I've only recently discovered The Wire magazine. It's a title that proudly proclaims to be 'the world's greatest print and online music magazine,' and, as it has been going nearly 40 years, they may have a point.
You won't find chart-toppers or many household names, as The Wire is dedicated to the avant-garde, the alternative and the underground. They review 100s of artists, releases and exhibitions every month across electronic, jazz, hiphop, modern classical, reggae, industrial, and everything in between. They also feature artists pushing the boundaries and doing exciting, inspired or at times, wonderfully bizarre things with sound. Think 'layering desert sounds with shimmering Hammond organ,' and 'mapping Brooklyn's underground music stations by nationality, music style and religion.'
In their most recent issue, they've compiled a list of 100 essential online stations over 12 pages. I wasn't sure I could name one essential online station, so it seemed a great excuse to discover something new. There's everything from artistic soundscapes and sounds of lightning bouncing off the ionosphere, to uplifting electronica and community radio. I have cherry-picked 5 in particular that I liked:
- Threads Despite having the world at my fingertips, I trod carefully and started with a North London offering. It has a really interesting mix of music coming from North London in particular, whilst their sister station (Threads*) broadcasts shows from around the world. I caught a Mexican show that was particularly uplifting and a rousing burst of happiness. Thoroughly recommend to put you in a good mood before a summer night out.
- The Word Radio (Feeling more adventurous now) The Word is based in Belgium and has a lot of underground music from Brussels. I wouldn’t say everything was my cup of tea but there was some real gems on there and anybody who loves listening to live music will enjoy this.
- Radio Raheem An Italian radio offering based in Milan. It manages to fuse drum n bass, disco and jazz which is quite a feat. Very uplifting and some very passionate radio DJ’s too. I couldn’t understand much, but it still oddly packed a punch.
- Radio Carbono An Argentinian station that started as a podcast, it's in its second year and is 24 hour too. They mix in quite a bit of folk music and try to play lots from across the globe. Mostly new music, its global breadth means it will ensure you’re kept up to date and topical.
- Noods I appear to have gone full circle and ended up back in the UK. Launched in 2015, Noods is based in Bristol and broadcasts from a local bar in the city centre. It keeps listeners up to speed with Bristol’s vibrant club scene and plays an eclectic mix reflecting that. Get Loose! With Bruce really has some real personality and is very humorous at times.
The Wire's strap line is 'Adventures in Sound and Music.' Try it if you're excited by lesser-known music, independent artists and the 'art' of making music.