| Sunday, May 28, 2006
| TWENTY FIVE BEST MUSIC WEBSITES
|1. ITUNES Praising iTunes is like endorsing chocolate and puppies; well, duh. Even so,any discussion of music on the Web has tos tart here. With uts supersize catalog (more than 2 million tracks), fair pricing, and any-idiot-can-figure-it out interface., it's most people's first stop for downloading the latest Kelly Clarkson single or Mairah Carey remix. Since it launced in 2003, iTunes has trounced its competititors,capturing close to 75 percent of the marketplace and selling more than a billion tracks.
But while everyone knows iTunes is big, fewer people realize how useful it can be for findingnew tunes.Start with its top 100 downloads -- updated daily -- and you'll see an instant, direct reflection of American musical tastes: the newest Dixie Chicks single; surprise emo phenoms Panic! At the Disco; that Daniel Powter song tha'ts on American Idol every week.
2. EMUSIC.COM This underappreciated, expertly crated MP3 stoe is themusic geek's alternative to ITunes. It's packed with fantastic choices, and at $9.99 a month for 40 downloads, it's a great deal. Emusic sells tunes only from independent labels, which means you won't find most current pop hits here. But spend some time sifting through it's 1.2 million tracks - including new stuff from Neko Casr and Spoon and classic by Johnny Cash and Otis Redding - and you won't care. Best of all, the site's sharp editorial team steers you toward the good stuff with articles on the best Parisian jazz or the lastest Brazilian pop. And their "Dozens" lists are essential 12-album starting points in categories like "boomer-friendly rock", or "English folk", or "old-school punk".
3. PANDORA.COM Pefect for anyone who likes surprises. Pandora is a wizardly website that lests you customize a radio station to fit your own tastes. After logging in, users type in the name of a song or a band (the Beatles, for example); then Pandora uses a complex mathematical algorithm to find tracks matching the Liverpool lads' musical characteristics. In addition to Fab Four songs, our station came up with some Kinks and Stones, lots of obscure '60s nuggests, and unexpected contemporary acts like the Pernice Brothers.
4. RHAPSODY.COM If other MP3 stores leave you hungry, tuck into thismusical buffet. Pop gluttons will love Rhapsody's all-you-can-eat subscription service, which lets you download as many songs as you like for $9.99 a month. (Though the tracks will vanish from your hard drive when you stop paying. And it won't work with an iPOd). Another draw is the playlists, the most creative and well thought out of any MP3 store. Their genre mixes go way beyond the obvious into left-field genres like "pub-rock explosion" and "80s paisely underground". And somebody on staff obviously has a sense of humor. "Yatch rock" features smoot-sailing soft pop (Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald) fit for a day of sipping Cape Coddrs down at the marina.
5. MYSPACE.COM There's lot to dislike about MySpace. It's uglier than a Commodore 64, the music tracks are slow to load, and it has been co-opted by record labels, which pay for prime placement. Still, with more than 1.8 million bands offering their own homepages, it's impossible to ignore - it seems like every act you've ever heard of (and countless unsigned acts you haven't) posts free songs here. Read about a band? Head to MySpace and you're basically guarantedd to get something for your time; a prerelease album preview, a new single, oreven a raw demo. Weezer and Nine Inch Nails debuted their latest albums here, and Fred Durst recently posted a rant about former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland. Maybe that't not a compelling advertisement, but hey, there are at least 999.999 non-Durst bands on there, too.
6. THE LIVE MUSIC ARCHIVE archieve.org/audio/etree.php The utopian ideal of the '60s thrives on thsi free concert swapping forum, where the old Grateful Dead tape-trading community has set up shop. But there's far more here than the latest Phil Lesh & Friends show. Ryan Adams, Jack Johnson,a nd Death Cab for Cutie are just a few of the nearly 2,000 bands with concerts on teh nonprofit stie.
7. STEREOGUM.COM Like a snarky best friend, this blog is the prime Web destination for rock and roll gossip and breaking Britney news. Despite its trashy celeb obsession and often goofy tone, themusic is no joke. Stereigum picks next-hot-bands with uncanny accuracy.(Current choice: the folk-pop of Beirut). Count on the site to point you toward the latest indie-rock crushes (Sufjan Stevens) fun covers (the Postal Service do Phil Collins) and prerelease singles from the likes of Kanye West.
