There’s a special feeling that comes with receiving a personalized mixtape made just for you. A close friend or partner could throw a Spotify playlist together of songs they think you would like, but it pales in comparison to being gifted a physical mix. You can essentially see the beads of sweat it took to wait for audio to record. Luckily for you, Boston’s own disco funk artist Camino 84, the project of Ryan Lucht, just rolled out Valentine’s Day 2018 mixtapes.
The 90-minute-long mixtapes feature hand-picked slow jams selected from Camino 84’s personal record collection. Each track blends together for a silence-free listening experience, setting the mood with the warm crackle of vinyl. Because each tape is dubbed by hand, available quantities are extremely limited—as in there are only 15 copies, which is, yeah, extremely limited. Copies are on sale now via Bandcamp. Of course, this is 2018, so the Valentine’s Day 2018 mixtape cassette also comes with a digital download. I can hear you college kids sighing with relief from here.
“I’ve started making Valentine’s Day mixtapes for girlfriends in high school, usually one- to three-hour long epics that took weeks of prep and veered everywhere from indie pop to jazz and funk, carefully sequenced to start upbeat, mellow out into slow jams, and re-emerge midtempo,” says Lucht. “The habit was prompted by a Stones Throw podcast episode where Peanut Butter Wolf, Dam-Funk, Mayer Hawthorne, et al each selected some of their favorite slow jams for the occasion. I had never heard a single one of the songs they selected, but they all created such a consistent mood and atmosphere, and I thought it would be a ton of fun to try myself.”
He believes it’s a fun way to offer fans a special gift. That, and his girlfriend of three years started to grow weary of the tapes, so making public ones doesn’t ruin what was a personal and special tradition. In the words of Lucht’s girlfriend, “[It’s] a sneak peek into what it’s like dating Camino, but like, way cheaper and less annoying than actually dating him.”
Crate-digging is a lost art form. The work Lucht put into the last slew of Camino 84 releases shows he’s got a knack not just for committing to the dig, but for finding forgotten talent on wax that should still be relevant today. While he’s partial to newer songs like Animal Collective’s “Bluish” or Delorean’s “Deli,” Lucht focused on vinyl-only finds for this year’s mixtape. There are soul classics like Bloodstone’s “Natural High,” deep cuts like the Commodores’ “Girl, I Think The World About You,” newer artists Amy Winehouse, and even ’70s movie scores.
“These records have history,” says Lucht. “When I record from a Barry White record that I bought used in Roxbury after somebody originally owned it for decades, you know that exact copy of that record has been used to set the mood dozens of times already. Whether or not you believe that there’s any magic mojo passed down, joining a long lineage of history behind any given record is a cool way to think about things. That’s a big part of why I’m so compelled to rediscover and archive music in the first place.”
That much is evident on New Mutant Disco, his full-length album from last year. It landed a spot on our Best Local Albums of 2017 list, got him attention from national outlets, and earned him a nomination at the Boston Music Awards. There’s a youthful curiosity in Camino 84’s music that suggests Lucht pays close attention to the undertone moods of sampled songs as well as the music he’s writing on his own, fusing the two into an effervescent, wired, amiable jam.
If you couldn’t splurge on all the albums in our year-end list and have been waiting to snag a copy of Camino 84’s, this is the ideal time to do so. The Valentine’s Day 2018 mixtape comes as a bundle; a copy of New Mutant Disco and a bonus special limited-edition tape are included. Fans who already own New Mutant Disco can get a discount code on the bundle by showing proof of purchase. It’s the type of sweet steal Valentine’s Day is known for.
Those looking for a different type of sugary deal can head to O’Brien’s Pub in Allston the day after Valentine’s Day. Camino 84 is scheduled to headline a night fueled by discount CVS chocolates, which means you can dance off extra calories gained from eating sour snacks or shouldering emotional weight. It’s best to get a head start on boogieing, though, and the mixtapes are a reliable way to do so—as long as you grab one before they’re all gone. If there’s one thing people learn from past Valentine’s Days, it’s that the good finds don’t last forever. Act while they—a mixtape or a person—are still available.
CAMINO 84, BE LIKE MAX, THREAT LEVEL BURGUNDY, PETER STEVENS. THU 2.15. O’BRIEN’S PUB, 3 HARVARD AVE., ALLSTON. 8PM/18+/$8. OBRIENSPUBBOSTON.COM