Monday, October 03, 2011

Jango'd nerves


When I was a kid, I had a little blue transistor radio that I carried around with me during the summer. I'd twirl the tuning dial and hold it up in the air trying to get the best reception so I could listen to the latest songs that had made the charts. It was the 60s and the classic rock and roll songs weren't yet classics. Although I'm sure there was a plethora of music out there, my music world was confined to that small blue plastic box. And it seemed contained to a manageable number of musicians that I could at least name.

I hate listening to radio stations anymore not because I don't like music, I just hate listening to mindless DJ babble. Much of the music I now listen to now on my MP3 player is stuff ripped from my CD collection which was mostly stuff that I'd bought to replace my record collection which was based largely on music that I used to hear on my transistor radio.

I have to admit that I am woefully behind on the current music scene. I will blame part of it on having a couple of toddlers. You don't listen to much during the first four or five years of  raising children that doesn't involve the Wiggles or Raffi. My kids begin screeching in protest if we get into the car and the radio is playing instead of a soundtrack to something like the Princess and the Frog.

So when I stumbled onto a Web site called Jango.com (a free music site that plays any kind of music you want, relatively commercial free and non-stop), I was overwhelmed at the number of artists out there I've never heard of.  You start by plugging in the names of musicians you like and Jango shuffles through their songs and then starts adding songs from similar artists.

I started with a group I like called Zero 7. Before long I was exposed to groups like Beats Antique, Boozoo Bajou, De-Phazz, Massive Attack, Bent, Air, Bonobo, Kinobe and Thievery Corporation (fortunately, you can't judge a group by their name). Jango also gives you mini-biographies of the musicians. You fine tune Jango by clicking on a thumbs up for songs and musicians you like or a thumbs down for stuff you'd rather not hear again.

Did I mention Jango is free? Even when I had satellite radio in my car I had to pay to listen to the satellite stations on my computer. Plus I could never find anything I really liked listening to and it never customized the stations to me. Jango even lets me set up different 'radio stations' based on different genres of music all keyed off an initial artist I liked. If I'm in the mood for country music, I can start with the Dixie Chicks or the Civil Wars and get music similar to those musicians. Or if I feel like heavy metal, I type in Black Sabbath and chances are Iron Man will be cranked out.

My only complaint about Jango is that it overwhelms me at times. There are so many great musicians out there I don't really have time to get lost in one groups music the way I did when I was a kid and play their album over and over like I did with the Beatles.

Did I mention Jango is free? If it came in a little, blue plastic box and had static, I'd swear I was listening to my transistor radio again.

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