Discuss: Now with a Musical Number

Feb 8, 2013

One of my favorite things about living in the District is that I don’t have to own or drive a car.  I was a bit of a menace on the roadways, and it’s best for everyone if I keep my hands off of the wheel.  Plus, after a particularly scary car accident, I developed what could only be described as PTSD, which makes driving to the store for milk an adrenaline rush akin to bungee jumping.

However, while not driving has been great for my sanity, and not owning a car has been a boost to my budget, not listening to the radio on my morning commute has made staying in the musical loop a bit difficult.

Sure, I listen to Pandora on my iPhone, but I still don’t have 30- to 45-minutes of uninterrupted listening time every morning and evening.  Plus, making good use of Pandora and Spotify seems to require that you know what artist or genre your looking for, and I don’t really know where to begin.  And, let’s face it, diving into the most downloaded list of songs on iTunes can be a hit or miss proposition when songs like Gangnam Style–this generation’s “Macarena”–are climbing the charts.

These days, I get most of my musical recommendations from people who I follow on Twitter.  As a result, sometimes I’m lucky enough to get in on the ground floor (Adele/21), other times I am late to the party (Mumford & Sons).  But I spend most of my time listening to old favorites.

So given that the Grammy’s are this weekend, I thought that you ladies could help me out with a few recommendations.  It could be an act that is new on the scene or an old one that you recently discovered.  I’m willing to give anything a spin, so let’s hear the name of the song or artist that’s currently filling your earbuds.

Just don’t say Justin Bieber or Chris Brown.  I don’t want to have to block anyone today…


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  1. elz says:

    I've been playing Macklemore & Ryan's “Thrift Shop” almost non-stop. Sad, but true.

  2. aec says:

    You should try Songza or stereomood . They both build playlists based on activities or moods. They are updated by users and folks in the music business, so there is a lot of current/new artists that are featured.

  3. S says:

    I just discovered Of Monsters & Men (their big hit is Little Talks, but the rest of their album is terrific!). I'm also a big fan of Fitz & the Tantrums.

  4. Noelle says:

    If you like Adele you should check out Marina and the Diamonds. She is a Welsh singer and has a gorgeous voice. Paloma Faith is also amazing, she used to be a backup singer for Amy Winehouse and she sounds a bit like her but with a more old fashioned/jazzy vibe.

    I've also found that on Pandora, if you pick artists similar to Metric you will have success.

  5. SS says:

    I second songza. It has basic lists like “rock” but also fun things like “saturday workout music without lyrics” and loads of others.

  6. MomInHeels says:

    The Lumineers
    Imagination Dragons

    Love them all!

    And I second Of Monsters & Men. Their female singer sounds a bit like Kate Nash who I also like.

  7. AD says:

    Fun. Neon Trees. Phoenix. Imagine Dragons. Can't get enough of those bands right now. But I'm like you Belle, I mostly listen to my Classic Rock, 80s and other old favorites.

  8. lhh says:

    I have really enjoyed listening to Christina Perri on Pandora. Yes one of her songs is on the Twilight soundtrack but I didn't watch the movies so it doesn't ruin it for me.

  9. T says:

    Mandolin Orange! So so good!

  10. Rebecca says:

    Ellie Goulding is my new Adele–the whole album is good. I also like new stuff from the Walkmen, Family of the Year, Foxygen, Lord Huron, and the Neighbourhood.

    But more importantly, if you miss good local radio, Spotify might help you out. You can actually find playlists by your local stations and other music bloggers you like (like Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson at NPR). You can listen to these at home…but if you have a Spotify subscription (maybe it's $7/month?) you can take it on your phone everywhere, internet or no internet.

  11. Rory says:

    Off my current playlist: Doves (“Kingdom of Rust”), The xx (“Stars”), Phoenix (“If I Ever Feel Better”), Vampire Weekend (“Oxford Comma”), The National (“Anybody's Ghost”), Iron & Wine (“flightless Bird”), Yuma (really good to relax to), The Macabees (“Grew Up at Midnight”), and Broken Bells (“The High Road”). Fleet Foxes is in the same neo-folk genre as Mumford&Songs, only with less banjo and more balalaika.

  12. Meghan says:

    Example, Bell X1, Lisa Hannigan, Biffy Clyro and Tired Pony are what I've been grooving to lately.

  13. Ashley says:

    Fun. Florence and The Machine. Emeli Sande (song: Next To Me). Dragonforce (songs: Through The Fire and Flames, Heroes Of Our Time). Coldplay. The Black Keys. Zac Brown Band (country). My all-time favorite group is Train.

