Music to Your Ears
Satellite of Love
With the horrifyingly low quality of contemporary FM and AM radio, satellite radio is one of the best things that’s happened to music in the past decade or so. Unless you’re the kind of person who has extremely particular, pretentious tastes, there’s something for everyone on the fake airwaves.
My affections belong to “The ‘ Handsome Dick’ Manitoba Program” and “The Kim Fowley Program” on Little Steven's Underground Garage, as well as various hipsters’ shows on Sirius XM U. Those two stations, in my biased opinion, are the best that Sirius provides. (Our editor-in-chief also adds The Loft, home of “David Johansen’s Mansion of Fun” and “Lou Reed’s New York Shuffle with Hal Wilner,” as a source of choice tunage.) The Underground Garage specializes in "the coolest rock and roll records ever made," and they aren't kidding. Meanwhile, indie rock station XM U is what I listen to when the Underground Garage is playing Dusty Springfield, or when Andrew Loog Oldham is rambling on. While I don't enjoy all of XM U’s content—such as the puzzlingly frequent interviews with Ariel Pink wherein every other word from his mouth is "like," or the dogmatic views on Arcade Fire's supposed excellence—75 percent of it fraught with awesome.
For instance, Tuesday, Sept. 13, marked the big fall record release barrage. New material from Ladytron, The Kooks, Das Racist, Mason Jennings, St. Vincent, Mates of State, Toro Y Moi, Wild Flag, Mogwai, Neon Indian, Nick Lowe, Blitzen Trapper and about four score more became available. XM U used the time leading up to the releases to preview the albums and suggest what's worthy of your downloading budget. (My favorite, by the way, is the psychedelic pop / rock and roll of Bay Area band Girls' Father, Son, Holy Ghost.) Naturally, not all of the suggestions were valuable. But what’s remarkable is their ongoing effort to expose people to new underground/independent/avant-garde music, therefore increasing cultural IQs and making the world a better place. The DJs of satellite radio are truly doing God’s work.