Before you can listen to internet radio, you usually need to get a program that will decode the sound files. There are different programs for different format sound files, so the program you need will depend on the site you want to listen to. Three of the most popular programs are Real Audio (http://www.realaudio.com) Shockwave (http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/) and Streamworks (http://www.streamworks.com/). Each work with different kind of sound files, and each have different sound qualities. Real Audio is probably the most popular, though I find files recorded in that format often sound like that cheap cassette tape you've recorded over a 100 times (i.e. the sound quality SUCKS).
The coolest thing about these programs are that they stream the audio to your computer. That is, the music will start playing before the entire file has been loaded onto your hard drive. This has its pluses and minuses. The good thing is that you don't have to wait a long time for the files to get started, so you can start enjoying tunes right away, rather than waiting 15 minutes for the audio to start. The bad thing is, if you have a slow internet connection or a slow computer, sometimes the audio will get all fucked up and sound like it's skipping. But, if you don't have anything else to listen to, or if you want to hear new bands, then this stuff can be worthwhile and fun.
There are three basic types of streaming audio. Stuff that is being broadcast live (like a regular radio station), archived stuff (like a taped copy of a radio program), and individual sound files (sorta set up like a comp LP). The sites I'm gonna list this month all fall into one of those three. So, let's get started.
The actual idea for this column came from a conversation I had with George Tabb outside Gilman street a couple of months ago. He was telling me that he co-hosted an internet radio show that featured live cuts from bands who play at the legendary NY punk club, CBGB's, and that the co-host was Hilly Kristal, owner of said club. I knew then I'd be checking it out, because I'm always looking for new column ideas. The radio show features live cuts from 10 of the best bands that have played CBGB's in the recent past, and the shows are archived so you can listen to any of them. They also did a live show from CBGB's, and I'm assuming they'll be doing those once in a while. Anyway, check out the CBGB's "Ten of the Best" at http://www.pseudo.com/netcast/shows/cbgb/index.html . Punk Rock!
Next are a few sites that have real audio files from various punk and indie bands, available for your listening. Rather than being in show format, you have to choose each individual file if you want to hear it. Not quite as fun as just tuning in, but still decent if you're starving for music. These sites often rotate their playlists every week or month, so checking them out every so often will give you new music. First is the Nrrrd Cast, coming from Bri at Intrrr Nrrrd (who I think has been mentioned more times in this column than any other). Just go to http://nervecore.com/e-zine/ and select the link to Hymns.
Billy BodyOdor's Punk Rock soundfiles (http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Alley/7150/sindex.htm) has sounds from both old and new punk rock bands (7 Seconds, DK, Op Ivy, Screeching Weasel, and a bunch more). This site has decent sound quality and a few songs from each band.
Cruzing Music has sound files from both punk and ska bands. The site features (at the time of this column) 11 bands and 165 songs, adding up to over 9 hours of music. Most of the bands appear to be of the Epitaph, Fat Wreck, or major label ska variety, but there are some cool tunes here. Cruzing Music is at http://www.gate.net/~cruzing/ .
Interpunk, which I have mentioned in this column before, does record reviews of various bands, and then also includes sound files from the records they've reviewed. That's a cool concept. You can see what some know-it-all critic thinks of a band, and then hear a song to decide for yourself. Lots of underground, lesser known bands are included here. A super cool concept, executed with style. Do not pass up this website. Interpunk is at http://www.interpunk.com/ .
SkaPunx (http://skapunx.ml.org/)has a zillion songs by a lot of different punk and ska bands, both well known and the more underground. Punk favorites like Sloppy Seconds, The Swingin' Utters, Tilt, Link80, J Church, and a bunch more are represented here, along with links to individual pages about the bands. It does seem like several of the songs listed are missing, but there is still enough here to keep you busy for an evening.
While it calls itself IndieRadio (http://www.hepcat-design.net/IndieRadio/) this site is actually just a song archive, rather than a real-time radio show. Not many songs here, and most of the bands are unknown and/or I don't care about. Still, there's potential here, and you could find an unknown band that you'll really love.
Okay, so now on to the radio shows. These are either 24-hour live stations, or archived individual shows. The DJ (http://www.thedj.com/home/page) is an internet radio station that plays music in every format. From their main page you can reach a number of different stations, which include punk, new wave, and ska, among several other non-punk genres. For the most part, this appears to be major label punk (if there is such a thing) but there are some cool songs here.
In the same vein are the iMusic radio stations, at http://www.imusic.com/radio/ . The Indie Radio channel is the coolest, with all the music on it being from independent labels, whether punk or not. They have a rotation of about 50 songs, so you can see if there is anything you care about listening to before wading through a bunch of shit (you can select individual songs, rather than having them play the songs for you). They also have an 80's archive for all of you 30-somethings who need to live in the past.
Brainwash (http://www.monsterbit.com/brainwash/) is an incredibly eclectic radio show, featuring punk songs from the likes of The Offenders, The Dicks, The Urinals, Flipper, and more, mixed in with weird and interesting music from other genres. If your tastes run to more than just punk, I think you'll find that Brainwash is one of the coolest radio shows you'll get the chance to hear.
Finally, there are a lot of college and public radio stations broadcasting their signals over the net. Many of them have punk shows on at various times of the day and night. An excellent list of those stations can be found at the MIT list of radio stations "bitcasting" on the internet. The list is at http://wmbr.mit.edu/stations/bc.html and you'll have to click on each individual station to reach their website and check the schedule for their punk shows. Happy hunting, as I'm sure there are some great shows on some of those stations.
That's gonna do it this time around. If you do an internet radio show,
or have a site with TONS of real audio (or the like) files, please let
me know and I'll mention it in a future column. Since this is the December
issue, feel free to send me a x-mas present at PO Box 8059; Santa Cruz
CA 95062 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Of course, you can also check out my past columns (and now columns of
other MRR columnists) at http://netpunk.base.org
. See you in January.
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