Whether you’re racing along the Information Superhighway in the digital equivalent of a Mustang 5.0 or wandering in the family jalopy, there’s no better way to stave off road boredom than by switching on the radio. By and large, the music you’ll find on the Web isn’t simply digitized Top 40 — rather, it’s quirky sounds that would never cut it on commercial radio.
With its critically lauded multi-disc Rare on Air collection, Santa Monica College’s KCRW may be the world’s best college radio station. For Web heads outside the L.A. area, that means the station’s famously eclectic programming — from the soulful Chocolate City to comedian Harry Shearer’s Le Show — is available in real time, 24 hours a day, at http://www.kcrw.org. Why settle for Kula Shaker’s lame attempts at sitarized sounds when you can plug into programs like Spiritual Moments or hear classics of Bombay musicals at All India Internet Radio (www.aiir.com)? AIIR’s competition, the state-run All India Radio (www.allindia radio.org), offers even more diverse, better-organized files of pop and classical music from the subcontinent — though with fewer of the postcard-lovely graphics that distinguish AIIR. Still, world-music lovers will not want to ignore a site that lets them choose between sarod and tabla instrumentals, or Tamil and Hindi vocals.
Stitch (www.stitch.com) calls itself Radio Free Underground, though Jukebox Free Underground would be more apt. The site enables users to compile their own RealAudio playlists by plucking cuts from its vast menus of ’80s and ’90s rock, techno, ska, and rarities. If you’re jonesing, say, for a live rendition of New Order’s ”Touched by the Hand of God,” the Chemical Brothers’ ”Block Rockin’ Beats,” or some choice Echo & the Bunnymen as you surf the Net, Stitch is stop No. 1.
Like KCRW, Live Concerts.com (www.liveconcerts. com) offers limited archives. As its name suggests, it’s in the business of broadcasting full-length concerts, by real stars, in real time. Check the site for listings; recent concerts have included rockabilly legend Link Wray, soul man (and former B.B. King chauffeur) Bobby ”Blue” Bland, and dance diva Taylor Dayne.
SonicNet (www.sonicnet. com), long a pioneering force in bringing music (and now videos) to the Web, broadcasts live concerts nightly by such indie faves as Gus Gus, Superchunk, and Porno for Pyros. And users can access archives of previous shows.
Consisting of ”junglists and beboppers, trancemasters and rhumbaists,” ResRocket is a ”band” whose oeuvre — indeed, whose very existence — is limited to the Internet. This 29-member, mostly U.S.-U.K. collective makes its mind-bending online collaborations available at http://www.channel.co.uk.
Consider it NPR for Pavement fans: The ”Radio ATN” section of Addicted to Noise (www.addict.com) offers some of the most intelligent, well-produced rock programming on the Web. On Joey Ramone’s Radio Coup, the punk legend shares favorite sounds, while The Unheard Music offers up tasty curios by Built to Spill, Morcheeba, and German expressionist collective Can.