The sun and shine of summertime is ripe for discovering new music, and as I settle into my surroundings I am getting influences from all over the place. I’m breaking out of my rock-centric habits with some more electronic artists, and looking for lightness and fun in music as much as I am looking for energy, connection and commiseration as I typically have. I’m more than getting my money’s worthy from Spotify premium with all the exploration it provides through my own searching or its curated places — and still, I find those songs I keep coming back to. As summer reaches its midway point, here are a few of my favorite tracks I’ve been listening to while pattering around DTLA or cruising down the 110:

The Naked and Famous – Higher


With their 2013 smash hit record “Passive Me, Aggressive You,” TNAF cemented themselves as electropop/indie rock/hipster party anthem royalty and I’ll be damned if this new single doesn’t prove they deserve the acclaim. “Higher” is a fun, dancey groove with serious heart and do-or-die attitude. I play it at least once a day, whether walking or biking or shaking it off, and I can’t wait to hear more.

“Higher, higher
Tonight we raise the dead
Tonight we bury this in fire, fire
Under the shape of years
And the weight that brought us here.”

Muna/Tiesto – “Winterbreak”


Last night, I was mocked by strangers for defending Tiesto’s cool. “Maybe like 15 years ago,” they said, to which I replied “HAVE YOU HEARD WINTERBREAK?!” I guess my recent, spin-inspired foray into house music isn’t going as well I thought, but still, I’m obsessed with this song. Despite the seasonal title, this Spotify stumble is one of my favorite songs of the summer. Something about its moody, despondent, give-up-the-fight lyrics against a thumping house beat feels edgy and inspired, updating what is already a gem of a dark pop track into a spiraling, sprawling lovesick jam — and while I haven’t ignored the more timely “Summer Nights” remix, this is the song that makes me want to run, sun, and stay out late. Also: MUNA is pretty damn fun. More on them later.

“But always such a smart one,
always so intelligent,
you must know what’s happening here.”

Lera Lynn – Little Ruby


I’m loving the newest record from Lera Lynn, and its smokey, bluesy feel — which is no more intense than on album closer “Little Ruby.” I love the gender-bending from a female songwriter, and I love that smooth, jazzy melody in the chorus. Lera Lynn is a damn fine musician and “The Resistor” is an excellent album — and this steamy, steamy track is a sexy, sexy choice to soundtrack hot summer nights.

“Sweet little Ruby 
Why won’t you love me?”

blink-182 – Bored to Death


Nary a day goes by when I listen to SoCal radio without hearing Blink at least once, in addition to seeing their billboards everywhere. Maybe the rest of the country isn’t bombarded as much by the so-called revival of pop punk/punk rock’s reigning chart toppers. But here, it is not easy to escape, and so “Bored to Death” is becoming one of my go-to car sing-a-longs and songs of the summer. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re too old.

“Life is too short to last long.”

Local Natives – Past Lives


The first single from the new Local Natives recordings was one of my great spring surprises that has coasted into summertime. It’s dreamy and romantic, and full of glow, earthly and heavenly, all at ones. Local Natives left a big impression with 2013’s “Hummingbird” with a sound that was very trendy, but full-band force and detailed production of “Past Lives” makes me think this band is more than a quick-hit find. I love getting lost in the layers of thing song, and all its promise.

“I will wait for you
At the end love
Let your past lives too
Then you wake up.”