Summer School of Rock: Tell-all confessional

Harry Houdini once said, “A true magician never reveals his secrets.”

Alright actually I heard that from Gob Bluth on “Arrested Development.” Minor technicality. They’re one in the same.

In my travels in and around the bustling cities of rural south central Pennsylvania, I’ve been stalked by paparazzi and music critics alike who all come to me with the same question: “Where do you find all of your awe-inspiring bands?” Thank you, thank you, you’re all too kind.

Yes, it’s true that a magician never reveals his (her) secrets. But sometimes, magicians go out of town for the weekend without their laptops and come back to a full-time babysitting job that leaves them no time to whip up a decent review for a recently discovered band which they had no time to discover in the first place. It’s times like these that secrets are worth divulging to young magician apprentices like yourselves.

Lesson #6: Do your research.

The devastating truth is, good music does not come to those who wait. If you wait for the hottest little-known band to come walking to your doorstep, invite themselves in and play a private concert in your bedroom, you’ll eventually find yourself eighty years old and still thinking that Selena Gomez was the best thing to ever stain the Top 100 chart. And yes, stain is absolutely the best verb to use there.

If you want to be a real music connoisseur, you’ve got to go out there, take music by the metaphorical horns, and steer that sucker to the ends of the earth until he passes out from exhaustion. Fingers crossed that he passes out in Bora Bora rather than the Sahara Desert.

gavel4All figurative language aside, it takes a good bit of research and persistence to find new bands. I mean, if they were at the top of the charts and making headlines on Yahoo! Music, then they wouldn’t be undiscovered, would they? And as we all know, the best things in life don’t come easy. Alright, last cliché phrase, I promise.

The best place to learn about music and get the best taste of it is from people that make music their life. Trust me, I know from personal experience: As much as you think that you’re the Bill Gates of the music world, there will always be someone who is Bill Gates-ier. For most of us, music is a hobby. For some, it’s their job. I’ve found that sometimes, it’s okay to admit that you had help from the professionals.

Wait, you thought all this knowledge was with me from birth?! I do like to believe that I was born with little headphones in my ears, but alas, another dream crushed by reality.

Here are your “absolutely, no questions asked, need to be on your bookmark bar” music sites:

PITCHFORK

Hmmm, what can I say about Pitchfork. This site has EVERYTHING. Interviews. Album reviews. Staff lists. Tour news. Best new music. EVERYTHING. And the best part about it? Almost every band is someone that I’ve never heard of. It’s essentially the king of indie music sites. A hipster’s paradise. The underground beneath the underground. Whatever you want to call it, it’s amazing and definitely worth exploring. Pretty much every article on the site is accompanied by a track that you can listen to, so you get good writing, credited opinions, and free music. Jeah.

gmad page

GOOD MUSIC ALL DAY

Affectionately known as “gmad,” Good Music All Day is more geared toward the hip-hop crowd but certainly brings new artists and DJs into the spotlight. With several articles being posted every day, you can easily discover a band every time you visit the site. Gmad is extremely generous, offering readers loads of free downloads and access to tracks that aren’t even in the forefront of popular artists, such as personal playlists and mixtapes.

They always have a song, video, and playlist of the day, so even if you don’t have time to sit down and explore, you can stream their music while doing any one of the bajillion other things that you have to do (I’m hoping that that’s an exaggeration. If not, please leave and get some help.) Great for hearing all the best mixes, remixes, reremixes, mashups, and some plain killer songs too.

BIRP!

To be honest, I had never heard of Birp before Gavel Media’s very own Sameet Dhillon wrote a fantastic review of it. Thank Jesus for her, because Birp is the ____ (insert a certain four letter word here). I love their monthly playlists, which feature 100 songs that can all be streamed and downloaded FOR FREE. How often do you hear those words in your life? Like, hey, here’s a delicious extra extra extra large pizza with 100 of your favorite toppings, free of charge. Bonus: you get another free one every month.

Believe it or not, non-experts are great too. A lot of my favorite discoveries have come from people just like me.

No, not poor college students who write to an anonymous audience every week. Music lovers, silly! Check out these awesome tools too:

8tracks8TRACKS

Now, you may or may not know that I am 8tracks’s BIGGEST fan and advocate. I just can’t help myself. You can search by any genre, whether you’re in the mood to study, party, sleep, or just take a roadtrip. And most of the time, the music is stuff that you wouldn’t find on an ordinary radio station. Wanna know a secret? *whisper* I found Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros on 8tracks. From remixes to raw acoustic, 8tracks has everything you could ever want in a music website, all made by those who just love to listen to music and share it with the world.

FRIENDS

*GASP* Whatttt?! Asking your friends for recommendations?! What a revolutionary idea. As crazy as this might sound, I’m asking you to just give it a chance. Trade music with your friends every month. Ask them what their newest obsession is. It might surprise you! Just pray that you don’t have friends who believe in the power of Snoop Lion. Yikes.

Screenshots by Mary Yuengert/Gavel Media

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