange County bandwagon, listening to ‘Loving Is Easy’ as if my life depended on it. The song is effortless and lush, the kind of thing you want to play on repeat on a cold day. Finally, I have to mention Frank Ocean’s version of ‘Moon River’. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a movie that makes my heart feel at home, and his cover of the film’s classic track is spectacular. It feels like magic, and I adore it.
My favourite track from this month is ‘Twentytwo’ by Sunflower Bean. I liked their last album, Human Ceremony, but this newest release is something spectacular, the model for how a band should grow from one album to the next. The track starts off like a hymn, vocals standing like pillars against the beginnings of a glittery melody, before building into verses that tell stories and an oddly placed chorus that feels like a call to arms. The repetition of ‘I do not go quietly/Into the night that calls me’ is empowering, and I’ve been listening to it on repeat for the last few days.
February got me really excited about music. Not all of these songs are brand new, but the artists are relevant and the tracks hold something interesting and captivating that makes me wonder how many ears will listen to them in the years to come. These songs have the potential to carry themselves far into the future, and listening to them has reminded me that my art and my words have that power, too. Creativity is hard and I go through cycles of intense inspiration that are bordered by lags in output that make me feel defeated and unartistic. Despite those things, I keep going, because there are songs and films and books that have been monuments of our culture for decades, and we’ll never have more of them if we all hold back and refuse to give it a shot. In the coming months I hope we all embrace our artistry and have the courage to find ways to show the world our talents. I’m rooting for you.