We are right in the middle of festival season. Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and Electric Forest wrapped up in June, while Pitchfork, Summerfest, Forecastle and Project Pabst are all on deck this month, with plenty of other festivals going into August and even as late as September.
These festivals are not only a way for music lovers to indulge in their favorite artists, but discover new music as well. For these music enthusiasts, there really isn’t anything better than decompressing after a successful festival weekend by downloading all the music that could possibly fit onto your hard drive. (Or flipping through vinyl. We don’t know your preference!)
We’re going to make things a teensy bit easier for you a give you a playlist you can have handy pre, during or post festival.
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Throwing this out as a warning: This song WILL get stuck in your head. But if you think about it, is it really a bad thing if Beck gets stuck in your head? We think not. “Dreams” is a huge departure from his Grammy-winning 2014 album, Morning Phase, and is super poppy. It’s reminiscent of previous upbeat tracks like “Girl,” “Devils Haircut” or “Sexx Laws,” but with its own modern identity. By now, we should just trust Beck knows what he’s doing and what he’s doing is pretty awesome.
Major Lazer, “Powerful”
Ellie Goulding is like a DJ’s dream. Just take a look at Calvin Harris’ mega-hits “I Need Your Love” and “Outside.” With Major Lazer’s “Powerful,” Goulding gives the track sexy soul, with reggae singer Tarrus Riley supporting – yet also holding his own – on the song. “Powerful” is a low-tempo song, but catchy and danceable in its own right. This kind of danceable is unlike the kind that’s normally associated with EDM. This kind is found in your hips and deep within your body. Possibly made even better with an attractive dance partner.
For those missing the Riot grrl days of the early ‘90s, Bully brings that essence back with their debut album, Feels Like. At two minutes and 46 seconds long, “Reason” is like a quick punch to the gut, with Alicia Bognanno’s punky vocals and melodic guitar riffs bringing the heat.
Miguel, “a beautiful exit”
The opener on Miguel’s new album (which, by the way, is worth multiple listens) bombards you with gritty guitars at first. Miguel balances the rawness with smooth vocals. The song’s edge softens during the chorus before being thrust back into the guitars. Like anything Miguel does, this song is provocative and seductive, with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll for good measure.
Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique, “Love is Free”
It’s been five years since ‘90s pop star-turned-electro queen Robyn released a solo album. Luckily, she’s given us phenomenal collaborations with Röyksopp, whether it’s on their joint album and tour or a guest appearance on Röyksopp’s latest release, The Inevitable End. “Love Is Free” gives us a glimpse of another one of her collaborations—this time, an EP with La Bagatelle Magique. The single is everything you’d want from Robyn: Upbeat, infectious and audacious. Your body will move before you even know it.
Zella Day, “Hypnotic”
This singer-songwriter had a chance at a record deal as a teen, but turned it down in order to go her own direction. It’s a good thing she did, since her debut full length is filled with indie-pop gems like “Hypnotic.” Her Arizona background weaves throughout her entire album, with Western-American influences balancing singer-songwriter pop melodies.
Ryn Weaver, “Stay Low”
Weaver became one of this year’s buzzed-about artist thanks to her earworm single, “OctaHate,” which was co-written by Charli XCX. The single was featured on her 2014 EP, Promises, and made a resurgence on her full-length, The Fool, which was released June 16. “Stay Low” is another song that reappears on The Fool and lives up to the buzz “OctaHate” blazed for Weaver. “Stay Low” is a dreamy, romantic song. Not romantic like Celine Dion, though. Weaver sings about love’s simplicity—just being comfortable with the person you’re with and needing nothing more than that.
Communions, “Summer’s Oath”
“Summer’s Oath” is basically a lovechild between U2’s guitar riffs and Robert Smith’s vocals. The guitars are meticulous throughout the song. When mixed with the vocals, “Summer’s Oath” is absolutely sublime. The Danish post-punk band released its self-titled EP in May.
Florence + The Machine, “Ship to Wreck”
When you hear “Florence + The Machine,” certain expectations come to mind: Powerful vocals, epic baroque pop and dramatic lyrics. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – released in late May – lives up to those standards. “Ship to Wreck” opens up the album perfectly. The melody is big and bold, with Florence Welch reminding us how easy it is for her voice to give us chills.
Jamie xx, “Loud Places”
Jamie xx is a great complement for fans looking for their xx fix between the band’s albums. The producer, whose real name is Jamie Smith, got his start with the xx and dove deep into production when he was asked to remix Gil Scott-Heron’s final album. That led to his solo album, In Colour, which was released May 29. On “Loud Places,” Smith brings in xx bandmate, Romy Madley-Croft, whose vocals combined with Smith’s dream-pop production makes you forget this isn’t actually an xx song.
The band carries on with its apocalyptic, electro/industrial rock not just in this track, but throughout their latest album Drones. Muse keeps it similar to their previous styles, so those who are fans of the epic rock anthems will be on board with the latest singles from Drones, which include “Psycho” and “Dead Inside.”
Class Actress, “More Than You”
Elizabeth Harper’s breathy vocals layer perfectly on top of the electro beat in this song. The synth-pop artist is the woman behind Class Actress, whose last release was Rapprocher in 2011. It’s due time for a new Class Actress release. Harper delivers with Movies, her EP that was released June 23. While “More Than You” is the standout, try “The Limit,” which is reminiscent of the synth-driven pop style of the ‘80s.