Here’s the dirty truth of music scribes everywhere: none of us have a clue where to find the next big thing. While we spend a fair amount of time looking under rocks, we are by nature lazy. Instead, we simply keep our trained ears attuned to what our trusted sources are listening to on their ipod or watching play in some dank basement club. Since we are judged by our ability to unearth noteworthy new artists, we guard this insider information closely.
You see, there is no true epicenter of the industry buzz machine. No secret mount on high from which oracles herald the coming of each new indie darling. But, if you were to hold a hot poker to a music critics eye and demand they name their trusted sources, they would begrudgingly cry out, “Daytrotter!”
Yes, just off the Interstate in aptly named Rock Island, Ill., Sean Moeller openly runs this critic darling, “for those in the know” Website highlighting new music discovery for general consumption. While there are a glut of music-centered sites with ten times the amount of visitors, none speak as sweetly to true music geeks as Daytrotter. The premise is relatively simple: invite bands into the studio, ask them to record a few original songs and post the resulting sessions on the site. Yet Moeller succeeds where so many other more richly funded operations fail; in being authentic and unabashedly homespun.
With a small cast of web designers, music engineers and amazingly hip illustrators, Daytrotter is nothing more than a glorified pit stop for “van bands” headed West out of Chicago on the road to fame, fortune and endless Taco Bell. Yet, the hospitality and love for all things music is so genuine, artists end up leaving behind tracks drenched in raw splendor and inspiration. Intimate sets by the Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Blitzen Trapper are instant classics. However, the real beauty comes in discovering truly twisted downloads of The Walkmen reading scenes from a Sex & The City script with deadpan aplomb or re-introducing a jaded hack like me to the Cold War Kids after summarily dismissing them based solely on their single.
Moeller and Daytrotter shine a warm light on the overlooked. Like a cool high school English tutor who corrects your grammar but doesn’t take credit for your term paper, Daytrotter schools you on the latest music but let you claim bragging rights when playing your hot new mix tape. Even though exposing this insider secret feels like a surfer broadcasting the secret spot or a magician showing the audience the sleight of hand, the truth sets you free. And, really, the world needs more people who care about discovering new music.
While you are exploring all that Daytrotter has to offer, check out some past OurStage artists who have been featured on the site: