If you’re like us here at Live For Live Music, your listening habits go through cycles. One week, you’re all about that new single you can’t get enough of. The next, you’re really feeling a record from your past, something that evokes a bygone place and time. One day, you need a feel-good pick-me-up. The next, you need some somber reflection. It’s all about how you’re feeling, what’s on your mind, what’s happening in your life.

Enter the L4LM Monthly Mix, a serial playlist compiled with care by our staff, a small group of dedicated music lovers with unique and varied tastes. Each month, we’ll bring you a new mix of tracks—from the old to the new, the beloved to the obscure, the silly to the sentimental. There’s no particular overarching rhyme or reason to the L4LM Monthly Mix. This is just the music that’s on our minds, the music we’re excited to share with you right now. Next month, we’ll be feeling something different, and we hope you’ll subscribe and continue to listen along with us as that journey unfolds.

This article serves as your listening guide for the L4LM Monthly Mix. These are your liner notes, your peek inside our brains. Hear a song you like as you listen through? Scroll down (or “cmnd + f” search) and find out “what’s good” with the selection—why it was chosen, why that music moved us this month. We hope we can help you discover something that moves you, too.

Dive into the December edition of the L4LM Monthly Mix below and subscribe on Spotify to make sure you don’t miss any new Monthly Mixes.

L4LM Monthly Mix – December 2019


Black Pumas – “Colors”

What’s good:  This tune really struck a chord with me. Black Pumas are on the rise, and they earned a well-deserved Grammy nod for “Best New Artist” this year. –Sara Shah

Tyler Childers – “Universal Sound”

What’s good: My friend, Hilary Gleason, put me onto Tyler, and I was blown away by the sheer amount of talent evident in his songwriting. –Kunj Shah

Herbie Hancock – “Cantaloupe Island”

What’s good: Herbie is an icon. His songbook is unparalleled and he’s performed with most of the best jazz musicians throughout history. This classic from his 1964 album, Empyrean Isles, features Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums, and Freddie Hubbard on cornet. –Gideon Plotnicki

Khruangbin, Leon Bridges – “Texas Sun”

What’s good: This new Khruangbin/Leon Bridges collab is awesome. Each brings the best elements of their own sound to the table. We can’t wait for their whole collaborative EP to drop in February. –Sara Shah

Jon Cleary – “When You Get Back”

What’s good: NOLA piano legend Jon Cleary is an absolute monster gentleman. He’s joining a stacked crew of Crescent City colleagues at Denver Comes Alive on January 31st to help pay tribute to a pair of local legends we lost this year: Art Neville and Dr. John. George Porter Jr. will be there. And Ivan Neville. Ian Neville. Tony Hall. Skerik. Big Sam. Nikki Glaspie. Wait, that can’t be right…*checks lineup*… Nope, that’s actually a real thing that’s happening. And it’s only one of four equally crazy sets at DCA. Don’t just sit there—grab your tickets before they’re gone. –Jimmy

Anderson .Paak – “Linus & Lucy”

What’s good: It’s that time of year, after all. I may not love Christmas music as much as some people, but hearing .Paak, T Nava, and Maurice Brown play Peanuts Christmas gets me jollier than the big man himself. –Andrew O’Brien

Neal Francis – “This Time”

What’s good: Neal Francis’ new album is unbelievable. This guy is going to be a star. Just you wait.
–Kunj Shah

The War On Drugs – “Lost In The Dream”

What’s good: There’s something about this time of the year, when fall finally turns over to winter, when The War On Drugs’ 2014 masterpiece, “Lost In The Dream”, stands out as the perfect listening accompaniment to those long, dark, and lonely nights. The album as a whole is filled with cabin fever-worthy anthems, and its title track stands out as one of the best. It’s during those dark nights when the song’s lyrics almost capture exactly what the listener is experiencing by asking, are we “Lost in the dream/Or just the silence of a moment/It’s always hard to tell.” –Tom Shackleford

The Meters – “Fire On The Bayou”

What’s good: New Orleans Funk icons…enough said. R.I.P., Poppa Funk. –Kunj Shah

Maceo Parker – “Tell Me Something Good” [Rufus & Chaka Khan cover]

