Sunday, January 19, 2014

Best Discography Sites - Part 5 of 5

This is the 5th installment in a series.  Click here for parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.  For today's test artist, The War on Drugs, it's important to say what today is.  Today is Sunday, January 19th, 2014.  The reason that's important is because The War on Drugs is releasing a new record in March, which is the future...  future....  future...  future (that's supposed to be a futuristic echo effect, by the way).

As of today at 10:16 am PST, wikipedia says this about the band:

The War on Drugs is an American indie rock band from PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, formed in 2005. The band consists of Adam Granduciel (vocals, guitar), David Hartley (bass, guitar), Robbie Bennett (keyboards, guitar) and Patrick Berkery (drums).
Founded by close collaborators, Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs released their debut studio album, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008. Vile departed shortly after its release to focus on his solo career.
The band's second studio album Slave Ambient, was released, in 2011, to critical acclaim and extensive touring, with a third, Lost in the Dream, due for release in March, 2014.

I don't know what it says at the moment you're reading this, but you can check for yourself if you want.  As of two minutes later, allmusic lists the new album, Lost in the Dream, in its discography, but it does not give a date or list the tracks, so it's impossible to tell from allmusic alone that this is really a new record and not an old one.  I was surprised by that.  Allmusic is usually a step ahead of the rest on this sort of thing.

As of 3 minutes later, discogs does not list the new album at all.  Discogs lists the same other 5 releases as allmusic, but discogs considers one of them (2010's Future Weather) to be an EP, and allmusic considers it to be an album.  Wikipedia sides with discogs on the 8-song release, also calling it an EP.

Only 10 minutes later, RYM not only lists Lost in the Dream, but it even includes the track listing.  To be fair, given that we're looking at the future and all that, let's just double-check that nothing new has happened at discogs or allmusic in the last 10 minutes.  We're nothing but fair here at nothing but good things.  Every minute counts.  Nope.  Nothing new at the other sites.  RYM wins the race.  I should also note that discogs allows members to see pending submissions, and I just looked there and there's nothing about Lost in the Dream.

I don't anticipate much from 45cat with The War on Drugs, since they really aren't a singles band, but 45cat does deliver on the one true single.  Musicbrainz covers the same territory as allmusic and discogs and agrees with everyone but allmusic about what's an album and what's an EP.

So today's winner is definitely RYM.  A purist may argue that the record doesn't belong on a discography until it's actually released, and I do have to give one RYM rater a thumbs down for giving the record a rating before it's actually released.  Perhaps they rated it on the strength of the pre-release video of Red Eyes.
To conclude the series, let's consider whether a final ranking is possible of the sites considered.

#1) RYM was the flat-out winner twice, tied for first once, and was the named second place contender once.
#2) Discogs was the flat-out winner once, tied for first twice, and was the named second place contender once.
#3) 45cat tied for first twice.
#4) Wikipedia tied for first once.
#5) Allmusic came in second or third or got an honorable mention 3 times.
#6) Musicbrainz didn't win any rounds, but there were a bit more competitive than I'd guessed they would be, and I like their simple interface that makes it easy to find what you're looking for.

Now, you might conclude from this that RYM should be your go-to site.  Actually, I think the key finding is that you probably need to go to 3 to 4 sites if you want comprehensive information for any artist that's slightly outside the mainstream.  Nobody else does 45s like 45cat does, and wikipedia is impressively competitive for older artists, but surprisingly weak for obscure indie rock.  Allmusic is very impressive in its exhaustive list of compilations, and RYM and Discogs are so competitive as to be nearly redundant, but there are often small differences between the two with no really clear and consistent winner.

And, now that the series is concluding, I realize I meant to do one obscure 80s band.  I could be back with a part 6 of 5, just to show off my weak counting skills.

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