What music can't you live without?
October 7, 2005 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm bored of the radio. Where do I go from here?

To put it bluntly, I just can’t listen to the radio anymore. The only options around here are Top 40, Rock, Country or Oldies, and the formulaic music and incessant advertising and chatter have finally driven me away. Thank you very much Corus Entertainment. In addition, in Canada there are no satellite radio vendors yet, so that’s not an option for me.

I guess that I’m used to being force-fed my music though, and now browsing through iTunes and the like, I really don’t know where to start. I have varied tastes in music, although my preference these days is leaning more and more towards electronic music, specifically trance and ambient. I’ll listen to just about anything besides country music though, so I’m willing to expand into other genres.

To give you a rough idea of my CD collection, the artists that get the most play right now include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Soundgarden, Man With No Name, old David Bowie, Rush and The Tragically Hip (for my fellow Canucks).

So, fellow Filtarians, this is your chance to rave about your favorite song, album or artist. What music can’t you live without?
posted by WinnipegDragon to Media & Arts (28 answers total)
To address only the first part of your question, if you tilt to trance and ambient, Digitally Imported radio has some fine Internet streams. Catch Armin van Buuren on Thursday on the Trance channel. There are ways of making these streams more portable too. With a decent size iPod or equivalent you can create your own radio station, to find some novelty, try icuemix to intelligently build a playlist using iTunes.
posted by grahamwell at 7:19 AM on October 7, 2005

Internet radio is the way to go. My personal favorite is Yahoo Music, because you can create your own radio station, and as you rate more songs, artists, albums, whatever, it refines the music delivered to you on your station. You can also choose what ratio of already rated to unrated music you want, so you can skew it to give you more of your favorite songs, or more new stuff. Disclaimer: I have Yahoo DSL, which I think lets me listen for an unlimited time. If you're using their free version you may have a limited number of hours per day that it will let you listen. I'm not sure.
posted by MsMolly at 7:30 AM on October 7, 2005

To take your taste further in the direction of Rush, try some other tech/math/prog/post bands:

* Hella - spastic, spasmodic, fast, brilliantly inventive one-second-attention-span math rock. Try the second track on Hold Your Horse Is for a good sample

* Slint - invented three genres: math rock, space rock and (bar King Crimson), post rock. Beautiful, slow, heartfelt, rhythmically and texturally inventive, meandering songs. Try Good Morning, Captain off of Spiderland.

Alternatively, go to Epitonic and look up your favourite bands, then look at the Similar Artists section. They have free, legal mp3s to try. I found out about so much cool music through this site.

My favourite song? Complicated, by Heavens To Betsy, an early 90s riot-grrl band.

Good luck! I am so pleased to hear of one more person turning their back on commercial music and actively seeking out the music they love.
posted by pollystark at 7:32 AM on October 7, 2005

The two albums I can't live without? Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children and Talking Heads' More Songs About Buldings and Food.

According to your musical tastes, you'll probably like Boards of Canada (they've got a new album coming out soon). The Talking Heads album might be a stretch (but a damn good stretch with the tightest rhythm section this side of your favorite funk recording).
posted by viewofdelft at 7:33 AM on October 7, 2005

I've found Mars Volta to be pretty proggy. I like them, but I can live without them. Judging by what you've listed, you'd be able to live without what I cannot. Live without, that is.

A quick run through iTunes radio turns up:

"Aural Moon" under "Classic Rock"
"Progged Radio" under "Hard Rock/Metal"
posted by nevercalm at 7:43 AM on October 7, 2005

if you know anyone in the US, you can easily get XM satellite radio. all you have to do is order the receiver online and when you call up to activate it, just give the address of your friend in the US. :)
posted by hummercash at 7:48 AM on October 7, 2005

A solution can be found at WFMU. Free-form (and free of charge) live streams and archives.
posted by scratch at 8:06 AM on October 7, 2005

Also in the Rush category, Dream Theater.

Scenes from a memory part 2 is probably a good place to start.