What’s good: I mean, Maceo is one funky-ass motherf*cker—an absolute legend—and “Tell Me Something Good” is one of the funkiest songs of all time. It sounds just as good as it looks on paper. –Kunj Shah

Cream – “Sunshine Of Your Love”

What’s good: Ginger Baker‘s passing hit me pretty hard. When I was learning to play the drums as a teenager, I spent hours playing along to Cream records. Then, for my 18th birthday, I was lucky enough to go to London for the Cream reunion show, the first show in 40 years. Seeing Baker perform all of those incredible songs had a huge impact on me and helped shape my love of live music. –Gideon Plotnicki

David Bowie – “Moonage Daydream”

What’s good: Phish covering this tune in Charleston during Fall Tour brought me back to the mind-blowing experience of seeing them tackle Ziggy Stardust in its entirety in Las Vegas on Halloween 2016. But, more importantly, the original track is a true rock and roll masterpiece. –Kunj Shah

moe. – “Plane Crash”

What’s good: This one goes out to all the people traveling during the holiday season. Stay safe out there! –Gideon Plotnicki

Aqueous – “Burn It Down”

What’s good: This title track from rising jam quartet Aqueous makes me want to roll out of bed, hop on a skateboard, and ride straight into a ’90s teen movie. The opening riff and chorus have an overwhelming air of nostalgia from a band that has an obvious affinity for ’90s culture given their frequent covers of classic cartoon themes like Rugrats, Catdog, Rocko’s Modern Life, and many more. –Michael Broerman

Goose – “Into The Myst”

What’s good: I saw Goose earlier this year and had an absolute blast at their show. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see them again out in Colorado at The Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, and at Old Town Pub in Steamboat Springs. I’m glad I chose this past weekend to go snowboarding, as it gave me a chance to follow up a great show in FoCo with yet another rocking performance in Steamboat. It’s been a big year for the quartet from Norwalk, CT, and it’s very apparent why when you see their live show. While they sprinkle their setlist with some choice covers, their originals truly stand the test. “Into The Myst”, in particular, caught me in a good way at the Thursday night show. Intelligent lyrics, a catchy melody, and the ability to go the distance in the live setting gets “Into The Myst” my vote on this month’s L4LM Monthly Mix playlist. Keep an eye on these cats, they are making waves. –Chris Meyer

Phish (Kasvot Växt) – “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S”

What’s good: Does it smell like space in here, or is it just me? –Andrew O’Brien

Oysterhead – “Army’s on Ecstacy”

What’s good: Oysterhead dates keep getting announced, and the excitement keeps building. Can’t wait for Trey Anastasio, Les Claypool, and Stewart Copeland to burn the 1STBANK Center down in February. –Kunj Shah

TOOL – “The Pot”

What’s good: Like the rest of the country, I just saw TOOL on their Fear Inoculum Tour. It was incredible, and I was lucky enough to see them play 10,000 Days track “The Pot”. –Gideon Plotnicki

Thievery Corporation – “Culture Of Fear”

What’s good: Thievery Corporation is an incredible band, unlike any other. As our country wades into another election cycle and we deal with new issues on a seemingly daily basis, this song feels particularly on point right now. –Gideon Plotnicki

GoldFish – “Followers of the Beat”

What’s good: I love GoldFish. They’re an incredible band that incorporates elements of jazz and house music in a really satisfying way. –Kunj Shah

NGHTMRE, Big Gigantic – “Like That”

What’s good: This song is always great to get the party started. The last Big Gigantic 3D show at Red Rocks was one of the most insane live productions I’ve ever witnessed. –Sara Shah

Brasstracks – “Always Be My Baby” [Mariah Carey cover]

What’s good: I love Brasstracks. Amazing producers, amazing players, and this track bumps. It’s hard to try to one-up Mariah Carey in the “soul” category, but they totally pull it off. –Kunj Shah

Caribou – “Silver”

What’s good: Perhaps it’s the recent news that Caribou just this week released his first new single in five years, but “Silver” from 2014’s Our Love has been playing in my apartment almost nonstop recently. The song is a masterful blend of dreamy lyrics with an electro-driven rhythm pattern that could seemingly continue forever. It’s that smooth. –Tom Shackleford

