Wednesday, 23 June 2010

10 websites for great music

It goes without saying that the advent of the internet age has made seeking out music much easier and yet at the same time much more difficult. While accessing the latest hip hop from Sri lanka or heavy metal from Kenya has never been simpler the sheer amount of music available makes it even more difficult to dissern what is actually worth listening to. One can spend countless hours online not only listening to music but talking about it, meaning that essentially anyone can be a self-made critic. This means yet more time is required to determine whose views you actually trust. Having spent several hours, days and weeks in such dialogue I feel fairly well qualified to signpost you to some sites where I think you will find music of the required quality. Its inevitably biased towards my own taste so if you can recommend other good sites please leave a link at the end of article for others to benefit from your knowledge! In no particular order my ten favourite sites are...

1. - So much more than a music blog, this site was set up by Jeff Barrett (who founded Heavenly Records), music journalist and author Robin Turner and friend Andrew Walsh. It dwells on the simple things in life - water, birdsong and friendship and uses this framework to weave in a love of films, books, music and art. While its articles are excellent the real highlight is signing up to their newsletter which ensures you are sent occassional musical compilations based around particular nature-based themes. To give a recent example a compilation of songs about birds which featured Aretha Franklin, Fleet Foxes, Mark Lanegan and Horace Andy. For those who appreciate being both excentrically British and the finer things in life.

2. - do you want to know what is really hip right now? Fact magazine probably have it covered. Focusing particularly on the electronic end of the spectrum (although they do cover guitar acts as well up to a point) they gave early coverage to Lily Allen, Flying Lotus, MIA, Florence and the Machine and Sinden (who also writes for them)to name but a few. They do a quarterly round up of the 20 best albums of the previous three months and upload a DJ mix every week. If London (or any other city for that matter) clubland is your thing, this site is for you.

3. - a chat forum - although a word of warning, don't post on this site unless you REALLY know your music. The guys who inhabit this space are serious collectors so this isn't the sort of place to check out when Jay Z's latest is coming out. If however you want to know what the best Czech Psych records are or which of those easy listening albums in charity shops are actually worth picking up then you'll while away hours here. A lot of the guys on the site know each other and meet up at various nights across the UK and beyond in London, Bristol, Copenhagen etc

4. - New York based (and slightly bizzarely, Liverpool FC fan) DJ Prestige provides what is essentially a guide to funky sounds picked up in the city. He has a particular focus on 45's and provides some fantastic mixes for download from himself and mates. If you like funk look no further - a highly professional and enjoyable blog.

5. - Set up by Bill Brewster (author of Last Night a DJ saved my Life) this is a homage to all things disco with a slight veer into bealeric house. As with Verygoodplus the forums are buzzing (although this attracts a younger dancefloor-led audience) but it also carries excellent interviews and a free monthly mix. This site provides an excellent monthly podcast as does....

6. - this is a UK/US collaboration and focuses heavily on hip hop although it covers the whole beat spectrum from funk to dubstep. A good place to hear the latest releases and tunes from recent re-issues. Yours truly featured on their last broadcast.

7. - This one is tricky because its really hard to describe their music policy. It tends to cover odd indie, lo-fi, folk and electronica. Its always been a good place to go to actually hear or download new releases for free. For the sort of person who likes to hear stuff no-one else has heard!

8. - Again, disco heavy but both old stuff and modern. There is also a fair smattering of early house and hip hop. They tend to post a few videos which is nice. Good for those who want a new dancefloor monster (although its probably going ot set you back £30 when you try and buy it on vinyl!)

9. - A bit of a curveball this one. It doesn't update very regularly but has fantastic mixes. If you are the sort of person who would enjoy a mix featuring Gal Costa, Fleetwood Mac and Public Image Limited then check.

10. - Finally for the slightly less committed musical obsessive. Pitchfork is essentially an online Mojo or Uncut magazine. If you want to know what is the current darling album of the thirty-somethings (It's Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffitti by the way) then this is your place. For people who like Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective and Caribou (which, lets be honest, is most of us).

So there you have it - happy surfing! Leave feedback on your thoughts below or post your own favourites. Over and out...

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