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I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)

       Pretty sure this is my favorite album from July's releases (although I have been waiting for "The World From Outer Space" and "Life Is Better With You" since he sang them on tour last summer, so I'm kind of biased). Franti's was one of the most amazing concerts I've been to, not because it was showy or flashy or even that Franti had the best stage presence, but because the entire vibe of the concert was so much more peaceful than any I've been to (except for maybe Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, but it was raining so there were only about fifty people there and about forty of them were high so everyone was pretty chill). Either way it's one of only three concerts I've been to where I could stand in the middle of the crowd and not be shoved in some way; I love that (because I'm chill, but not if you're an ignorant asshole).
       As awfully cheesy as it is to say, his sound is drenched in love and peace and all things good and that feeling spread throughout the concert and all the people attending it, creating an amazingly peaceful crowd (Franti walked through the crowd barefoot while playing the guitar and not a single person tried to grab at him; no one else could create a widespread vibe of complete calm like that while maintaining the excitement and joy needed to move a show forward).
       This music video captures the overall adorable sweetness that is Michael Franti & Spearhead and I just can't get over it. I don't care if you think his rebel rock stage was cooler (it doesn't make you cooler for knowing it; every fool learned about Franti by watching his political activist videos before they had even heard of "Say Hey (I Love You)"), you should just calm the fuck down and get over yourself because every artist evolves their sound and Franti has seamlessly turned his sound into something that preaches love and optimism, rather than harping on things that just aren't going to change. After all, after a week like this I would much rather listen to All People or The Sound of Sunshine than Stay Human (even if that song about love from I Know I'm Not Alone was kind of cute, I just have to love the positive vibes on his newer albums). Besides, "everybody wants me to be who they want me to be except you, all I wanna do is be with you" may be the cutest opening line ever (or, at the least, this year).
       "I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)" Michael Franti & Spearhead
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       A mix of The Verve's ever infamous "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and Massive Attack's "Teardrop" featuring Cleo Sol's rich vocals, "Teardrop" creates a sturdy soul pop sound with just enough of an electronic beat to give it a trippy sort of feel. Between the slow beat and Cleo's smooth vocals the song sounds more amazing than anything I would expect from a mix of these two iconic songs and lilts and drifts its way to a slow climax about two and a half minutes in, coming out perfectly and sounding gorgeous throughout.
       Click here for "Teardrop".
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       I honestly might like these guys better than Kodaline (if only slightly).
       "Watchtower" Hudson Taylor
Listen to "Care"
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Bonfire Heart

       James Blunt premiered his first single from his latest upcoming album Moon Landing this morning and it's surprisingly catchy. Not being the biggest James Blunt fan (and having flashbacks to a karaoke version of "You're Beautiful" where my youngest sister began screaming that he was 'getting naked' in the video, subsequently ending the song and any leftover attachments I had towards his music) I wasn't expecting much, but "Bonfire Heart" is legitimately good. 
       Keeping a steady melody, a 'sway-able' beat (including a little bit of a Mraz stripped down and pure indie feel), and keeping close in tune to the sound and feel of summer nights, I can't stop repeating this song. It's fun, cute, and a refreshing change of pace for Blunt's music; I'm kind of excited to see what's in store for listeners on Moon Landing.
       Check out the song and the lyrics below, because it's continuing to grow on me and I'm starting to think it's a little great. You can get the single on iTunes tomorrow.
       "Bonfire Heart" James Blunt
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Fright Night

