Pureplay of the Day

Pureplay of the Day: Calm Stream

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 3:10pm

Calm down. Christmas is still two weeks away. Plenty of time to shop, wrap, decorate, cook, and prepare for invading relatives.

If the holiday rush is starting to jangle your nerves, turn on Calm Stream, a Russian downtempo electronica station. An occasional smooth jazz vibe creeps in -- but calm, always calm. There is zero holiday cheer in this station.

Even the site is soothing, with its snow-white background and minimal, no-hassle, in-line music player. This site defines elegance. It is also a social hub of a sort -- most of the page features an international chat window where you can practice your Russian. (Get out your Cyrillic keyboard.)

Pureplay of the Day: Flashback Alternatives

Monday, December 9, 2013 - 12:20pm

How does alternative music become classic? Maybe Flashback Alternatives (www.flashbackalternatives.com) can help us puzzle it out. “The Past, Present, and Future of Classic Alternative Music” might be a head-scratching conundrum, but the music is good. We’ve been energized for Monday work with Morrissey, ABC, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, A Flock of Seagulls, and Depeche Mode.

The site is as snappy as the music, and provides a few reason for registering: a chat room which is sometimes active and a request line, to name two. On-site discussion forums are there for deeper conversations, and they also contain show playlists. FA presents over 10 themed shows such as An Alternate Universe, World of Noise, Friday Night Live, Friday Afternoon Bad 70s, and The Unheard Music. 

A pop-out player leaves the main page free for poking around. The site sometimes responds a little slowly, but not when you click the Support tab. An elaborate contribution page accepts monthly, annual, and one-time giving.

Pureplay of the Day: Web-Radio Christmas

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 12:05pm

The Christmas season begins this weekend, and the Christmas-music season along with it. Actually, as we have observed over the past few weeks, holiday music started in early November, on both the broadcast and pureplay sides of the fence. But in our view, three and a half weeks of Christmas music saturation is sufficient.

Saturation is the watchword of today’s POTD. BRS Media, George Bundy’s enterprise, posts an annual roundup of Internet-delivered Christmas music streams, emanating from radio stations as well as Internet-only stations. (The pureplays are separated into their own list.) With nearly 300 streaming options it is lean-back heaven for anyone who doesn’t want to curate a personal playlist -- although this many choices actually requires some degree of leaning in, just to find the perfect mix. Especially since, well, a few of them didn’t work in our testing. But in the spirit of holiday joviality, we’re ignoring glitches.

The pureplay list has an international scope, which adds fun variety. We are settling into KerstRadio from Rotterdam, which seems, at this minute, to be playing a Dutch version of “Winter Wonderland.” Moge de vreugde van het seizoen met u zijn.

Pureplay of the Day: LoudCity

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 12:00pm

Today’s POTD spotlights pureplay aggregator LoudCity (www.loudcity.com), which, like larger players RadioTuna and Live365, enables and hosts personal Internet radio stations. LoudCity does an outstanding job creating a feeling of community and curation. Many LoudCity stations distribute their brands on separate websites. But the LoudCity experience is satisfying in its own right.

A genre directory helps you get your bearings. One of the platform’s best features is the Artists Playing Right Now module, which serves up thumbnails of musicians and bands. Click on any one to flip onto that station’s page and join the stream. Each station has. Facebook commenting embedded.

Although not a unique feature, we find the “right now” concept, as opposed to the artist/song search engine found at RadioTuna, to be fun and effective as both a music-discovery and station-discovery device.

There’s no pop-up player that we could find (our preference), but the embedded player at the top of the page worked flawlessly in our testing across all stations we sampled. So, if you’re willing to devote a full browser tab to pureplay listening, you’re in good hands here.

Bonus: Each station page lists the previous ten tracks programmed. That list provides a quick indicator of whether you’ll like the station going forward.

REMEMBER: Pureplay Buffet archives our Pureplay of the Day selections. It’s a listening feast! 

Pureplay of the Day: Herald.FM

Monday, November 18, 2013 - 11:55am

With the tagline, “The Messenger of Good Music,” you can expect a broad programming range. Herald.FM (www.herald.fm) covers alt rock for the most part -- Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, The Vaccines, Lana Del Rey, and Bleached have streamed through our speakers today. The programming is not preciously on the fringe; we heard some Radiohead, too.

Playlists are not published -- this is lean-back, radio-style listening. An in-browser worked perfectly in our testing, and you can launch a pop-out player window from the station’s Facebook page

Founded by Romanian Gabrief Ispas, Herald.FM posts music news on the site, and an events calendar. There is zero fuss around site registration and community (non-existent on both cases), or alternative bitrates and other technical distractions. The streamlined approach keeps the site lightweight and easy to understand.

Pureplay of the Day: The Jazz Groove

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 12:40pm

One of the most professionally produced, and cleanly presented, indie pureplays, The Jazz Groove (www.thejazzgroove.com) crafts a listening experience of understated, elegant acoustic jazz. The station’s motto is lifted from a Miles Davis quote: “You don’t have to play a lot of notes. You just have to play the pretty ones.”

Think American Songbook standards, modern trio and quartet work, players like Dave Brubeck, George Shearing, Johnny Hodges, Bucky Pizzarelli, Diana Krall. This station doesn’t intrude or commandeer attention. Perhaps too cocktail lounge-y for some, this listening will be pleasingly nightclub-ish for others. Above all -- tasteful.

The Jazz Groove is listener-supported, but doesn’t get pathetic about it on the site. We have heard an audio promo for donations.

The website has a blog, a Facebook page, and an email address for suggestions, but otherwise does not create community space as some pureplay sites do. A pop-out streamer worked perfectly in our cross-platform testing, though it lacks a Play/Stop button; you end the stream by closing the pop-out window. Which we’re not going to do anytime soon.

(See other POTD selections here.)

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