The Whingers, Phil and Andrew, attend most big West End productions and report back. They are brilliantly bitchy wits, with sharp tastes and low boredom thresholds. Three Days of Rain got a thumbs down, not least because it really does rain on stage and they were concerned for the actor getting soaked. Verdict: “Pure theatrical Niagara”.
The novelist and journalist Jessica Duchen keeps an informed eye on the music world (she is married to an LPO violinist). Her blog is not comprehensive and has strange biases (she loves Korngold), but compensates with an air of intelligent engagement and nice sense of community.
Some elegant musings but mostly straightforwardly informative stuff from the music critic of The New Yorker, whose acclaimed book of the same name, on classical music in the 20th century, came out last year.
A host site for blogs posted by violinists, with a useful Top Blogs page where the editor posts links to the best recent entries, from all levels of players.
A wide-roving look at all aspects of the classical-music world, from pricing and album covers to reviews and comment.
Terry Teachout’s blog is about the arts in America, but still of interest here. Recently he noted, for example, that hip-hop wasthe most popular music used as a means of torture; meanwhile, an American railway is trying to drive homeless people out of its stations by subjecting them to classical music.
Blog Central for geeks, this is Wired magazine’s blog compendium. Usually verbose and clunkily written, but addictive and essential for watching technology.
A “directory of wonderful things” for a global community of 2m-plus digital culture vultures. In an Aladdin’s cave patrolled by the literate opinion-former Cory Doctorow, and Xeni Jardin, the producer of Boing Boing TV, ideas are discussed and gadgets demoed without geek snarkiness.
A breezy pathfinder through the era of Web 2.0, the nerdy tag for interactivity. Founded in Scotland by Pete Cashmore, who now resides in California, aged 22, it reaches 2.4m followers of Facebook, streamed TV and all user-generated media.
At the BBC’s Dot Life, abundant intelligent comment replaces the prattle that makes most geek blogs unreadable. The British perspective is also refreshing in an American-dominated blogosphere.
The digital universe surveyed for management and investors. The editor, Michael Arrington, a corporate attorney who was raised in England, can influence the fate of start-ups and established web brands alike. Highly accessible to non-business readers.
The most popular among sustainability blogs. As arch-enemy of corporate “greenwashing”, it has “the Wal-Mart effect” constantly in its sights. Scrutinises climate, GM, toxins, pollution, carpooling, personal health, fashion and travel.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design: click on the Themes link for visions of the digital future encapsuled in 18-minute bites by world-leading minds. Navigation is a chore, so pop these names into the search: Jeff Han, Neil Turok, Martin Rees, Bill Gross, Amy Tan and Hod Lipson. The blog craves your creative feedback.
Written by Paddy Johnson (a she), it’s New York’s best art blog, strong on reviews, gossip and news. A recent post covered the vexed topic of how to “distinguish fine-art photography from an advanced Flickr user”. Tough call.
Owen Hatherley, a 27-year-old Londoner, is unstinting in his exposure of contemporary guff. “The infantile appeal of the organic”, London Transport’s co-opting of the Goldsmiths guru Michael Craig-Martin and the outbreak of “austerity nostalgia” all come under his starchy, modernist glare – as bracing as being happy-slapped with a mackerel.
The American magazine’s Scene & Herd blog (see what they did there?) is the art establishment’s society page. Like Tatler in cooler attire, but written with a knowing dash – and the sidebar is good for news.
Gossipy, pleasantly cynical blog from Jeffrey Wells, for those who want to feel they are in the loop with all the Hollywood chatter.
A top stop for those whose film tastes are off-piste; good for news and comment on indie, art-house and cult films. Tonight (Sunday, from midnight GMT), Greencine will be running a live blog on the Oscars that will presumably be intentionally funny, unlike the real thing.
This page is fast becoming a Facebook for emerging artists. As well as having a daily magazine, with contributors from Berlin to Beijing, it allows members to post their reviews of shows, but it’s no love-in. “ArtyPete”, for instance, finds Andreas Golder “daft and shallow”.
