For the Rest of Us
A guide for normal people
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Tunes has most of the standard online music store equipment, but also
employs "collaborative filtering" -- after you rate a few dozen records,
it offers others that might suit your fancy. Tunes is also generous with
sound clips from featured albums. And if you're buying anything from a
major record label, you'll pay less than $11 (excluding shipping), a price
you're unlikely to beat outside a used-CD store.
CDnow, one of the highest-profile retailers on the Net, has an extensive
collection. CDnow stocks imports as well as domestic releases; it's one
of the Web shops where you can pick up a copy of the Pogues' out-of-print
Irish punk/folk classic If I Should Fall From Grace With God. But you pay
for that depth. For instance, Fugazi's 13 Songs is $12.77 here -- perhaps
CDnow hopes buyers won't notice the text on the back of the disc indicating
you can buy it directly from the record label for $10.
Global Electronic Music Marketplace
GEMM isn't a store in its own right -- the site provides a simple search
form that lets you see what over 900 retailers have for sale on a given
day. Once you decide you want a particular CD, you'll usually have to go
to that vendor's own Web siteÉor even, unpleasant as that may seem,
use the phone. Although this approach lacks the immediate gratification
of CDnow, by (usually) giving you more than one source for any disc, it
helps you do price comparisons of various online merchants.
-- Rob Pegoraro
BEING A FAN
Addicted to Noise
If you can get past the bandwidth-hogging faux-Summer of Love graphics
of this site, you'll find that Addicted to Noise is doing the kind of thing
that Rolling Stone and Spin ought to be doing on the Web, except that the
former pointlessly puts its reviews at one site and the sound clips from
them at another, and the latter doesn't even have a Web site (hello?!).
ATN also shows some unusual design sensitivity in making sound clips available
in five different formats, allowing even those folks plugging away with
a 14.4 modem to have a listen.
Trouser Press Record Guide
Now that the Trouser Press Record Guide to alternative rock has come out
in a new version covering '90s rock, the previous four editions' content,
covering music from the '70s up to 1991, has shown up on the Web. This
site is a real gem, with the usefulness of its raw discography data backed
up by pointed reviews ('80s synth-pop offenders Alphaville are thus skewered:
"The self-importance of singer Marian Gold's overdramatic delivery only
contributes to the band's absurdity").
Meta-Site: The Ultimate Band List
If you're looking for a World Wide Web site about a particular band
or specific singer, this high-traffic site has to be your first stop. From
its semi-humble origins as a detour on alternative-rock label American
Recordings' site, it's now grown to be a mostly-encompassing directory
of official and usually more useful and informative unofficial fan sites.
(Its cataloguing could use some work, however; Ultimate Band List searches
commonly yield dead links to expired sites.) It's also a nearly definitive
resource for record labels, music magazines and more.
-- Rob Pegoraro
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