Whilst it’s not an easy question to answer for most people, it always frustrates me when I ask what someone listens to and they say … “oh, I listen to everything.” Thrash metal? Hard house? Didn’t think so. When I define my own tastes, I tend to think they might be a bit narrow – what used to be known as “indie” (grunge and so on starting in the mid-90s, as a reaction to uni and my sister inflicting Duran Duran on my through childhood) and “lo-fi”.
To try and combat this, when I get time I scour the sites below to find new sounds, some of which horrify me, some surprise, and some that are amazing.
Not sure how it came about, but KEXP Radio is some strange combination of a Seattle-based radio station and the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik, where I’ve stayed a few times – which makes it entertaining to see the mini-concerts there, right near to where I’ve been sinking beers amongst tourists and Icelandic locals.
NPR First Listen
Updating weekly, NPR First Listen streams a diverse selection of albums that I either love or despise. I’m relatively new to it, so Haley Bonar is the only “win” I can remember so far, though they also publish full concerts like Sleater-Kinney below, which was a great warm-up for the real thing.
NPR Tiny Desk Concerts
Crossing over with First Listen above, the Tiny Desk Concerts are a liberal mix of
old known (Daughter, Chvrches, The National) and new (Caroline Rose, Julien Baker, Courtney Barnett) that get the artists at a tiny desk, in a small room, for 3 or 4 songs – which usually makes them strip back their music to acoustic or the bare minimum of instruments, giving a different interpretation on what you already know.
Back before the interwebs, I used to get music ideas from a magazine called Juice, seeking out specific writers like Craig Mathieson that I had figured out had similar tastes. Alas Juice folded in the early 2000s, despite my support, so reviews from Pitchfork are as close a match as I can get these days.
As I’ve got friends more cultured than I am, I’ve been lucky enough to recommendations for Radio Radar and Vidro Azul, both based in Lisbon – completing a reasonably eclectic mix of locations, even if the sounds are on similar themes.