New music

I can’t stand listening to commercials on the radio, and I’m too old to steal music, so how do I find new music? For the most part I just don’t. But when I do, it’s usually through NPR, coffee shops, and other programmers.

National Public Radio: My favorite find from NPR is The Moss Brothers, a teenage (in 2002) drum-and-guitar rock duo. I heard “Heaven Got Overpopulated” from Electricitation on some morning news show and ordered the CD as soon as I got to the office. Evan and Reuben Moss quit the rock business after their second CD and are now in college – our loss. Do yourself a favor and either steal their music or listen to the previews on Amazon.

Babe Ruth went and so did Moses
Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roses
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Lenin too
So will me and so will you

Robert Johnson and Jimmy Cox
Joe the guy that wore no socks
Washington, Abe, and Luther King
So will, so will everything

Heaven got overpopulated
Too many people went up there
When I go up, there will be no room left
Yeah, and it's just not fair

Coffee shops: I spend a lot of time working in coffee shops, listening to the same music played over and over again (I think it’s part of the plan to drive out laptop campers like me). Sometime the music is pretty good, which I used to ascribe to the hipness of your average coffee shop barista, but every time I ask one of them what is playing, they look at me blankly and shrug. So now I just google the lyrics. This is how I found Peter, Bjorn, and John, John Mayer, and The Postal Service.

Other programmers: I bought my very first CD (in 1999, I’m slow) after reading the comments to a Linux driver (which I can’t find now) listing the music the author listened to while writing the driver. I wasn’t a fan of The Orb and eventually returned their CD, but I stuck with Orbital.

So that’s how I have so far avoided musical fossilization in the Age of Grunge Rock. Hope that helps.

Note: All anti-Amazon comments will be deleted with prejudice. If you really care about software patents, do something slightly more productive, like join The Peer to Patent Project.

17 thoughts on “New music

  1. I’m so into Shazam on my iPhone right now.

    But I’m with you on new music. Although I do listen to the radio. It’s nice though, you just run Shazam and record 15 seconds of the song, and it pops up the name of the song and the artist.

    It’s how I figured out that I loved the new Killers song, and the album isn’t out until tomorrow! (Which I’m buying.)

    I hope you’re having a good one! Any plans for New Year’s Eve?

  2. If you ever listen to internet radio, I recommend you try out — it’s all independent Canadian music. And it’s public radio, so no ads!

    I find indie music can sometimes be hit or miss, but I’ve definitely found stuff through them that i couldn’t find otherwise, and there’s a lot of really great bands in their play rotation. (I’m listening to the Weakerthans now.) And if you want to get more wheat and less chaff, you can hit up the R3-30 show which showcases the best of for the week. (They podcast that too.)

    Plus, you can always queue up more of a band you like on the r3 website, as well as get a link to the band’s website and such when you want to buy a CD. And you’re supporting indie music rather than just giant labels, which tends to make me feel like my money’s going more to music and less to lawsuits.

    Other places I get new music: cbc radio 1 and 2 and live concerts (I go to a few festivals in the summer, which is a great way to get exposed to new bands.) Radio 1 and 2 are also available online if you want, but not all their shows are new music oriented, so it would all depend on when you want to listen.

  3. I go with the “other programmers” thing too. By that, I mean a friend sitting next to me, hacking away at sound drivers, with his headphones playing louder than most people can bear, so that I can hear it too. Or my roommate, who blasts music when she’s programming.

    I do the coffee shop thing too, but there’s one we go to that has this awful tendency to Rick Roll us every time we go.

    But yeah, the comment up there…that could work. There are about 50 free mp3s available for me to download right now of its recommendations for me. And then there’s the radio part that plays all sorts of stuff similar to what you listen to. Sometimes I tell Rhythmbox to find the “Artists similar to….” and fill in, for example, The Temptations, so I can get some motown.

