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 V.24 No.3 | January 15 - 21, 2015 

How to Do Literally Everything

How to Fall in Love with Music Again

Robert Maestas
In my capacity as Alibi music editor, I regularly hear folks—young and old alike—bemoaning a lack of “good” new music. There's the Baby Boomer rock aficionado for whom anything released after 1979 doesn't measure up to Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. There's the countrypolitan/old country acolyte, whose aural pantheon rejects any acts newer than George Jones. The act of falling in love with new music involves subjectivity aplenty. But it breaks my heart that anyone might fall asleep each night without the prospect of a sonic love affair—an aural meet cute, if you will—on the horizon. Read on for a quick-and-dirty intro to rekindling your passion for discovering new music.

Radio on

If you feel abandoned by corporate radio, you're not alone. Thank goodness for local college station KUNM 89.9FM with its myriad music programs that exist solely to play matchmaker for you with artists/bands, songs and albums. The KUNM programs I regularly tune in to are: Afternoon Freeform; Music to Soothe the Savage Beast; Other Voices, Other Sounds; Overnight Freeform; Street Beat; The House that Jazz Built and Home of Happy Feet. Peruse KUNM’s veritable smorgasbord of music programs at bit.ly/kunmAtoZ. The station’s two-week archive offers a virtual time machine. Radio Free America (RFA) is a national public radio website/widget that enables listeners to converse with DJs and browse program playlists in real time. It offers free cloud-based streaming-and-storage and an online/mobile platform for college, independent and non-commercial educational radio stations and their DJs, listeners and the other content creators who make up the community. Plus RFA is based right here in Albuquerque, and the KUNM DJs are in on it. Learn more at bit.ly/RFAKUNM.

"Ronald Reagan as Radio Announcer 1934-37". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Computer love

It breaks my heart that anyone might fall asleep each night without the prospect of a sonic love affair on the horizon. Read on for a quick-and-dirty intro to rekindling your passion for discovering new music.

Everyone knows about Spotify. But that ubiquitous service ain’t the only or even best sonic meet-cute spot on line. A plethora of streaming radio and content websites and services await your forward-thinking curiosity. Even social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and the like can hook you up with boss tuneage, whether courtesy of friends and followers with impeccable taste or by using the sites/apps like a search engine. I’m notorious for an obsessive-compulsive attraction to themes and playlists, but it’s been a while since I’ve inflicted my taste on the masses. Peruse the Alibi playlist/mix vault at bit.ly/alibiplaylists.

With the exception KUNM 89.9 FM (hyperlocal) and KRKE 94.5 FM (über-’80s), my version of “the radio” is my main squeeze Soundcloud and a handful of other services. My second go-to is 8tracks.com. This site/app turns mp3 files into streaming playlists; these e-mixtapes play like streaming radio, allowing just two skips per session. Explore 8tracks by genre, artist, activity or, ahem, mood. This is a perfect example of creating-a-profile-to-maximize-a-free-app as a totally worthwhile waste of 3 minutes. Make a playlist, follow some like-minded members and find yourself expansive and curious. It feels intuitive and social.

Every indie band needs a bandcamp.com profile with some name-your-price tracks in the catalog. That’s why Bandcamp is an essential destination for music lovers. Search by genre, artist and so on and get results for what you searched for and what you didn’t yet know to search for. The user experience on the site is superior to the Android and iTunes apps but they all work equally well.

Other sites and services I hear good things about are: Pandora, Mixcloud, Sonarflow, Last.fm, Soundhound and I Heart Radio.

If you've never used operators in your Google searches, you’ve never really searched, man.

Search smarter, not harder

Search operators are words and symbols you can add to searches to narrow down the results. When you search using these operators, don't add spaces between the operator and your search terms. A search for site:alibi.com.com will work, but site: alibi.com will not.

site: Get results from certain sites or domains. For example, you can find all mentions of "music" on the Alibi website, or any .org websites (ex: music site:alibi.com and music site:.org)

related: Discover similar sites to a URLs you frequent. If you search for related sites to the alibi.com (ex. related:alibi

@ Finding social tags and profiles (ex. @weeklyalibi)

# Finding popular hashtags for trending topics (ex.: #notbored)

- Excluding word(s) and websites from search results. To wit in the following example, whether omitting (the word) “bored” or (the website) “notbored,” the minus sign gets the job done. (ex. -bored -notbored.org)

“ ” And last but certainly not least, don’t be afraid of quotation marks. Go ahead and use ’em , and make sure you get “exactly” what you damn well came for.

