Remember the guy in high school who had the latest music from bands you had never heard of who got pissy when the bands became popular? And remember him saying, "I knew them first, but now they suck," as if mass consumption somehow spoiled the music? Well, as much as I would like to deny huge chunks of my past, I was once part of that squadron of music geeks who pilfered through stacks of music magazines and records, like***image2*** toothless prospectors in the Sierra Nevada looking for that rare untouched gem of sound. No, things haven't changed much since those days. I still search and I'm still a snob, but now there are more places to discover the newest musical masterpieces.
I consider myself lucky to live in an age in which a music goober like myself can pour his soul out into the ubiquitous shit-storm of highly questionable information known as the blogosphere. Like a French pig in search of truffles, I spend hours scouring the Internet for a band that deserves to be lifted into the daylight. OK, so it's not that dramatic but, in truth, when it comes to the search for new music, blogs serve as perfect launchpads.
Every year some of the most compelling music goes unnoticed by large media outlets and promotion can be a costly hassle. But, under the watchful eyes of thousands of bloggers, many unknown bands get their first real exposure via uploaded MP3s or blurbs on personal blogs or online versions of magazines. But be warned: Blogs can be an infuriating waste of time. Most are largely unedited and rants, wrong information and overwhelming bias can taint the reader's experience. Still, if you know where to look-and your bullshit radar is fully functional-you might find the next great band or underground stalwart.
If you're going to write about music, life begins here. Billboard is ground zero for music news; it charts sales, outlines trends in music and forecasts new releases without a ton of lifestyle fluff. Its blog by the "jaded insider" provides first-person accounts of music events and new releases. For a trade magazine, Billboard is a very readable source for new music.
Hype Machine isn't actually a blog. Rather, it's a collection of quickly updated posts from other sites. The genius of The Hype Machine is its vast representation of music genres. The reviews may not be the strongest but, again, the site's overall value is the sheer exposure it offers to an untapped catalog of various musical styles.
Sasha Frere-Jones is, arguably, the most important music critic currently being published. His post at The New Yorker is an enviable perch, but it's his mastery in contextualizing music with the culture at-large and his ability to, literally, find new bands that make his personal blog posts a definite stop for music aficionados.
What does critical theory have to do with 50 Cent? Everything, according to Jane Dark (Joshua Clover). The poet, musician, scholar and professor is as hilarious as he is intellectually cunning. Much like Frere-Jones, Clover examines music through a holistic pop culture lens, but with piercing prose.
The very DNA of music is evolving around us, and it's no small task to understand exactly how it's evolving and what it's becoming. The name Digital Music News might connote electronica music-well at least to me-but in reality, this blog not only examines all types of music and musicians, but also the impact of ancillary music technologies like podcasts and satellite radio.
Stereo Gum is what I like to call the "evolved blog" in that it functions the same way as a traditional blog, (frequent updates, reader feedback, etc.), but with a healthy dose of downloadable MP3s and a section called "Band to Watch" that consistently introduces and supports great new music.
OK, I'm going to backpedal a little bit here. If you avoid the hand-job music reviews, the online version of Rolling Stone magazine still, on occasion, manages to find some of the best music being recorded. The reality of Rolling Stone is that it's too big to ignore and, like Billboard, it's a living and current music encyclopedia.
This is one of my favorite indie sites. Whereas
is a state university, Bear is a private liberal arts college of music review. The site also has a huge list of links to other music blogs.
Silly name, but solid reportage and views. It's New York-centric in its coverage, but still has a good overall scope.
This isn't a shameless plug; this blog is what the underground sewers are to Paris: functional, beautiful and worthy of a meandering tour through an artistic civilization.