California Sounds Like...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I've spent quite a bit of time recently going through my old Spotify playlists and iTunes catalog trying to create a definitive playlist of all of the songs that I'll forever relate to our time here in California. (Sometimes I had a really hard time choosing just one song off of some of these albums!) Music has always been really important to me and I've always collected my favorite songs and albums as part of my memories. (Yep, I still like to have a physical copy!) I love hearing a song that immediately takes me back to a particular time of my life, like the way the cover of "Last Train Home" by the Lost Prophets sends me back to being seventeen, flying down back roads in the back of my friend's Honda Civic with six other people crammed in on top of each other. I could get caught up just right there and go on and on with those memories, but I'll refrain. This is about what my time in California sounded like!

I have a wide range of musical interests, with everything from metal to alt rock to trance music. A lot of hipster-heavy indie music has made its way in recently, and half of this playlist is made up of a lot of that. Spotify's "related artists" tab has really helped me discover a ton of new artists over the past two years, a feature I was especially thankful for during long days on the computer at my desk job.

So put on your headphones and get ready for an audial journey through my past two years here. Of course I couldn't share these songs without context, so I've added a bit of a background story for each of the songs below. FYI, this is going to be a long post, sorry 'bout it.


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(Un) Lost - The Maine
I've talked about The Maine a lot on this blog over the past couple of years; they've easily become one of my favorite bands. I've seen them three times in the two years we've been here, but they may be the number one band I associate with my time here in California for many other reasons as well. I first discovered them through their photographer friend Dirk Mai; I've been a huge fan of his for years and knew he toured with them, but I didn't actually listen to them until I moved to California. They're from Phoenix and have a unique sound with a bit of a southwestern influence; I wouldn't call it a "country" influence, though. Their newest album, American Candy, was waiting on my doorstep when we got back from Sedona earlier this spring and has been playing in my car nonstop. Unlost is by far my favorite song from that album, and maybe out of all of their songs. I'm pretty obsessed with it right now; it's so, so good.

This Is What It Feels Like - Armin van Buuren ft Trevor Guthrie (and his beautiful hair)
I don't know when I started frequently listening to trance, but Armin and his "State of Trance" podcasts became my favorite way to find new artists and gave me something to look forward to on Monday mornings, especially while I was working. I was so happy to go and see him and the many performers he brought along to The Forum last May (including Trevor Guthrie, specifically for this song!) I know that this song will always be a simple (yet very mainstream) reminder of this music becoming a part of my life and musical tastes.

Bailando - Enrique Iglesias ft Sean Paul, Descemer Bueno, & Gente De Zona (English Version)
This is the most random song I have on this list... there's really no good place to put it in the lineup, so I'm putting it high up with all of the more "mainstream" stuff (aka, things you may have heard on the radio.) This is the version I heard played on the English radio stations here, so this is the one I'm most familiar with. I don't know if this song ever gained much popularity in less Spanish-influenced parts of the country, but it was oft-played in SoCal. As I've mentioned before, I absolutely love the Spanish and Mexican influence in the Southwest and this song brought a little bit of that into my daily life whenever it would come on the radio.

Ain't It Fun - Paramore
I've been a huge Paramore fan since the beginning. I love how they've managed to stick together through difficult times and stay true to themselves as they've become more and more popular. This song just made me really happy and I spent a lot of time dancing to it at my desk.

Our Own House - MisterWives
How can anyone listen to this and resist the urge to dance all over the house!? MisterWives has been big on this coast, with their song Reflections playing frequently on the radio over the last year or so. I hope people on the East Coast* have had the opportunity to be exposed to their fun music as well! *(I say this sort of thing frequently because I've heard lots of year-old songs from here being played as "this new song by this new artist!" while visiting home in Virginia. Music isn't the only thing that takes forever to cross the country, but that's another post for another day.)

High - Young Rising Sons
I don't know how I first heard this song (Was it ever on the radio? Spotify maybe?) but The Young Rising Sons ended up being one of those bands that I accidentally saw once. (This "accidentally saw this band" thing has happened to me quite often.) I was in Hollywood at the Palladium to see The 1975 (November 2014) and had no idea who the opening bands were going to be, nor did I really care. We arrived at the end of Young Rising Sons' set and I was shocked to recognize something by them when they played this as their closing song. Later the band walked past us through the crowd to the bar, about six excited girls trailing behind. I wonder how many other people may look back one day when they're really big and think, "Oh crap, they walked right past me once and I didn't flinch!" I guess that day is coming because I've heard the song in various commercials recently.

Charli XCX was always in-your-face, uncensored, bad-girl, danceable music to me, cursing included. You can imagine my surprise when the innocent Boom Clap was suddenly all over the radio, much thanks to the popularity of The Fault in Our Stars. This song (You) is more along the lines of the old Charli, and is really fun. Caution for sensitive ears: language. This isn't the Boom Clap Charli you think you know.

This song was just such a big hit this past spring. I don't have any particular connection to this song, and in fact it sort of irritated me to hear them just shouting "SAY geronimo, SAY geronimo," repeatedly every time it came on... but those harmonies! I couldn't help but to turn it up just to hear the bunch of them harmonizing together. I can't hear this song and not think of California.

