Category Archives: Music Mixes and Best Of Lists

Kristen’s 2019 Music Mix: B-Sides

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Because one album’s worth of songs describing my year is never really enough, here are some B-Sides:


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  1. Deal Casino – “French Blonde” – A little quirky and a lot of awesome, this band with two Joes knows how to rock. Spent a bit of their unexpected UK tour with them, so clearly bonded for life.
  2. Donna Missal – “Girl” – Donna Missal is an inspiration. The message of this song I find particularly relevant.
  3. Avril Lavigne – “Head Above Water” I saw Avril Lavigne at The Grammy Museum and she blew me away playing songs from her new record (as well as a few oldies). This song was put on repeat.
  4. Jamie N Commons – “Heartbreak” – one of my favorite voices released a new EP, Fever Dreams.
  5. The Wrecks – “Freaking Out” – A music mix would not be complete without a song from my boys, The Wrecks, who I didn’t get to see as much this year aside from a dynamic set at the beach.
  6. Frank Turner – “The Lioness” – Frank Turner can do no wrong. His intimate storytelling tour in support of his album, No Man’s Land, was a departure from his usual mosh-inducing sing-alongs, but one of the most memorable and inspiring shows of the year.
  7. Matt Nathanson – “Used to Be” – I unexpectedly found myself at a Matt Nathanson show this year, reminding me of how brilliant (and fun) this artist was, and continues to be.


  8. SUR – “Only Road” – New SUR music! Must listen!
  9. Maverick Sabre – “Let Me Go” – 2010: The year I discovered Maverick Sabre 2019: the year I finally saw him live. Also, the show at which I got to play with a new camera phone (Pixel 3).
  10. Meg & Dia – “Lit Match” – Another old favorite reunites! Their show at The Troubadour was full of nostalgia, but they also released new music this year (Happysad) and this one got me.
  11. Dermot Kennedy – “Dancing Under Red Skies” – I love everything about Without Fear, Dermot Kennedy’s debut full length album. Here’s a deeper cut that I kept coming back to.
  12. Feeder – “Feeling a Moment” – I hadn’t thought about this band in years until I had the opportunity to see them in the UK. I took the opportunity and was transported back in time. Definitely felt that moment.
  13. Dean Lewis – “Half A Man” – Dean Lewis has come a long way since I saw him play The Moroccan Lounge a couple of years ago. With the release of A Place We Knew, I had the pleasure of seeing him several times this year, including a headlining gig at The Wiltern.


  14. Charlotte OC – “Satellite” (acoustic) – Charlotte OC came back into my life in 2019, reminding me that this powerful and passionate singer is one to watch.
  15. Barns Courtney – “99” – Regardless the stage, Barns Courtney will give his all. This year I saw him rock both The Fonda and a small Christmas event in Pasadena. He also released a new album, The 404.
  16. The Hunna – “IGHTF” – 2019 was a quieter year for The Hunna, but they released this song which was SUCH a crowd pleaser at the show they played at The Fonda.
  17. Tones and I – “Johnny Run Away” – This may be the artist I’m most looking forward to seeing in 2020.
  18. Joseph – “Fighter” – The harmonies on this alone make it a standout on the most excellent 2019 release from this sister trio (Good Luck, Kid).
  19. K.Flay – “Good News” – K.Flay has come a long way, this year releasing a new album (Solutions) and headlining The Wiltern!
  20. Banners – “Supercollide” – From the 2019 album Where The Shadow Ends, this guy continues to be one of the nicest and most talented around.
  21. Meg Mac – “Didn’t Wanna Get So Low But I Had To” – 2019: The year I finally saw Meg Mac!

Kristen’s 2019 Music Mix

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2019 is the last year I got to listen to actual CDs while driving my car….sigh. This year held some truly grand adventures, almost all driven by the music. Here are some 2019 highlights as told through the songs and bands that inspired them.



  1. Badflower – “Wide Eyes” – When one of your favorite bands releases their debut album and you travel to the UK to see them play small clubs one last time, sparking one of the greatest adventures of your 2019, they get to lead off your 2019 music mix.