       Fright Night has a pretty amazing soundtrack (and isn't bad for a remake) and, while nothing beats a Friday night horror movie marathon, this soundtrack manages to come awfully close.
"Bad Bad Love" Alexander Ebert
"Pumped Up Kicks" Foster the People
"Velvet Coat" Ceramic
"Cough Syrup" Young the Giant
"Pursuit of Happiness" Kid Cudi featuring MGMT
"Letting Go" Lupe Fiasco featuring Sarah Green
"Restless" Unkle featuring Josh Homme
"I'm A Man" The Blue Van
"99 Problems" Hugo
"No One Believes Me" Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius
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       I skipped the customary 15th of the month playlist, but this one's great so it completely makes up for my lackadaisical tendencies towards the blog during my vacation time.
"Free Things For Poor People" Infadels (always a great summer song)
"On Top of the World" Fever Fever (gorgeous; plus, it's on NoiseTrade)
"Harmony Cannons" Little Endians
"Red" Cattle & Cane
"Care" Hudson Taylor (I can't stop hitting repeat)
"Jukebox Dream" The Rebel Light (not on YouTube; click the link for a great summer song)
"No Friends" San Cisco
"Walking Disasters" The Wombats (always. perfect)
"Disaster" Sparks the Rescue
"TKO Tokyo" Gloryhound
"Miss Jackson" Panic! At the Disco featuring Lolo (it just keeps getting better)
"Dreaming" Smallpools
"Take You Higher" Goodwill and Hook N Sling
"Emily" Mika
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Miss Jackson

       I did not even bother listening to the sample before buying this song. That's the wonder of putting on a great show; you will forever have me hooked. I've only seen some fifty shows live, but Panic! still beats them all. Inexplicably, Brendon Urie's stage presence and theatrical tendencies beat Isaac Slade climbing up that light pole, talking to Franti, and getting pictures with Lady Danville. Also, I'm kind of glad that I didn't get to meet Urie; he was my celebrity crush for pretty much the entire time I was in high school (I blame it on the fact that he looks a little like the tenth doctor, except better because he's not British) and I am positive I would have said something that would make me want to hit my head against a wall (like meeting the guitarist from Making Faces except for twenty times worse).
       While I don't think the newest single has the best lyrics (that would be "Oh Glory" or "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" or basically any song from Vices & Virtues) or is the best collaboration (that's most definitely "C'mon" which was indescribably amazing live and ruined me for all future on stage collabos, including this one), or that it even shows off the best of the bands talent (as it seems suspiciously reminiscent of Fall Out Boy's most recent hit [the two bands are touring together again and it only makes sense that their music would mirror one another's]), but it does show off the band's everlasting ability to create an easy hit with a great beat, awesome lyrics, gorgeous melodies, and more than perfect hooks as they continue to let their sound grow and evolve (they effortlessly change their sound from one album to the next, and it always turns out great).
       I wrote my final term paper for one of my musicology courses on this band so I could talk about them forever, but I need to stanch the flow of enthusiasm and just point out that Panic! is awesome, always. They came to fame at a ridiculously quick pace without skipping a beat and have yet to put out a bad album; I can't wait to hear the sound they've created for their fourth album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, out October 8.
       "Miss Jackson" Panic! At the Disco featuring Lolo
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       Having only formed a few months ago when Sean Scanlon and Michael Kamerman moved to LA and met Joe Intile and Beau Kuther, Smallpools has already made their mark on the indie pop charts. Their indie/electropop sound is infectious and, with a fusion of summer soaked chords, dance-worthy beats, and ineffably catchy lyrics, it won't be long before their tracks are invading your radio air waves. 
       After forming in early 2013, Smallpools released their first single, "Dreaming", in May and, within a number of hours, the song was at the top of the HypeMachine charts (it reached over 20,000 plays on Soundcloud before the band's facebook page had 500 likes). The band's rise to fame has been so sudden that they did not perform their first live show until this month when they began their tour with Australia's indie pop San Cisco (whose latest album is, finally, available in the US iTunes store). While many bands who reach the charts too quickly due to internet hype are left with too little time to mature and pull out another hit to make their fame last (case in point: Black Kids), these guys don't need any more time to put themselves together to create radio ready, and lasting, music. Smallpools has already created a perfect sound (with a great balance of good lyrics, fun beats, and strong hooks) that begs to be played on repeat and screams summer; the band doesn't need any more time to harness their sound and create something that's fame worthy because they've already got it.
       Their self-titled EP was released July 16 and each song is amazing and radio ready. With lines like "we've got no place to go... we've got nowhere to run" and the ever recurring "oh no, please god tell me we're dreaming", "Dreaming" can be nothing less than perfect. The lines are amazing and align so closely to anyone in the band's fan demographic that it's no surprise that this song is a hit; plus, that hook is so awesome that you're going to be humming it for days afterwards. "Mason Jar" manages to maintain an upbeat appearance while supporting sad lyrics and I can't help but love it; the mixture of a line like "a face like stone, the pain begins to show, and it was not right I should've called them off" backed by a steady beat, major chords, and a feel good sounding chorus is too great to ignore. "Over & Over" is an adorable summer romance song. That steady piano melody and the band's ability to create a perfect hook make this song a must-have for any beach day/road trip. The album ends with "No Story Time", showing the bands love for electronically infused indie sounds and ending on a bitter sweet note, reminiscent of the end of summer, as it repeats "don't you leave me alone, don't you let go" over "no story time" as the song falls into a soft, hypnotic, guitar based melody around 1:50, before it crescendos again (slightly) on the repetition of "no story time", before ending abruptly; a pretty perfect representation of summer's end.
       The bands self-titled EP is available on iTunes and they are currently touring (check dates here) and working on their debut full length album. Check out the links to the band's webpages below and make sure to buy their debut EP on iTunes now.
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New Bands to Watch

