Friday, 15 January 2016

Discovering New Music

Something people often ask me is "how do you hear about all of these weird sounding bands that you write about?" The first answer that usually comes into me head is "I listen to things other than Radio 1 or Kiss or whatever is popular on the radio" But then I remember I don't have to be a blunt idiot all of the time and I talk about how I do discover all of the bands that I listen to. I figured that this might be an interesting topic for a column so here it is.

I think that the very best way to discover new bands is to go out and go to gigs, even if you don't know any of the bands that are playing, chances are you might enjoy them. Generally if you don't know any of the bands playing then tickets will be cheap so it won't be like you will be spending a lot of money if you don't end up liking any of the bands. I'm always surprised when I go to bigger gigs at the amount of people who just turn up for the headline band. I can't remember a time when I've ever done that. Watching the support bands is something I always enjoy at a gig and is such a good way to find new bands. One of my best discoveries from watching support bands is French hardcore band Wank For Peace. They were supporting Ducking Punches and River Jumpers at the Brixton Windmill in 2014 and I was just blown away by their energy, passion and aggression and they went on to be one of the bands I've listened to most since. I probably would never have listened to that band if I hadn't have gotten to the gig early for the supports and if I hadn't I would have missed out. Going to gigs and getting there early is the best way to find your new favourite band!

Another way I find fantastic new bands is the website Bandcamp. Sure there are a lot of great sites for streaming music legally on the Internet these days such as Spotify and Soundcloud, but for me Bandcamp is the best for finding exciting and new bands. In particular Bandcamp has a section on its website called Discover that shows the bands that are the best selling, or most recommended by other artists or have the newest releases in every genre of music you could possibly think of. You can then stream the music for free with no adverts and if you like what you hear you can buy the music and merch direct from the bands. You can also see the bands’ tour dates on the page. Spotify and Soundcloud don't offer such a thing. Another great feature on Bandcamp is the ability to add friends and check out what they have been buying. This is how I discovered one of my favourite acts of 2015 - Paper Rifles. Randomly clicking through Avon's Bandcamp I checked Paper Rifles out and the rest is history. I can spend hours clicking around Bandcamp checking out new music, sometimes spending far too much money in the process. If you're not on Bandcamp already I strongly suggest you join. You can add me as a friend too - Colin Clark.

One way I used to discover new bands before digital music became so big was by reading the booklets that come with CD's where bands would list people and bands that they wanted to thank. I would always make a note (sometimes mentally, often physically) and look out for certain bands next time I was in HMV or Virgin Megastore. I'd also look out for what record label the CD was put out on and check out other bands on that label. I'm pretty sure that other punks who are of similar age to me will have grown up buying every CD from Epitaph Records or Fat Wreck Chords just because they were put out on that label. They were marks of quality - even if you had no idea who the band were you knew you were going to love it.

Another great way to discover new bands is on compilations. Whether it's on a CD or just available digitally, I love a compilation or a playlist. Always very reasonably priced and full of amazing bands, there is always something fun on a compilation. In the digital age it is possible to get a compilation of seemingly unlimited bands for next to nothing. Often compilations are put together to help raise money for charity so not only can you discover some amazing new acts you can do it for a good cause. 

These are just some of the ways I've found are excellent ways to discover new music and I hope anyone reading this has found it helpful. Alternatively you could just start your own blog, work hard and become lucky enough to have bands send you albums and EPs!