Oh, the flood of new music. How to find the good stuff?
July 18, 2012 11:13 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to keep up with new alt/indie music that's being released? How do you discover the good stuff?

Is there a great source for charts?
Are there blogs that focus on up and coming stuff rather than just the ultra-obscure?

This question was inspired by the fact that I just NOW discovered Givers and Bear Hands, both of which I enjoy.
posted by 2oh1 to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
Ask friends with similar tastes to your own to make you a mix cd of current stuff they're enjoying.
posted by troika at 11:21 AM on July 18, 2012

Hype Machine is a good start.

There's also dozens (if not hundreds) of MP3 blogs that select stuff and link stuff from Bandcamp and Soundcloud. However, there's almost always pirated releases mixed in there, so you'll have to track them down yourself. The best way is to find one, and go through their blogroll to find ones that are still alive -- MP3 blogs usually have a v. limited lifespan due to a combination of getting shut down and loss of interest in maintaining the blog -- go on their blogroll, etc. etc. until you're satisfied.
posted by griphus at 11:21 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Prefacing this by saying that I am a fogey.

1. NPR's All Songs Considered podcast does a great job of running down the well known and interesting lesser known/"up-and-coming" bands with new releases. NPR Music also does a thing where they'll stream an entire new release, one per week or so, I believe. This can be a great way of figuring out whether you're into New Band Of The Moment. I also try to download their free SXSW showcase playlist every year.

2. Pitchfork, obvs, though their focus is a bit wide and it can be hard to narrow down which new bands to check out. But they'll have reviews of new releases and I believe you can also use their site to find out what's coming out when.

3. Via buying a couple albums on Insound, I'm now subscribed to their mailing list. Which turned out to have the surprising benefit of basically giving my email inbox a quick weekly shot of Hey Here Is What Is Happening In Music Right Now. Some local/independently owned record stores offer this, as well.
posted by Sara C. at 11:22 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have any independent radio stations in your neck of the woods? We are so lucky in MN to have AMPERS which is a coalition of independent community radio stations. Even luckier that I have one of those radio stations based just a couple miles from me at our local state university. They are always playing awesome indie stuff and music I'd never heard of before. And they stream online... ;-)

I would recommend that you try to find one of those in your area along with a locally owned music store. (Never as awesome as ours.)
posted by jillithd at 11:29 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

No Depression!
posted by peagood at 11:30 AM on July 18, 2012

Look at last year's "Best Of" lists, find the people with tastes close to yours, and read their blogs. Last.fm recommendations are pretty decent, too.
posted by spanishbombs at 11:31 AM on July 18, 2012

NPR is actually a great way. I discovered Givers when the record first came out via First Listen.

I use a number of Spotify apps for this as well. We Are Hunted is a pretty good one, Rolling Stone Recommends, The FADER.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:33 AM on July 18, 2012

First Listen. That's the thing where they stream the whole album for a limited time.
posted by Sara C. at 11:36 AM on July 18, 2012

It used to be Pitchfork for me, but these days it seems they mostly review death metal and hip-hop. NPR First Listen is good, but KCRW Album Preview is a bit hipper.
posted by matildaben at 11:42 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I find TwentyFourBit aligns well with my tastes. I also subscribed to NPR's Song of the Day feature which, alas, is discontinued for now.
posted by mlle valentine at 12:03 PM on July 18, 2012

I've always had good luck on 3hive, and they only link to full free downloads from the artist or label so you don't have to worry about accidental piracy. I'll add another vote for All Songs Considered, as well.
posted by hungrybruno at 12:04 PM on July 18, 2012

Metacritic — recent albums arranged by average score.
posted by John Cohen at 12:59 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Find a good radio station and listen to it online.
posted by headnsouth at 1:01 PM on July 18, 2012

I listen to Indie 103.1 online, but to be honest, the randomness of radio isn't what I'm looking for here, unless we're talking about a show that specifically highlights the goods.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:05 PM on July 18, 2012

I like anydecentmusic - it aggregates reviews to give an overall ranking, and you can filter by genre.
posted by piyushnz at 1:07 PM on July 18, 2012

