Monday I shall be in Montreal, giving a talk about music recommendation and discovery at Doug Eck's Music and Machine Learning course (or more properly, 'Musique et Apprentissage Automatique'). Also joining us will be the students taking the McGill course "The Remonetization of Music and Other Promiscuously Transportable Media Objects".

To get people thinking a little bit about the issues surrounding music recommendation and discovery, I offer these two pre-class assignments:

The first assignment is to visit and use the following music recommendation/discovery sites:

The second assignment is to actually make a music recommendation. Here's the details: I'll be attending the SXSW Music festival in March where about 1,200 bands will be playing. For your assignment, make a few recommendations for me of bands that that I should see. Post your recommendations and how you came up with them as a comment to this blog post. The SXSW Band list is here: Official SXSW Showcasing Bands. You can perhaps glean something about my music taste by looking at my profile.


I recommend you see 'The Russian Futurists' at SXSW.
They have a song called 'Paul Simon', and you like 'Paul Simon' (according to your profile). Also, I like The Russian Futurists, and, errr, I have impeccable taste, so you *should* like them/him, too :)

Posted by Corey Kereliuk on January 25, 2009 at 09:13 PM EST #

I would strongly suggest to see Les BreastFeeders, this one is more based on personal preference than on your taste. Still you might like them, they have old rock influence and some of their song sound like stroke song, but not the one on your profile. Still I saw them 2 time live and they give a good show.

On the band that I know, I think the matches is the band you would like the most, not everything they've done, but song like "Yankee in a chip shop" seem to be your style. They have a kind of catchy pop rock sound like weezer or the clash.

Don't go see alexis on fire, you won't like them. You might like some of the melody but they use a lot of screaming in their song and I don't have the feeling is something you would enjoy.

Posted by Jean-François Lavallée on January 25, 2009 at 09:48 PM EST #

I started my search for recommendations in a scientific-like manner thinking that I would be better off deducing suggestions from your library tags on "Start with SXSW, add more recurrent tags" (emo, progressive rock, etc).

I was disappointed by's tag search engine (can't stay under a tag's "umbrella" and go on). I was then simply confused by Ishkur's guide and slightly nonplussed by Hype Machine. I then went to the SXSW site and saw that it was your iPod's fault that I thought you were an emo fan.

My experience with the the music recommendation sites was unsatisfactory, for the given task anyway. So I took a look at the roster for SXSW. Since I can't rely on your profile, here are some shows I wouldn't miss if I could be in many places at once:

Cadence Weapon (8-bit hip-hop)
Handsome Furs (Montreal, Electroish, great live)
Krista Muir (Montreal, folk)
Miracle Fortress (Montreal, never seen them play, good sounds)
Pop Levi (Hot rocks)
Vetiver (GREAT folk band)

Posted by Pierre Paul Monty on January 25, 2009 at 11:08 PM EST #

I'm recommending stuff based on similarities with artists in your profile. Well there is also a little presonnal bias.

Anyway, since I don't have enough free time to listen to the 1200 artists that will be on display, I decided to just go for the ones from Montreal.

Here are my recommendations, first the ones I think you will like

David Martel (I feel that this artist is similar to Weezer and Breaking Benjamin [both of which are pretty high in your profile].)
Creature (This might be the recommendation where the bias shows most. It's kind of like Bjork, but more rock.)

and the ones I think you won't like

AIDS Wolf (this one has a lot of screaming an aggressive music)
Torngat (this one hurts my ears with its high frequencies in most songs)
Empire ISIS (this is rap and you don't seem to like rap)

Not every artist from Montreal is on this list since there are a lot that I really wasn't sure and a couple from whom I could not hear anything because of website problems.

Posted by Arnaud Bergeron on January 25, 2009 at 11:58 PM EST #

Since The Raveonettes, Andrew Bird, and Primal Scream appear in your profile quite a bit, I assume you like them. :) So it would definitely make sense to check out those shows.

I also recommend the following bands:

Beach House - They don't sound extremely similar to any artist in your profile, but they have traits in their music (slow and experimental pop) that overlap with some of the bands/artists I saw listed (Animal Collective, Fiona Apple, etc.)

