When I first opened Spotify, I had a short list of bands that I wanted to check out, Megafaun, Blitzen Trapper, Broken Social Scene, and The Shins. I had heard snippets from each, turns out that's all I really needed. They each have a handfull of sweet songs, but nothing that really impressed me album-wise. However, they did point me in the direction in some "similar artists." It has always baffled me how they select similar artists. Are they hand picked or do they algorithms that see how one person likes one and another, then links them together as similar. It also seems that if one band is affiliated with another, they become similar, despite their music not being similar at all. But there are a few gems, you just have to know how to look.
In my case, I tend to look at pictures/album covers. Don't laugh, the system works. I've found at least TWO fantastic bands that way. The Head and the Heart, which I had heard on 88.9 before,
but recently purchased the whole album, has a dude with a lamb mask sitting next to a chick posing like a Step-Brothers picture. 3 really great tracks alone on the album, and it is definitely a good album as a whole. The chick singer shouldn't really get lead vocal duty on some songs, but she isn't the worst. It can be overlooked because of the quality of the album.
The other great find came yesterday while looking through another spotify app I guess. I saw a picture of a dude with a long beard, old timey clothes, and 6 others standing behind.
The band was called Bison, so naturally I had to check it out. FANTASTIC folk music that takes it a step further. Some traditional instrumentation, but no bass, upright or otherwise. They have a freaking pump organ (awesome), a violin, cello, banjo/mandolin player, and a couple percussion and vocalists. The songs are structured more like some indie rock band, but still are 100% folk. The melodies are instantly memorable. It is definitely an interesting mix. Bison's website has quotes from critics calling them a mix of folk and classical. I suppose that's the best they could come up with, but it's kind of true. A very interesting and fun listening experience.
Still working on my utilization of Spotify. Kind of given up on Pandora for my purposes of finding new music, but it's still good to have on sometimes. But I do believe Spotify has more potential. It feels like the new Lala.com, a website I miss deeply. More to come, I'm sure.