CharlesTheFirst – “Hair In The Wind”

What’s good: I had the best time a couple of weeks ago when Meow Wolf took over Denver’s National Western Complex for three nights and we all got taken into an immersive psychedelic musical experience with CharlesTheFirst, Megan Hamilton, Late Night Radio, and others. His new album explores the empty spaces between sounds, and as we’re going into 2020, my hair is blowin’ in the wind as I zoom ahead. –Mikala Lugen

Todd Terje – “Inspector Norse”

What’s good: One of the most-covered tunes by jamtronica bands, this track is a banger front-to-back. I saw Todd play it with a live band in a warehouse in Brooklyn, and it was unforgettable. –Kunj Shah

The Electric Peanut Butter Company – “Dreams” [Fleetwood Mac cover]

What’s good: Literally the best cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s original, and the only song I sang on karaoke this year. –Mikala Lugen

Swatkins – “Gotta Give It Away (If You’re Gonna Keep It)”

What’s good: We love Swatkins and his Positive Agenda. There’s a whole lot of great music coming out of Eddie RobertsColor Red Studios these days, and this track featuring Jans Ingber (formerly of The Motet), Turkuaz’s Michelangelo Carubba and Craig Brodhead, and more is no exception. –Sara Shah

Chameleonize — “Day Job”

What’s good: If Chameleonize keeps pumping out catchy tunes like this, they’ll never need day jobs again… —Jimmy

Beck – “Turn Away”

What’s good: One of tracks from the tail end of Beck’s Morning Phase LP (which remains the best wake-up album of the 2010’s), “Turn Away” offers a hypnotizing experience driven by minor chord progressions from Beck’s acoustic guitar, haunting, layered vocals, and subtle violin parts. Like a lullaby from the depths of Beck’s creative genius, “Turn Away” holds up as an anthem as we head into the darkness of winter.
–Tom Shackleford

The Beatles – “Here Comes The Sun”

What’s good: Some people say this song is over-played. I think it’s under-played. It’s one of those songs that manages to perfectly capture a mood. I could listen to it every day. –Kunj Shah

Grateful Dead – “Not Fade Away” [Buddy Holly cover]

What’s good: Phish‘s recent return to the Nassau Coliseum inspired me to revisit some of my other favorite live albums from the Long Island venue—most notably, the Dead’s spring 1990 run. The thunderous drum intro here sets the tone and gets the adrenaline pumping by the time Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, and Brent Mydland‘s choral vocals come in to launch the listener into the stratosphere. –Tom Shackleford

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – “Midnight Rider” [Allman Brothers Band cover]

What’s good: When one legend covers another like this, it’s always powerful. The fact that we’re still processing the losses of both Sharon Jones and Gregg Allman in the last few years makes this one hit that much harder. –Sara Shah

John Mayer – “Waitin’ On The Day”

What’s good: John Mayer’s 2013 Paraise Valley album wasn’t his most popular, but his current position as the guitarist of Dead & Company would not exist without it. What could be consiered his attempt to channel his inner-Neil Young and J.J. Cale resulted in a fantastic folk-rock tune which hears Mayer sing out vulnerable lyrics like “I’m waiting on a day/When my life on the run/Reaches out in the sun/And shows my age.” The song’s instrumental outro jam is somewhat catchy, too! –Tom Shackleford

Umphrey’s McGee – “Ride on Pony”

What’s good: Is Jake Cinninger my new favorite country singer? Either way, we were all excited to see that the band released this old gem as a single this week. And the single cover art, which features Jake riding on Ryan “Pony” Stasik like, well, a pony, is worth the price of admission on its own. –Andrew O’Brien

Grateful Dead – “Liberty” [Live at Madison Square Garden, 10/14/94]

What’s good: Another great summer anthem from the Dead in the same vein as “U.S. Blues”, but this one unfortunately never got a chance to stretch its legs. This version from 10/14/1994 shows Jerry and the band at their most lucid right before a steep drop-off in quality for summer 1995’s “Tour From Hell.” –Michael Broerman

Ghost Light – “Diamond Eyes”

