Tough Day? Decompress with 10 of the best mood-lifting mixtapes

6 mins
19 Apr 2022
Tough Day? Decompress with 10 of the best mood-lifting mixtapes

From sprightly UK garage on NTS to superstar Boiler Room debuts, Woo curates the serotonin-spiking vibes

image Kira [Unsplash]

words Niall McKenna

There’s definitely some self-care value to wrapping up in a duvet when the world outside is cold and wet, and immersing yourself in a 25-part prestige crime show, or guffawing to the mindless banter of an irony-poisoned US comedians’ podcast. Low double digits temperature and a peek of sun? Get the shorts on and kickstart the barbeque. Wet, dark, and grey? Lumie lamp it up and kick off the sheets. Whatever the weather, most importantly: turn the tunes up and crank up the mood.

‘Feel good’ music as a concept is obviously subjective – your race-to-the-dancefloor banger might be someone else’s cue to peace out from the after party. Such is the beautiful tapestry of the human experience. With that in mind, we've selected some online mixes, radio shows, mixtapes, and live performances that all have that ineffable something that will lift your mood. This list covers but is not limited to: vintage Latin American pop, ’80s R&B slow jams, viral D&B stars, hyper-regional US club music, Bluetooth speaker bangers, and blockbuster live electronics.

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So whether you’re dozing off in the shade beside the BBQ awaiting your second burger, staring out the office window, or in front of your mirror figuring out whether you should wear outfit option number 4 or outfit option number 5 to the motive, we got you covered.

Nia Archives – Rinse FM February 2022

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This is truly peak ‘Bluetooth speaker in the park’ energy made 2022 from young Leeds pop-jungle revivalist Nia Archives, taking us through a blazing hour on London’s hallowed Rinse FM. Heating up a possibly chilly studio with classic-meets-contemporary bass weight, it’s peppered with rambunctious ragga vocals, staccato hardcore piano, and original productions like her infectious 2021 single “18 and Over”.

Hudson Mohawke – Valentines Mix 2022

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Now a vaunted annual tradition for certain corners of the internet – for almost 15 years! – Hudson Mohawke’s yearly Valentine’s Day missives are an education in taste, curation, and crate digging. 80s ballads and slow jams are delivered with a smirk, a wink, and nod. The buttery vocal runs on Randy Crawford’s “Love Is Like A Newborn Child” - divine! Soulful, and a bit silly. This is perfect for relaxing with your beau, or making that bath you’re planning more luscious.

Doss – The Lot Radio May 2021

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“It’s the music” a stark vocal echoes in the intro of this mix from New York via Baltimore artist Doss – it’s an almost commercial mantra emblazoned everywhere on her artwork and merchandise. It might seem a bit broad strokes, but it’s fitting for an artist equally comfortable producing drifting shoegaze anthems as they are with bubblegum house bangers. This postmodern eclecticism is at play in this recent set for Times Square-based station The Lot Radio, featuring cheeky nods to pop classics and oddball stadium EDM.

Physical Therapy – NTS March 2022

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Pitched on the NTS site as a “Big Sad” UK megamix, it might be more appropriate to label this mix from NYC DJ and club jester Physical Therapy “Big Emotional”. Paying respects to the best of British, it’s all sprightly UK garage and 2-step; the kind shot through with a bittersweet vibe. Make sure and stick around for the very interesting mood switch-up towards the end, sure to get your serotonin spiking.

Tommy Villiers – Dummy Mix

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If you’ve been on TikTok in the past six months, you’ve probably heard “Soft Spot”, the mega-viral D&B jam from London duo and IRL couple, producer Tommy Villiers and vocalist Piri. Tommy is on a solo tip in this mix for Dummy, playing hyperactive jungle and club bangers, bottling some of that same frenetic viral catchiness with hardcore continuum energy that’s currently dominating everyone’s “For You” page.

Krishna Villar – My Analogue Journal

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Slinky and sun-soaked cumbia (a kind of folkloric-sounding genre from Colombia) records are presented by Mexican Miami-based collector and DJ Krishna Villar. For the uninitiated – although its signature bounce will be instantly recognisable – cumbia is the musical cornerstone of Latin American pop and traditional music. Although, you don’t need to be super up to speed on the history and cultural context to feel your dopamine levels rising. For fans of Khruangbin, whose laid back psychedelia shares more than a few spirals of DNA with vintage Latin American sounds.

Club Fitness – “Good Morning, Angels”

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London dancefloor technician Club Fitness is tapped for the latest edition of Local Action and Finn McCorry’s expertly curated and thematically driven Mixtape Club series. Inspired by leather-clad movie rave scenes and slick espionage action, “Good Morning, Angels” is all highly polished tech house and ice cold rave tracks. It’s perfect motivation for when you’re the main character on your walk to work, headphones on and focus peaking at the gym, or you’re just flagging on a Wednesday afternoon at work.

UNIIQU3 – Club Chronicles with Ducky Dynamo

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An easy answer to the question you often hear at a house party: “Put something fun on”. Jersey City’s queen of club music UNIIQU3 is probably the city’s biggest global ambassador for the Jersey scene’s manic and distinctive local dance sound. Her Club Chronicles series is a fantastic introduction to what’s currently hot in Jersey, and what followers around the world are doing with the style.

Floating Points – RA: Live at Printworks

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Probably a classic for many at this point - UK electronic genius Floating Points performing 100% original material live to a packed audience in London’s cavernous Printworks club. With audio alone the atmosphere is palpable, but you can watch the full performance too, if you’re so inclined.

Peach – House Pumpers mix, Boiler Room

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Another classic, this time from the Boiler Room vaults. London-based, Canadian DJ Peach is now a prime time regular on the European club circuit, but this set in Manchester may be her calling card. Now clocking in at over a million streams on YouTube, it’s a sweaty and high energy hour of queer house jams that is absolutely guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Come for the queer anthems – supermodels of the world a la RuPaul - and stay for the carefree voguing.

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