       Now that many of the past year's 'bands to watch' have become household names (WALK THE MOON [my first post; the writing's probably pretty rough], Kodaline, Youngblood HawkeWalk off the Earth, and Passenger, to name a few [and I fully expect LPLondon Grammar, Hunter HuntedThe Rebel Light, and Paper Route to join them]) , I think it's time to start on a whole new batch of 'bands to watch'. Are you excited? Because I know I am.
       If you have something awesome to share, send it to me at or DM my twitter or, if I've already fallen for you music, I might seek you out to ask you about it (maybe.. I did just fail horribly at asking a guy out for the first time so my ego's been shot, then held under water for ten minutes and forced to die an excruciatingly slow death.. To be fair, I didn't actually get to the asking out part because I got too flustered and was like "screw it. It wouldn't last anyways", so I guess I didn't technically fail..). Honestly though, I will be nothing less than crazy nice and would love to talk with you.
       So get ready for awesome new music because I can't wait to start sharing it with you guys.
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Dear You Tour

       Dear You is going to be heading out on tour in a few weeks and you can check HERE to see if they're going to come to your town. If you love the music and want to see them live, make sure to donate to the band by clicking on this link, so that they can make another album and go on tour again (because they need a longer tour with more venues [Florida venues]). Since it's been a few months since I've had to pay for any books or courses, I'm feeling rich (..relatively.. though I'm sure this last year will try to kill me) and am more than willing to give money to help the band make another album so that I can continue listening to their music.
       The guys seem awesome and I'm kind of in love with their music ("16 Miles", "August Almost Broke Me", and "The Way You Left Me" are great) and "If Worries Were Weights" is, in its entirety, amazing. Seriously, making a song and video aimed at reaching out to those who need help is pretty overly great; that alone should convince you that this band needs to keep making music.
       So donate if you can (it's hardly anything and you get gifts; you're basically shopping for a good cause) because I'm sure the band has a lot of good music to come. 
       If you haven't heard this song yet, I can only assume that this is your first time on the blog. Welcome, feel free to look around because there's awesome music everywhere (including this song).
       "If Worries Were Weights" Dear You
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7/17 (Michaelson and Mika)