  14. Naomi says:

    Northern Lights by Kate Boy is off the radar and amazing. Eva Cassidy is also a big favorite of mine. I sang Songbird at my brother's wedding and it will always be a favorite. You might also check out Alycia Vince — she's an upcoming artist (and also my sister πŸ™‚ ).

  15. HH says:

    Belle: you've got to narrow it down a bit! πŸ˜‰

    Alabama Shakes – bluesy rock, plus they're up for more than one Grammy
    Muse – their newest single is “Madness” and it's quite dub-step-y, but each of their albums varies quite a bit
    St. Vincent – I am in love with everything Annie Clark does, but songs to look out for: Cheerleader, Surgeon, Actor, Save me from What I Want
    The Walkmen – most of the members grew up/went to school in DC
    Bon Iver

  16. Brittany says:

    fitz and the tantrums. florence and the machine. kendrick lamar. j.cole. asap rocky. wale (DMV WHAT'S UP!). obvi beyonce (and the reunited desiny's child). the new bruce springsteen album. the new aaron neville album. alabama shakes. the lumineers. gaslight anthem. : )

  17. Aly says:

    You've mentioned listening to Miranda Lambert before and if you like country I would check out Kacey Musgraves (wrote Miranda's “Mama's Broken Heart”), Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers Band and Ryan Beaver.

  18. kw says:

    I'd recommend checking out 89.3 the current, its a public radio station with an online feed. They play new and some older alternative music. While it has a great variety, it is also repetitive enough to give you a solid taste of popular groups and make it possible to sing along. As I've moved across the country, I haven't found anything else like it.

  19. Kate says:

    i'm going to second the recommendations for The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Florence + the machine and Ellie Goulding, and add Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (i know 'thrift shop' has blown up but the “heist” album has lots of other great, maybe better, songs), Jukebox the Ghost, and Cut Copy; also Bruno Mars has been killing it lately for me.

  20. v says:

    Check out the weekly All Songs Considered podcast from NPR. It's a good way to stay on top of what is current in the Top 40 world as well as lesser known/ up-and-coming indie music.

  21. Holly says:

    My favorites are the Black Keys (which are great to listen to both purposefully and as background music) and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

    I've also replaced listening to the radio on my own commute with podcasts from the Discovery network. Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and Stuff Mom Never Told You are the ones I listen to regularly.

  22. Grace says:

    I'll never get sick of The Black Keys.

  23. KLC says:

    Mumford and sons!

  24. Heather says:

    Florence and the Machine!!!!!!!!!

  25. Alaina says:

    The Avett Brothers may also be of interest to you; I love their song “Live and Die”.
    They're similar to Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and Of Monsters and Men. It's that same type of indie folk that is popular right now.

  26. gingerr says:

    I download the Starbuck's pick of the week. They give you a free song each week.
    It's hit or miss but you do hear new things.

  27. EMCS says:

    You can still listen to lots of radio. I'm in Minnesota so I listen to it on the actual radio, but people all over listen to Minnesota Public Radio. Its stations are available streaming from the website and through iTunes. The Current is probably the one you'd be most interested in, but I also listen to the news and classical stations.

  28. RMS says:

    My current favorites (and pretty much a list of who I have seen in concert within the past year or so): Florence and the Machine, Ellie Goulding, Marina and the Diamonds, Mates of State, Andrew McMahon, Oh Land, The Ting Tings, Schuyler Fisk/ FM Radio, Gotye, FUN., Passion Pit, Kate Nash, Ingrid Michaelson

  29. Erin says:

    My favorite band of all time has to be Muse. Old stuff and new… it's all amazing (not to mention the best live show you can see). Other than that, I'm digging black keys, lumineers, of monsters and men. All very solid.

  30. SweetPea says:

    If you like country music, Carrie Underwood's Blown Away Album is fantastic.
    Standouts being Blown Away, Good Girl, and Two Black Cadillacs. What I like so much about it is the fact that it doesn't sound like any other song out there; it's progressive and far from predictable.

    Other popular favorites include Do You Think About Me and Good In Goodbye.

    Check it out. πŸ™‚

  31. Amy says:

    I second the rec for Florence and the Machine and Of Monsters and Men. I'd also recommend The Civil Wars – they are fabulous. Currently I'm loving their cover of Dance Me to the End of Love, but I have plenty of their songs on my iPod. Also liking The Avett Brothers, The Ting Tings and the Wailing Jennys.

  32. Liz says:

    Two music recommendations and a podcast that will give you oodles more:

    1. Coeur de Pirate. She sings in French, so if you don't speak French you may get sick of not knowing what she's saying, but the music is great.