What’s good: Ghost Light showcases some of the best songwriting ability in the jam scene. It’s rare, and it should be cherished. –Sara Shah

Megan Hamilton – “Cosmic Soup”

What’s good: One of the highlights of Meow Wolf‘s Denver Dark Palace event. Hamilton caught me by surprise when I saw her on the her infinity stage setup, and I’ve never looked back since. One of the best female producers out there in the scene right now. –Mikala Lugen

STS9 – “WTDS Reprise > Tooth”

What’s good: STS9 just announced a four-night February run at Aspen’s Belly Up, relaunched their The Just Thanks Organization dedicated to a variety of environmental and sustainability causes (Alana Rocklin and David Phipps announced a special run of shows together at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox in Denver with all proceeds going to the charity), and released the first part of their Visions Tapes, a series of live mashups from shows over the last few years. “Over the past few years we’ve been digging into our catalog,” guitarist Hunter Brown said with the announcement. “Making new mixes and mashups for our live performances. It’s been a lot of fun exploring the threads that connect all of the music we’ve made together.” The initial result from that digging is “When The Dust Settles Reprise > Tooth”, and it’s everything that I love about STS9. –Chris Meyer

Funkleberry – “Stay F***ing Calm”

What’s good: Vinyl sampling artist Funkleberry creates rhythms and grooves that reflect certain moods from particular moments in his life by which he was inspired. You Watch What Happens, his debut album on Raund Haus Records, transports you to the blunt smoke-filled studios of his native Durham, North Carolina, the Bull City. “Stay F***ing Calm” evokes the grit and jagged sonic edges of ’90s undergroud hip-hop through an undeniably unique lens. If you dig it, I strongly advise spinning the whole album from the top. This track is just one thread in an enthralling musical tapestry best experienced as a whole. –Andrew O’Brien

Doom Flamingo – “Wicked Game” [Chris Isaak cover]

What’s good: Doom Flamingo’s reimagined cover of Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game”, best known for its inclusion in the 1990 David Lynch film, Wild At Heart, is one of the most fun songs in this young band’s arsenal. Keeping with the band’s ongoing visual component, this song’s release was accompanied by some beautiful comic book artwork by Canadian illustrator Jordan Noir that’s almost as sexy as the song itself. –Andrew O’Brien

Turkuaz – “The Ballad of Castor Troy”

What’s good: The Kuadrochrome era has arrived for Turkuaz, and it sounds amazing. I’ll miss their colors, but their new look is pretty sweet. This is my favorite track off the new EP. –Kunj Shah

Khruangbin – “Friday Morning”

What’s good: Winter is in full swing, and as the year comes to a close, I feel nostalgic thinking of myself a year ago: Sitting in my little Kent, Ohio apartment, looking out at the snow falling on campus as I sip my tea with this song soothing the energy in the room. Happy Friday morning, everyone! –Mikala Lugen

Circles Around The Sun feat. Joe Russo – “Get It Right the First Time”

What’s good: I spent Thanksgiving Day watching the video of the emotional tribute to Neal Casal at The Capitol Theatre, and it had me feeling all the feels. CATS with Joe was the most powerful part, and I feel blessed that Neal left us with some more of this music before he departed. –Kunj Shah

Sungazer – “Bird on the Wing”

What’s good: These guys are awesome and have a ton of buzz surrounding them right now. Worth checking out for sure. –Kunj Shah

Joe Cocker – “With A Little Help From My Friends”

What’s good: This Lennon/McCartney number originally appeared on The Beatles’ 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Joe Cocker decided to put his own interpretation on the song for his album of the same name in 1969. The Ray Charles-esque vocal stylings gave the cover instant credibility and has taken on a life of its own over the years, doing a complete 180 from the original version. There is something about Cocker’s soulful, blues rock interpretatio that simply resonates in the inner sanctum of your soul. It’s gripping. –Chris Meyer

The Growlers – “Natural Affair”

What’s good: The title track off The Growlers’ latest album presents a delicate mix of the band’s classic indie-pop formula with just enough progression to show that the group isn’t stagnating. The line, “special ones, nothing is missing/Everything you need’s in your smile” presents a much brighter future for The Growlers than the dark realism of the lyrics on 2016’s City Club. –Michael Broerman