       It's rather quickly spun into one of those days where all you need is to douse yourself in a lot of Mika and Ingrid Michaelson and drive to the island, with all the windows down, for your private sunset.
       It's a (very) shortened list of Michaelson's and Mika's work, but just hit shuffle and play and it'll still be pretty perfect. Both of these artists are deliriously underrated, but so so good.
"Giving Up" Ingrid Michaelson
"Keep Breathing" Ingrid Michaelson
"You and I" Ingrid Michaelson
"Be OK" Ingrid Michaelson
"Everybody" Ingrid Michaelson
"Masochist" Ingrid Michaelson
"Die Alone" Ingrid Michaelson (this should be Michaelson's most popular song...)
"The Way I Am" Ingrid Michaelson
"This Is War" Ingrid Michaelson
"Palm of Your Hand" Ingrid Michaelson
"Turn to Stone" Ingrid Michaelson
"Blue Eyes" Mika
"Happy Ending" Mika
"Stardust" Mika
"Overrated" Mika
"Kick Ass" Mika
"Grace Kelly" Mika
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       For the longest time I thought that no other Irish band could ever compete with Kodaline's greatness; then I heard these guys. 
       My new addiction is so intense that I have considered spending $28 to get two short EP's shipped to the US. If only I didn't have car payments, or a dog, or school, or the need to eat on a fairly regular basis, I could justify this expenditure but, until then, I'll just listen to everything on repeat on YouTube.
       Also, as much as I love it when bands get in touch with me in some way (I will fan-girl for a good minute over an actual email if your music is good), I really miss finding good music on my own; it just feels good to allow yourself to be carried away by something you found by chance.
       Fall in love with this band now because, with gorgeous acoustic instrumentation, clear vocals, lyrics that grab at your heartstrings, and steady vocal melodies that beg to be sung along to, this band isn't going to be 'small' for long.
       "Chasing Rubies" has a fantastic melody with the sweetest lyrics and I can't get enough of the strong vocals and that chorus in "World Without You", but their latest song, "Care", shows off the band's true talents with a beautiful acoustic recording and more than perfect lyrics.
       "Care" Hudson Taylor
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        Hiking after a rain is usually fun because you get extra dirty and the rocks are slick enough to slide down.
       Hiking after a week of flood warnings is not fun because the water's too rough to swim in and tends to wash the edge of the trails into the river itself.
       Regardless, being stuck inside with a laptop and a hotspot while the storm rages on outside can't be too bad as long as you have great music (having good company helps too).
       While I wait for the rain to cease, I'll just throw together a playlist for you guys because I can't get enough of Gloryhound's "TKO Tokyo" or Benhur's "Lay Me Down" (I must have listened to it at least ten times before yesterday's hike; you know, apart from all the other times I've listened to it), "Walking Disasters" is always amazing, I have no clue how New Medicine is not yet famous and, even after all this time, "Vienna" is still the best song ever written (or composed or recorded or put into existence; it's pure perfection).
"Big Jet Plane" Angus and Julia Stone
"Lay Me Down" Benhur
"Plain Sailing Weather" Frank Turner
"Can't Go Home" Good Old War
"Erase Me" Kid Cudi featuring Kanye West
"TKO Tokyo" Gloryhound
"Quiet Little Voices" We Were Promised Jetpacks
"Red" Cattle & Cane
"Vienna" Billy Joel
"Spotlight" LEAGUES
"Bride & Groom" The Airborne Toxic Event
"Sloppy Seconds" Watsky
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Some Music