  4. I should probably also add that a lot of Americans assume that CBC is just like NPR, and in my experience, that’s not really true. The CBC is a very different beast, perhaps closer to the BBC than the NPR. Generally speaking, it feels a bit higher budget, as well as quirkier, more playful, and the CBC is surprisingly hip to new media for a crown corporation.

  5. Like John Mayer? Try…

    …a fellow named Peter Mayer. No relation, but mellow guitar oriented rock. Start with Romeo’s Garage, and expand from there. And don’t worry, he’s not going anywhere. When he isn’t doing solo work he plays in a pretty popular band – the Coral Reefer Band, backing Jimmy Buffet.

  6. I delegate the finding of new music to , who finds much of it either through his s33krit music recommendation networks (his sister) or else through watching this, meaning my music listening is biased towards things with good video clips, even though I never watch clips. Commercial-free broadcast music: yay.

  7. Amoeba

    Since you live in the city, you should visit Amoeba – Corrie is a frequent customer there, she reports that the staff there are very friendly and knowledgeable. Also, you can listen to CD’s you are considering purchasing on their bespoke barcode scanning, winamp playing stations.

    (I like magnatune for classical music.)

  8. woxy

    If you like indie rock at all – and going by the Postal Service mention, you’re not against it – my best recommendation is WOXY, a station out of Cincy. Of all places.

    I’ve tried KCRW and other “alternative” stations with some success, but I always come back to WOXY. It’s the rare day that I don’t grab 3-6 new tracks at a minimum from Amazon/eMusic based on what they play. You can listen to a couple of my finds from WOXY here: in the event that you’re interested.

    And for the record, I don’t have any relationship with WOXY to disclose: the only thing I’ve ever gotten from them is a sticker ( Just a big fan.

    Anyway, enjoy.

  9. Pandora

    Pandora ( is great for finding new music. You put in songs or groups you like, and let it find songs or artists with similar qualities. It will also tell you *why* it picked a specific song for you.

    I’ve found it helpful in a few ways. Not only did it help me to find new music, but it has also taught me a great deal about my own tastes. It’s strange when you see the exact same qualities being selected in wildly different genres.

  10. I’ve found a lot of music through It takes you to some suprising places. I’ve actually purchased a lot of great stuff (which is, I suppose, the very idea) that I still listen to months later. I can stream it through the crackberry, but that uses a lot of battery, of course.

    I still spin up Orbital once in a while. Good stuff, but unfortunately I have all the discs almost completely memorized.

    Recently I heard about Miles-Gurtu from a strange place, but their description induced me to buy it totally unheard… and I find it fantastic.

  11. I’m not sure if you can get it in the States, but I have a spare invite to Spotify if you’re interested… Streaming music (buffering takes <1 second) with a huge back catalogue. All for free - the commercials usually last about 20 seconds once every 20 minutes.

  12. Re:

    +1 :-) is one of the few web sites I actually pay for ( being the other). The music suggestion based on your listening is a great way to get introduced to new bands. You can then easily drill into artists and select “more like this”. It also provides a handy internet radio stream.

  13. Re: woxy

    On the same note of “if you like indie rock at all”, KEXP in Seattle is a very good radio station. The morning show (6-10 PDT) has a good set of new and recent indie songs. One of my friends who moved to SF from Seattle says that this is the only radio station she listens to besides NPR. Watch out for membership drives, though. :)

    They also have a song of the day feed and in-studio live performances to download.

  14. No plans as yet, but I hope to at least match last year’s epic night, which included Veuf Cliquot in plastic cups and an extremely shaggy fake fur coat…

  15. Oh nice! I think Tom is having a party in the city and I thought I would invite you and Kristal… :)

    Although I don’t think that is going to match last year.

  16. The CBC also has (or used to have) the wonderful As It Happens which though doesn’t really play indy music, it does provide an excellent antidote to so much of the commerical radio. When I began to listen to This American Life on NPR, the closest thing I could compare it to was AIH for its unique window.

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