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For the Rest of Us
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MUSIC SHOPPING

Tunes.com
http://www.tunes.com
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
http://www.cdnow.com
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
http://www.gemm.com
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
http://www.addict.com
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
http://www.trouserpress.com
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
http://ubl.com
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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