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Colin Joyce

How Colin Joyce Discovers New Music

When I started writing about music at age 17, I didn’t realize my email inbox would never be the same. It began as a trickle of promo downloads of unreleased records—a nice perk in exchange for my free labor as an indie rock-obsessed high schooler—but before long it was a torrent. During my time working at VICE, I once calculated that I got around 300 emails a day containing new music (largely accompanied by requests to write about it), an unwieldy volume that meant great stuff always got lost in the mix. I’d guesstimate even now that every day I receive emails from publicists in the low triple digits. All of which is to say, I can’t listen to everything that makes its way into my inbox, let alone the vast world of underground music outside of it. So where do I even start?

Frankly, almost all of my digging has had to happen outside of my inbox. While I am extremely grateful to the publicists who know what I like and hit me up with really cool stuff, looking at email is a task that I try to avoid when I'm not compelled to for work purposes. My favorite way to discover new music is the opposite of that: I go outside. Going to gigs remains, for me, the best way to encounter music I’ve never heard before. Whether it’s showing up early to catch openers for a band I like, pulling out my phone to Shazam a track I love at a DJ set, or just paying a visit to a venue that I know consistently books cool stuff, there’s no better feeling than that IRL spark of newness. I live in New York, and I know it's a privilege to be able to go out and see something interesting any night of the week. But even when I lived elsewhere, I made a habit of seeking out the bands lower on cool-looking bills. It didn't even matter if the gigs happened to be several hundred miles away.

That said, the great majority of my listening happens at my desk, so sorting through the digital deluge is a necessity. I make a habit of checking out as many major music publications as I can—your Pitchforks, your Faders—but often the stuff they cover is already on my radar in some capacity or another. If it’s not, that’s a sure sign I need to check it out. But these publications tend to reflect the consensus opinions of their staffs. 

The real gems come from people and blogs with truly idiosyncratic tastes. I have my favorites—like blogger billdifferen, who has an ear to the ground for internet rap, baile funk, and other SoundCloud-born experiments—but the joy in this is in finding your own sweet spot. I recommend just following a bunch of critics, labels, and curious listeners on Twitter (or X, or whatever social media platform you prefer in the post-Musk era of that site) and seeing whose taste aligns most with yours, or who consistently shares tracks that push you out of your comfort zone. If they ever post something you haven’t heard, that’s your signal to drop everything and seek it out. 

One other great tool that’s stuck with me since my earliest days as a curious listener is the website and forum RateYourMusic. It has charts—based on ratings from the site’s users—stretching back through the whole history of recorded music, across any genre you can imagine. While I wouldn’t say that my taste always aligns with the people who are active on the site habitually, it's useful in an encyclopedic sense. If I want to dig super-deep into a specific genre—say ‘90s black metal, or drone music from the ‘80s—I can use RateYourMusic to look up some of the most highly regarded records in that genre and give myself a brief history lesson. 

At this point, I use countless sources beyond these to keep up—from poring over publicly available charts on streaming services to Googling the lyrics of songs I hear blasting out of cars in my neighborhood. I’m of the opinion that your next favorite song could be lurking anywhere out there, so it’s important to keep your ears open. It’s about learning to accept that you can’t hear everything, while still trying your hardest to. Sometimes that even means I have to open some emails.

TBC Video Mix: 6 Films About Going on the Run

For TBC’s Video Mix series, our team of movie and TV experts makes recommendations so that you’re never stuck with a million streaming services and nothing to watch.

For some, summer is a time of rest and relaxation. For others, the oppressive humidity and beating sun spark despair and desperation—people make decisions that they wouldn’t have if the heat weren't scrambling their brains. The following films are about what happens in the moments after drastic decisions get made, when people in tough situations have to choose to fight or to fly down the road at high speed, hoping to outrun their problems (and maybe create some new ones along the way).

Pierrot Le Fou (1965)

This colorful feature, French new wave icon Jean-Luc Godard’s 10th, centers on a married man who hits the road with an ex-girlfriend who’s wanted by a terrorist organization. Crimes, calamity, philosophical monologues, and slapstick violence ensue. 

Where to Watch: VOD

Badlands (1973)

Before he established his style as one of American cinema's most poetic narrative filmmakers, Terrence Malick debuted with Badlands, which stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek tearing across the country in a Mercury Coupe. Sheen’s character, Kit, solves most problems with a bullet, digging a deeper hole for himself as their road trip unfolds. 

Where to Watch: VOD

Thelma and Louise (1991)

Ridley Scott’s classic fishing-trip-gone-awry story is one of the most influential texts of the genre—and its iconic ending has become part of the enduring visual language of any film that sends its characters out on the road. Before they reach that point, however, Geena Davis’ Thelma and Susan Sarandon’s Louise exhibit a tenderness, humor, and intimacy that’s led some to describe the movie as a metaphor for “queer freedom.”