    2. Andrew Bird

    Podcast – start listening to All Songs Considered. It's on air on WAMU but I don't have a clue when – I just download the podcasts on to my iPhone. They will introduce you to several new artists each week, and so I just write down the ones I like and check them out on Spotify later. They're great!

  33. KT says:

    If you like the sound of the Lumineers, Mumford, and the Civil Wars (who are all great) then you should check out the Lone Bellow. They were just featured on NPR and did a Conan performance. I also second the Wailing Jennys, Avett Brothers and I adore Ingrid Michaelson.

    For country, I agree with SweetPea, you gotta love Carrie. Also Miranda Lambert/Pistol Annies are great.

  34. GAGOPGirl says:

    I've never been a Top 40 person. Right now I am enjoying Straight No Chaser (I am Yours/Over the Rainbow is fantastic!) and a British harmony group called Blake (their With or Without You cover is pretty awesome, as are Start Over and All of Me). If you need some country, Dustin Lynch “'Cowboys and Angels” is my current fav. Hope you find some awesome tunes that will get stuck in your head πŸ˜‰

  35. H says:

    Alabama Shakes
    Gaslight Anthem
    Frightened Rabbit
    Jason Isbell
    Black Keys
    Allo Darlin'

    For gym music – Icona Pop

  36. GoGoGo says:

    I miss radio too!

    I'll often stream radio stations in the morning, especailly ones from my hometown. That way–new music, same DJs, and weather reports that make me nostalgic. πŸ™‚ I think it's cool that these days we can also listen to other parts of the country's radio, like Nashville's own country stations.

    For the commenters who have mentioned liking neo-folk artists, I recommend wUMB.org/ out of Boston, which is probably one of the country's few dedicated folk stations.

  37. Tina says:

    I just discovered Florence and the Machine and they are great, wish I knew sooner! Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are also great. I haven't listened to their latest album but everything else is really great.

  38. ash says:

    Additional suggestions from the country world – if you find you enjoy the Civil Wars you should download some of the duets from the “Nashville” soundtrack. Several of the languid, sultry duets were written by the Civil Wars and the two actors who do the singing actually knock it out of the park. Suggestions include Fade Into You, If I Didn't Know Better, When the Right One Comes Along, and Undermine.

    Dittoing on someone's suggestion for Kacey Musgraves (she wrote Undermine above) and her Merry Go Round is solid.

    Other country options include: Wagon Wheel (old crow medicine show), what i cannot change (leann rimes — i know i know), whiskey (jana kramer), and tailgate blues (luke bryan)

  39. Sharon S. says:

    I agree with a lot of the bands posted so far (Passion Pit, Lumineers, The XX, fun., etc). I would add in Tegan & Sara, Dry the River, and Punch Brothers. Can't get enough of them!

  40. jessiem says:

    death cab for cutie's newest album codes & keys!

  41. Cherylin says:

    A friend of mine introduced me to a band called Blind Pilot this week, and I can't get enough of them, especially this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuIwRweZoec

  42. Daisy says:

    The Black Keys, Florence + the Machine, Gotye

  43. NR says:

    OneRepublic and Ed Sheeran! My other band suggestions would be restating previous ones (Ellie Goulding, Imagine Dragons, Black Keys, Fun, Florence + the Machine), but here are some songs:

    “Sail,” AWOLNATION
    “Locked Out of Heaven,” Bruno Mars
    “Safe & Sound,” Taylor Swift feat. Civil Twilight (doesn't sound like a normal TSwift song)
    “Girl on Fire,” Alicia Keys
    “No You Girls Never Know,” Franz Ferdinand

    And if you haven't heard “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, listen and laugh while secretly liking it :-).

  44. Polly says:

    I like listening to a radio station from my college town streaming online – really well-edited selection and they have an app, too, for iphone. That's how I find all my new music.


  45. KEK says:

    The Black Keys, The Lumineers, Atlas Genius (I cannot get their song “Trojans” out of my head), fun., Imagine Dragons.

  46. Amanda says:

    John Fullbright- bluesy, folksy Americana + my current obsession. His album “From the Ground Up” is nominated for best Americana album and I think he is slated to perform at the Grammy's.

    Turnpike Troubadours- classic Texas country with relatable song lyrics (check out their album “Diamonds & Gasoline”)- will be in D.C. at Hill Country in June and they always put on a great show!

    Corb Lund & the Hurtin' Albertans- a Canadian country band with lots of rockabilly sounds.

  47. Danielle says:

    Current artists: Neko Case. Japandroids. Wye Oak. The Decemberists. Arcade Fire. M83. The Rosebuds. Wilco. The Frames. Punch Brothers.

