Instead of making things easier, the Internet has made it difficult to find a good source for new music. There are so many platforms that it is hard to narrow down the crazy amount of music that is out there. I listen to a lot of Adult Alternative and Indie, so Philadelphia’s WXPN is my most reliable source for interesting artists. I also listen to a few podcasts to supplement my perpetual curiosity. These music podcasts are more than just playlists. They offer song deconstruction, live performance, and in-depth interviews.
Cover image courtesy of Pixabay.
Unlike other live music podcasts that I have listened to, KEXP Live sounds great for a digital platform. Even their YouTube channel has an unusually rich sound. The podcast is produced by Seattle radio station KEXP and typically records musicians who are promoting their new album. The artists usually fall into the Adult Alternative or Indie categories.
This is not only a platform for finding new music, but it gives me a sense of what a band sounds like in concert. I love listening to live music and finding quality live recordings or bootlegs is difficult. KEXP Live solves that problem. I have even kept sets from the War on Drugs and Strand of Oaks in my podcast downloads.
The podcast Song Exploder dissects the creation of a song with the artists who made the music. Even though I have no idea how to play an instrument or operate a sound board, this podcast is still fascinating to me. I come away with a new understanding of an artist’s creative process every episode. Sometimes this leads to a greater appreciation of each musician. I became a huge fan of The Lumineers after learning how they kept a studio imperfection in the song “Ophelia.”
I am usually familiar with Song Exploder’s guests. Artists like Michael Kiwanuka or Wolf Alice are among my favorite musicians. Of all the podcasts that will help you discover new music, this might be the best place to find a diamond in the rough. The podcast prompts me to listen to music that I have ignored. This was the case with Solange Knowles’ “Cranes In The Sky.” I do not check out much Top 40 radio, so the opportunity to listen to Knowles break down her hit song gave me new perspective on how an artist like her creates music.
Song Exploder is presented by Hrishikesh Hirway. He has created music as The One AM Radio. He also hosts the podcast West Wing Weekly.
Tiny Desk Concerts
Tiny Desk Concerts are stripped-down sessions that are recorded at the desk of NPR host Bob Boilen. Many people catch the series on NPR or YouTube. Sometimes the claustrophobia of NPR’s offices distracts from the music, so I prefer to listen to the Tiny Desk Concerts podcast.
A regular NPR feature, the live sessions have taken place since 2008. The series records big name artists like Dan Auerbach and St. Vincent. I have also enjoyed listening to new musicians like Japanese Breakfast and Maggie Rogers.
I am not a regular NPR listener, but I do enjoy the Tiny Desk Concert series. The unique format shows a different side of each artist. The Tiny Desk setting not only places the artists on a unique stage, but it also takes me out of my music comfort zone. I so often default to the studio recordings of a song. Listening to no-frills versions of the same track allows me to hear it in a different way.
Walking The Floor
Walking The Floor is the best of the podcasts that will help you discover new music. Hosted by Foo Fighters guitar player Chris Shiflett, the podcast features interviews with different generations of Americana artists. I have found younger artists like Lukas Nelson and Justin Townes Earle. I have also learned so much from interviews with veterans such as Marty Stuart and Ray Benson. This is appealing to me because I am not plugged into the country music scene. Within the last year or so I have listened to a lot more country because of Walking The Floor.
I learn something about the lifestyle of a musician during each podcast. Shiflett has played in punk rock bands, sold-out arenas, and released solo albums as a country musician. He is able to relate to his guests in a way that many journalists do not. Walking The Floor has continually provided insight into the constant cycle of touring and recording that you cannot find on other podcasts.