  2. Sam Fender – “Hypersonic Missiles”Hypersonic Missiles might be my favorite release of 2019. Sam Fender followed me throughout the year from SXSW to the UK to a fun conversation about Mr. Tumnus outside The Troubadour.
  3. Biffy Clyro – “The Modern Leper” (Frightened Rabbit cover) – my beloved Scots released a soundtrack album this year, Balance, Not Symmetry, leading the band to be my Spotify most listened to band of the year. But their uniquely Biffy Clyro take on this Frightened Rabbit classic is what reminded me why they will always be my number 1.
  4. The Faim – “Make Believe” – This band from Australia is my top new discovery of 2019 thanks to a well-timed press release. I was lucky to see them when they played The Echo which simply confirmed the designation.
  5. KidEyes – “Spellbound” – Fave LA band alert! From a residency at The Hi Hat to a high energy show at the beach and a most memorable Halloween show, my 2019 was all about KidEyes.
  6. Gang of Youths – “The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows” – These Aussies know how to create a moment. Braving the rain to see them front row at BottleRock and back to back nights at The Roxy were musical highlights for sure.
  7. The Virginmarys – “Look Out for My Brother”- Any band willing to hang out with me in Manchester and try boba for the first time is going to make my list of top memories for the year. Love these guys and their newest release, Northern Sun Sessions. Great things coming from these rockers from across the pond!
  8. Boston Manor – “England’s Dreaming” – The year started with an email announcing a new single from Brit band, Boston Manor, leading to a slow burning obsession that paid off towards the end of the year when the band headlined at The Roxy for one of the best shows of 2019.
  9. Highly Suspect – “Canals” – When Highly Suspect releases a new album, you listen. The rock trio took it to another level with MCID pushing the boundaries of the genre while at the same time providing those instant radio hits. Their all-out show at The Novo simply confirmed their place as a top modern rock act.
  10. Judah and the Lion – “Dance With Ya” – My feel good song of the year from a record that elicited quite the range of emotions. Pep Talks spent more time in my car than any other 2019 release.
  11. Jared & The Mill – “Dark Highways”- With the release of new music (This Story Is No Longer Available), Jared & The Mill was one of my most seen bands of 2019. The band played BottleRock and one of my festival highlights was running into each band member at different points wandering the festival grounds.
  12. The Pink Spiders – “Hey Jane” – It took over a decade to finally see this song live, but one night at The Satellite it happened (at least in part) and it was glorious.
  13. In The Valley Below – “Rise” – In The Valley Below established the bar for an album release party with an immersive (and ultra-sensory) listening experience for 2019’s The Pink Chateau.
  14. Matt Maeson – “Dancing After Death” – Matt Maeson is my most listened to artist of the decade (according to Spotify) and his 2019 album, Bank on a Funeral, did not disappoint. What did disappoint is that he came to play LA and did not play this song. I love this song!
  15. Lewis Capaldi – “Someone You Loved” – See, I can like radio popular hits too. This one got me from first listen, Plus, I can strum it out on the guitar. Capaldi’s album Divinely Uninspired To a Hellish Extent, provided one of the more moving listening experiences I had this year.
  16. Alec Benjamin – “Death of a Hero” – Remember that time when you stuck around The Satellite for the midnight act and ended up sitting cross-legged on the floor singing along to some song about a robot then many years later, you’re seeing the same guy headlining sold out shows at The El Rey with a guesting John Mayer? Crazy!
  17. Polar States – “Roads” – Discovered this newly signed (and very promising) Liverpudlian band in my new favorite city for music, Manchester, UK! They remind me of Parade of Lights. I miss Parade of Lights.
  18. Kathleen Edwards – “It Must Have Been Love” – Netflix’s The Order reminded me of the glory of this Roxette song by ending the season with this cover version. 2019 marked the passing of Roxette’s Marie Fredricksson as well as the year I sang this song in the car…a lot. 2019 was also the year High Voltage interviewed The Order’s Katharine Isabelle at Comic Con and we became fast friends.
  19. Missio – “Temple Priest” – if you saw me at work bobbing my head or grooving at my desk, it was probably because I was listening to Missio’s new album, The Darker The Weather // The Better The Man.
  20. Catfish and the Bottlemen – “Encore” – The Balance came out in the Spring and became somewhat of a surprise go to throughout the year. One of my greatest 2019 disappointments was getting the flu instead of going to see this band.

