10 great sources to discover new music

Discovering a great new band is one of the best feelings in the world, isn’t it? OK, maybe you guys don’t share my enthusiasm but I thought I would write an article with some of my favourite sources to find good tunes, since I get asked this question on a semi-regular basis.

Sometimes, trying to make musical discoveries on the Internet is not an easy task. There are so many websites that cover the subject, from niche sites to music magazines. Here are some great places to start:

1) NPR: First listen

For those not from the USA, NPR stands for National Public Radio. NPR has some great programs that are worth listening to including, but not limited to, great musical content. There are many podcasts available on the website but one of my favourite things to check out is the First Listen page, which features exclusive full-length previews of new albums by a wide variety of artists. As I publish this article, we can listen to new music by Ty Segall, Japandroids and Tift Merritt, among others.

Also stay posted to the NPR website or Facebook page for the yearly playlist that is released for SXSW. You get to download 100 songs by artists playing at the festival and the choices are consistently good (I keep at least 2/3 of the songs and have discovered great artists through this list). This is the 2016 Austin 100 list if you’d like to check it out.

* By the way, the new US administration is threatening to cut government funding for public radios, which is a terrible shame because the programming is extremely rich, promoting all forms of culture and political discourse. I know that this isn’t my country but I will still be sending money to chip in.

2) NPR: Tiny desk concerts

Bob Boilen’s tiny desk in the NPR offices has been turned into a stage for some of the best artists currently in the music scene, from Adele to Ana Tijoux, John Legend to Edwarde Sharpe and the magnetic zeros. These intimate concerts are fun, compelling and make for a great environment where the musicians’ talents truly shine. Plus, the sound quality is excellent, which is great considering that these are live performances. New videos are released most weeks.

Here are 6 of my favourite performances ever on Tiny Desk:

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My favourite songs of 2016

So, after making a list of my favourite movies of the year, here is a list of songs I loved in 2016. The fact that they made it on the list doesn’t mean that they were released in that year but they did get a lot of plays on my IPOD. There’s something for everyone in here, from jazz to alternative, pop to mariachi… Enjoy!

Benjamin Biolay – la débandade

Gaada Diwane Bechar – Zina L’aamama

Tomas Jensen – Dale Duro

Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math

Carseat headrest – Vincent

Vieux Farka Touré and Julia Easterlin – I’m not done

Philippe Brach – Crystel

Leonard Cohen – You want it darker

Lisa Leblanc – I love you, I don’t love you, I don’t know

The Calais sessions- Kandahar

Mariachi Flor de Toloache- Dicen

De la soul – Pain

Safia Nolin (feat. Marie Carmen)- Entre l’ombre et la lumière

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My favourite films of 2016

I went to see a lot of movies this year. All told, I’d say I pushed the doors of a movie theater about 50 times. Was 2016 a good year for cinema? Based on what I saw, I would say yes. Only twice did I come out of the room dissapointed (and in one case, that word is quite an understatement. More on that later). Some films were masterpieces and others were understated gems. Here is my list :

King Dave (Podz, Quebec)

Our little sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan)

Neruda (Pablo Larrain, Chile)

After the storm (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan)

Christine (Antonio Campos, USA)

Avant les rues (Chloé Leriche, Quebec)

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If you could only choose 5 bands

Yet another music post. What can I say? Maybe its the singing classes or the 50-odd concerts I’ve attended this year. Music is, more than ever, a huge part of my life.

I’ve had this question in mind for years now. Such a silly question but also a fun conversation piece when getting to know new people (especially music fans): If you could only listen to 5 bands (or singers) for the rest of your lives, which ones would you choose?

I hear you saying: what a terrible prospect! And it is, but idea of having to choose 5 groups forces you to make tough choices and to think about the groups that hold the most importance in your life (or that you know you will never get sick of). I mean, you would have to listen to each and every song by these bands at least 100 times, if not more.

My top 5 has barely changed in years, the first four have never changed and number 5 varied a few times (Ana Tijoux and Rufus Wainwright were in the running). So here it is.

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Teenage playlist: going back to the late 90s/early 00s

Being a teenager is weird. As the years go by, it gets harder and harder to remember how things felt and how thoughts were processed during that oh-so-moody and hormonal era. Music is one thing that brings me back to the mindset I had back then.

My view on the world was extremely limited and I, like most teens, went through a rough phase (I had to be home schooled for a year due to extreme anxiety). Yet listening to the tunes that rocked my world back then doesn’t make me sad, nor does it activate some sort of blinded nostalgia and feeling of longing for a simpler time (it sure wasn’t).

In many ways, my life is so much better than it was back then. Still, there’s something about going back to those years through the power of song,i f only for a few minutes. I wanted so bad to be a rebel back then. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at it: I once bought a Marilyn Manson cassette (the one where he is naked and has the body of an androgynous doll on the cover) and proceeded to throw it away after a few hours because it freaked me out too much. A true revolutionary I was…

Attending the Vans Warped Tour in 2002-2003 and wearing a Vulgaires Machins sweatshirt was probably as close as I came to being a punk (and that says a lot).

I graduated high school in 2004. This means that my teenage years occurred at the peak of boy bands, nu-metal, christian rock and pop-punk. Musically speaking, those were confusing times and although I’m glad some of the genres didn’t survive past the first half of the decade, I can still appreciate their small contribution to the history of music.

Although there are many duds, some really good music was being made. Therefore, as an ode to the track listings of north american alternative rock radios of the late nineties/early two thousands (99.9 THE BUZZ forever!), I prepared a playlist that showcases some of my favourite songs back then. I am not ashamed to say that I still enjoy each and every one of these songs, for many different reasons.

I have always listened to a broad variety of musical genres, including during my teenage years, but these are the songs that most remind me of my teenage years:

Cover photo credit: Flickr creative commons- Ted Van Pelt

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