Album sales used to be the barometer for interest in a band. But with Internet distribution raging, most bands on the album sales charts are the ones still on it from the 1970s.
But without the quantifiable hard data of sales, fans are left without an effective yardstick, especially since Internet distribution has allowed groups to completely sidestep labels, who often served as an effective crap filter.
Unless you count the number of plays on Myspace.
No matter what their PR rep or their singer says about how awesome they are, the average band has plays numbering in the hundreds.
Of the six songs Maryland neo-folksters Wye Oak have posted on Myspace, none have less than 12,000 plays, and one is even nearing 50,000. Those are pretty respectable numbers. And when listening to Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner's fuzzy mixture of Americana and dreamy indie pop, it's easy to understand why. Wasner's Cat Power-esque vocals capture you from the first sultry notes. And it doesn't hurt that band has some tour dates with former Pedro the Lion-tamer David Bazan and Portland, Ore.'s Blitzen Trapper.
You can put the Myspace barometer to the test by catching Wye Oak at The Flying M Coffeegarage on Saturday, Oct. 23.