Think back to the last great band you discovered. Now search for them on Daytrotter.
Chances are the indie music site not only has an exclusive session available for streaming but recorded it years before you were hip to them: Blood Orange (check). Alabama Shakes (ditto). Tame Impala (same). Local Natives (take your pick).
Founded in Rock Island, Ill., in 2006, Daytrotter is essentially the digital successor to John Peel’s legendary BBC Radio 1 sessions. The site records bands—straight to tape, no overdubs—in a patchwork collection of studios across the country and releases its sessions through a subscription service that allows members to download tracks. At this point, Daytrotter boasts more exclusive content than Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal combined, with a deep catalog that includes Wilco, Spoon, and the National, among countless others.
While it’s backed by Wolfgang’s Vault, Daytrotter is still a lovingly DIY affair: Cofounder Sean Moeller curates most of the sessions, and there’s a rough-hewn charm to the recordings—some wear and tear on the songs themselves and the people behind them—that distinguishes them from their studio counterparts. As such, Daytrotter has quietly become a milemarker of sorts for indie and alt-country acts, a check-in point for bands on the road still looking for their big break or an opportunity to promote a new album.
Just this week, the site celebrated its 5,000th session—fittingly enough, with Built to Spill—and continues to upload three new sessions daily. For the casual music listener, that’s a lot to take in. That’s where we come in.
We’ve partnered with Daytrotter to highlight one session a week, which will be available to stream here exclusively in its entirety. We’re kicking things off with Guantanamo Baywatch, a Portland trio whose blackout take on surf-punk would be better suited for dank basements than a day at the beach. This session was recorded in Austin, Texas, during South by Southwest, and it will have you counting the hours till the weekend.
For nearly a decade, Daytrotter has been recording some of the best talent around, and now you can stream half of this incredible (and growing) archive, featuring thousands of band sessions, for free—or join for full access and free downloads.
Illustration by Johnnie Cluney/Daytrotter