Electronic music? Sheesh, there's no end of stuff. In no particular order:

Shpongle (especially the last album, Nothing lasts, Nothing is lost...)
Children of the bong - Sirius Sounds
Ott - Blumenkraft
Shulman - in search of a meaningful moment
Bluetech - (both albums, elementary particles and prima materia)
Shakatura - Shakatura

Slide - Unstable
Wizzy Noise - Sabotage Part 1
Nystagmus - The immaculate perception
Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians
posted by ordu at 8:10 AM on October 7, 2005

Here's a good place to start: wcbn.org and wfmu.org. Both are freeform radio stations with streams on teh intarweb. Both are commercial free and play a lot of great stuff.
Ok. Onto suggesting more stuff:
For the proggier end: Do try Slint (even though they didn't invent post-rock or space rock. Claiming this this is silly). Try Hawkwind, Can, Amon Düul II and Neu. That's a Krautrock primer. You might also like Black Dice and El Guapo's Super/System. Also try Eno's art rock stuff (like Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy). Oh, and The Beta Band's 3 EPs.
For bluesier stuff, I've been loving the shit out of The Deadly Snakes' Ode to Joy. I also like The Kills, Powertrane (if you like Vaughn, you'll like them), Electric Frankenstein, The Warlocks, The Gossip, The Muggs, The Hard Lessons, The Avatars, The White Stripes and some others.
A good place to find more music is regnyouth.blogspot.com.
Oh, and music I can't live without? John Coltrane's Africa Brass 1&2. That album is just the one that calms me down and electrfies me at the same time. I dunno. It's just always good. Other music I can't live without? take a look at my audioscrobbler profile.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 AM on October 7, 2005

Check out emusic.com. It's cheap.

Though I don't like your taste in music (or don't like the music you like), I do like Hella, who were mentioned above. All their albums are on emusic. Some free stuff on their site as well.

The above mentioned Deadly Snakes (and their singer, Andre Ethier) can also be found on emusic. As can Black Dice, The Gossip, the Mars Volta, and tons of Electronica (I recommend Bobby Birdman, The Troublemakers, Dining Rooms, Gas...)

And yeah, the radio blows. I shut mine of 18 years ago and haven't turned it back on. However, when I walk thru areas that play the radio, I hear that nothing's changed. It's still shit.
posted by dobbs at 9:03 AM on October 7, 2005

What's that site that lets you put in what you're listening to (automatically?) and shows you what other people with a lot in common are listening to?
posted by phearlez at 9:06 AM on October 7, 2005

phearlez, are you thinking of last.fm?
posted by MsMolly at 9:11 AM on October 7, 2005

If you have iTunes, and want exposure to new music, check out the podcasts.

defi radio, insomnia radio, digital detroit radio, the roadhouse and others will expose you to enough different music to keep you busy.
posted by Crosius at 9:30 AM on October 7, 2005

Phearlez: That's last.fm, or audioscrobbler.

Oh, and (as of today), I've started putting up a mix for the weekend on my blog (here), so maybe you'll like some of that...
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2005

When I was p2p'ing, I would search for something relatively obscure that I knew I liked then browse through the collections of those who had it. Found some gems. I'd also read articles about bands I liked and find stuff by bands they said influenced them. This book was great for that. I also went on a kick looking for songs by early bands of those who became famous. It all worked out great for me.
posted by jonmc at 9:53 AM on October 7, 2005

Also, if you like Stevie Ray, I recommend people like Roy Buchanan, Lonnie Mack, Lucky Peterson, Albert Collins and the Holmes Brothers who all make (or in Buchanan's case, made) great modern blues, often inflected with rock, soul, country and gospel. Working backwards from them will lead you even deeper stuff.
posted by jonmc at 9:56 AM on October 7, 2005

The CBC lock-out is over, as of Monday there will no longer be a shortage of radio in Canada!
posted by Chuckles at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2005

God bless those greedy CBC basterds!!

-From an American who gives a damn
posted by wheelieman at 11:37 AM on October 7, 2005

Sign up for the $5 a month AOL plan. Don't log onto AOL. In fact, delete their client software after you sign up. Instead go to AOL Radio in a browser and enjoy a plethora of streaming radio stations including a number of XM stations. (Not all of them by any means, but a whole bunch. Plus a number of AOL exclusive streams including several focused on a single artist, one that's just covers, etc.) The streaming works fine in IE or Firefox once you download their WinAmp ActiveX control.

You can listen to the streams without the AOL account, but they're crappy mono streams unless you have an AOL screen name and I wouldn't bother.