       Finding an internet connection strong enough to listen to the entire length of a song in the middle of nowhere isn't easy and there are too many towns to explore and trails to hike for me to chill on the internet anyways. In saying this, the blog will be, somewhat, updated throughout the next week and the blog's Twitter will probably be updated just as infrequently, because I am apparently so far from civilization that not even a new Samsung Galaxy can pick up any reception, so that's cool (it would be cooler if the last text I sent had not been a joke to my friend, telling her she could have my dog in the case that I had entered a horror movie, but that will be fixed soon[ish]).
       Until then, the feel of The Motorleague's "North America" music video and the song itself feel pretty good for the rest of my vacation.
       Mix that with some Timmy Curran, Dear You's latest single, and some Billy Joel (always add something from Billy Joel) and it's a pretty perfect, albeit short, list to carry you through the next week of ridiculously steep (at times) and slightly flooded trails, small town record stores (I love them completely), and the sweetest wine from family run vineyards, before having to return to your real life.
       "Blue Eyes" Timmy Curran
       "If Worries Were Weights" Dear You
       "The River of Dreams" Billy Joel
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Lay Me Down

       With honest lyrics, a perfect harmony (with strumming choices that appear to mix both aspects of rock and country chords; the two genres blend together seamlessly and it comes out beautifully), and a music video that is just as gorgeously put together as the song itself, I can't get enough of Benhur's "Lay Me Down"; it's pretty completely awesome and one of the best new songs I've heard lately.  
       This song only furthers my conviction that, though the US has some pretty decent rock bands, Canada still supplies us with the best indie rock we could hope for.
       Get this (and other great songs) on the bands latest album, Between Flower and Hive, available on iTunes now. 
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Fourth of July Playlist

"Independence Day" Martina McBride
"Have You Forgotten" Darryl Worley
"Travelin' Soldier" Dixie Chicks
"American Honey" Lady Antebellum
"American Boy" Estelle featuring Kanye West
"Empire State of Mind" Jay Z and Alicia Keys
"God Bless the USA" Lee Greenwood
"Pink Houses" John Cougar Mellencamp
"American Girl" Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
"Americano" Lady Gaga
"Coming to America" Neil Diamond
"Miss America" Carolina Liar
"Star-Spangled Banner" Whitney Houston
"Living in America" James Brown
"Everyday America" Sugarland
"Party in the USA" Miley Cyrus
"Back Where I Come From" Kenny Chesney
"Star-Spangled Banner" Jimi Hendrix
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Independence Day

       Usually the fourth of July is nothing more than a cook out, a fire pit, and some sparklers, but I guess I'll have to get patriotic this year since I'm spending my holiday in DC. 
       Here's a few songs to get you started and the rest will show up on Twitter throughout the day (maybe.. not sure how to use that on my phone yet..). Aside from the fact that I grew up on country music, it's also the best way to find a good patriotic song. Happy Fourth!
"Independence Day" Martina McBride 
       Martina McBride is one of few female artists whose music I can never get enough of.
"Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" Toby Keith
       Still the best patriotic song ever; but Toby Keith is always pretty great.
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       London Grammar's latest single is, as expected, a perfect example of that indie techno niche they have taken full control over.
       With a simple video (for now, at least; click this link to see it), a gorgeous composition, and amazing lyrics, complemented perfectly by those rich vocals, "Strong" leaves me wanting more from a band who is only getting better with each song they release.
"Strong" London Grammar
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Music to Hold You Over

       I will be in DC until the sixth and won't be doing too many blog updates so, in the mean time, check out the Twitter account to listen to some music.
       If you don't feel like clicking that link, just listen to these songs for a few days. 
"On Your Own" Fryars
       This song speaks fairly fluently to me at this moment and, even if it didn't, it would still be amazing and beautiful.
"When You Came (Oh Oh Oh)" Flora Cash
       Just gorgeous and perfect in every way; Flora Cash continues to make me love them while making it seem effortless. I can't wait to see what these two put out as they continue with their music careers.
"On Top of the World" Fever Fever
       This song is gorgeous and, between those lyrics and that perfect instrumentation, I can't decide which is better.
"Can't Go Home" Good Old War
       I cannot get enough of this song and, with the an indie pop sound that's reminiscent of Lady Danville's first album, combined with those clear vocals and that perfectly upbeat instrumentation that intermingles splendidly with those unabashedly truthful lyrics, I just have no choice but to play it on repeat.
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