With the arrival of Spotify in the US, there’s been plenty of commentary over the past couple of months about online music consumption, with endless profiles of competing services, all focused on working out which one is going to rule the online musical roost. This is all very well, but the subject has been done to death, and anyway, none of these pieces seem to focus on our favorite way to find new tunes: specialist music blogs. The oldest MP3 blogs have been around for nearly a decade now, and this means that some of them have had time to accumulate some pretty remarkable libraries of sounds. Visiting these is like going to some crazy eclectic record shop full of esoteric stuff you’ve never heard of, and spending all day on the record player there. (Savvy artists, incidentally, have also cottoned onto these blogs as a way of getting heard by music lovers — many of them accept demos these days). Ten of our favorites are after the jump.
What you’ll find there: Psych, drone, genres you’ve never heard of
We mentioned this one a while back in our post about where you might look for experimental music in the aftermath of the demise of the much-loved Arthur magazine. Since then, its library has only got more comprehensive. If you like strange, whacked-out guitar music — from kosmische obscurities to foundation-threatening apocalyptic drone sounds — then this is a veritable gold mine of goodness, but there’s also everything from nasty hip-hop to French pop. If we had to pick one music blog to connect to on a desert island, it’d be this one.
What you’ll find there: Reviews, new and old
This puts the “blog” back in music blog, with some pretty in-depth and thoughtful writing about the music that’s on show. There’s plenty of new music — the blog accepts demo submissions and promo CDs — and also a variety of suitably esoteric older sounds. It’s hard to believe that the whole thing is run by one guy out of a house in Omaha — sometimes, people’s passion for music is both inspiring and humbling.(Incidentally, most of the blog archive is still at its old Blogspot address — it only moved to Tumblr recently.)
What you’ll find there: Oodles of hip-hop
More hip-hop than you can shake the proverbial stick at. Seriously. And various other stuff to boot. This blog is out of control. In a very, very good way.
What you’ll find there: All sorts of weird shit
This covers similar territory to Know Your Conjurer, and is arguably even more esoteric and out-there than its soulmate. Holy Warbles focuses less on guitars and more on… well, actually, its mission statement speaks for itself: “78 revelations, ethniquities, gospelarians, librarians, gloops, gleeps, magnetique tape, ost, dmt, kvlt, spectral string bands, psychedelique funkenfuzz, songbirds, disembodied voices, tape echo, plate reverb, lepyrlymns, field recordings, holy ghosts of electricity & cloven tongues of fire.”
What you’ll find there: Vintage dub, roots reggae, rocksteady
This particular Flavorpill writer has always always loved the sounds of Jamaica, perhaps because of the fact that the soundtrack to The Harder They Come was on constant rotation throughout childhood. This blog is perfect for anyone with similar tastes, eschewing the harder-edged sounds of 2000s dancehall for more the laid-back, leisurely grooves of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
What you’ll find there: Bollywood!
This blog started its life a few years back as a personal project for a Bollywood fanatic to digitize all his old vinyl. Since then, it’s grown into the best resource for vintage Indian film music on the internet, bar none — if you’re partial to the gloriously strange world of Indian soundtracks, this will be a source of constant joy. The only disclaimer: unfortunately, it’s not being updated any more, and download links aren’t being renewed. But still, there’s much, much goodness to be had.
What you’ll find there: Awesome tapes. From Africa.
Things that are amazing about the 21st century, vol. 23558074: the fact that a bookish white dude from Brooklyn called Brian Shimkovitz can be the curator of what’s probably the single best archive of esoteric African music on the entire internet. Awesome Tapes from Africa is just what its name says — digitized copies of tapes that either Shimkovitz or his ever-increasing number of fans find. There’s really no way to know what any of it is — just pick something and download at random. It’s like a lucky dip into the music of an entire continent, from the Arabic-influenced sounds of the Maghreb right down to the mbaqanga of South Africa.
What you’ll find here: Soul and funk
Rejoice! You just found the funk!
What you’ll here: Old 78rpms
Not a blog about Steve Albini — the shellac of the title refers to the material old records were made out of. If you’ve ever seen Ghost World, this is basically like a visit to Steve Buscemi’s character’s home — a seemingly limitless supply of strange music on old 78rpm records from around the world. The project encompasses discs from as far afield as Afghanistan, Tadjikistan, and Tahiti — they all make for fascinating, horizon-expanding listening.
What you’ll find here: Sun Ra. Lots of Sun Ra.
And finally, the most specialist music blog you’ll probably ever see: a whole blog about Sun Ra. Seriously. If you’re a fan, this place will have you jumping for joy — if not, you’ve just stumbled across the best way to investigate the work of one of the 20th century’s most constantly fascinating musicians.