CMJ's mixtape is pretty good, like the monthly CDs that (used to?) come with the magazine each month. It usually presents things from a range of artists and styles and often manages to get the best track off new releases.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:19 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best Indie Playlists, monthly playlist of free mp3s.
posted by xtine at 1:24 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just FYI, there used to be kinda a rhythm of one First Listen at NPR per week. Now, there are usually three or four. Right this minute: Gaslight Anthem, Passion Pit, Purity Ring, Laetitia Sadier (of Stereolab).
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:39 PM on July 18, 2012

OH! CMJ MIXTAPE! I haven't gotten CMJ disks in... uhm... a decade? I used to love them.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:40 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stereogum cover this well (while remaining fairly accessible) and have streams and a "heavy rotation" feature listing new releases.
posted by Adam_S at 1:42 PM on July 18, 2012

Spotify Spotify Spotify. I've found do much good stuff by finding a good song, seeing which other public playlists it's in, finding other good songs. Rinse and repeat - it 's even got a little of the thrill Napster or Hotline used to have - finding a stash. FADER is pretty good, too, (NME and Pitchfork all have apps within it too). I'm a total, total convert and my life is better for it.
posted by cromagnon at 3:31 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

MatildaBen is right about KCRW album preview, but definitely check out their other music blogs and shows, as well. I've found pretty much all the new music I've liked in the past two years through KCRW, Jason Bentley, et al.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:33 PM on July 18, 2012

Daytrotter sessions
posted by knile at 3:46 PM on July 18, 2012

I love I Am Fuel You Are Friends. It tends toward the singer/songwriter end of indie.
posted by maryr at 4:56 PM on July 18, 2012

Triple J (australia) trends towards indie, and their new music podcast would be worth adding to your playlist.
posted by kjs4 at 5:03 PM on July 18, 2012

seeing which other public playlists it's in

cromagnon, how do you do this? I've tried to search for the song name and then see what playlists come up, but that seems to be based on the playlist name. Is there a way to pull up all public playlists that contain a song?
posted by benbenson at 5:50 AM on July 19, 2012

I use a combination of NPR, Metacritic, Largehearted Boy, Did You Hear the New Mixtape?, Pandora and Pitchfork.
posted by nevercalm at 8:01 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love music, but I don't have the time to wade through all the new stuff that's always coming out. That means I miss out on what might be a bit more 'edgy' or 'underground' because I can't explore a particular scene, but whatever.

Anyway. I realized one day that I just didn't have time to keep up, so I searched Metacritic for bands that I already like. The White Stripes, for instance. I then read through all the reviewers of the White Stripes until I found a couple whose opinions on the band matched my own. I did this for a couple three bands.

Now I have a stable of three or four reviewers. Every couple weeks I check in to see what they've given positive reviews. It's not perfect, but these reviewers act as a pretty good filter and I've found a lot of good music this way.
posted by Tevin at 8:39 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like Brooklynvegan. The blog focuses on live shows, but often has mp3s & links to bands' sites.
posted by OrderOctopoda at 9:55 AM on July 19, 2012

I use Pitchfork and the A.V. Club.
posted by Chenko at 10:29 AM on July 19, 2012

TastemakerX is a neat iOS app that basically works like a stock market simulation for music. I've found some pretty good stuff either by just keeping an eye on trending artists or by following people with similar taste to mine and watching what they're buying/selling. It's also pretty enjoyable to buy a couple thousand shares of something I heard on All Songs Considered, wait a few weeks for the album to drop, then offload the shares for a massive play-money profit (in the past few months I've made a killing on the Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, and Japandroids and am currently waiting for my cheaply-purchased Purity Ring stock to shoot up).

In a similar vein to the "find someone with similar tastes and pay attention to what they're listening to", last.fm is pretty great. It's much more passive in that, as long as the people you're following automatically scrobble their music, you can track new stuff they find/like without them having to actively do anything. If you scrobble your own music and build up some data points, Last does a good job of recommending people with similar taste for you to follow.
posted by devnall at 11:25 AM on July 19, 2012

Finer point on NPR Music: their iOS app gives you the option of the "24-Hour Program Stream", which I use on an old iPod plugged into a dock for eclectic background music that's sometimes old, often new, and occasionally Bob Boilen.

But WNRN and WRIR program streams are often worthwhile, also.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:21 PM on July 21, 2012

WERS is also quite good during the day, until 7 PM which is ReggaeTime.
posted by maryr at 7:55 PM on July 21, 2012

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