This hip showcase/blog is a virtual street corner for graphic designers and graffiti artists, from Brooklyn to Buenos Aires, to hang out on. It’s your first port of call if you’re searching for the next JR, Blek le Rat or, indeed, Banksy, whose takeover of a pet store in New York is featured.
Posts can be sporadic on this frantic, ranting blog by a collector. As he works on Wall Street, one constantly hopes he’s not topped himself. Yet that’s unlikely, given how bullish he was lately about the art recession: fewer galleries than restaurants have closed in NYC, he writes, and the discounts on recent Sugimoto, Sherman and Knoebel works are “total common sense” (“Did you see the shows?”).
An architectural blog from LA, full of ideas, speculation and superb pictures. Should computer hard drives be replaced by geology? Can buildings make you healthier? It’s all here.
A strange, very much out-there, two-man science blog. “We want to avoid, or at least minimise, the startling systematic mistakes that science is discovering.” In part bonkers, it is nevertheless a window on another world.
Two maths blogs. Probably, you will barely understand a word. But what you do understand will excite and grip. Also, it’s just good to know this stuff is out there if you need it.
A collection of blogs on the science journal Nature’s site. The writing can be prone to that whimsy and jollity to which scientists often resort when trying to be “accessible”. But, otherwise, a fantastically informative site. Where else could you read Cloud Computing: A New Standard Platform?
This feisty portal hosts a 75-strong army of witty and qualified practitioners fighting at the front line of idiocy, bigotry and ignorance to achieve a science-savvy citizenry. Targets include assorted “utterly wrong” mainstream pundits.
“The endarkenment” is the prime target for the irascible pharmacologist professor David Colquhoun. Quackery, the press and alternative medicine are high on the scorn list at his newly revamped blog.
Carl Sagan co-founded the nonprofit Planetary Society, whose advisers include Buzz Aldrin, Ray Bradbury and Frank Drake. Here, he elaborates his own Drake Equation to calculate how many civilisations are out there. Emily Lakdawalla, the editor, ensures the blog stays down-to-earth.
Rucks invariably follow the twice-daily ruminative responses to topical events by journalists at the UK publication that sets discovery in its cultural context. Combat in the comment zones sees celebs and mortal bloggers outflank each other with disputatious nitpicking and sheer expertise.
The BBC reckons Victoria Hesketh – aka Little Boots – is the Sound of 2009. Her sweetly wide-eyed blog reveals the Blackpool girl inside the starmaker machinery of her soon-to-be popular songs. She’s been in America, making friends with Katy Perry, eating pancakes and confronting the country’s greatest failing: “They just can’t do tea.”
Byrne’s musings – on media ownership, Neanderthals and Bratz, say – have the tone of a kindly, globetrotting anthropologist uncle. He’s currently posting about Brazil, where he has dropped in on his mates Gilberto (Gil) and Caetano (Veloso). Click on the Radio icon, and you get a playlist to accompany the travelogue. Excelente!
“You shouldn’t grow out of pop music the moment you hit puberty” and “You shouldn’t grow into pop music the moment you discover irony” are among the tenets of Popjustice. Whether wowed or withering, it is compulsive reading, and its accolade as the Smash Hits for the digital age is spot-on.
Covering comedy shows as well as music, this offers British readers a dose of NYC cool (for better and for worse), not least since the Brooklyn scene (Yeasayer, Gang Gang Dance, Telepathe et al) has grown and grown in notoriety and namedropability.
Written by Scott Wright, a Londoner, Pinglewood probably pips Nothing But Green Lights, by Exeter’s Mike Smith, as the UK’s hottest music blog. The posts are pithy and pertinent; the 321 band interviews (that’s asking them for three facts, two songs they like, and one wish) get to the point, too.
Nestling in a corner of the NYT website is this high-quality offering, subtitled How to Write a Song and Other Mysteries. Regular contributors include Andrew Bird and Suzanne Vega, so the insights come straight from the horses’ mouths.
