Want to be ‘in the know’ when it comes to indie/alternative music? Well, the good news is that you can now update your music credentials with a humble click of the mouse!
While these larger (and, sometimes, more corporate) websites may not feel as intimate as the personally penned music blog, nor perhaps as specialized, obscure, or indeed controversial, you can always rely on the following big-name sites to pick the diamonds from the rough of the sprawling blogosphere!
So, get the low down on breaking bands, grab fresh (and free) MP3s, or simply surf your way through the latest news and reviews by checking out the following list compiled by SongLyrics, which details some of the hottest spots on the world wide web for the freshest indie/alternative goss.
1. The Fader
The Fader is a comprehensive Manhattan-based culture magazine, founded by Rob Stone and Jon Cohen in 1998. Born into a dangerous climate, littered with foldings within the indie magazine market, The Fader managed to survive by withholding its credible (and now trademark) reporting of bona fide music (or “covering artists based on the merit of their music and not how many records they would sell” according to publisher, Andy Cohn).
Alongside the gnarly mag, the publication’s website is an equally ace, equally passionate reference for any musos seeking up-to-scratch info on the latest MP3s, new videos, and free album streams. The Fader’s online domain also operates Music Channel, which boasts regular, exclusive interview flicks with top-name artists.
As well as its celebrated music coverage (which, alongside a primary focus on alternative/indie, also covers hip-hop, pop and electronica), The Fader also has columns dedicated to fashion and the arts.
Oh, and don’t forget to add The Fader record label—which rocks an awesome roster including Editors, Matt and Kim, Birdmonster and Neon Indian (the latter being a signing not without controversy)—to this publication’s list of feats!
Chicago-based Pitchfork is one of the most influential (and perhaps detrimental) websites in indie and alternative music. Founded in 1995 by Ryan Schreiber (since voted one of TIME’s ‘Most Influential People’), Pitchfork is known for its refined yet candid reviews (the website infamously shunned words when it came to critiquing Jet’s 2006 LP, Shine On, and instead chose to embed a video of a monkey urinating into its own mouth), though it has long been criticized for its ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude.
As well as the notorious reviews, Pitchfork offers news, exclusive interviews and a special video channel titled Pitchfork.TV. The publication also runs the annual Chicago-based Pitchfork Music Festival (check out these reviews of the July bash’s three respective days), and this 2011, will launch its first-ever international festival at the La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris (which we featured, here).
NME is best recognized as the UK’s longest running (and most popular) music weekly, starting out as a newspaper in 1952, before moving towards magazine format in the 1980s.
Though a music industry veteran, NME has not been without its difficulties. The publication experienced a major dip in sales at the beginning of the millennium, but in 2010, NME relaunched itself under the orders of the magazine’s new, and first female editor, Krissi Murison (a relaunch which went down, really rather well).
Since its launch in 1996, NME.com has also held a tight grip on the digital dominion—in fact, a staggering five million music fans now flock to the website every month in search of the latest in indie rock and roll.
Primarily famed for its user-friendly stream of music news, NME.com also features opinion blogs, reviews, gig listings, a merchandise and ticket store, videos, photos, MP3s, and message boards. It is also possible to access NME Radio, a fantastic digital radio station which broadcasts the best in new and alternative music 24/7, from this bustling website.
Stereogum was launched by Scott Lapatine back in January 2002. The website was one of the first ever ‘MP3 blogs’ to hit the net. Nearly a decade on, and Stereogum has bloomed into one of the most premier (albeit, corporate?) places on the web to catch the latest in indie/alternative, from breaking music news, to the latest videos, to free music downloads (including the website’s trademark ‘tribute albums‘, where Stereogum hire a bunch of indie pin-ups to cover tracks from a legendary LP ala Radiohead’s OK Computer, or, The Strokes’ Is This It).
Stereogum is also recognized for its flair for discovering artists (just check out their ‘Band to Watch’ section to be one musical step ahead of your buds), with the website having been early champions of the likes of Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, and Fleet Foxes.
5. The Quietus
The Quietus is one of the most regal (some would argue pretentious?) music publications currently gracing the world wide web. Founded by John Doran in 2008, the broadsheet-quality British website is considered ‘up there’ with the likes of Pitchfork when it comes to its highbrow and high-tasted content.