Since each AOL account can have up to seven screen names, you can share this with up to six friends all for the same $5 a month (so long as they pledge never to sign on using the AOL client; you get a limited number of hours of that with the $5-a-month plan). And then you can call up AOL and threaten to cancel and they'll give you several months for free -- their customer retention people are like pit bulls.

Yahoo! Music is nice too, but I already had the AOL account. See above about their customer retention people.

You can also sign up for the full-fledged XM Online, which carries all the XM stations, for $7.99 a month.
posted by kindall at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2005

This is great advice everyone. I'm not really sure this question has an 'answer' so please don't feel slighted if I'm not marking best answers.

This is a question of taste more than anything, so every bit of advice is the best.

posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:55 PM on October 7, 2005

It's already been mentioned, but if you use your computer to listen to music at all, there is absolutely no reason not to use Last.fm. It takes very little time to set up, and then tracks your music listens without any effort at all, unlike something like Yahoo Music that requires you to actively rate things. In a short amount of time, you'll have a profile of what you like, along with recommendations for new music.

I am very positive on the site because probably at least half of my library consists of artists that I only discovered after using the site, and much of what I listen to now I'd never even heard of a year ago.

Besides, there's an entire Metafilter Group there to join. :)
posted by evilangela at 3:56 PM on October 7, 2005

last.fm has a thing where you can enter an artist name and find out what people who listen to that also listen to.

If you like old Bowie, definitely check out T. Rex. A good place to start for all things glam is the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack.

If you like Soundgarden, have you heard the Temple of the Dog record?

for Hard Psytrance like MWNN, my favorite (though hard to find on other than p2p) is The Delta, especially their album Schizoeffective. They are members of Spirallianz/Midimillz/X-Dream..

For rush you might try marillion and fates warning. If your interests lead toward harder stuff might i suggest Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime"and Dream Theater's "Images and Words"

OK yes my taste is a little eclectic.
posted by softlord at 4:23 PM on October 7, 2005

For something modern and vaguely Bowie-like - although like all sorts of other things too - I'd highly recommend British Sea Power. I find more to like the more I listen to them. For something at the dancier end of the spectrum, I am quite obsessed with Lemonjelly. And I don't normally like hip-hop, but two albums by a guy called Andy Turner, who otherwise goes by the name of Aim have nevertheless found their way into my collection and get played very heavily.

Another vote for Last.fm - I have discovered some obscure but interesting bands through their "play me songs that sound like x" radio station (type in a band you like, and it will play you similar songs from other bands based on the taste of other users). I can't think how else I would have found out about them.
posted by greycap at 5:39 PM on October 7, 2005

BTW, as a Rush fan, you ought to check out a band called Tiles, from Detroit; they're heavily influenced, although not a clone. In addition to Queensryche and Dream Theater, which someone else mentioned, be sure to check out Shadow Gallery, Magellan, Artension, Under the Sun, and Pain of Salvation. As it happens, "progressive metal" is a genre I like a lot, and there's been a good amount of activity in that genre in the last decade or so. Drop me a line if this sounds interesting, I could track down more stuff I've liked (it's just not springing to mind at the moment).
posted by kindall at 9:14 PM on October 7, 2005

Go check out CDs from your public library. Get ones by artists you've never heard of.
posted by neuron at 11:53 PM on October 7, 2005

my mp3 blog, updated daily, might fill that void: here
posted by Mach3avelli at 1:31 AM on October 8, 2005

In addition, in Canada there are no satellite radio vendors yet, so that’s not an option for me.

Are you sure about this? I'm in Vancouver and I'd swear that one of the local coffee shops has satellite radio. I remember asking about the music currently playing and none of the staff recognized it, but they found out by reading the title/artist off the display on the box.
posted by juv3nal at 2:24 AM on October 8, 2005

A friend of mine here in Canada just got XM (I think) Satellite radio. He called to sign up and they asked for his address and said he couldn't sign up with a Canadian address, but if you know anyone with an American address you could.

So he called back a day later and used the address of a store he frequents in the US and got his account. No mailings go out to the address on the account and he is enjoying his satellite radio immensly here in Canada.

The strange thing is you can buy the hardware in Canada but technically cannot subscribe to the service without this little workaround.

As for the music I can't live without, not really stretching the limits too far here, but U2 is an indispensible part of my music collection, and if you care for female vocalists, Dido is incredible.
posted by gfroese at 6:26 AM on October 11, 2005

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