With the plethora of music blogs out there, it’s hard to know who to trust when looking for guidance on a music-seeking quest. Sure, we have Pitchfork to thank for providing us with pretty comprehensive coverage of the indie genre and all that goes along with it, but when it comes to finding free, legal downloads and music a bit more off the beaten path, where do you turn? As someone who follows a large catalog of music blogs, I can say that a majority of them are somewhat repetitive. I used to read 10 or so on a regular basis and then realized most of the material they covered was all encapsulated on Pitchfork, which saves the musically curious a lot of work.
If Pitchfork isn’t your bag, your tastes are entirely too niche-oriented, or you don’t want to follow the pack and expose yourself to the mainstream of hipster media, I suggest trying out the following sites, which are some of my go-to blogs for discovering new music. This is by no means a comprehensive list and only focuses on a few genres in particular, but it’s worth a look if you’re looking to expand your blog horizons.
I’m going to start right off the bat with one of my favorite newly-discovered music blogs, Indie Shuffle, which provides a nice mix of indie and electronic music coverage. My favorite thing about this site is the media player, which operates in the vein of a service such as Pandora. If you find a blogger or genre you like, you can listen to more songs in that genre or more of that blogger’s recommendations via playlists they have created for the blog. Each song is also accompanied by a description, which is immensely helpful when you discover a song or artist you don’t know much about. I can’t say much else about the blog yet because I’ve only been using it for a week, but I’ve already discovered a hell of a lot more new music via this site than I have through most of the blogs I follow on a consistent basis.
Next on my blog-dar is PMA, or Pretty Much Amazing. Sometimes this blog drops breaking news before Pitchfork, so I find it to be an important one to keep up with. A lot of the content overlaps, but PMA is still one worth following because unlike Pitchfork, they provide tons of links to totally legal, free downloads. They also have a contest going on right now for a chance to win two three-day passes to Lollapallooza. I am so on top of that.
Some Kind of Awesome is rather similar to PMA, and probably falls right behind that blog in terms of how much I read it vs. others. Similar coverage to pitchfork, though more of a variety. Free music downloads. Other than the embarrassingly bad logo/header, this blog is pretty fab. In fact, I kinda like the tackiness.
While I might be veering away from blog-territory and more into the realm of online magazines, I find it necessary to mention Stereogum. They have exclusive interviews and frequently produce playlists that you can download entirely for free. Not five-song playlists, either. I’m talking like 30-60 songs a pop. Any time these cats release a new playlist, I’m on top of it, and you should be too if you want to keep up. Bonus points for the Facebook sharing. I enjoy seeing what my friends have shared from sites I read frequently.
Since we’re already on the topic, Prefix Magazine is another fantastic online resource. Definitely a runner-up after Stereogum in terms of a more mag-focused approach to covering music online. Not too heavy on the downloads, but they do have a media player and often have exclusive coverage/access to artists that I dig.
Moving on to more niche-oriented blogs, specifically bleepy bloops, I could go with the obvious choice of XLR8R or RA, or I could come at you with something even more abstract, like teshno, Altered Zones or Disco Naievete, which is pissing me off right about now with their special characters. Peep those three if you want to work for your music. I would compare those blogs to the experience of bargain shopping. You either like to dig or you don’t. Some people would rather shop at the mall and have everything laid out neatly and folded to the T. I personally enjoy the hunt of finding a $200 dress for $20.
We can’t forget the local blogs, of which there are many. I pop in on them from time to time to see what they’re up to, but the only two that seem to consistently impress me are Draw Us Lines and The Pittsburgh Scene. Draw Us Lines provides great coverage of the indie/folk/alt rock scene in Pittsburgh, while The Pittsburgh Scene is more like a directory for all that is Pgh music. It’s rather comprehensive, offers free downloads, and is a great resource for information on local bands. Both blogs are avid supporters of the scene here, so be sure to support them in return.
I think I’ve provided enough resources to get started. If you want to be up on current music, there are certainly other ways to do so, but none are quite as free as convenient as the world of bloggin’.