 

~ Kristen

Kristen’s 2016 Music Mix

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Not as much music reached my ears this year, but that doesn’t mean my 2016 wasn’t defined by it’s musical highlights.  Here are some of the songs and bands that meant the most to me in 2016.

Scroll to bottom to listen to Spotify playlist

  1. Lukas Graham – Better Than Yourself (Criminal Mind, Pt. 2)

    I knew going into SXSW that I was going to like Lukas Graham, but I didn’t realize at the end of the year they were going to be my #1 band discovery of 2016.  They first time I saw Lukas Graham, they opened with this song.  It was love at first note.

  1. Biffy Clyro – Wolves of Winter

    When your most beloved band releases a new album, you get excited. When this is the first single they drop, giddiness ensues.  2016’s Ellipsis wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but if it were, it wouldn’t be a Biffy Clyro album now would it?  My dearest wish for 2017 is that the band will return to Los Angeles and play.

  1. Badflower – Drop Dead

    My favorite release this year was Badflower’s Temper EP.  This band continues to improve and with new songs like “Drop Dead”, I don’t see this trajectory leveling off any time soon.

  1. Jamie N Commons – Not Gonna Break Me

    This was my theme song for much of 2016 as I continued to endure a myriad of setbacks in my journey towards a PhD.  I was not bested, however, and by the end of the year I finally (finally!) was able to defend my dissertation and graduate.  Thank you Mr. Commons!

  1. Dear Boy – Alluria

    I saw Dear Boy more than any other band live this year including a particularly memorable Halloween show.  In 2016 the band released more music (Parts of a Flower EP) and “Alluria” is my favorite song from the new offerings.

  1. The Hunna – You & Me

    This song makes me smile. It brings to mind all the best parts of 2016; backstage shenanigans, time spent with friends, discovering amazing new music, and ping pong!

  1. The Struts – Kiss This

    Let’s just dedicate this song to 2016.  It was a tough year for a variety of reasons, but as much as I look forward to putting the year behind me, I would also like to remember the good times…like that time I saw The Struts do a TV taping and the audience was so into it, they clapped through the entire set!

  1. Young Rising Sons – Simple Life

    Young Rising Sons always manage to be part of my most memorable concert experiences.  2016 brought some great shows, but one memory that is most vivid is a two-day extravagance at The Troubadour that included Young Rising Sons, The Moth & The Flame, Mainland, Dreamers, and Night Riots.  All I need are times like that…a Simple Life indeed!

  1. Dreamers – Sweet Disaster

    Dreamers only came into my life in 2016, but it feels like I’ve known this band for years.  Their debut full length, This Album Does Not Exist, was released this year and there is not a single song on it that couldn’t be a radio hit.  One of my favorites for dancing, singing, and general good times.

  2. The Wrecks – Favorite Liar

    At the beginning of the year, I interviewed The Wrecks when they opened for Nothing But Thieves at The Troubadour.  They were a new band, full of potential and seemingly boundless energy.  I loved them! By the end of the year, they had toured the country and signed a label deal.  I’d say 2016 was their year, but let’s just see where they go next!

  3. Walking On Cars – Flying High Falling Low

    In 2016, Walking On Cars released their album, Everything This Way, and came to play LA not once, but twice!  This band is an experience and their music elicits “all the feels” as a dear friend and fellow WOC fan would say.

  4. The Americans – I’ll Be Yours

    I caught this band a couple of times this year and each time, this song really stuck.  I tracked it down and put it on whenever I feel a little blue.  I find the song and it’s tempo changes quite hopeful.

  5. Joseph – Lifted Away

    This trio of sisters opened for James Bay at Humphrey’s, one of the most unexpected and amazing show adventures of my year down in San Diego.  When Noisetrade offered one of their EPs, I snatched it up and was swept away by the glorious vocal harmonies.

