Where do those who write about new music find out about their new music?
A Closer Listen is only one of a host of websites whose existence can best be described as symbiotic. We each have our own private connections and submissions, but often the best way to expand our own horizons is to check out what our friends are doing. We don’t see each other as being in competition, but in complement. For a fuller picture of the modern instrumental world, we recommend these other sites as well.
We’ll be adding more sites as we roll along, but these are our current favorites!
Fluid Radio is the gold standard of music sites, excelling in multiple areas at once: timely reviews, comprehensive coverage, speedy announcements, exclusive mixes, insightful interviews, a radio station, a store, and an amazing digital magazine. Dan Crossley has also become an exceptionally fine photographer over the years, and his photos provide a personal touch that is immediately endearing. But perhaps the site’s finest feature is its positive nature ~ something that we aim to emulate at A Closer Listen. For coverage in the areas of ambient & modern composition, there’s no better place to turn, which is why more than any other site, Fluid Radio is worth checking every day.
Headphone Commute is the work of one man whose anonymity keeps him objective. The face of the site is the lovely Zoetica Ebb, pictured to the left. The site is chock-full of exclusive interviews, mixes, and coverage of all the genres we love, its particular strength being dark, beat-driven electronics. But its most endearing feature is its unique year-end lists, whose headings include “Music for Withered Leaves and Lonely Fishtanks” and “Music for Watching the Snow Fall Slowly in the Moonlight.”
Only half a year old, this site has quickly endeared itself to fans of field recordings and soundscapes. The editors include the heads of the Mystery Sea, Ripples and Impulsive Habitat labels, who clearly know the territory they cover. Since The Field Reporter‘s focus is so defined, many other luminaries have been happy to lend their aid. The site has since branched out to include mixes and original commissioned material. We’re excited to see what’s coming next!
Every month, Textura sends out an email alerting subscribers to the publication of the newest issue, packed with reviews, interviews, songs, videos and special features. This Canadian-based site covers a wide variety of instrumental and experimental music, with a special place in its heart for creative electronic releases. As each month progresses, a list alerts us to future reviews. We love the Links section of the site, which lists other review sites and labels; this page of A Closer Listen seeks to honor that generosity.
Sure, the writers of The Wire tend to be over-educated and have a tendency to send us searching through our online dictionaries, but this simply means that they know what they’re doing. The print version is still a favorite of many, but the online version adds more content and quicker news. Exclusive compilations add to the allure. Those who enjoy improvised and experimental music should subscribe immediately.
Vital Weekly is an e-mail magazine, which appears 48 times a year and has the latest cd-reviews and news on concerts and festivals. It’s the internet’s oldest music review site. It started in 1987 as magazine on paper, in simple xeroxed form to ensured a free copyright and everybody was encouraged to make copies and distribute them freely. Up until 1995 44 issues were made and with the arrival of the Internet, Vital changed into a pure review newsletter and since then it appears weekly. Still as a free service and still without copyright. In the future we hope to get the old paper issues online too.
It’s charmingly straightforward, in content as well as design.
In 2011, Jeremy Bible did the unthinkable: he left his regular day job to concentrate entirely on Experimedia. This makes him brave or lucky or both. We admire his courage, and we’re also a little bit jealous, as he gets to spend each day listening to and writing about new music, posting wonderful exclusive previews, and running his own label. Ambient, experimental, modern composition and even prog receive ample coverage. Jeremy is also an artist in his own right, and we hope he’s left time for recording!
If we bought everything Boomkat recommended, we’d be broke. But the ability to listen to sound snippets of everything before buying is a welcome bonus, as is the fact that so many of Boomkat’s offerings are also available as downloads. New releases appear every day, but the big list appears every Thursday. Exclusives – such as those from the Cotton Goods label – tend to go fast. While many fields are covered, Boomkat excels in covering techno, house, minimal and other electronic beat music.
Norman Records shares some of the same territory as Boomkat, but offers a wider array of rock, post-rock, progressive and psychedelic releases. The key appeal of the site is its colorful array of personalities, who all chip in on reviews. Every Friday, 20 new releases receive the home page highlight, but those who want to learn about new music before that are directed to the site’s constantly-updated pre-order page.
Metal, post-metal, sludge, doom, and drone are avidly covered by this motley metallic crew of reviewers, who must be the most excited collective around. One can imagine the Aquarius Records staffers jumping around the office with air guitars, crying out for more volume. A new release list appears every other Friday, but is often supplemented by in-between lists centering on specific topics or genres.