With an obese amount of online music zines out in the world at the moment, it's kinda tough to pick a select few to pledge your tastemaking allegiance to. I mean, how can anyone possibly say with absolute confidence that a vote of approval from PopMatters is more trustworthy than a sneer of disdain from Tiny Mix Tapes? Or how does a 4-star rating from Slant outweigh a C- from Stylus?
Yeah, it's tough. The possible answer: read them ALL!!! Like a greedy wombat. Like me.
So anyways, Playlouder is one of those sites that I regularly dip my tongue in. I thank them for exposing me to 65 Days of Static, and sparing me from The Stills. Plus, they've got that ragtag, renegade look to the site (complete with GIANT, BOLD ARIAL FONT) that kinda makes it the music equivalent of movie site Ain't It Cool News. Which in a weird way, adds to their appeal.
Nevertheless, they've been undergoing a site redesign lately, in line with some broadband service offer their running in the UK. They have allowed anyone who receives an invite to access it. Problem is, you can only get an invite if you know someone who is involved with Playlouder, or who already has an invite—y'know, the whole thing Gmail did when it began.
So, given that I don't know anyone who falls in that category, I resorted to option 2: asking them for one. So here's the email I sent:
Can I have an invite? I'm all the way in Malaysia, so poor lil' me has little to no chance of knowing someone over in the UK who is involved with Playlouder. Google has failed me, as has Hype Machine, Technorati and my pigeon Nigel. Any chance you can help?
And here's the reply:
I definitely think you deserve one after trying that hard on your own! I'm sending you an invite now, and I hope you like the beginnings of the new Playlouder, even though it's obviously still a work in progress!
So I got one.
And so far, I am happily gallivanting across the site's new look and features. It's certainly more streamlined than before, which could work against them if readers are bored of the glossy, eliter-than-thou fronts of many other zines. That broadband offer thingy I mentioned earlier is called Playlouder MSP, which is (quoting them) "the world's first ISP network to license from music companies the right for its subscribers to download and stream music from other subscribers". Unfortunately, it's only available to UK-based peeps.
So what's in it for the rest of us? Hmmm. Well, I like the whole 'stash' concept, which allows you to pick tunes from albums they sell in their online store and listen via their player. Plus, the writing's still itchin' to be bitchin'. Which means that while it won't win any awards for prestige or poetry, it does enough to draw in the non-graduate who listened to way too much Velvet Underground during his uni days to bother with the Economics paper, and is now working in the neighbourhood laundromat scrubbing the crap off his high school crush's eight-year-old son while she smooches the high school jock who wedgied him every three hours—but who will never trade his 42-year-old LP collection for just one more snog. He's the real music fan, and kudos to Playlouder for remembering him.
65 Days of Static - Retreat! Retreat! (from The Fall of Math) [BUY]