8. TURNTABLELAB.COM The beat junkies at this Web store are intenselt dedicated cool-hunters, combing the globe for the latest obscure mash-up mixtape from Belgium, the rarest dub-reggae compilation from Jamaica, and underground hip-hop MCs from Brooklyn whom everyone will be raving about six months from now.Stock up on mix CDs drwan from their cache of hard-to-find music before your nest party and prepare to move the furniture.
9. KCRW'S AND KEXP'S SOMG OF THE DAY KRCW.com and KEXP.org Imagine booting up the computer every morning and finding a free new MPs on your hard drive from the Shins, post-punk legends Gang of Four, or inide-pop singer Jenny Lewis. Yhat's the appeal of these podcasts offered by Santa Monica's KCRW and Seattle's KEXP, two quality public stations that have updated NPR's boomer slant for the blog generation.
10. FLUXBLOG.ORG Site founder Matthew Perpetua has been posting MP3s nearly evert day since 2002, which makes him a veteran on the scene. His expereince has horned his audioblogging skills. Biased toward anything catchy and upbeat, Fluxblog islike an aural dose of Saint-John's-wort. Visitors can expect shiny dance-pop (Scissor Sisters), hard to find remixes (Hot chips' remake of Gorillaz's "Kids with Guns") and plenty of Kylie Minogue style disco princesses (Rboyn), all along before they hit back and mortar stores.
11.SMITHSONIANGLOBALSOUND.ORG The best program since the New Deal., this site opens up the Smithsonia's massive archieve of ethnological recordings. It's an astoundign resource for world music fans, who can instantly sample, download, or buy CDs of jaunty Carribean calypso, epic Indian ragas or coraking Uzbeki bards (yes, that's a good thing). And folk music obsessives will drool over the unrivaled collection of exclusive Americana. A sampling of Alan Lomax's famous field recordings can be found here, along with Moses Asch's Folkways collection of legends like Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, and Son Haus.
12. NPR'S 'ALL SONGS CONSIDERED' PODCAST NPR.org The radio network for the Volvo set actually has a lot more music to offer than Norah Jones and Garrison Keillor. Just listen to gentle-voiced host Bob Boilen, who each week briefly introuces a noteworthy new release, then plays an entire track or two. And unlike many podcasts, the focus here is on playing music, not talking about it. Expect lots of songs from dad-rock favourite like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, but Boilen also spotlights newer groups such as the Concrete and the Raconteurs in other words, it'll make your station wagon the coolest.
13. SOUL-SIDES.COM Run by a vinyl obsessive in California named Oliver Wang. Soul-Sides posts free MP3s of ultra-rate funk and soul, often from his personal collection of dusty 7-inches (We're talking really of rare stuff. Heard of the Romano Mussolini Trio? Didn't think so) A professor in his nonvirtual life, Wang also likes to educate his readers, offering history lessons on boscurities sampled in modern hip-hop hits.
14. I LOVE MUSIC ILXOR.com For the uninitiated, this message board can be an uninviting place. Threads are often filled with obscure Web slang, vicious flaming, and know-it-all 'tude. But it's also an amazing place to learn about music, both new and old. Fierce debate takes up the bulk of the bandwidth, often leading to some of the most intelligent music talk around (many posters are music critics) Last year's long running thread on Sri Lanka born rapper M.I.A. to pick one example was worthy of a grad school seminar.
15. MIXUNIT.COM Unless you live in a city with a thriving street vendor scene, this is your best choice for staying up-to-date with the who's who (and who hates who) of the hip-hop universe. That's because Mix Unit offers a massive selection of "Official" mixtapes-artists sanctioned CDs that fall in a legal gray area - where hungry rhyme spitters and established rappers try out their latest materials and went vent their anger. Did you hear that Cam'ron mixtape where he dissed Jay Z for wearing open toed mandals?
16. PITCHFORK Pitchforkmedia.com A website people love to dis. It's dense review often are overwritten, underedicted thickets of pretentious prose. The attitude? Frequently flip, mean, and smarmy. Grudgingly, however, we admit that the Chicago based site has become a tastemaking institution that's impossinble to ignore. When it anoints an obscure band with a glowing review - as it did with a then unknown Arcade Fire - we pay attention.
17. RADIO DAVID BYRNE davidbyrne.com/radio We're dying for a Talking Heads reunion, but we'd be bummed if it took Byrne away from this fascinating monthly show. Each program is based on a theme: "Latin Rock" or "Rednecks" Racists, and Reactionaries: Country Classics" or the unexpected "All Missy Elliott". He also pens related essays that are as insightful as you'd expect from the pop smarty.