Based in Rock Island, Illinois, Daytrotter is a blog, of sorts, and then some. Five bands a week visit Futureappletree Studio One and record four tracks (all live, no overdubs) in glorious analogue (later digitised for consumption as MP3). Sean Moeller writes up their experience, and an illustrator does a portrait. Bon Iver, Black Kids and Bonnie “Prince” Billy have taken part. Wired magazine wasn’t wrong to call Daytrotter a worthy successor to the Peel Sessions.
This blog deserves all its applause for bringing “world music to the masses”. Rumour has it Vampire Weekend were inspired by Matt Yanchystyn’s postings to create their “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” sound. There are dispatches from China, Iceland, Hungary, Romania, Nigeria and Senegal.
So many music blogs breathlessly pursue the new new thing; Aquarium Drunkard, founded in 2005 by Justin Gage, takes the long view. Based in LA, its vibe is more Laurel Canyon than Hollywood. Regular features include Off the Record, songwriters on favourite hangouts in their favourite cities, and Sevens, a muse on a particular unsung song (recently, the Rolling Stones’ I Just Want to See His Face).
The first port of call for new videos, mixtapes and the skinny on who’s dissin’ who. Run since 2005 by New York’s Ahsmi Rawlins, aka Eskay, it’s mostly written by the former graffiti artist in a, well, forthright style. Recent posts include Capone-N-Noreaga’s trip to a German barber and an interview with Lil Wayne by the fragrant American television anchor Katie Couric. Not sure which is weirder.
The indie troubadour Dev Hynes, aka Lightspeed Champion, bemoans his recent throat operation, bank troubles and transatlantic luggage sagas like a mildly vexed Withnail. Somehow it never gets too whiney, and we also learn his views on bagels (he’s very particular), Patricia Highsmith (nasty piece of work) and the last Sopranos (Tony’s dead).
Jaunty musings from a sampler of all things downloadable, remixed and arcane in pop culture.
A model of the female confessional, this journal by a former Sunday Times writer, Judith O’Reilly, who moves her young family to lonely Northumberland, has struck a chord with its no-nonsense outlook on everything from hating Christmas to President Obama’s big ears.
Rather like having your own – real – version of The Devil Wears Prada as a blog. An anonymous twentysomething Brit working as the fashion director of a New York-based glossy gives the lowdown on what her glamorous life is really like. Both self-deprecating and outspoken, it’s a tonic if you suspect Sex and the City is all a big lie.
Written by “Jaywalker”, who describes herself as a Eurozombie, slattern and unfit mother of two sons, this is a drily witty peek into the home life of a 34-year-old Brit trying to make sense of life in Brussels with her French “life partner”, CFO (who is, yes, a chief financial officer and tortoise-lover).
An unusual take on the world from Joad, who regularly pounds its roads and specially marked trails as a marathon competitor (his day job seems to be in finance). He also takes to the streets abroad, from Milan to Istanbul, and posts great photos.
Mrs Trefusis Takes a Taxi (“because she eschews sensible shoes”) is by a London woman with a passion for modish footwear and Mr Trefusis (Manolo-Man). Urbane thoughts from one whose brow is considerably higher than her subject matter suggests.
Sometimes it takes outsider eyes to refocus your surroundings for you. Here is a native of Sydney whose blog registers all things good/unknown about her new home, London. Wee Birdy pokes around the back streets of the city for the best shops and sights, so you don’t have to.
The journal of a 20-year-old female engineering student in Mosul, where car bombs share space with her impending exams. But the slightly dizzy way she handles her subjects is a perfect window into her world: consumed with writing about her treasured new camera, for example, she almost forgets to get to the real point of that day’s blog – that she voted for the first time.
The parallel blogs of two friends separated by a conflagration: one, Peace Man, is in Gaza; the other, Hope Man, is in Sderot, the Israeli town targeted by Hamas RPGs. A good way to see through the fog of war.
Contributors: Bryan Appleyard, Richard Clayton, Clive Davis, Christopher Goodwin, David Johnson, India Knight, Louis Wise, David Mills and Helen Hawkins
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