A web of mix tapes

I should have known that Nick Hornby – he of High Fidelity fame – would have beaten me to the punch in writing about keeping music fresh as you get older. His article, from two years ago, is all about music bloggers as today’s mix tape makers. I’ve always been grateful to those kind folk (actually, they were always guys) who spent hours putting together mix tapes, thereby introducing me to new musical worlds: so it was I came to know Afrobeat and late 80s Chicago house. I’ve still got that early house music tape!

Well on the Interweb, there’s a whole world of music nerds, blogging about music, posting MP3s, putting tracks up on SoundCloud and DJing on YouTube. The tricky part is finding what you like amongst it all. Here’s a random starter kit, in no particular order of priority, dedicated to those lovely mix tape boys of my giddy youth:

Aquarium Drunkard

Based in Los Angeles, Aquarium Drunkard run by Justin Gage is an eclectic audio blog featuring daily music news, interviews, features, reviews, mp3 samples and sessions. Originating in 2005, the Drunkard bridges the gap between contemporary indie with vintage garage, psych, folk, country, New Orleans funk, r&b, soul and everything that falls in between.

 Song, By Toad

This is a blog I stumbled across in my Internet wanderings. Some English guy who really likes music and writes coherent rambles about it. He has quite a lengthy manifesto, so I haven’t reprinted it all but to give you an idea of where he’s coming from, this is part of his warning that there may be some ‘adult content’ in his blog:

‘Swearing – oh yes, forgot this one. If you don’t like the swearing and the inappropriate sexual content… honestly, just fuck off and try pulling that gherkin out of your arse and relaxing a little.’ Succinctly put.

 And Pluck Your Strings

A Melbourne-based blog, with ‘Best Of’ lists, album reviews, the 30-song challenge, and free downloads. The posts are pleasingly bite-sized.

 Dialectic Radio

Again, emerging out of Melbourne, from the Uberlingua crew, this site features DJ sets from around the world. Electronic, global sounds.

 SOMA-FM

Twenty channels of underground radio from San Francisco. Listener-funded.

 Pitchfork

An online music magazine, with interviews, reviews, ‘best ofs’, and ‘forkcast’ – reviews of new singles with MP3s.  They will always love Bill Callahan and Deerhunter and reviews suggest they might all have some kind of synthesthesia. Here’s part of a review of the single “Knees”:

‘Knees’ opens with hazy palpitations and some nimble loops; drums are present but not persistent. The vocals– calmly sung but trippy and imagistic– wisp away from the instruments like ribbons of smoke pulled from a car.

Have you ever heard ‘ribbons of smoke being pulled from a car’? Me either. Thank God for the MP3s.

The Guardian’s music blog

I heard a song by Paul Weller the other day and I thought to myself that there’s never been a skinny white English dude quite as soulful as Paul Weller and that must have taken some effort in 80s England. As England is essentially depressing, when its people get excited about something, that something is usually worth a look.  On the 15th of every month, 36 blogs from around the world – called the Musical Alliance Pact – simultaneously post tracks, forming a global mixtape. You can download it from The Guardian’s music blog.

 Raven Sings The Blues

My friend S. suggested this one. See what you think.

 Oki-Ni

This stylish and probably very expensive online menswear store produces downloadable mixtapes made by musicians and DJs. I wouldn’t know about this store if it weren’t for my friend TT alerting me to Oki-Ni mixtapes on Facebook. Therein lies a marketing lesson.

 The Tofu Hut music blog list

An unsung hero of a blogger who’s created lists of music blogs by genre. List is getting old in the tooth but is still helpful.

 Largehearted Boy is a music and literature blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.

All Songs Considered

The official version of NPR’s site All Songs Considered is this: ‘A great place to discover new music that doesn’t get a lot of airplay anywhere else. The acclaimed (and Emmy-nominated, Webby-winning) program – available as streaming audio, download, a podcast and a radio broadcast – features roundtable discussions about new music, reviews, live concerts, artist interviews, guest DJ appearances and more.’

The unofficial version, from friend R. is this: ‘It’s like a program put together by an older brother who knows a lot about music and can talk about who influenced who…’

 Fourty-fives

Practice your Spanish while listening to singles representing the genre spectrum from jazz to soul to disco.

 DNRC Records

One of these things isn’t quite like the others…Davey Dreamnation’s record company deserves much greater recognition and would probably get it if his artists’ offerings weren’t immediately deleted from the catalogue upon release. While this blog might not offer much in terms of musical enlightenment, it will introduce you to artists you might want to avoid, like Stung, the Sting impersonator from New Zealand and his albums like ‘Dream of the Blue Pipe Cleaners’ and ‘Desert Boot Nose’.  And it will make you LOL.

Dollar Bin Jams

It’s getting late and I’m getting sleepy, so here’s what Dollar Bin Jams has to say about their blog:

‘Vinyl Rips, Obscurities, Classics, Dancing, Parties, Beard Stroking, Mixes, Hangovers, 12″ Versions, Edits, Musings, Dubs, Remixes & Other Rhythms with love from Philadelphia.’

Yeah, that’s about right.

There you go, go crazy.  Don’t keep your favourites to yourself, now.

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