How To Find Better Music

Does Arcade Fire’s Grammy win for Best Album of the Year signal the complete blurring of indie and mainstream music once and for all?


But it was six full years ago when Arcade Fire’s sound actually seemed new and fresh. Now, they are riding strong and selling out stadiums with their audience-approved version of alternative rock/pop. They are undeniably an indie breakout hit, but the Grammys only recognized them once their sound was three pretty similar albums old.

This post is designed to help you find the next Arcade Fire before the Grammys get to it, which is probably just about as difficult as finding Facebook before TIME Magazine does, which is to say, pretty darn easy. But still, this is important. As Christian Lander puts it on Stuff White People Like,

A white person’s iPod (formerly CD collection) is not merely an assemblage of music that they enjoy. It is what defines them as a person. They are always on the look out for the latest hot band that no one has heard of so that one day, they can hit it just right and be into a band BEFORE they are featured in an Apple commercial. To a white person, being a fan of a band before they get popular is one of the most important things they can do with their life. They can hold it over their friends forever!

I thought of this when I was at the David Wax Museum concert last Saturday in the basement of the 6th & I Synagogue in Washington, DC.

The venue was just like the bonus room upstairs that your one friend had in high school and everybody would go to to play ping pong or air hockey. Except this living room has concerts. There were couches and chairs, old people and young people, an accordion with duct tape keeping it together, a cello, a saxophone, a Mexican guitar, and a jawbone (yup, some big animal’s jawbone) making music on stage.

Well, not always on stage. David Wax could not stay still for a second, so he would wander into the crowd and the music would go on. At one point he left the room and wandered into the entryway near the ticket booth, but he kept singing. It wasn’t really a concert. It was just people having fun with friends and making sounds. Awesome.

Here’s some online sites that can help you experience music in a new way.

All Songs Considered: I’m a groupie for Bob Boilen, who created ASC after hosting All Things Considered for many years. On this website you can find live concerts, podcasts, a blog, full albums before they are released, a song of the day, and a hell of a lot more. You could get lost in this site and find something new every time.

Hype Machine: For the mashup lovers out there, Hype Machine has got you covered. Create a profile, store your songs. Forget illegal downloading. That was last decade. Now you can have all the music you want without clogging up your hard drive. You can save your money to see the bands live, and you can be intentional about buying the albums of artists that you want to support.

3VOOR12: Check this out! Full CDs of some artists you have heard of and lots more that you haven’t. Stream easily and choose between tracks. Preview the albums before you buy them. I’ve been streaming the debut James Blake CD on repeat since last week. It’s trancy electronic at its best, and I recommend the track I Never Learnt To Share. 3VOOR12 may be the best thing to come out of the Netherlands since…well….

Pitchfork: Pitchfork qualifies as royalty among independent music blogs. It’s the new Rolling Stone for the age of the Internet. It is worth checking out to see what they recommend as a starting point for finding your next favorite album.

Local Venues: This might be the most fun way to find new music. Find a small venue in your city and buy tickets to a stranger band. Get on their mailing list and try listening to a new sound.

As for me, I just bought tickets to go see Polock back at 6th& I on March 21st. Good luck as you try to beat the Grammys and find some incredible music.

And, in honor of Single Awareness Day and Valentines Day, here are a few tunes for whichever holiday you are celebrating:


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