I want to talk about music like I was a teenager again.
May 12, 2014 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Lately I've been digging through a wealth of new-to-me Japanese bands and getting into music in a way I haven't really done in a long time. I realized this was largely because I'd stumbled upon a bunch of places that discuss JPop and JRock like this ginormous Popjustice thread, full of people who obsess over the latest bands and new music videos and whatnot. I also realized that I don't have anything like this for other music I listen to. So where do I go to discuss the other music I like?

Let's say, for example, that I was really into bands like Broadcast and Melody's Echo Chamber—for lack of a better phrase, let's call this genre I just made up "psychedelic retro-pop"—and I wanted to find people who discussed this all day long, keeping me up to date on new singles and bands vaguely related to the movement and leftfield suggestions from yesteryear. Or if that's too narrowly focused, you could also try British indie rock—where do I go to talk to people about Sky Larkin and Johnny Foreigner and Rose Elinor Dougall and The History of Apple Pie and etc., etc., etc.? Where do I go to find more bands like these, not from a faceless recommendations algorithm (as much as I love Last.fm or Google Play), but from real live people with opinions and obsessions?

Obviously, I can't just sit here and list all my favourite bands/genres and get specialized recommendations for each and every one. So instead I'm looking for something closer to a one-stop shop where I could conceivably find a few different niches for discussion. Places I've kind of looked at but found wanting:

Reddit. Oddly, not enough critical mass, as far as I can tell. I've been searching for particular bands I've been into lately as a barometer (ex. Elephant's new album "Sky Swimming" or Passepied, a band from Japan) and Reddit doesn't have much if anything in the way of discussion. This despite the wide variety of subreddits.

ILX. I remember I Love Music as being a big go-to for this stuff back in the day, but running the same test against ILX yields very little. In general the forum seems a lot more scattershot, with random threads about decade-old Yo La Tengo albums sitting comfortably alongside... well, decade-old threads about Ian Svenonius's new band (Weird War, which was his new band... a decade ago!). I mean, they all seem cool, but not necessarily a place I'd start with now. Maybe if I got in with all the veterans back in the day.

Popjustice. This would probably be pretty close to what I want, except that I don't actually care about mainstream pop. So all the discussion in the world about Kylie Minogue and Lily Allen doesn't really help me much.

Random band message boards. This actually helps sometimes—I discovered Melody's Echo Chamber from the semi-official Broadcast board—but these days the only official message boards seem to be for really old bands (Saint Etienne) or dead bands (Broadcast), which tilts the conversations heavily in favour of nostalgic retells of the band's past exploits. Newer bands started in a time that saw forums and message boards as hopelessly antiquated. They ain't totally wrong, either.

Does what I want even exist anymore? Am I forever doomed to trawl the likes of Pitchfork and Tiny Mix Tapes and The Quietus, reading erudite record reviews in silence and imagining a conversation between music critics in my head like I'm playing tea party with my dolls?
posted by chrominance to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
are you a last.fm user? there's user groups for just about every kind of music and the bigger ones seem to be pretty active. i can't speak to the actual quality of the discussion (it's been a while since i've really been active) but i've found my share of gems over the years just browsing the charts. my brother's pretty active on a handful of the forums and seems to have had good luck finding like-minded obsessives.

there's also rateyourmusic, which seems to have a pretty big and reasonably active forum.

and surely there must be some corner of Tumblr or something where people have Reasonable Discussions about music, right?
posted by tealsocks at 10:35 PM on May 12, 2014

I'm not sure the place you're looking for exists. My recommendations would've been ILX and niche subreddits, and then "follow a bunch of music critics on twitter and be a fly on the wall for their erudite discussions, whenever they happen to pop up." I also would've recommended specific Livejournal communities a decade ago, but that's surely not relevant now. I've really got nothing. The absolute best in-depth discussions I've come across have been from music-obsessed friends on facebook and twitter who are game to discuss and debate. But yeah, that's obviously not searchable for specific genres/subgenres, nor is generally pointing to social media going to be helpful.