  6. BANNERS – Gold Dust

    I spent a lot of time in Starbucks this year, writing away.  I was very excited when I realized one of my SXSW faves was picked up for regular rotation at my store.  What speaks volumes about my love for this band is that after hearing this song over and over and over during some of the more trying times of my year, I still love it!

  7. Highly Suspect – My Name is Human

    One of my favorite bands from last year came back in 2016 with another album, another Grammy nomination, and a couple killlller shows at The Troubadour.  I don’t think it’s possible for this band to disappoint, especially in the live setting.

  8. The Virginmarys – Push the Pedal

    Highlights of my 2016 would not be complete without mentioning time spent with these gentlemen and their music.  They were one of the interviews I did for a video series with High Voltage and their 2016 album, Divides, spent a lot of time in my car stereo which probably wasn’t the best idea as songs like “Push the Pedal” don’t exactly encourage safe driving practices.

  9. Lapsley – Hurt Me

    This song just digs right in.  I tracked down everything I could from Lapsley after seeing her play a surprise set at SXSW and this is the track I ended up putting on repeat.  If you happened to see me driving around LA singing in my car, chances are it was this song.

  10. X Ambassadors f. Jamie N Commons – Low Life

    The X Ambassadors record came through for me big time this year with songs like this and their hit, “Unsteady”.  I had a particularly trying weekend where these songs were played on repeat.  You cannot underestimate the healing power of music, especially when one is feeling particularly alone.

  11. Mondo Cozmo – Shine

    If we had a category for best local discovery of 2016, Mondo Cozmo would win the prize.  To say I missed a chance to see Dear Boy in order to see this band again…well, that should say everything.  “Shine” is an anthem to take into 2017 reminding us that, “Everything will be alright if you let it go”.

 

 

 

~ Kristen

Kristen’s 2015 Music Mix – Track 20 – Judy Collins

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2015 was not the best of years, but it certainly had its moments…most of the good ones involved music. Here are a few of the songs that had an impact on my year.

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I grew up listening to Judy Collins. When I had the opportunity to see the legend perform this year, I treasured every note. She largely played the covers she has become famous for including this Sondheim classic. Just seeing Judy would have been enough but after the show I also had the opportunity to meet her. I’m fairly certain this was the most exciting celebrity interaction I had all year (and that includes sharing an inside joke with Jared Padalecki at Comic Con).

 

~ Kristen

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Kristen’s 2015 Music Mix – Track 19 – Josh Groban

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2015 was not the best of years, but it certainly had its moments…most of the good ones involved music. Here are a few of the songs that had an impact on my year.

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I used to fall asleep to a Broadway classics album that included this song. It was always one of my favorites. When Groban released an album full of Broadway songs, I knew this one was going to be a highlight. The entire album is amazing and it became my go to writing music. How can you listen to this song and not be inspired? Josh Groban + Broadway classics = perfection!

 

~ Kristen

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Kristen’s 2015 Music Mix – Track 18 – Dawes

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2015 was not the best of years, but it certainly had its moments…most of the good ones involved music. Here are a few of the songs that had an impact on my year.

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“May all your favorite bands stay together” is certainly the wish I would depart to all of my nearest and dearest. That this sentiment has been put into song is perfection. Thank you Dawes! I suppose this would be a good time to RIP a few that announced (or maybe didn’t) the end this year including Funeral For A Friend, The Janks, We Met Tomorrow, Dry The River, and probably more that I’m just trying not to think about. It hurts, people! It really hurts!

 

~ Kristen

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Kristen’s 2015 Music Mix – Track 17 – Parade of Lights

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2015 was not the best of years, but it certainly had its moments…most of the good ones involved music. Here are a few of the songs that had an impact on my year.

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2015 marks the year that Parade of Lights FINALLY (and I mean finally!) released a full length album. I have so many memories of dancing and singing along at POL shows, but this was the first year I was easily out-danced and out-sung by throngs of new and adoring fans. I was able to see the band a few times this year including at their album release show at The Slidebar.

 

~ Kristen

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