JULIEN BALBONTIN/THE VARSITY

It seems that almost everyone who’s passionate about music has a music blog, or has at least attempted one. With hundreds of blogs out there, how do you know which one’s the best without spending hours sifting through the darkest corners of the internet? Even when you find them, what do you do with them? Here’s a breakdown of three top music blogs, and how to get the most out of them.

    Blalock’s Indie Rock Playlist (BIRP) 

Josh Blalock started Blalock’s Indie Rock Playlist in 2009, focusing on monthly downloadable playlists as a way to promote independent music. However, since its conception, BIRP has expanded into a music community hub and news source. If you’re not that concerned with the critiquing of music, BIRP is great for music fiends who constantly need new additions to their iTunes library. 

The first thing you’re greeted with on the site is the playlist of the month. Each month BIRP releases a playlist with over 100 new songs from varying genres and artists. Don’t let the “Indie” in BIRP fool you — the mixtapes consist of everything from chillwave, to grunge rock, to hip-hop and rap. In addition to including a variety of genres, the popularity of the songs in BIRP’s playlists tends to range. From tags like “under 2000 listeners” to The Black Keys’ new singles, BIRP’s playlists are a happy medium between the comfort of well-known music and the excitement of discovering emerging sounds and styles. 

In addition to monthly playlists, BIRP also has a mixtapes section. Each mixtape is around 25–30 minutes of themed music that are as much a gradient of genres and artists as the regularly featured playlists. 

PRO:Monthly playlists and mixtapes; users are able to contribute content easily.

CON: Not very much music criticism.

    WeTheUrban

WeTheUrban is an arts and culture blog in which music coverage is just a sliver of what is available. Their music section features some excellent commentary and reviews. While their main focus is mainstream artists, they occasionally drop a few lines in favour of some up-and-comers like MØ and FKA twigs. You won’t find too many downloads and torrents here, but if you need a quick opinion on new popular releases and Nicki Minaj music video reviews, WeTheUrban has got you covered. As a bonus, you can check out some cool contemporary artwork and the latest runway shows. For the culture-hungry, it’s a full course meal.

PRO: Great for keeping up to date with mainstream pop and hip-hop.

CON: Not a music-only blog, doesn’t offer that many new finds.

    Pretty Much Amazing

Pretty Much Amazing (PMA) is the oldest of these blogs, having been created by Luis Tovar in 2007. PMA consistently churns out hearty, well-thought-out album reviews that cover both underground and not-so-underground artists, each ending with a letter grade. In addition to their critiques of albums, PMA’s MP3 section features downloadable song lists like “10 Downloads You Won’t Regret” and “20 Best Songs of 2014”, as well as newly released singles.

PMA does a great job of keeping their website diverse in terms of genre and independent versus major record labels.  Their “News” section includes the latest happenings of the industry and “did you know?” tidbits, but few interviews with musicians on here.  PMA also has its very own “PMA Radio” where you can listen to their recommended tunes on shuffle while browsing the site and reading reviews. 

PRO: Great album reviews and shuffle radio.

CON: Very little in the way of artist interviews.

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