I've been trolling the music blogs and doing a little post called MP3 Truffles - so named, because I feel often like a pig digging through huge mounds of earth - for a little over a year now. And I have to admit that I have slacked off a bit in the past few months. Part of it is because I haven't quite had the time to dedicate to the ever expanding amount of sites that share MP3s. But also, I must admit, was that I felt like my selections were getting a little stale.
So for the new year, I have decided to regroup. I'll only be posting the MP3 finds once a month or so, but I will try each time to focus on a new or innovative site, rather than keep re-listing the ones I love.
But I have not forgotten these favorite bloggers! And to show my love this Valentine's Day, I thought it would be nice to pass on my 12 personal favorite music blogs for you to add to your bookmarks or RSS feeds or what-have-you. Keep these close, treasure them, and visit them often, for these are the sites that are consistently worth visiting.
In order to also to expand my own knowledge of good music sites out there, I thought it would be fun to have these great bloggers share their favorites as well. And so, there also follows links to more great sites where you can spend some ear and eye time, all as recommended by great music bloggers themselves. Read on - and download away!
ESSENTIAL PLACES TO DIG FOR MP3 TRUFFLES, Part One
These are the first six - tune in later this week for the conclusion.
- Big Rock Candy Mountain/Barstool Mountain
- Copy, Right?
- Crud Crud
- Egg City Radio
- Funky 16 Corners/Iron Leg
Follow the jump for descriptions and links.
Note: I tend to only list blogs that that do artist-approved downloads, public domain shares, only single tracks for review purposes (ie, often accompanied by good reflective writing). Album "sharity" sites that blatantly violate the rights and income of the artists (and that use that menace, Rapidshare) are pretty much ignored. Also, not all files linked to in the posts below are still available for download - depends on each blogger's preference. But hopefully, they provide a taste of what is offered, and that will keep you coming back for the new stuff still to come.
A cavalcade of classic Americana, covering everything from the high and lonesome to the mother truckers. Big Rock Candy Mountain guru Brian offers up a few select tracks with each post along with lively story-telling and reflections on the music. This holiday season, his selection of classic country Christmas music was unparalleled - and made for nice mix to listen to while knocking back too much nog. Also look for the occasional podcast mix, with themes ranging from Twang to Sin & Salvation, which never fail to make my subway commute enjoyable. And if you love drinking, check out sister site Barstool Mountain - your home for bottom of the bottle hits.
I'm in the snowed-under Windy City of Chicago. I'm the Internet manager/coordinator for a large Independent bookstore and a freelance writer. My favorite blog is Spread The Good Word, but here are some other ones I'd recommend:
- Songs:Illinois: Another local Chicago-area blog that covers more contemporary roots and indie-pop than I do at my site. He's a daily poster, so you can get a healthy dose of good stuff.
- Honey Where You Been So Long: The best site I know of for early, pre-war Blues. A daily visit for me.
- Locust Street: The guy that writes this blog is a genius, a label I'm usually loathe to give out. His research into his subjects is extensive, his writing is professional-level but accessible, and he covers virtually the whole history of recorded music.
Subtitled "Trash, Treasure, Oddities, Obsessions and Obligations", this site from Meat Puppets co-founder Derrick Bostrom hosts a stunning array of cheez-pop oddities, and the posts always feature interesting facts mixed with charming personal history. As a bonus, his finds are still relatively unexploited, the kind that you'll only find at his site: a Milwaukee keyboard prodigy, an obscene amount of Doodletown Pipers, the lost recordings of radio pranksters The Love Workshop (which he graciously let me repost here), and even his own lost solo album.
Oh, I also enjoy stopping by just to check out his travel photography and read about random pop culture finds as well - like artist renditions of Teddy Roosevelt, or scans from the textbook "1975: And the Changes To Come". Canned irradiated meat, anyone?
Following the MP3 blogs is really a movable feast -- the field changes so quickly, that I don't even pay that much attention to which one I'm reading half the time. I'm continually grabbing new feeds and DLing on the fly. But if I go into my reader and examine the feeds with the most followed links, certain patterns begin to emerge.
- Moog Sensations: It looks like I'm trying out just about everything posted to this one. European easy listening from the early 70s -- the only thing that's missing is decent file tagging.
- Fullundie: More Motown than I really need, but when they get into a cheesy disco roll, I can barely keep up.
- Vinyl Room: Pretty new; all instrumental easy listening, my kind of site. Will it go the distance?
- Sometimes when I'm up way too early in the morning, even the soothing sounds of a pop orchestra can be too jarring. That's when I turn to these three for one of their frequent dub posts: Sunshine, It's Coming Out Of Your Speaker, and Mulambada.
3. Copy, Right?
Cover tunes are a mixed bag. Sometimes they reinvent a classic in a new and exciting way. Other times they are just bland rehashes. And then there are the total trainwrecks. But there's little doubt that the cover song is one of the most ubiquitous things in pop music.