The Drones - Great band whose vocals remind me of Bob Dylan a bit, and which kind of sound like grunge crossed with classic rock.

The Tallest Man On Earth - Singer/songwriter who does a great job mimicking Bob Dylan's style without being a complete rip-off.

Shugo Tokumaru - He sounds very close to the Beach Boys (i.e. pop with a lot of experimental elements and instrumentation).

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - A good mix of pop, alternative rock, and some shoegaze.

Peter Bjorn and John - They make very catchy pop music in a similar vein as The Postal Service (which appears quite high in your profile).

Unfortunately I've never actually seen any of the above bands live, so I can't comment on whether they put on a good show. :)

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui on January 26, 2009 at 12:29 AM EST #

I think you might enjoy Grizzly Bear. Their acoustic/country streak picks up from Led Zeppelin a bit, although it's much quieter and bleaker. They're doing a show with Final Fantasy soon. Head over to and listen to 'On a Neck, on a Spit'. Then download Final Fantasy's mix of Don't Ask.

I also enjoy Miracle Fortress, another Montreal band, that will maybe tickle the Postal Service fan in you. Have You Seen In Your Dreams is a good one, and I like their cover of Daft Punk's Digital Love (on their myspace page).

Posted by Jordan Smith on January 26, 2009 at 01:13 AM EST #

I found it hard to mine good information from a list of 1200 bands I don't know, and to cross-reference them with your personnal tastes. I querried a few bands that got my attention, but this is not optimal.

I recommend you to see the handsome furs, because they are similar to Clap your hands and say Yeah!, which you seem to like

Also, just out of curiosity I would go see the vaselines, just because I like the cover Nirvana did of their song 'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam'.

Finally to follow-up on Jordan's recommendation, I saw Grizzly Bear live this summer as the opening band for Radiohead, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have like to. Maybe it was the rain, or maybe it was just me :)

Posted by Philippe Hamel on January 26, 2009 at 09:32 AM EST #

I tried cross referencing your preferences with the bands showing at SXSW but I unfortunately found no way of easily doing this on

Since most if not all of the bands are unknown to me, I can only recommend the ones that I know. There is a small Belgium electronic duo named Nid & Sancy that is good.

I liked the site and found it's recommendation appropriate. I'll probably be using it from now on. Ishkur's site on the history of electronic music was fun and informative( for example the italo entry).

Posted by Xavier Muller on January 26, 2009 at 10:25 AM EST #

For these recommendations I basically took a look at the "Loved tracks" and "Music" on your profile and then added a healthy dose of proselytization for groups that I like and think do great live shows.

Bands that I think you might like based on your profile:

Dear and the Headlights
Ra Ra Riot
Bedouin Soundclash

Bands that are just great live:

Explosions in the Sky (very laid back, best listened to outdoors in the early evening)
Kissy Sell Out (just a good dance party time)

Hip-Hop Acts that Might Change Your Mind about the Genre (like a lot of people I noticed there's almost no hip-hop on your profile, Girl Talk is pretty high up there though and he uses a lot of hip-hop samples, so I think you should give these less conventional hip-hop acts a try):

Buck 65 (has a lot of blues and folk influences in his work and he's Canadian)
Wale (up-and-comer from DC, while he is heavily inspired by the DC go-go scene, also uses a lot of unconventional samples - such as Justice)

Groups that have done well on the blogs this year so you might want to see what all the fuss is about:

Passion Pit (Boston-based synth pop)
The Whip (English electro)

Posted by Tim Bottomer on January 26, 2009 at 12:11 PM EST #

From "The Remonetization of Music" course. Personally, I'd check out Shugo Tokumaru (wanted to see this guy live for ages), Laura Marling (folk, quite brilliant), St. Vincent (female singer-songwriter with smart, intricate tunes), and Buraka Som Sistema (Portuguese ghetto electro, sonically harsh to me - and perhaps to you, judging from your last.FM - but comes highly recommended). Seconding the rec for Grizzly Bear, who are overrated by the indie folk set but still a great band. And a couple of London acts: Ipso Facto and Littl'Ans, to see if they're any good live, and Kissy Sell Out for the party.

This is me:

Another great recommendation/discovery site:

Posted by Sabina Tang on January 26, 2009 at 01:33 PM EST #

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