At first glance All Music might appear a little bit too bookish, a little bit dreary and a little bit dry – but bite through its plain exterior and you’ll discover a lush core of musical treats. Massively encyclopaedic, All Music is brimming full of audio clips, in-depth biographies, album reviews, recommendations, genre picks and more. Regularly updated and almost endlessly detailed, it acts as both an excellent introduction to new artists and a brilliant reference tool for keeping tabs on old favourites.
This influential US radio station is one of the best places to find out about upcoming North American artists. Offering fans free daily MP3s, you can download album samplers and singles from artists both big and small. Each ‘Song of the Day’ comes with a full description should you wish to pick and choose, alternatively there’s a helpful subscription service too. Beyond the freebies, KEXP’s website is crammed full of thoughtful features as well as news and links to their own audio output.
Internet Archive (Live Music)
The Internet Archive is home to thousands of absolutely awesome freebies, but perhaps the most impressive of offerings is its extensive list of live concerts. Featuring quality recordings from a range of established and obscure artists, you’re free to grab as much music as you like. The fact there are hundreds of performances from acts such as The Smashing Pumpkins, The Grateful Dead and Ryan Adams should be enough to convince any music fan of its worth.
Oft imitated never bettered, Pitchfork is the daddy of music review sites. Each album critique is an unrelenting, esoterically referenced rant of epic proportions. Often reviews are nothing more than deliciously skewed egovehicles for the website’s team of rabidly opinionated music hacks. But that doesn’t make it any less important a resource. Yes Pitchfork is up its own arse, but the staff involved have an undeniable ability to find, laud and recommend obscure gems which often develop into long-term favourites. They also rather brutally reviewed Jet’s album ‘Shine On’ by placing a YouTube clip of a monkey urinating on its own face. Controversial? Maybe. Entertaining? Undoubtedly. Useful? Certainly.