Doran claims he and his impressive roster of contributors and guest writers aim to target “the intelligent music fan between the age of 21 and, well, 73”. Despite its generally indie/alternative leanings, The Quietus also covers everything from “dubstep, death metal (the website actually has a celebrated column dedicated to metal) and post punk to hip hop, pop and space rock”.
Among The Quietus’ features include comprehensive and genuinely enlightening reviews, exclusive interviews with some illustrious indie names, passionate and witty opinion pieces, and the expected stream of news, videos and MP3s. The Quietus also operates a special area dedicated to cinema.
Drowned in Sound’s origins lie in the unassuming email newsletter of the 90s, ‘The Last Resort’. At the dawn of the millennium, the newsletter’s primary scribe, Sean Adams, finally fired the DiS website into the digital realm.
Over the past decade, Drowned in Sound, fueled by its team of worldwide correspondents, has developed into Europe’s most clicked-on destination on the web for “any rock misfit searching for an alternative to the mainstream music press“.
Among the website’s myriad of features include an on-the-ball news bulletin, genuinely revealing artist interviews, wholeheartedly-penned reviews, plus one the most fervent of music forums you will possibly locate online.
Chicago’s Consequence of Sound was founded in September 2007 by Alex Young. The website—which was voted About.com’s Best Music Blog of 2010—exhibits a knack for genuinely bright music writing, without resorting to incomprehensible stuffiness, via its plethora of features and reviews.
Consequence of Sound is particularly famed for its popular (though controversial) ‘Festival Outlook’ feature, which continues to crack a tonne of big name festival line ups, weeks before official announcements are made.
While you’re visiting, be sure to check out the recently-launched ‘Cluster 1‘, COS’s spin-off video station, which features music videos, short films, animation, and puppetry among its many ocular treats!
Tiny Mix Tapes started out as a nostalgic GeoCities-hosted website titled ‘Tiny Mix Tapes Gone to Heaven’. In 2001, said title was made significantly less verbose (thank goodness!), and that same year, the newly-named webzine upped sticks to its current digital domain.
Operated by the mysterious Mr. P and his curious roster of writers (Gumshoe, Jspicer, Pliny the Elder, to name a few…), Tiny Mix Tapes prides itself on its coverage of “every single style of music in existence”.
Despite its self-proclaimed scope of coverage (a claim which is, indeed, justified), for those pursuing the cream of alternative, the endearingly wacko Tiny Mix Tapes is the perfect place to crash, thanks to its sterling stream of indie-inclined news, reviews and features (be sure to check out TMT’s ‘Chocolate Grinder’ in particular—this appetizingly-labelled section of the site offers a stream of the latest MP3s to hit up the skinny-jeaned end of the webosphere).
Perhaps the gnarliest Tiny Mix Tapes feature of all is the interactive ‘Mix Tapes’ feature, which generates rad compilation tapes based on readers’ obscure (and ever side-splitting!) themes—just check out these soundtracks for “riding a bear into the sunset‘, or, this mix tape which aims to remind you that there are “aliens in space who probably have time travel“!
musicOMH is a London-based independent music website which was founded by Michael Hubbard back in 1999. While the digital publication continues to maintain a ‘wordly’ quality thanks to its impressive checklist of correspondents pitched in all corners of the globe, the website is particularly hailed for its idiosyncratic, “Brit-centric” take on content.
Maintaining a perfect balance between broadsheet quality and music weekly modernity (though it is not without its detractors!), you can count on the exceedingly user-friendly musicOMH to deliver a diverse and respected range of album critiques, live reviews and features (alongside its indie/alternative coverage, musicOMH also has a renowned area dedicated to opera and classical music).
Alongside a strong focus on the indie and alternative, The Guardian Music also covers pop, urban, classical and jazz (to name a mere few!). Circulating a daily dose of news, reviews and a-list interviews (impromptu rhyme!), The Guardian team also publish some of the most enlightening, quirky and down-right funny music features on the web (check out this piece by Stuart Heritage, which tells you how to become Lana Del Rey in six easy steps, or Jon Henley’s rather eerie look at the music that surgeons listen to while at work).
Further website highlights include the ever-eclectic ‘Music Weekly’ podcast, the infamous ‘New Band of the Day’ series as steered by the unrelenting music journalist, Paul Lester (a series he claims has “ruined his life”), a bitchin’-and-moanin’ (and debate-stirring of a) blog, plus a newly-launched interactive feature which allows readers the chance to become the music critics.