Music fans on Threads remind me of those good ol' OG mp3 blog times
A new gen of curators are upon us
That image right above; that was the original image of my mp3 music blog that I started on December 31, 2004. That’s right. Some Velvet Blog. In a month, it would have turned 20. I’m often asked how I chose the name. Well, it was the song that was playing on my radio when AOL blogger asked me to make a choice about what to call the blog. It wasn’t the Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood original version of “Some Velvet Morning” but the Primal Scream ft. Kate Moss cover.1
What attracted me to the wonderful world of the blogosphere’s illegal downloads and critical insights of the everyperson, was that it was the extraordinary power of music fans (meaning, not music industry publicists/PR/hype teams, etc) making suggestions about what new (or old) music to listen to. Before it all got mostly co-opted by major and indie labels who were starting to see the impact on tastemaking many of these bloggers were having, and by the industrial hype machine getting organized around “mp3 premieres” (planted ‘leaks’), exclusives, and all the pr jazz that kind of made music coverage by newspapers and cool magazines/zines (hello, Option and The Bob) less important. (that’s a whole other story, and maybe a book). 2
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If you’re not familiar with the blog rock era, Stephen Hyden, quite the excellent music critic, journalist, author person wrote a wonderfully illustrative article explaining it all called “Whither Blog Rock”. Bands like Philly’s Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Black Kids, Tapes ‘N’ Tapes, Animal Collective, Voxtrot, The Changes, and others, are names often associated with the bloggers of OG mp3 blog era - some well known, some lesser known. The collective blog consciousness was even responsible for the hype-a-fication of a dang genre that it multihandedly put on the music map: Chillwave!
So, back in the day, who were the fans/bloggers I was taking my musical cues from? There were many, and thanks to the Hype Machine, the original blog aggregator of the times, I was able to keep track of all these new bands.
Roll call/File under: inactive - My Old Kentucky Blog, Hipster Runoff, Chromewaves, Muzzle of Bees (yo, Ryan!), Pretty Much Amazing, Tiny Mix Tapes, You Ain’t No Picasso, Catbird, Silence Is A Rhythm Too, and others.
The ones who are still very active (who I continue to read and follow) include Passion Of The Weiss, Gorilla vs. Bear, Aquarium Drunkard, Fluxblog, Largehearted Boy (who expanded nicely to music & books). I wished Said the Gramophone published more regularly.
Like many of my blog colleagues, I stopped blogging in the mid 2010s. I just lost that loving feeling. I’d write the occasional thing for NPR Music or the XPN web site, but as a blogger I called it quits, instead trading off the Some Velvet Blog short form for the super SVB short form of twitter and FB as a form of music discovery (from fans).
Now, 20 years after the golden era of music blogging, there’s a new generation of fans who I am discovering, whose musical opinions continue to keep me open minded, and help me navigate the hundreds of thousands of new songs released each. My colleagues and I often talk about how overwhelming it is to keep up with the amount of new music being released. But I get by with a little help from my friends.
In the same way those music blogs helped me find music to fall in love with 20+ years ago, I am encouraged by many new music fans I am “meeting” on Threads, and here on Substack. Here’s a small sampling from this part of the newsletter interwebs.
For jazz, my primary go to source has become The Gig by Nate Chinen
For The Record by Kevin Alexander
No Expectations by Josh Terry
EchoLocator by Tom Moon
Hear Hear by Adam Offitzer
So It Goes by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Don’t Rock The Inbox by Marissa Moss & Natalie Weiner (“a newsletter about country music”)
Anxiety Shark by Niko Stratis
The Honest Broker by Ted Gioia
Music Journalism Insider by Todd L. Burns
The Waiting Room by Danielle Chelosky
Meanwhile, over on Threads, where I am increasingly hanging out more , I’m finding a entirely new community of music fans, sharing playlists galore, mostly the new music kinds. I’m equally interested in hearing older music (particularly soul/R&B/jazz) as I am new music. I soak it up like a sponge. Heck, I love music.
If you have suggestions for music substackers (is that what we’re called?) or “threaders” to check out I’d love to hear who your faves are in the comments section. Thanks for reading.
Next time on 10 Bands: the 2023 long list of favorite/best of/whatever albums.
Sidebar footnote: Primal Scream’s Screamadelica is one of the greatest lps of the Nineties, a decade of some amazing lps.
In his article, “Whither Blog Rock,” critic Stephen Hyden writes: “For a while, MP3 blogs seemed like a revolution in how bands were exposed to new audiences. The implication was that because blogs were freed from the usual constraints of conventional music publications — the need to reach the widest number of people while also placating record labels, publicists, and advertisers — the artists those blogs promoted were similarly unfettered by the corruptive influence of the record industry. In reality, MP3 blogs were just another extension of that industry, frequently promoting bands as “real” that in retrospect would be more aptly described as “corny.””