With two weeks of ramblin’ about television out of the way, I figured this week was as good a time as any to dedicate an OTT post to music for the very first time. Hooray!

I only know a single person doesn’t particularly enjoy or have any special connection to music: my grandpa. Luckily, his lack of enthusiasm over this form of entertainment was not passed down to me. I love music, from cheesy British pop to early ’60s girl groups to ’90s college rock and back again. I’m definitely not the type of listener who discriminates based on genre, and just as my movie-watching slogan is “I’ll watch anything once,” I’ll also listen to anything once.

It hasn’t always been this way. There was a regrettable era in which I had bangs that covered 75% of my face and only listened to bands who shared that hairstyle, denouncing all things country/pop/hip hop/etc. Luckily (oh, so luckily!) I grew out of that horrid phase. My philosophy now: You won’t find me rushing to check out the latest single from the Biebz or buying tickets to see Gaga in concert, but in order to discover that I didn’t like them, I had to give them a chance at some point. The moral of the story: hit that little play button. You have nothing to lose! You’ll either discover a new favorite or turn it off after 10 – 20 unbearable seconds and know to stay away in the future.

My ever-growing willingness to absorb music from all genres has led me to own a somewhat eclectic collection of music. There are five of my “of the moment” favorite acts (or in some cases, permanent favorites) on my iPod that probably wouldn’t find themselves associated with each other anywhere but this list.

SHOVELS & ROPE (Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent)

One of my photos from the night I discovered Shovels & Rope: after performing a phenomenal set of their own, they joined JTE on stage for a bit. From left: JTE, Michael Trent, Cary Ann Hearst and Bryn Davies.

How I discovered them/why I love them:
One of my all-time favorite artists, Justin Townes Earle, was playing a show at the Magic Stick in Detroit and they were the opener. I’d never heard of them before and actually remember telling my sister as we were waiting to get into the venue, “Well, at least if they’re terrible, they’re an opener so their set should be relatively short.”
I have no explanation for why my expectations were so low (and I actually feel terrible about it because I love them so much now!), but I absolutely was blown away by their set that night and immediately downloaded their album when I got home. (I’ve since purchased their solo albums as well. And seen them live twice more.) Their music is perfect in every way: both of their voices are amazing (and work well together); the songs are honest and full of heart. If you only give one of the acts on list list a chance, let them be the one!
Favorite album: They only have one album out so that’s obviously the current favorite, but their latest will be released on July 31 (just after my birthday!) and I’m very excited for it!
A recommended song: “Boxcar.” Watch a live session of the song below, courtesy  of The Moving Picture Boys on YouTube!


From left: Cheryl, Kimberley, Sarah, Nadine and Nicola – the five members who make up Girls Aloud. (Image via Fanpop)

How I discovered them/why I love them: I heard their first single, “Sound of the Underground” around the time of its original release way back in the early ’00s. I liked the song and found it catchy, but as a middle schooler I was in no position to import albums from the UK and soon forgot about them as my taste in music began to involve. I honestly have no recollection of how I re-discovered this group. It may have been through AmazonMP3, I may have randomly run across one of their videos on YouTube and become flooded with “Sound of the Underground” memories… I have no clue!
Regardless of our shady beginnings, my time as a Girls Aloud fan has been a happy time. Their music is so much fun to listen to. Some of it is cheesy, but I love a bad-good song even more than I love a bad-good movie and they also produced a few truly great tracks as well. Since I mysteriously re-discovered them, I’ve become a bit of a super-fan, importing all of the GA albums, all of the members’ solo efforts AND two tour DVDs that will only play on my laptop because my DVD player is Region 1. Worth it? For me, yes.
Favorite album: Tangled Up is pop magic at its best (though Out of Control comes in at a quite close second place).
A recommended song: “Whole Lotta History” from the Chemistry album. Check out the official MV below!


Dan Andriano: 1/3 of Alkaline Trio, and a fantastic solo artist. (Image via spinner.com)

How I discovered them/why I love them: I’ve been an Alkaline Trio fan for so many years that I’ve lost count, so naturally whenever side projects are released I’m all over it. Dan has such a unique voice, and that voice alone is reason enough for me to love his solo material, but the songs themselves are actually great as well. They’re beautiful acoustic pieces, usually with a bit of a melancholy mood.
I have yet to see Dan live on his own, but I’ve seen Alk3 live many a time and can assure you, dear reader, that his voice is just as beautiful live as it is on record.
Favorite album: Hurricane Season
A recommended song: “Me and Denver.” I couldn’t find a performance video, but check out the audio below.


(Image source/a recap of Early Winters’ live show)

How I discovered them/why I love them:  I discovered them when their album was tossed into the monthly $5 promotion on AmazonMP3, my go-to site for downloading music (though I still buy physical copies for artists that I really love. Yes, I’m one of those people. Keepin’ it legal!). I’m constantly browsing Amazon’s MP3 deals in order to discover new artists, many of which I would never have discovered or sought out otherwise. I fell in love with Early Winters’ album immediately after previewing the songs, and fell even more in love after giving the full album a few listens. Some of the vocals are very Meaghan Smith-ish (and I love Meaghan Smith, so these songs are right up my alley.)
Favorite album: Self-titled (which I believe is their only full-length?)
A recommended song: “Spanish Burn” – check out the music video below!


(Image via Tori’s website, torikellymusic.com)

How I discovered them/why I love them:  I like to watch cover songs on YouTube and Tori popped up in the recommendations sidebar while I was watching another video. The shallow part of me kicked in, and I honestly checked it out because I liked her hair. I wasn’t even familiar with the song she was covering. (Watch the video on YouTube and try to tell me you’re not impressed by those curls, too!)
Luckily, hair isn’t the only thing Tori has going for her: She has a phenomenal voice, as I realized quite quickly while watching the video. Her covers and original songs are both great, and I discovered her just in time for the “Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly” EP!
Apparently she auditioned for American Idol at one point, which I can’t confirm since I don’t watch Idol or any other televised singing competition. But they obviously made a huge mistake by turning her down.
Favorite album: To my knowledge, the EP is the only thing she’s released so far, so that’s the obvious favorite, but I can’t wait to hear more from this talented lady!
A recommended song: “Eyelashes.” Check out a recent live performance below!