My previous post and subsequent discussion on how I am clueless about the band Muse led to the question of how I discover new music. There are four primary ways in which I learn about new artists/bands and new releases (roughly in order of importance).
1) Message Boards
I post and lurk on a few alt country themed message boards. I have been really into alt country styles of music for the last five years or so, but the genre is very loosely defined and often blurs into indie rock, Americana, singer/songwriter, folk, blues, and other genres. For example, Iron & Wine can be easily defined as alt country, folk, indie, singer/songwriter. Are the Drive-By Truckers alt country or rock? The answer is Yes.
A few of my favorite bands that I have discovered this way: Band of Horses, Chris Knight, Damien Jurado, Drag the River, The Fox Hunt, Jackie Green, Matthew Ryan, My Morning Jacket, Richmond Fontaine, Sparklehorse, Two Cow Garage, and many, many more.
Matthew Ryan - Drunk And Disappointed.mp3
Buy: Matthew Ryan Vs. Silver State (2008)
Two Cow Garage - Come Back to Shelby.mp3
Buy: III (2007)
Not sure what the deal with Amazon is, but their track listing for III is all buggered up. You are probably better off buying this record from eMuisc, iTunes, or directly from Suburban Home Records.
2) Word of Mouth
Is there anything better than when friend recommends a kick ass band to you? When someone knows your taste in music, its awesome when they find something that they think you would really like. This is how I discovered Caroline Herring, Chris Mills, James McMurtry, Josh Ritter, Justin Townes Earle, The Mountain Goats, The Sadies, Todd Snider, and many others.
Chris Mills - Such A Beautiful Thing.mp3
Buy: Living in the Aftermath (2008)
Justin Townes Earle - Ain't Glad I'm Leavin'.mp3
Buy: The Good Life (2008)
I regularly listen to podcasts from KEXP, CBC Radio 2, and NPR All Songs Considered. I have found tons of great music this way, mostly from KEXP. KEXP is a public, user-supported (no commercials) radio station out of Seattle, that has a huge world-wide internet following. Unfortunately I do not get to listen to their live streaming as often as I would like to as I am not usually at my desk at work for more than 15-20 min at a time, but their podcast series is outstanding. Artists I have found through all three of these sources include Amy Milan, Basia Bulat, Beirut, Danny Michel, Devotchka, Ted Leo, Voxtrot, and many others.
I blame/thank KEXP for my two largest band obsessions over the last three years. I heard both of the below tracks on their "Song of the Day" podcast series and was so blown away that I immediately went out and bought their entire catalogs (which at the time was not that large), and I continue to be a hugely devoted follower.
The Hold Steady - Stevie Nix.mp3
Buy: Separation Sunday (2005)
Okkervil River - The President's Dead.mp3
Buy: Single (2006), available on iTunes & eMusic.
4) Other Music Blogs
Blogs are usually the last place I find new music. I mainly read music blogs for their concert and album reviews, or to learn about an older artist (see my links list). My favorite indie rock blog is Chromewaves because he blogs about everything alternative going on in the city of Toronto, including the occasional art and film review. Nine Bullets is my favorite alt country blog, while Setting the Woods on Fire does a masterful job of teaching readers about classic country music and other forgotten goodies.