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What's Up With Audio Blogs?

So in the last 18 months, I've become a huge fan of the audio blogs. On the theory that some folks out there might not be as obsessed as me, here's a short summary and some pointers.

Originally, the few audio blogs going were rather fannish paeans to various forms of obscure indie rock, or regional music, or irresistable pop glop from Sweden. Most of them are still labors of love, but unlike the old Napster and the current P2P file-sharing networks, the audio blogs are now getting a relatively warm reception from the record companies, with advance copies of hot tracks to post. They are partly seen as a good way to create buzz about a new act, and partly as taste-makers and commentators. They give away as many free MP3 downloads as they can afford. The bandwidth bills are probably ginormous.

Why aren't they sued out of existence? Because the tracks are posted explicitly as limited-time downloads, and most are pulled off the sites within a week or two. If you snooze, you lose. In addition, you get what the blogger gives you. If your tastes don't match, it's time to move on.

The original site that kicked it all off was Fluxblog, but their preference for "indier than thou" electroclash, glitch mixes, and Swedish pop misses a lot more than it hits these days.

In the tradition of High Fidelity's Top Five lists, allow me to present the Top Five Audio Blogs, and what I love about them.

Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again: Spotty postings and some real dogs from the post-punk world, but when Keith Causin nails it I'm completely in love with his selections (such as the current Electric Six tracks). This blogger must be of an age with me, as his commentary frequently references my faves from the 80s alternative scene, AKA Replacements, Husker Du, Fugazi, what have you. He's just as clearly moved on to the modern age. Has a thing for The Cure and The Decemberists.
3Hive: A site I found just a week ago, and already I'm thinking I'll visit often. At least, if the short punchy and FREQUENT posts continue, with the quality level of the amazing Of Montreal tracks, especially "Disconnect the Dots" and the creepy "Good Morning Mr. Edminton".
Soul Sides: Funk. Jazz. Soul. R&B. Even blues. The site is tight. Current fave is the Norah Jones/Dirty Dozen Brass Band track...
Music for Robots: I love the depth of this site's pop. It does sort of waste my time with some hip-hop tracks, but they're currently (for instance) they're an Arabian group. The Robots (there are several bloggers) post soul, dance tracks, emo, and even butt-rock. It's never dull. My current fave is Oliver Ignatius, whom the Robots broke around August of last year, and who is now getting MTV play.
The MP3 Blogs Aggregator: Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, but it's useful. It doesn't include what I call the newspaper blogs (a whole 'nuther post right there), but it does exactly what the name promises: it compiles the top 100 or so audio blogs into a single feed. Yes, it's drinking from a firehose, but sometimes it beats visiting the sites individually.

There's plenty of others. Benn Loxo du Taccu does an amazing job of rounding up African music of all kinds, usually impossible to find stuff, and then actually explaining the context of the music from an African perspective. The blogger spends a fair bit of time in Africa and knows whereof he speaks. Gets you WAY BEYOND the Ladysmith/Paul Simon or Yssou N'Dour/Peter Gabriel level, but amazing music. I've especially enjoyed the discussion of hi-life.

In the "Pathetic or Ironic? You Decide" category is Stereogum, a deeply shallow blog with an unhealthy obsession with Britney and her man Federline, Ashlee Simpson, Fiona, and other worthless so-called celebrities. Despite that, he occasionally posts a killer track among all the stalker-style gossip, rumors, and mockery. Or a list of Trevor Horn's production credits that makes you go "Whoa!". Jazz & Conversation is put together a jazz DJ who knows what he's talking about, but his tastes are not mine: Bill Frisell, ambient, New Age. I occasionally see a world music track there that I like, but it's not usually my thing. Honey, Where You Been So Long is the only early blues site you'll ever need. Now if only I could find an equivalent for Chicago style, modern blues...

If you've got some hidden treasures to share, I'd love to hear about them. Go forth, right-click, and "Save As..."


( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )
Jan. 29th, 2005 05:41 am (UTC)
These music blogs are genius! I shall be lost for days pawing through various blogs looking for new music to listen to....
Jan. 30th, 2005 10:32 pm (UTC)
One of the few blogs I know of besides "Soul Sides" and "Home of the Groove" which makes an attempt to educate the listener-reader is Hellhounds and Holyghosts. It follows the birth of soul from Gospel,blues and R&B, with great artists, rarely heard sides and great information.
( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )

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