I downloaded Haim's first EP Forever before we made our first trip to California in early 2013. I listed to them over and over, driving the words into my memory during our flights to and from San Diego. It's only fitting that they remind me so much of the visit to California that prompted us to move here. Since then they've becoming quite the phenomenon, selling out local shows every time they announced one. I would have loved to have seen these three sisters live during our time here. They are sort of the epitome of California, music and fashion-wise.

I fell in love with this album an listened to it on repeat for a very long time at work. Suddenly I found they were playing several shows in LA! I hopped online the day they went on sale and managed to grab two tickets to their second show at the Palladium before they all sold out. I was stoked! Dan and I drove up to Hollywood for the show, grabbed a spot in the inner circle, and excitedly waited for them to play. (They played right after the Young Rising Sons, above.) I have to sadly report that of all of the concerts I've been to in my life - and there have been many - I have never left a show liking a band less until I saw The 1975 in concert. We laugh about this now... how lead singer Matt Healy's shirt went from totally buttoned at the beginning to him being nearly topless by the end... how he'd shout out a very British "Lossss Aaannn-geee-leeeez!" about three times between every song (was he on something?)... how my view of the entire show was pretty much just other people's cell phones. Needless to say, I haven't listened to that album since. It just totally lost it's appeal with me. But when I hear one of their songs come on the radio, I can't help but to immediately start yelling "Lossss Aaannn-geee-leeeez!" in the car.

Nothing makes me want to dance more than this song. I mean, just listen to it. Dan couldn't stand this song, but every time it came on in the car I would turn it up and have my own dance party. Chelsea was usually more than happy to join in. We eventually did have our own mimosa-fueled adventure in Long Beach with a bunch of friends, but that's a story for another day, ha!

I found Fire in the Hamptons through Spotify and quickly became addicted. Their upbeat, danceable music always brightened my day at work and put me in a better mood. I could always get more done at my desk when I was listening to their album F.I.T.H. Just try not to dance listening to this.

I found Ghost Beach at the same time that I found Fire in the Hamptons. You can imagine that it was a very happy and upbeat time for me at work, dancing my days away as I designed and packaged up my completed work for shipment. If only we'd had a stereo system in the print shop. I don't know how much the print guys would have liked Ghost Beach, though. Chels and I almost went to see these guys once, but the show was on a Wednesday night and we were too exhausted to go. I really regret it. If Ghost Beach, Cherub, and Fire in the Hamptons played a show together it would be to most epic dance party of my life. Please, universe, make that happen.

I found St. Lucia around the same time as the three above, but they're a very different sounding band. I just fell in LOVE with St. Lucia's album When the Night, and so did Dan. It almost has an 80's feel to it; my mom even enjoyed it when she visited. We even had tickets to see them in San Diego, but passed it up because something was going on that had us incredibly busy at the time. (Our friends Austin and Lindsey went with our tickets, and they didn't seem all that impressed, but I think they have an acquired sound.) If you need something new to listen to that's just really chill and beautifully created, check this album out for sure.

Ryn Weaver blasted onto the scene here this past winter. I keep seeing headlines and hearing on the radio that she's the "next big thing," and I totally agree. You've probably heard this song before even if you didn't know who or what it was. Ryn has some serious vocal chords and some serious talent. I can't wait until she's just a huge as everyone is predicting!

I discovered Broods around the same time as Ryn Weaver. Spotify's Related Artists feature, I'm telling you...amazing. Broods has such a beautiful sound, smooth and ethereal at the same time. They're a brother/sister duo, and you should really check them out if you're in the mood for some really chill yet beautiful music.

The Weeknd - Can't Feel My Face
Ok, this is a slightly ridiculous addition, although if you've heard the song you can understand why I'm adding it...it's so damn catchy. Chelsea and I first heard this and thought for a moment it might be Michael Jackson (that's such an honor, The Weeknd; you seriously sound slightly a lot like Michael Jackson.) Then we were like, "nah, that's not MJ," then we heard the chorus and were like "WHAT? You can't feel your face? This is the song? Singing about not being able to feel your face around this person? What even?" Then it became a joke. Every time it comes on Dan and I turn it up and start miming how numb our faces are along with mock panic. But I think we all know that we just aboslutely love this ridiculous song.

Elastic Heart - Sia ft The Weeknd & Diplo
I fell in love with Sia while living here and quickly bought her album 1000 Forms of Fear. I was sad to find that they included a Sia-only version of Electric Heart on that 2014 album though, because the 2013 version, featuring The Weeknd and Diplo, that was featured on the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack is my favorite version of the song. The Sia-only version of the song is getting a lot of air time here lately (two years later, why?) but I really wish they'd play this one instead.

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After tiring of the music I'd been playing for weeks months at work on Spotify, I started listening to soundtracks. Have you listened to the soundtrack for Divergent? It was curated by Ellie Goulding, who I love, and it's so good; seriously, listen to it now. I'll wait... Back? Ok, great. (Also check out the movie's score soundtrack; so good.) Also on my soundtrack favorites list are the soundtracks to all of the Hunger Games movies and -gasp- even the Twilight movies. Don't even judge me... look at those track listings. Pure gold.

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Anyway... sorry for the super long post, but I was here for two years and that's a lot of music to listen to. I really could have added a million more songs to this, but I'll refrain. I know that anytime I hear any of these songs later I'll immediately flash back to me at my desk jamming out, driving along the crowded freeways, or many of the other mundane, everyday life things I did while hearing these songs, and I really love that.

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This does not affect your purchase in any way, and as always, all opinions are 100% my own.*