18. INSOUND.COM An Amazon type megastore for hipsters. Insound makes it simple to explore the newest indie boomlet or Brit-rock trend. Most folks come for underground and impotant only CDs that iTunes or the local Best Buy does'nt stock, but we're also partial to the excellent in-house music stream, whci is a great summary of what's on college radio stations nationwide. Recent selections included Nick Drake soundlike Jose Gonzalez, raunchy Baltimire rappers Spank Rock, and lo-fi bizzarro folkies Wooden Wand. If you hear anything you like, buy it with an easy mouse click.
19. LEMON-RED.ORG This audioblog is the cheapest and easiest way to experience the hedonistic thrill of a sweaty late night dance club without paying a cover, risking a hangover, or even leaving your sofa. Every month, expect a susbtantial new set from such DJs as Montreal's Ghislain Poirier and Rhode Island's Certified Bananas. No single genre dominates Southren hip-hop, Jamaican dancehall and old-school funk have all been tackled though a mash-up aesthetic dominates. Never heard the Beach Boys, Young Jeezy, and Black Sabbath in a single hip grinding mix? Time to log on.
20. MUSIC.FOR-ROBOTS.COM A blog run by eight different people, which explains its broad, unclassifable taste. Minimalist techno, ragged indie rock, spiky post punk, and earthly hip-hop all make regular appearances on the slikcly designed site, whcih posts a couple of MP3s a day. May's highlights include a song from Texas born chanteuse Jollie Holland's new album, a prerelease Sufjan Stevens track and a stunning oysch folk meditation by singer Findlay Brown, who just became our favorite new artist. That is until we visit again.
21. WOXY.COM A casualty of FM radio consolidation, Cincinanati's WOXY went off the air in 2004, but it soon reemerged on the Web. The delivery sustem might have changed, but the message has'nt. WOXY remains dedicated to alternative acts like the Walkmen and Bloc Party. Also check out their "vintage" stream, where Generation-Xers can reminisce to a soundtrack of the Smiths, R.E.M, and otehr not-so-modern "modern rock" acts.
22. LITTLE STEVEN'S UNDERGROUND GARAGE littlestevensundergroundgarage.com On his weekly online radio show, Springsteen and Tony Soprano sideman Steven Van Zandt is the nation's premier priest of garage rock, spreading the gospel of no frills, first pumping rock and roll. Punctuating the music with his hepcat patter, Little Steven spins old school fuzz rock (The Yardbirds, the Kinks) their 21st century descendants (the White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys) and anyone who thinks less is more, gritty is good, and louder is better.
23. BBC RADIO BBC.co.uk/radio Don't let the Atlantic Ocean get between you and the world's most respected radio network. The Beebs website offers extensive free radio streams and podcasts, making it a must bookmark for all Anglophiles. Shows dedicated to only in England genres such grime, U.K. grage, and Northern soul are plentiful, along with live in studio sessions from hit bands like Snow Patrol Dance Music sets from DJs Giles Pereron, Judge Jules and Pete Tong bring London's famed nightlife to your PC and Steve Lamacqs influential weekly show is the place to hear the next Franz Ferdinand well before thy're on Saturday Night Live.
24. AOL MUSIC'S LISTENING PARTY AND MTV'S THE LEAK Music.AOL.com.MTV.com Ever felt bad about illegally downloading a leaked album weeks before its official release? Now you don't have to. This pair of sites lets you hear streams of the latest from Pearl Jam or Bruce Sprinsteen without any of the guilt. MTV's focuses on TRL types like Nick Lachey, while AOL's offering are a little more wide reaching.
25. DUSTY GROOVE AMERICA Dustygroove.com After you've burned out on Miles and Coltraine, expand your jazz listening habits at this Chicago based site. Full of bebop oddities, avant jazz imports and little known swing composers. Dusty Groove boasts a connoisseur friendly selection that's impeecable and far flung. Whether you want to explore Hungarian violin fusion ((Csaba Deseo) or Brazilian funk (Deodato), it's there. Beyond jazz, Dusty Groove carries plenty of curios for the open minded, including unusual sould reissures, kitchy sountracks and lots of Afro Latin gooves.
(Source: ENTERTAINMENTWEEKLY: Summer Music Preview)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 1:43 PM