It takes courage and dedication to search through the hay for those occasional prickly needles, but Copy, Right? has the chops. With a music library that contains more cover songs - both known and obscure - than one would think possible, Chicago blogger Liza just had to spread the knowledge. "When I post less-than-stellar tracks, which is quite often, it's because I want to prove to others that they exist! "
By far, my favorite site featuring downloads is Musical Family Tree, which is a massive site full of Indiana bands I loved back when I lived there and newer Indiana bands I've learned about via the site.
As for covers, Coverville is a great podcast, and I have been really impressed with these newer blogs (most started within the last year, I think): Cover Freak, Cover Lay Down, and Cover Me. They seem to keep with themes a bit better than I do, and their dedication is high. I envy that.
4. Crud Crud
With a very simple layout, and posts that ask more than tell, Crud Crud's Scott Soriano shares his cheap and marvelous musical finds with the world. The title comes from his personal abundance of crud - mostly 45s and old tapes purchased for between $3 and $5. This site is a personal favorite of several WFMU DJs, so listen for his MP3s to often make it to the air.
To be truthful, there are just too many damn stacks of records around here that need to be listened to for me to dredge the blogs for MP3s. When I do steal some minutes though, I usually hit Funky 16 Corners (below) and Record Robot . I also check out Mutant Sounds, whatever you recommend on WFMU blog, and Cake & Polka Parade hoping that Gregory has come out of hibernation.
(Gregory is also known as our own Fatty Jubbo. His own site hasn't been updated in a while, but he posts weekly about the art world here on Beware of the Blog. That said, I miss his musical mayhem on Cake & Polka)
When Post-Punk Junk closed up shop last February, it was a sad day. This legendary blog blasted out the rarest of post-punk albums as well as tons of concert recordings and just plain strangeness (Paul Stanley's stage banter, anyone?) before it was unceremoniously shut down by the hosting company for, of all things, becoming too popular.
Fortunately, music junkie and movie geek Bret B. didn't lie down and give up. He came back swinging with Egg City Radio. When launched, it looked for a while like all there would be were podcast mixes - good ones, mind you, but without the flair of the original site. Fortunately, Bret couldn't resist, and soon started sharing fun things like Hunter S. Thompson lectures, a Devo tribute album from '78, the Agent Cooper tapes, and even Pac Man Fever.
Now he is working harder than ever to increase the awesome selection of live concert recordings (Ramones, Fear, P.I.L., and...erm...The Little River Band), and has even begun reposting some of the stuff we previously lost when PPJ went dark (Neonbabies are back!). Pretty much every Truffles post from the last year has featured something from Egg City, so do yourself a favor and just go there and download everything you can immediately!
I do what I do because I just can't help it. I started off in my late teens on KXLU 88.9fm, the college station out here in L.A. (very much like WFMU in many respects), and I had a show for just about 10 years.
It's been really sad to see quite a few of my favorite blogs fall by the wayside within the last few weeks or so: Ezhevika Fields, Prog Not Frog and Krautrockteam have all been hit. But the two I visit all the time that are stalwarts of the scene are Mutant Sounds and 20 Jazz Funk Greats. Joe Stumble over at Last Days Of Man On Earth also does one heck of a job.
There are a ton of great soul music blogs to choose from, but I will have to pick this as my favorite. I've found that I can download pretty much every song provided by New Jersey's own Larry Grogan and happily keep it in my library on heavy rotation, and a big part of the appeal is the sound of those original 45s. By far his biggest hit this year was Rubber Souled, a collection of soul covers of Beatles songs, but each week there is a unique hour mix for download.
Then there is the writing, which would be good since this blog started as a web zine back in 2000, before anyone was even sharing music on the internets. Things have progressed so much since then that there is now a sister site, Iron Leg, sharing vintage 45s of psychedelic, garage, and other 60s rock.
I have been writing about music in zines (paper and web) and blogs since 1984. The simple answer is that I do it because I love music, but love isn't really strong enough a word to describe how music moves me. My current favorite blogs that I think folks ought to check out include:
- The "B" Side: One of the Red Kelly family of blogs. Wonderfully researched pieces by a guy that truly loves soul music.
- Fufu Stew: Vincent the Soul Chef has a very interesting sensibility, covering soul, funk and rock. It's all about the free-form aesthetic.
- The Stepfather of Soul: Jason does a great job here, covering all manner of soulful sounds including regular gospel features and a series of airchecks of R&B/Soul radio personalities.
- Fleamarket Funk: DJ Prestige's site about the crate diggers life, souland funk with a heavy dash of reggae.
Tune in later this week for our final six essential music blogs - and as always, if you have any sites I should check out for future posts, please let me know in the comments.