Monday, October 09, 2006

Where did you hear that?

I don’t listen to radio anymore, and if on the odd chance I do, I listen to talk radio (primarily NPR). But I like finding out about new music. So where are some good places for internet-savvy folk?

Aquarium Drunkard (Aquarium Drunkard MySpace)

Good: Great music posted on a blog. Almost every day, at least two mp3s turn up. There is a little bit of everything in there, whether it be contemporary or classic rock. Most of the music is of the rock/pop variety – very little classical-classical or jazz.

Bad: Despite the fact it has an RSS feed – for whatever reason iTunes doesn’t “see” the mp3 files. You have to go to the webpage and manually download the songs. PLUS, I have NO IDEA how they get away with it. I keep expecting one day to find the website shut down with a little note saying “You came to this website – we’re coming for you NEXT!”

Format: mp3

Frequency: Random, but often

Time: One song at a time

Dallas Does Indie (Dallas Does Indie MySpace)

Good: A nice mix of independent artists, put together in one big sound file. It is like an alternarock mixtape, with the occasional piece from Louis Armstrong or other vintage jazz or blues artist.

Bad: Sometimes the episode is a repeat – but that isn’t all that bad, really.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Weekly

Time: About 30 minutes


Good: One of the best theme-based music podcasts. Brian Ibbott is one of the most personable podcasters out there. This is truly Brian's love, and that shines through. Usually, there are six songs per show, and sometimes there is a thematic link between the songs.

Bad: Brian says um a lot. You may choose to think of this as a charming foible.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Two to three times a week

Time: Thirty minutes to an hour

Not Lame Podcast

Good: Coverville’s Brian Ibbott puts together a list of catchy power pop songs for people to listen to. He chats between songs and is seems less like a podcast than like a cool friend playing you some choice tracks from his CD collection.

Bad: One of my buddies says you can make a drinking game out of how many times Brian says a song sounds like it was influenced by Elvis Costello.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Sorta Monthly

Time: Thirty to forty-five minutes

NPR's Song of the Day

Good: Oh how I love it when people with great taste pass along good music. If I haven’t liked the song, I have at least respected it as a representation for a genre.

Bad: This is all streamed media so you have to go to the NPR website and click the “Listen” button. You can’t download or load up your.mp3 player with this music. There are no links to the iTunes listing for the song, the Amazon listing for the album or the artist’s web site.

Format: Streaming

Frequency: Updated Daily

Time: One pop song length

NPR’s “All Songs Considered” Podcast.

Good: Full-on live concerts from beginning to end. Usually about an hour’s worth of music.

Bad: All the problems with live recording – the sound quality isn’t always the best. The crowd cheering and singing along tends to dominate the music. Sometimes the concerts are not mixed well (in particular, the drums tend to drown out the singer). In between song banter isn’t always entertaining. Because it is an hour, the file size is really, really large.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Sorta Weekly

Time: One concert – usually a half-hour to an hour

KUT’s Austin Music Minute

Good: Austin is a great place for live music. Every day, KUT gives the equivalent of a one-minute shout-out to a band.

Bad: Sometimes one minute just isn’t enough. Right when the song gets good, the podcast ends. This is essentially a commercial for a live show playing somewhere in Austin.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Daily Monday through Friday

Time: One minute EXACTLY

KUT’s Radio witout Borders Live Music Podcast

Good: A nice mix of local and national acts playing live in KUT’s studios.

Bad: The fidelity of the recordings isn’t the best because KUT’s recording equipment is just average. But this is incredibly nitpicky.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Weekly

Time: About half an hour

New York Times Popcast

Good: The staff of the New York Times do what they do in the paper – interview bands and review albums. Only this time, it is an audio version and it includes snippets from the songs so you can hear when they’re talking about when they tell you Jessica Simpson’s new album is “total crapola.”

Bad: Like all music critics, these people are very opinionated and occasionally very, very wrong. Also, you don’t get whole songs as much as song snippets with critics talking over them.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Weekly

Time: About 15 to 20 minutes.

Dallas Observer Music Blog

Good: Full mp3s of Dallas-based musicians that are posted willy-nilly in the Dall Observer’s blog.

Bad: Not updated regularly and can’t sync up with a podcast reader like iTunes. You have to read the blog entry (which may or may not be related to the song) and then manually download the song.

Format: mp3

Frequency: Whenever they feel like it

Time: One song at a time


Good: Lots of electronic music strung together for hours.

Bad: Lots of electronic music strung together for hours.

Format: Podcast

Frequency: Various – there are several different podcasts on the site, and they all say they are different, but to be completely honest, I cannot tell the difference between trance and emo and high-energy trip hop. It is all thump thump thump with some keyboards thrown in. It all sounds like the time Strong Bad made a techno song. The main reason I listen to these podcasts is to give me ideas on how to use the Sony Acid software package I own.

Time: Various, but most of them last an hour

Where I don’t go


MySpace is a great place to connect with bands after you’ve found them, but it is not a good space to explore and find new bands. Here’s why – the MySpace player is fundamentally flawed. If you want to listen to a song, you cannot navigate away from the particular MySpace page without the song stopping. To be completely honest, what MySpace page merits 3 to 5 minutes worth of attention? Puh-leese.

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