    Older stuff: The Band. Neil Young. Steve Earle. Traveling Wilburys. Cat Stevens. Patsy Cline. Dusty Springfield. Electric Light Orchestra.

  48. JB says:

    songza! and, the new tegan and sara album – heartthrob.

  49. Bostonian says:

    Since you said you're open to anything, I'm going to be completely different and suggest dance/house music. My favorite artists are David Guetta (esp. Titanium feat Sia and Memories feat Kid Cudi); Calvin Harris (Feel So Close and Bounce feat Kelis); and 3LAU (We Found House (3LAU Big Room Bootleg) and Action). Some good songs are All You (Clinton Sparks Awesome Remix) by The Cataracts; High for This (Michael Froh's OG-Mix) by Ellie Goulding; and Power Glove by Knife Party.

    This genre's definitely not for everyone, but I hope you enjoy the songs! They vary a lot, so try a few different ones.

  50. J says:

    Download the I Heart Radio app on your phone and you can live stream any radio station that you'd normally listen to in the car

  51. Strin012 says:

    I second HH. Alabama Shakes are so great.

    If you like country, I'm a fan of Zach Brown Band and the Band Perry.

  52. Jessica says:

    I recently discovered Temper Trap's 2009 release, Conditions. It's one of those rare albums that is addicting from start to finish. Also, check out Kings of Leon. Not their overplayed singles (i.e. Sex on Fire), but other tracks like I Want You or The Face. Lastly, if I am ever in a music slump, I always turn to my Ben Folds radio station on Pandora- it never lets me down!

  53. Lindsey says:

    Alt-J is still pretty up and coming, but Bob Boilen of NPR's All Songs Considered named them his album of the year (2012) after seeing them perform on H St's Rock n Roll Hotel. They're playing at the 930 Club in March.

  54. Sarah L says:

    Nowadays I find new music by watching Grey's Anatomy. There's a Grey's Anatomy playlist on Songzaa that you can check out.

    I'm also a fan of a British group, The Noisettes.

  55. Amy says:

    Your readers have already listed some great pics! I agree with many of them (Florence & the Machine, Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, etc) I would add:

    Metric- kick ass girl band. Listen to Breathing Underwater and if you like that you'll,love their most recent album

    Young the Giant- my favorite album of 2012. Listen to Cough Syrup to get a feel for their flavor. Southern California laid back rock with a lead singer who has a great voice.

  56. M.E. says:

    Grimes. Of Monsters and Men. Lana Del Ray.

  57. saramel says:

    Jim James (front man for My Morning Jacket) just put out an amazing solo album. His vocals are soul touching.

  58. Sara says:

    Try City & Colour. It's really easy listening, Dallas Green has a beautiful voice, but it shouldn't put you to sleep on the metro either.

  59. L says:

    I like Indie Electronic these days (along with basically everything listed above), so started a pandora station with Hot Chip so good. You get purity ing and blondfire. Also, I freaking love pop (a girl has to work out, too!). Florence welch has a pop song out with Calvin Harris and Christina aguilera has a great one with my boyfriend Pitbull. I second whoever loves Bruno mars.

  60. C. Michael says:

    Newer on the scene:
    Ellie Goulding, Arcade Fire, Nouvelle Vague, Sia, The National, Cat Power, Interpol.

    Not new, still great:
    Sinead OÒ€ℒConnor, Joni Mitchell, Edith Piaf, Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Pearl Jam, Cranberries, David Gray, Jimi Hendrix

    Have fun exploring all of the recs!

  61. s says:

    Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds

  62. Susannah says:

    I have discovered 99% of my new favorite bands from the Seattle public radio station KEXP (kexp dot org). They have podcasts (Music That Matters) and archives of their shows which I download to my ipod for my commute. Yeasayer, Tune-Yards, Alabama Shakes, THEESatisfaction, Phantogram, M83, Animal Collective, Father John Misty… just to name a few.

  63. Ms. T says:

    Civil Wars was a new discovery for me. Melody Gardot and Jane Monheit are pretty amazing modern-day jazz singers.

  64. EAC says:

    While I am familiar with and enjoy many of the artists that have been suggested, surely you don't expect to subsist on a steady diet of Indie Pop/Rock alone. Girl you need some color in your musical world.

    Check out Chambao, Ojos De Brujo, Los Lobos, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Lianne LaHavas, and Trombone Shorty. Include a few numbers by some late great jazz vocalists like Phoebe Snow, Ella Fitzgerald and Dianne Washington. And every girl needs to at least have something by Aretha Franklin in rotation.

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