Being able to listen to all music ever-made, 24 hours a day, at any location, is a double-edged sword. Tracks can get old fast and constantly searching for that new hit like a hungry baby-bird can be tiring. Hopefully I’ll be able to help you break that rut and just get out of the nest a bit.
Most people have at least one friend with a similar music taste as them, so ask away. They’ll be in different places, different spaces and different circles to you, so they’ll most definitely have something they’re desperate to share. ‘Got any good playlists’ or ‘recommend me an album’ can send you down some of the best rabbit holes.
Most people also have internet access, which opens you up to online radio stations (assuming you’re a student who probably doesn’t have an actual physical radio) – 6Music is great for finding some stranger old records, especially on Sundays (the day made for sitting around and just letting stuff happen to you). Radio 1 can have some great new stuff too, especially on their introducing sets or new music shows (Annie Mac is very good). Keep shazam handy, or use the more retro method, a pencil and a pair of sharp ears. There are of course countless other online radio stations – for example UEA’s own Livewire 1350! This edition also has a few comments from Concrete’s writers on their favourite radio-stations, give those a try!
Artist playlists are great too – lots of artists have a Spotify playlist where they’ll slap on some tracks they’ve been listening to, best thing about this is you don’t need shazam, or a pencil. Just create a nice master playlist with all of the best songs and soundtrack your life with that for a few weeks. Fred Perry strangely enough talk to a lot of different musicians too. They make a playlist for every single one (available on Spotify) – that might be a good start, especially for newer music.
The compilation album is also a brilliant resource. Compilation albums can give the impression that they’re just the big songs from an artist – and that’s the only purpose they serve. But lots of compilations have unreleased tracks, lost classics or just bizarre music that perhaps you’ve not had a chance to listen to yet – a couple of my favourites of late that fulfill these categories –
Modernists – Modernism’s Sharpest Cuts (1960s) – Ace Records – some fantastic 60s tracks you could see your grandparents in their heyday swinging and spinning to.
Sad About The Times (1970s) – Kemado Records – lots of great, chilled out, 70s late-night jam sessions.
Disco Not Disco (1974-86) – Strut – Lots of danceable, weird, angular disco.
Publications, like magazines, are an obvious one. People like to share opinions, this piece is a testament to that, and so there are 100s of different local, national and international publications which talk about music. Thousands of lists, and massive databases of knowledge are available with a quick google. Find a publication which you think orientates best with music you like, google ‘publication name top albums of year you want’ and it’ll be there. Probably don’t pick anything pre album though (pre 1940 can be a bit dangerous, you might be better off looking for compilations or individual classical pieces around then. Sorry no dancefloor fillers in the 1850s.) UEA’s Concrete sometimes have lists of things that people think you should listen to – try one of them.
Largely, to find new music, break your habits, you’ve got to search in every corner of the internet and your social life – use every tool. The only risk is developing an aggressively addictive need to find new, more experimental music, every day. Try not to get there unless you enjoy listening to undiscovered 7” techno remixes from the early 90s that you found in a record store’s backroom (bin).