Scope an intensive how-to on all the above operator symbols and terms at bit.ly/googlefu1 and bit.ly/googlefu2.

"PDP-12-Update-Uppsala" by Bjarni Juliusson - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
The (not so) blah-g-o-sphere

The death of the blogosphere has been greatly exaggerated. The trick is finding the right blogs and sites and Tumblrs and labels and artists, which involves mastering the basics of Google-fu. If you've never used operators in your Google searches, you’ve never really searched, man. Here are the basics.

Use exact phrases when searching for genres or titles of songs and albums, especially when they include commonly used words. Google is a Boolean search engine at heart and the and is implied in each search, but typing it won’t hurt anything. Two of my favorite genres, post-punk and darkwave, hail largely from the ’70s through ’90s. So I visit google.com and type in:

post-punk dark wave

I haven’t even narrowed down the date, and the results are: the dark wave Wikipedia entry, a couple YouTube mixes, a Reddit thread, a user-created list of minimal synth, coldwave, dark wave and post-punk labels on discogs.com and streaming sites/apps including 8tracks.com, last.fm and mixcloud.com. Put simply, those results aren’t too shabby. But some slightly advanced Google-fu can take me so much higher.

Now I type a phrase and content context into my Google search box:

“post-punk” (blog | review) “dark wave” (blog | review)

And the first result Google serves up is systemsofromance.com. Systems of Romance was forged and remains helmed by Frankie Teardrop, who specializes in "rare and out of print ... post-punk, coldwave, minimal synth, Italo disco, EBM, industrial, and synthpop.” He collects obscure vinyl gems from the ’70s through early ’90s, and he shares them with fellow fans at the SOR blog. In short, SOR is my spirit animal; I’m already a devoted familiar but were I not, a smart search would have hipped me.

For example’s sake, let’s say a hungry audiophile with a serious craving for metal and drone wants to find their Systems of Romance. We simply modify the previous search to:

“metal” (blog | review) “drone” (blog | review)

The search yields: a Guardian interview/profile of doom godfather/Earth frontman Dylan Carlson and an honest-to-goodness, regularly updated blog for doom, sludge, drone and stoner rock lovers to swoon over, Doom Metal Front: A Magazine for Slow and Low-tuned Music. Sure, it’s in German, but Google Translate works miracles for language barriers, so get in on it at bit.ly/doommetalfront. The next result is the name-your-price Bandcamp catalog of Brisbane-based black metal foursome Hope Drone at hopedrone.bandcamp.com. My point with these overwrought examples is this it—whatever that is for you—is out there, on the interwebz, dreaming of you too. Maybe your “metal” and “drone” is “new beat” and “post-punk,” “old country” and “experimental,” “R&B” and “bounce,” “seapunk” and “library music,” “alt.country” and “no wave” or “rockabilly” and “punk.”

O! Soundcloud!

This is the holy grail of sonic exploration, y’all. This is another website/smartphone app that requires an initial investment of time. To truly reap the potential benefits of Soundcloud, create an account and customize your experience by following your Top 10—or 100—labels; your most admired DJs; and your preferred music magazines and websites. For example, I’m partial to electro, synth pop, minimal wave, no wave, noise/experimental, post-punk, drone and metal, so I follow labels I love, like Captured Tracks, Sacred Bones, Dark Entries, TriAngle, Blackest Ever Black, L.I.E.S., RVNG Intl., Experimedia, Sicksicksick Distro, SIGE and so on.

Then there's the music journo/magazine set. I follow Decibel (metal), NME (alt/indie rock), Dazed & Confused (youth culture), Brooklyn Vegan (NYC/ Austin/ Chicago- centric), Dummy Mag (21st century pop), The FADER (emerging), Мишка Bloglin (hip-hop adjacent/left-field/witchy), The Wire (underground) and so on. Copy editor and staff writer Mark Lopez suggests Pitchfork, (where I was just surreally namechecked alongside people like Carrie Brownstein for my forthcoming live, onstage conversation with Kim Gordon (Body/Head née Sonic Youth) at the UNM SUB Ballroom on Sunday, March 1, 2015), Stereogum and Consequence of Sound.

 
 

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