Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Now, one year later...

It's not uncommon to be swept away by a new album, but new albums often lose their appeal after a few good listens. How many of us have bought a new lp based on some good reviews and a few catchy singles, only to discover a month later that the album was just a novelty, and like too much sugar, any further indulgence makes you puke? With that in mind, I think a better way to measure the quality of an album is its staying power. After a month of listening, how do you feel about it? How about six months? Twelve? Heaven forbid you listen to an album longer than a year!

It's 2011. What albums from last year are you still listening to? Hopefully there is at least one album in your that made it past the holiday season.

Here's my list of albums from last year that I still listen to pretty regularly.

From least to most:

10. She & Him - Volume Two (a good one to listen to with the mrs.)
9. Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
8. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast (sometimes you just need some good surf rock!)
7. Beach House - Teen Dream (this would be higher on the list, but I don't actually own it. I do stream it pretty often though.)
6. Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz
5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
4. The National - High Violet (early in 2011 this would have been #1 or #2, but then I got less moody and got married)
3. Vampire Weekend - Contra (my wife likes this album a lot. we listen to it quite a bit.)
2. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest (i have often left this album in my car for a week at a time.)
1. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (seriously, I can't get enough of LCD Soundsystem.)

There probably aren't too many surprises here. It's kinda a list of essential hipster albums of last year (minus Kanye and Big Boi, probably). If you've missed out on any of these albums, however, I highly recommend them. Buying last years albums is also not a bad choice if you have a used record store nearby; people often trade them in for the new releases. Don't count on being able to find really popular albums used, though. Good luck ever finding a copy of Merriweather Post Pavillion used in Utah.


Blair Corbett said...

yooo. it's been a while! but music nerdery will always pull me out of the ether. i don't know since when we listened to the same music? when did you stop listening to prog so much?

i'm bad at continuing to listen to a single album over a long period of time because there's always way too much to listen to constantly... new shit coming out plus reams of old stuff i haven't gotten around to. that said i've definitely listened to contra some this year, and the james blake klavierwerke and other eps, which i like a lot better than his music this year, sleigh bells, flying lotus. i keep meaning to listen to the ariel pink album again but that hasn't happened. i was really excited about the mgmt album last year because it was so much better than their first one but i honestly don't see it aging very well.

i bought that deerhunter lp the day it came out, eagerly went home to put it on my turntable, listened to it once and never again. i should probably go back to it... i dunno, they keep moving in a poppier direction and cryptograms is still my favourite of their records, i saw them open for spoon early last year and it was some of the best noise i've heard this side of the my bloody valentine reunion, and i wish they were interested in capturing that in their studio sound still...

it's so hard for me not to go on forever about this type of thing so i'll stop myself here. what are you liking this year?

also you got married wtf

Michael Wood said...

Hi Blair. Wow. It has been a while. I admit that it's been largely my fault; I have all but avoided using any kind of im service in recent years. Still, it's good to hear from you.

It's funny to me how many of my friends who, like me, listened to punk or metal or something as teens are now listening to similar stuff again, though often genres very different than before. What is really fascinating is that these shifts have usually happened independent of one another. In other words, I didn't directly influence my friends and they didn't directly influence me. I suppose it's an inevitable shift as we age and begin searching not just for "different music" but music that is "really good." And in our search we end up at music review sites, which pretty much all say the same thing. For all its diversity, the internet has a powerful homogenizing effect, at least in the world of music. One site speaks, and the others don't want to miss out, so most information is repeated.

Anyway, that's a tangent.

This year I latched onto Helplessness Blues by the Fleet Foxes. I was lucky enough to see them live here a couple months ago. I also liked St. Vincent's, Tune-Yards', Girls', and Panda Bear's new albums. I've liked a few tracks from Chad VanGaalen, Smith Westerns, The Dodos, and Bon Iver. I say tracks, though, because I didn't love those albums completely.

This year I've been less involved in music because I've been more busy with school and more busy getting married... with that I could add that I don't have as much money to spend... :)

We were married in August. She was my friend from work. We met a couple years prior! She is wonderful.

I tend to cling to albums for their emotional connection. An album that puts me in a mood that I feel is good for me, I hold close. Sometimes there are days or weeks where I feel there is only one album that satisfies my emotions or thoughts, and so I'll return to it over and over again. While this sort of approach to music is somewhat constricting, I think it can also be liberating. It is good to remember that I don't have to accommodate myself to the tastes of the music critics.

With that said, I think it is also valuable to expand tastes and experiences; new music often offers feelings or thoughts or experiences that we would not otherwise know on our own. Put more simply, it's good to be put out of your comfort zone every now and then.

Well, yeah. I guess I can go on a while too.

Things are pretty busy right now, but I'll try to catch you on gmail sometime. It would be nice to catch up.