Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Music? The Best of Internet Radio

We've all spent plenty of time perusing the web for music. Between whatever band's MySpace, PureVolume or site player you've clicked on, there's no shortage of tunes to hear. But what about when you just want some new music? Maybe something that sounds like you're favorite group, but isn't. You could spend an eternity clicking through, and giving a listen to, that band's "friends," or you could hit some internet radio tailored to your tastes. Below are a list of some sites to help you find just what you're looking for.

Pandora - Everyone's favorite. Pandora is free and super easy to use. Just create an account, put together a station based on the bands that you love and get listening. You can pause songs, skip ahead if you wish and design a
multitude of stations depending on your listening tastes.

Pandora's site is uncluttered and easy on the eyes - a godsend in the online music world. The songs play back to back with no ridiculous popup ads stopping the flow. Occasionally they throw in an audio ad between songs, but hey, everybody's got to make a buck.

For the most part, we like Pandora. They've put together a fluent site that really does play music geared toward your tastes, given the artists you've selected. I can't tell you how many awesome bands I've found from Pandora. It's a great tool to broaden your horizons without leaving your scene.

Grooveshark - Welcome to internet radio based on the idea of creating your own playlist. Grooveshark strays from
Pandora in that it allows you to not only choose your artist, but your song. You put together your own playlist. This works nicely if you're only interested in a few songs by various artists, or are looking to preview an album that you're thinking of buying.

A plus for Grooveshark has got to be the "no contract" policy. You don't need to create an account to get started listening. Simply type in what you want, and away you go. Best part is, the site saves what you listened to last time you were there, and always asks if you'd like your playlist restored when you return.

Of course, you can create your own library, too. You can mark off your favorite songs, search for just about anybody, and pause and start without hesitation. Oh, and major kudos for no audio advertisements. - Again, another easy to use music site. You can listen, regardless of whether or not you have an account. Just type in the name of an artist you want to hear, and let do the rest. You'll hear the band you typed in first, then they'll take you through a slew of other artists that usually fit your tastes.

If you do choose to log in, you can comment on any of the songs and connect with other listeners on the site. Plus you can save stations, making it super easy to cater your listening tastes at any time.

The best part? If you're a multimedia lover like myself, you'll dig the fact that every song also comes along with a little slideshow of pictures of the band you're listening to. Oh, fancy...

Your local record store - Let's face it people, sometimes you've just got to step away from the computer. If you dare, and you're still feeling that urge for new music, check out your local indie record store. They're no doubt going to have some sort of free sampler CD with your name on it.

I've managed to find a few real gems through the old sampler CD method. I'd say I probably average about two awesome bands for every 10 I hear that way. Not too bad considering no one is secretly linking to my Facebook account to find out my favorite bands. Yeah, I'm talking about you creepy internet radio. But hey, I still love you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Indie Christmas - Part II

Hi again. I know I've been distant lately, but that's because I've been working on a tattoo project for a local Boston website. It's been a wild ride, and I lost track of time pretty quick.

But I was able to take a break from all that last weekend to join the festivities for this year's Record Store Day. If you remember back to last year, I spent the day running around north of Boston with a friend of mine - we'll call him Joseph, hitting a few independent record stores for deals and free swag. Well since then, April 17, 2010 has been on our radar.

And this year didn't disappoint. The same deals were in place - 30 percent off used CDs and 20 percent off vinyl.

Joseph and I were up bright and early. In fact, we were at Newbury Comics in Burlington (a great starting point, might I add) a few minutes before it opened. We found ourselves 18th and 19th in line. As soon as doors opened we made a dash toward the table of free swag, while the rest of the crowds hit the newly released vinyl bays.

We ended up making out with a whole bunch of nice garb from the first stop including the Terrible Things 7-inch release (Fred Mascherino's new band), a signed CD booklet from The Almost and a few pint glass decorated with sugar skulls. Dia de los Muertos, what?!

From Burlington we headed to Boston. Being Record Store Day, it would have been a sin not to hit the original Newbury Comics on, you guessed it, Newbury Street. So much free swag there. We both scored some sick Anberlin posters as well as a ton of free sampler CDs. I even splurged and bought myself a used copy of Saosin's self-titled album. What a treat.

Next was a quick stop at the NC near Faneuil Hall where we loaded up on more free swag. Some more pint glasses, a few guitar picks and a poster or two and we were out the door.

It was lunch time so we decided to hit Spike's Junkyard Dogs and try our hand at their eating challenge. Let's just say a half hour of straight eating salty hot dogs wrapped in sub rolls was enough to make us immobile for a while. But we beat the challenge, got our pictures on the wall and earned our free t-shirts. Score!

By this time it was late afternoon and we had one mission left. Hightail it to NC in Norwood for the free Circa Survive performance at 4. We made it there in record time. After scoring some free swag, vinyl hunting and using the bathroom once or twice, we were ready for Circa.

As we were waiting by the side of the stage, Joseph noticed some guy touching his shoulders and apologizing for "crop dusting" us. It was none other than Anthony Green, Circa's dapper lead singer. Joseph was in shock, as was I.
Seriously, who gets farted on by Anthony Green? Only us.

A few minutes later and Anthony... er, Tony was back to apologize again. He hung with us for a few minutes and we had quite the deep conversation. We talked about everything from the hot dogs we just murdered to treating people fairly. Oh, and we posed for a few pics with the rock god himself. It was wild.

Circa killed it acoustic, of course. And after that was over, well, we couldn't top that. Our holiday was finished and we retreated to the comforts of my apartment complex to organize our swag, make fun of each other and watch Panic(!) Room. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

I can't say I'll be living up here in Boston this time next year, but I can promise that no matter what I'll be making the trip back for Record Store Day 2011. Only 360 days left!

Oh, and if you're interested in getting your hands on some of that swag I grabbed, keep checking back to Backstage Press. I'll be giving some of it away in the coming weeks!
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