John Lennon, The Harlem Community Choir, The Plastic Ono Band, Yoko Ono – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

What’s good: It’s hard to believe that December 8th marked the 39th anniversary of John Lennon’s tragic assassination by delusional Beatles fan Mark David Chapman. It seems apropos to take a listen to “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” while remembering Lennon as a staunch advocate of world peace and anti-war sentiments. Written and released in 1971 by Lennon and Yoko Ono (Plastic Ono Band) with help from The Harlem Community Choir, the song didn’t just celebrate the holidays—it also acted as a protest song against the Vietnam War. The period prior to the track’s creation saw both Lennon and Ono take part in peace activism with “bed-ins,” calling for unity and peace for all. Thankfully, it’s become of a staple of the holiday season. –Chris Meyer

Jones For Revival – “Keep Your Head Up”

What’s good: This Ohio-based funky jam group knows what’s up! As they celebrate a decade as a band, the five-piece just released this track, this infectious single offers a new burst of energy to carry them along the way. –Mikala Lugen

Envy Alo – “Give in to the Light”

What’s good: Full-sail ahead for this Denver-based group! As they prepare for their forthcoming 2020 album release, these guys just released “Give In The Light” last week, giving you some smooth and inspirational lyrics to get your 2020 started off on the right foot. —Mikala Lugen

Béla Fleck – “Help on the Way” [Grateful Dead cover]

What’s good: Having grown up playing the tablas and loving Béla Fleck, this version of Grateful Dead classic “Help on the Way” may be my absolute favorite. –Kunj Shah

Dead & Company – “Fire On The Mountain” [Live at TD Garden, 11/17/17]

What’s good: In anticipation of Oteil headlining Denver Comes Alive at Mission Ballroom on January 31st, here’s an awesome version of him singing “Fire on the Mountain” with Dead & Company. #LetOteilSing  –Kunj Shah

The Kinks – “Father Christmas”

What’s good: Ah, the holidays. What better way to get into the holiday spirit (without ripping your hair out from hearing Christmas music for two months straight on the radio) than with this classic 1977 holiday tune? Turn it on. No, really—”We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over.” –Mikala Lugen

Ngaiire – “Shiver”

What’s good: I discovered this goddess of a singer on my Spotify Discover weekly, and I can’t stop playing this! She’ll start 2020 off with a round of shows in her home country of Australia, but I’ll be watching closely for her U.S. tour dates to drop soon. —Mikala Lugen

The Flaming Lips, Deap Valley (Deap Lips) – “Hope Hell High”

What’s good: I’ve been a huge fan of the Flaming Lips since seeing them at Bonnaroo a few years back. Love to see that they’re still putting out awesome music, like this collab with Deap Valley. –Sara Shah

Rogue Valley – “The Wolves and the Ravens”

What’s good: A lovely, haunting folk ballad from Minnesotan band Rogue Valley which first caught the attention of fans thanks to its inclusion in 2013 Ben Stiller film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. “The Wolves and The Ravens” is the perfect soundtrack for a relaxing winter’s day. Make some tea, light some incense, and cozy up to Rogue Valley. –Tom Shackleford

Greensky Bluegrass – “All for Money”

What’s good: Greensky just killed it at their sold-out Mission Ballroom run in Denver. While they didn’t play this tune in Denver, the title track off their latest LP is a testament to the quintet’s always-impeccable songwriting ability. –Kunj Shah

SPAGA – “Resurrection”

What’s good: Aron Magner included this re-worked jazz arrangement of the old Disco Biscuits favorite on the debut record by his excellent new side project, SPAGA. It’s been a go-to relaxation tune for me since we premiered it back in June. I hear Bill Kreutzmann‘s a big fan, too. –Andrew O’Brien

The Wood Brothers – “Cry Over Nothing”

What’s good: I listened to this track five times the day it came out last month. Couldn’t get enough. There’s something about the trio’s songwriting—and Oliver Wood‘s distinctive voice—the never fails to pull me in. –Andrew O’Brien

Allen Toussaint – “Night People”

What’s good: This song always pumps me up and sets the tone for a good night of “hanging out, looking at each other, and waiting for something to happen.” –Kunj Shah

