It’s just me in today’s special episode of the podcast. As I mention in the show, I used to do this as a blog post every year, but it just makes more sense to make it a podcast instead. I won’t spoil my list in this post, but I will give you the promised list of websites and podcasts I read and listen to.
If you listen to indie rock at all, you can’t escape Pitchfork Media. They’re occasionally aggravating, and they’re far too willing to jump on (or attempt to create) bandwagons, but they’re the most comprehensive review site for indie rock out there. They also post free and legal MP3s with many of their reviews.
Speaking of “free and legal,” that’s the mantra of the site Largehearted Boy, which also covers books.
Spinner is largely a music-news site, but they often have short interviews with bands and artists across the musical spectrum–and more importantly, they post a free MP3 every day. I don’t download everything from this site: only what sounds interesting based on their “Recommended If You Like” suggestions.
I’m not sure how many people know that Amazon has an MP3 section with a free sample nearly every day and outrageously low prices on albums the rest of the time. Amazon beats the pants off of iTunes and has little of the hipster attitude. (I stopped using iTunes over the summer after someone bought a bunch of iPad apps with my credit card and Apple refused to admit anything had happened. These things happen, and I understand that, and I don’t expect Apple to write me a blank check; an acknowledgement that this had been happening to a lot of people for several weeks would have been enough.)
If you’re not listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered, you’re probably out of the loop (or just have a vendetta against NPR). Yes, their tastes are dad-rockish, but they’re also quite broad, and when they do their periodic four-person shows, the show is great fun.
While we’re talking public radio, let me throw in a public for WNYC’s Soundcheck. This is probably the broadest source for music on this list–they cover everything from “classical” music to noise-rock. I don’t listen to them every day, but at least three times a week they do a show I’m interested in.
The other podcast called Soundcheck is run by a few guys from the Hartford Courant. Each week they review a new release (usually indie rock, though sometimes they’ll do the dance-pop every indie-rock fan but me seems to enjoy). They’re sometimes annoying, and they desperately need an editor, but they’re worth checking out.
A better music talk show comes from the Twin Cities 89.3 The Current. It’s called MusicHeads, it’s relentlessly upbeat, and it’s much tighter and more insightful than Soundcheck. It also has really fantastic theme music. (Anyone know what song that is?)
The AV Club’s AV Talk podcast covers television and movies, too, but once a month they do a massive music roundup that’s almost always worth listening to. (The television and movie podcasts are great, too!)
But the best music podcast out there comes out of WBEZ Chicago: Sound Opinions. Think of it as the music version of the much-missed At the Movies television show. Chicago’s two foremost music critics–Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot–take on a big subject and then review a couple of records every week. It’s a simple format, but I can’t imagine anyone doing it better than these guys.
Hope you enjoy some of those. And please post your comments about my rather patrician best songs list here.