Where to Watch: Prime Video, VOD

The Living End (1992) and The Doom Generation (1995)

Gregg Araki’s pair of ultra-stylized, ultra-violent road movies are more explicitly engaged in dialogues about queerness, criminality, and the AIDS crisis. The Living End and The Doom Generation are bleak yet brilliant, each demonstrating Araki at the height of his hedonistic powers, positing his characters’ crime sprees as rebellions against a world that doesn’t care about them. 

Where to Watch: Criterion Channel

Sun Don’t Shine (2012)

Known first as a prolific actor, Amy Seimetz established herself as a force of American independent cinema with the noirish thriller Sun Don’t Shine. Set in her native Florida, the film—which centers on a couple running for reasons that are at first unclear—captures the sticky, seedy side of the Sunshine State. It’s a place where anything can happen, but very little of it will be good. 

Where to Watch: MUBI, VOD

Staff Mix No. 2: Meet Me in the Chatroom

When The Strokes released their debut album, Is This It, in October 2001, the singer/songwriter Alden Gardner Robinson (known best to fans of internet-addled pop music as Aldn) was just a little over four months old. And yet, despite his distance from the scuzzy New York bars that launched that band to international fame, their sound has loomed large as he’s come into his own as an artist channeling a lot of feelings into genre-blurring pop music. 

Over the past few years, there have been a lot of artists like Aldn—young kids who started making music amidst the post-everything Gecsplosion of hyperpop, who look back to the sounds of early 2000s indie rock as one of their major influences. This mix collects a few of the major players of this foggy scene, each of whom approach these sounds from different directions. At one end, there’s straightforward post-punk revivalists like Kenny Hoopla and EKKSTACY, whose grayscale emoting recalls Interpol and Bloc Party at their most raw. At the other, there’s genre-blending pop pranksters like Frost Children, who occasionally evoke the rattle and hum of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' most prickly arrangements. In between, there’s a wide-ranging collection of experimenters, reaching back to a recent past that they can’t remember. Still, they find emotion and meaning in the haze of borrowed nostalgia.

TBC Video Mix: Films to Stream When It’s Too Cold to Go Outside

For TBC’s Video Mix series, our team of movie and TV experts makes recommendations so that you’re never stuck with a million streaming services and nothing to watch.

When there's white fluff gathering on the ground, there are few better feelings than pulling the curtains closed and spending a whole day in front of the TV, secretly enjoying the excuse to power down for a bit. There's no shame in leaning into the icy gloom, watching other people try to traverse situations and landscapes more treacherous than the ones outside the window. Below are a few excellent films that revel in the bleakness and the beauty of the snowy season.

The Great Silence (1968)

Sergio Corbucci’s nihilist Western features an ending so bleak and dire that one early screening of the film in Sicily reportedly ended when a frustrated audience member fired a gun at the cinema screen. Before the bloody denouement, The Great Silence is a tense document of slow-boiling rage and revenge, set in the days after a blizzard has blanketed a small town in Utah. 

Where to Watch: Criterion Channel, Apple TV

My Night at Maud’s (1969)

Wracked by religious anxieties, the introverted engineer Jean-Louis spends a long night mulling his place in the world when a snowstorm prevents him from leaving the apartment of a new friend named Maud. Like the rest of Éric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales, My Night at Maud’s is a contemplation of life’s big questions—this time provoked by the experience of being stuck inside in the winter.

Where to Watch: Criterion Channel, HBO Max

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

Robert Altman’s beloved snow Western is a tale of harshness of frontier—violence and power struggles disrupting the oasis that Warren Beatty’s McCabe has helped build in Washington State. Still, the warmth of the Leonard Cohen songs that populate the film and McCabe’s lush fur coats make this a surprisingly cozy watch.

Where to Watch: Apple TV

Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

Werner Herzog loves extremes. He’s spent time in volcanoes (Into the Inferno), on death row (Into the Abyss), and in the depths of a dank Peruvian jungle (Fitzcarraldo, and its Sisyphean making-of doc, Burden of Dreams). But Encounters at the End of the World may very well capture some of his most intense and strange subjects—the research scientists and divers who live and work in Antarctica.

Where to Watch: Apple TV

The Thing (1982) 

Paranoia, panic, and fears about the extinction of the entire human race permeate this beloved horror classic. Set at an American research station in Antarctica, it captures the sinister edge of the coldest nights in a way that very few other films do.

Where to Watch: Apple TV

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