G. Love & Special Sauce feat. Roosevelt Collier – “Soulbque”

What’s good: This song is great, but more importantly, it features my favorite pedal steel guitarist, Roosevelt Collier. That man is a GEM. –Kunj Shah

Dopapod – “23 Forever”

What’s good: As my half birthday between 22 and 23 approaches, the cliche is to play Blink 182‘s “What’s My Age Again?” with its exclamation, “nobody likes you when your 23.” But this track from Dopapod’s hiatus-ending album, Emit Time, puts a much more positive spin on one’s LeBron year by saying,”23 forever, and life is the best,” however tongue-in-cheek it may be. –Michael Broerman

Dirty Job (Live) – The Jauntee

What’s good: These guys are finishing up their 2019 fall tour with two more shows in 2019 and just announced a 13-date winter tour with Melvin Seals & JGB, Papadosio, moe., Spafford, and Pink Talking Fish. Make sure to catch them whenever they come close as they continue to rise in the jam scene. —Mikala Lugen

Jamiroquai – “Rock Dust Light Star”

What’s good: Because there’s never a bad time for a Jamiroquai dance party. –Kunj Shah

Random Rab – “Lives To Live”

What’s good: As the decade comes to a close, put this song on and take a reflective moment to appreciate the journey you’ve been on and how far you’ve come. We only have this present life to live, but many more lives to come. Make the most of this one right now. Cheers to the new year! –Mikala Lugen

Syd Barrett – “Terrapin”

One of my favorite moments of the recent fall Phish tour was seeing Jon Fishman (a.k.a. John Sullen Melancholy) bust out this Syd Barrett chestnut for the first time in 15 years in Pittsburgh thanks to a well-timed encore break sign request from the floor. To the sign-holders: I really love you, and I mean you. –Andrew O’Brien

David Shaw, The Gifters – “Let It Snow”

What’s good: David Shaw of The Revivalists singing Christmas songs is the best. Still not sold? Just ask the people waiting for their flights at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport a couple years back. –Sara Shah

Dolly Parton – “9 to 5”

What’s good: Dolly Parton has been at the very top of the music world for decades, and she somehow remains just as relevant in 2019 (so many dank “Jolene” memes). “9 to 5” also happens to be my go-to karaoke song. Not that you ever need a real reason to listen to Dolly. –Andrew O’Brien

Tom Misch – “Memory”

What’s good: Warm up with the tropical beats of this tune for some easy, mid-day listening as you battle winter’s chilly temps. It’s easy to get caught up in the rigmarole of life, but Tom Misch never fails to ease me into a calm mood. –Mikala Lugen

Lettuce – “Larimar”

What’s good: If you’ve followed this site, like, at all, you know that we love us some Lettuce. Can we just take a minute to appreciate the fact that Elevate, the new album that features “Larimar”, just got nominated for a Grammy?! The secret is out—Lettuce has been unf*ckwithable for decades, and the music community is taking notice. –Andrew O’Brien

Talking Heads – “Houses In Motion”

What’s good: It’s never a bad time to throw on 1979’s Remain In Light. But with the recent announcement of Turkuaz teaming up with former Talking Heads members Adrian Belew and Jerry Harrison to honor the 40th anniversary of the album at festivals across the country, it seemed like an extra-illuminated sign to throw on the art-pop band’s classic album. The opening monologue from David Byrne sounds like it could open an episode of Mindhunter. Phish does a pretty nice version, too.
—Michael Broerman

Tom Tom Club – “Wordy Rappinghood”

What’s good: All this talk about potential Talking Heads reunions (unfortunately not real) and Remain in Light anniversary shows by Adrian Belew, Jerry Harrison, and Turkuaz (fortunately very real) reminds me of my love for Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz‘s side project, Tom Tom Club. –Kunj Shah

Grateful Dead – “Ripple”

What’s good: This month, just like the Dead did at countless shows over the years, we’re leaving you with “Ripple”. Timeless, beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring. It’s perfect in every way. Let there be songs to fill the air. R.I.P., Robert Hunter. We’ll see you in January… –Andrew O’Brien

L4LM Monthly Mix – November 2019