The number of people out there who are voracious and passionate enough to discuss this stuff with an encyclopedic knowledge is actually not that large, all things considered. There's probably a super-private, closed-off community where all the amazing top-tier discussion happens outside of prying eyes.
posted by naju at 10:54 PM on May 12, 2014

My partner is heavily obsessed with finding new music. Their method is to go to a review site (E.g. Pitchfork, I'm sure there's genre specific ones out there) and trawl through all the reviews of everything to find stuff that catches their eye.. That would cover the "discovering similar stuff" side if you were thorough.

They also post on specific-artist fan forums and facebook groups for discussion purposes, which definitely do exist for some current bands/musicians (e.g. Joanna Newsom) but they don't tend to be terribly well populated. Maybe there's a general music enthusiasts/recommendation facebook group out there? I bet there is.
posted by mymbleth at 5:46 AM on May 13, 2014

In terms of discovery, I find a lot of stuff via last.fm by checking both the "Similar Artists" list of artists and looking through the libraries of my neighbors and of top listeners of artists I like as well.

It takes a bit of work since sometimes you have to head to some other site like Youtube, Soundcloud, Nicovideo, or Bandcamp to hear samples of some of the music.

However, there doesn't seem to be much meaningful discussion there but I really haven't gone looking for it either.
posted by Gev at 6:58 AM on May 13, 2014

Don't ignore the sites where audiophile types hang out. There is always vibrant discussion about music happening there. stevehoffman.tv is a good example. If you were to post a question there like, "I like Broadcast. Who else should I be listening to?" it would surely generate a healthy discussion.

Might be worth visiting rocktownhall or the rising storm.

My situation isn't much different from yours, actually. I've found that the best discussion and discovery I've had lately happens when I meet in person with music-obsessed friends. I invite friends over to bring new music to play on my hi-fi system and it's always a good time.
posted by the matching mole at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2014

Response by poster: Yeah, I have a better handle on the basic question of "how to find more music like X"—I'm already on Last.fm and This Is My Jam (which I wish more people used but also there are inherent limitations to the site thanks to its heavy reliance on YouTube and Soundcloud), and every so often I'll spend an evening just digging through various review sites and reading a whole bunch of things.

What I'm really looking for, though, is discussion, something that all of the above venues lack. If Pitchfork had a message board, that would either be fantastic (look, tons of big music fans all talking about their favourite music!) or it would be Brooklyn Vegan (thinly veiled scenester snobbery/aggression and indie pseudo-celebrity gossip, yay?). Obviously I'm looking for something like the former.

I have wondered on occasion if there's something specific about Japanese music that leads to this. I feel like most other popular music scenes work on longer cycles—it doesn't seem uncommon for popular bands in Japan to just constantly churn out singles and videos all the time. Perfume was putting out new singles a month or two after releasing their latest album—singles that WEREN'T on the album, but will probably end up on another album a year from now. It feels a lot more like, say, the Beatles and their ilk in the early 60s, putting out two albums a year like it was no thang. Add to that an inherent exoticism from a western perspective (and by that I mostly mean "hey it's stuff we don't ever get to hear in America") and it seems like the Japanese pop scene is well suited to a particularly obsessive style of discussion about the scene in general, as opposed to a single artist.

Anyways, keep the ideas coming. I still hold out hope! And if nothing surfaces, we can start a FanFare-esque Metafilter subsite about music, right? Right?
posted by chrominance at 5:24 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh hi again. In case you're still in the same boat I'm in, you might be interested in this: it's not quite what I was asking for, but it's a bunch of people who maintain their own tumblrs/blogs/etc. about music, all snarking/critiquing pop singles every day and attaching 10-point scores to them. Their definition of "pop" is sufficiently broad to cover everything from Veruca Salt's new single to Taiwanese pop to Azealia Banks to Michael Jackson vs. Justin Timberlake, so chances are you'll find something to like. The Singles Jukebox. Here's their five-year roundup of the best posts from their near-daily grind.
posted by chrominance at 9:24 AM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

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