Move over Pitchfork, there’s a new indie kid bible in town. Daytrotter.com is complied by a group of writers, illustrators and recording engineers based in Rock Island, Ill.: makers of a truly unique music site. Daytrotter features live recordings from the Rock Island studio as well as band interviews, and concert and album reviews. Each review and interview page is accompanied by drawings from Daytrotter’s team of illustrators. The featured artists you already know will draw you in, and the new musicians you discover will keep you coming back for more.
Daytrotter’s mission, according to its “About” section, is “to contribute to the musical landscape, not just toss it around like a used book or a stolen pick-up line.” The staff has definitely succeeded in creating a gem of a music site that is fresh, exciting and inviting. Experiencing Daytrotter.com is like eating a piece of really good layer cake. You start with the delicious, creamy outer layer of frosting. On Daytrotter this is the clean, modern layout featuring brilliant, rough sketches of the featured artist and an adorable horse mascot. The illustrations are the best part, kind of like the sprinkles.
Daytrotter employs a number of artists who magically capture the image of a live band, or the sentiment of an album review with artistic ingenuity and playfulness. They capture the dirty, beat up look of an artist on tour: unwashed, unshaven and totally alive. The art is so good that you’ll be licking the bowl for more.
After the delicious icing, you delve into the layers of fluffy, moist, sweet cake: the concert and album reviews. Fabulous writing from a variety of music journalists, these reviews often contain brilliant imagery and real passion that turn the music into a story. The reviews have none of the pretentiousness of Pitchfork.com because the writers mostly review things they want people to listen to. Stand out reviews include Sean Moller’s on Grizzly Bear’s latest release. He uses the image of building a sand castle to perfectly capture the lo-fi, layered sound of the album. It’s brilliant, inspirational writing for any aspiring music journalist. The cake leaves you satisfied, and hankering for more.
Just when you think your bite of cake couldn’t get any better, you reach the delightful bit of frosting sandwiched in the middle. That perfect, always moist, scrumptious treat: the live sessions. Daytrotter’s heart and soul is the two artists they feature weekly. Each artist records four songs in Daytrotter’s Rock Island, Ill. studio. Touring artists stop by when they’re in the area to pump out some rough jams. These tunes are stripped down, gritty tracks that capture the spirit of a band on tour in all its organic glory.
Daytrotter’s goal with the live sessions is to create “four absolutely collectible songs that often impart on whomever listens to them the true intensity that these musicians put into their art.” The frosting gets better and better with every bite. Listening to the live sessions can be a little addictive, but unlike frosting it won’t go to your thighs. The live tracks depict the true craftsmanship of the music these artists create; they tremble with artistic passion. Stand out tracks include a live version of The French Kicks’ “Knee High,” which features rock solid, reverberating percussion, punchy riffs, a little dirty synth and grimy vocals. You can hear the live energy the band plays with, and their ability to create a damn good dance song. The recently featured Dr. Dog session is brilliant, especially the track “From,” which the band describes as “The only Dr. Dog song to date that is defined mostly by our efforts not to know how to play it. The lyrics are equally as desperate. Much can be had in not having.” Crooning vocals, distant bass, a little pedal steel and a sweet guitar solo encapsulate the group’s dirty country feel and capture the essence of the lyrics such as, “Oh my love/ No it ain’t easy/ But I ain’t the type to give up and die.” The live track captures the woe of being in love; you can practically hear the heartstrings ripping.
This layer cake is so good, you will be tempted to eat the whole thing in one sitting. Luckily, it’s a guilt free pleasure, unless you become so addicted you begin to neglect other things. Sure, first you just download a few tracks and browse a couple of reviews. But, if you’re not careful you can become hooked on Daytrotter, constantly yearning for Monday to come so you can get your hit from the new featured artist. Daytrotter can be a little bit addictive, but a little indulgence never hurt anyone. Go ahead and cut yourself a slice of luscious musical pleasure.