[Surf's Up, as published in the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010. Click here to read more Surf's Up.]
"Without music, life would be a mistake," said the most light-hearted man in history, a.k.a. Friedrich Nietzsche.
Good ol’ Nietzsche, though, had a point. Where would we be if we couldn’t have a little music in our lives? Whether your tastes run from choral performances to ukulele covers of punk tunes, or from classic rock to polka dances, the web is full of things to find and possibly love.]
This week, we have some help in finding some new fodder for the iPod.
We Are Hunted
If you’re into cutting-edge music, or like to know what’s happening before everyone else does, We Are Hunted is a great resource. It’s a chart of 99 songs that are happening right now, but it won’t look like any sales chart. That’s because instead of counting sales or airplay, We Are Hunted gathers data from around the web of what people are talking about (e.g., chatrooms) or looking for (via torrents, etc.). Or, as they put it, they “detect sentiment, expression and advocacy to understand what people like and dislike.”
Bruce Springsteen MP3 Bootleg Index
How devoted are Bruce Springsteen’s fans? Not just the ones who yell “Broooooce” at his concerts … anyone can do that. The fans who maintain this index, which consists of lovingly if not quite legally recorded concerts and such, are hard-core. You’ll find material dating back to the Seventies, when The Boss was just one of the New Dylans, and before people starting describing soulful rockers with something to say as New Springsteens.
Slice The Pie
Have you ever championed an up-and-coming group so much that you’d bet on their success? Welcome to Slice the Pie, which actually lets you put your money where your mouth is. The prospects are generally unknowns, and the stakes are fairly small (the idea is that many hands can work together to help a band make it to the next level), but as games go, this one is far more rooted in reality than many virtual alternatives.
Minnesota Public Radio tunes
I love finding music, and I like a good bargain, which makes free song-of-the-day features an attractive find. I recommend the long-running offers from the U.S. radio stations KEXP and KCRW; here’s another one, hosted by a Minnesota Pubic Radio program called The Current, specializing in the broad label that is alternative rock. Recent entries have included better-known bands like Spoon to up-and-comers, like the UK folk act Mumford & Sons.
Great Canadian Song Quest concert
Last year, CBC Radio 2 painted itself red and white and asked its audience to pick the places in the country deserving to be commemorated in song, and the artists to do the tunes. The local winners were Gros Morne National Park and Hey Rosetta! (above) Here’s a link to a video of the resulting concert. Kick your feet up and enjoy.
For almost a decade, Songfight has been a champion of grassroots, handmade, no-frills indie music. And, yes, getting fans to fight about it. The premise is simple: for each weekly voting period, bands or singers upload their own songs, and then the public votes on what they like. You can vote once each week, but you may actually vote for more than just one song. Indeed, you’re asked to vote for all the “good” stuff and ignore the bad. Even better, you can download what you like for free.
Fuller Up: The Dead Musician Directory
It may be in poor taste, but I bet this site attracts plenty of visitors, curious to learn how various musicians met their fate. There’s not a lot of scholarship here (some entries appear to have just been copied and pasted from other sites), but some fascinating, if grim, reading.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's, and works with CBC News in St. John's. John is on Twitter right here.