The 25 Best Music Websites

If you're trolling for intelligent music talk (like a recent long discussion about M.I.A.), head over to I Love Music
Image credit: M.I.A.: Paul Natkin/
If you're trolling for intelligent music talk (like a recent long discussion about M.I.A.), head over to I Love Music

The best government program since the New Deal, this site opens up the Smithsonian's massive archive of ethnological recordings. It's an astounding resource for world-music fans, who can instantly sample, download, or buy CDs of jaunty Caribbean calypso, epic Indian ragas, or croaking Uzbeki bards (yes, that's a good thing). And folk-music obsessives will drool over the unrivaled collection of exclusive Americana. A sampling of Alan Lomax's famous field recordings can be found here, along with Moses Asch's Folkways collections of legends like Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, and Son House.
GREAT FIND Elizabeth Cotten's ''Freight Train''

The radio network for the Volvo set actually has a lot more music to offer than Norah Jones and Garrison Keillor. Just listen to gentle-voiced host Bob Boilen, who each week briefly introduces a noteworthy new release, then plays an entire track or two. And unlike many podcasts, the focus here is on playing music, not talking about it. Expect lots of songs from dad-rock favorites like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, but Boilen also spotlights newer groups such as the Concretes and the Raconteurs. In other words, it'll make your station wagon the coolest ride in the car-pool lane.
GREAT FIND Mountain Con's ''The Escape Artist''

Run by a vinyl obsessive in California named Oliver Wang, Soul-Sides posts free MP3s of ultra-rare funk and soul, often from his personal collection of dusty 7-inches. (We're talking really rare stuff. Heard of the Romano Mussolini Trio? Didn't think so.) A professor in his nonvirtual life, Wang also likes to educate his readers, offering history lessons on obscurities sampled in modern hip-hop hits.
GREAT FIND Linda Lyndell's original version of ''What a Man''

For the uninitiated, this message board can be an uninviting place. Threads are often filled with obscure Web slang, vicious flaming, and know-it-all 'tude. But it's also an amazing place to learn about music, both new and old. Fierce debate takes up the bulk of the bandwidth, often leading to some of the most intelligent music talk around (many posters are music critics). Last year's long-running thread on Sri Lanka-born rapper M.I.A., to pick one example, was worthy of a grad-school seminar.
GREAT FIND Annie's Anniemal

Unless you live in a city with a thriving street-vendor scene, this is your best choice for staying up-to-date with the who's who (and who hates who) of the hip-hop universe. That's because Mix Unit offers a massive selection of ''official'' mixtapes — artist-sanctioned CDs that fall in a legal gray area — where hungry rhyme spitters and established rappers try out their latest material and vent their anger. Did you hear that Cam'ron mixtape where he dissed Jay-Z for wearing open-toed mandals? That's harsh.
GREAT FIND The Clipse's We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 2


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