Spotify’s February Gems
As anyone who’s visited me over the past few months can attest, I’m a total Spotify fanboy. Spotifty is the highest profile of today’s streaming music services, a massively well-stocked digital jukebox in the sky! Unlike radio services such as Pandora, Spotify (and some other similar services, including Rhapsody and Mog) lets you pick the album and the track(s) that you want to hear. Users build an iTunes-like library of music, with playlists for different genres or or however else you want to organize, which is then ready for a simple click and play whenever you feel like hearing something again.
I’ve been loving Spotify for new music discovery, keeping current with recent releases, and simply being being able to hear an album or artist that I see or hear mentioned with a simple search and play (this week, First Aid Kit). In what will become a recurring feature on Bright Blue Ball, today I’m going to highlight a few of the things that have made me bow down before the wonder of Spotify in the past few days and weeks. (Note: Spotify is deeply entwined in Facebook’s “share everything you do with all your friends” approach to life, but you can join and listen without using or linking to Facebook….you just have to make an effort to do so!)
This month’s “Perfect for Spotify” new title is Amnesty International’s Chimes of Freedom, 73(!) Dylan covers from a crazily diverse array of artists. It’s something I’m really glad to be able to hear and even re-hear perhaps once or twice, but there was no way I would’ve felt the need to buy the 4 disc set. In the last couple months of 2011, I had the same delighted response when I found a couple of insanely comprehensive archival releases: the Beach Boys long-lost Smile and The Who’s Quadrophenia, both of which featured a disc or two worth of raw material, outtakes, studio snippets, and the like which shed interesting light on these classic albums, but surely don’t need to fill space in my CD closet. Rave on Buddy Holly, with covers from Nick Lowe, Patti Smith, My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse, Lou Reed, John Doe, and many others was also a real blast! (BTW, all these links go to a page that will let you add the titles or playlists to your Spotify account if you’re already a member….)
My “New Releases” playlist becomes the focus for much of my listening, and is currently stocked with January titles, including the Dylan one, a double disc retrospective from Ladysmith Black Mambazo featuring collaborations with other artists, the new Leonard Cohen disk, a recent Afropop Worldwide recommendation, by Novalima, and Guitar Passions, an album of duets from classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, featuring a wide array of collaborators including Stanley Jordan, Steve Morris, Steve Vai, and others.
Over the past few months, Spotify has helped me begin to explore 20th century classical music, fill in some embarrassing gaps in my rock diet over the past three decades (including my first real immersions into REM, Pearl Jam, Derek Trucks, and Wilco), and discover new and old jazz, singer–songwriters, and world artists (check out Balake Sisoko and Vincent Segal’s Chamber Music: kora and cello!). Of course, this being music and all, everyone’s faves will be different—share some of your highlights below!