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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Impressions From the First Day of the Background Listening

So the first day of background listening was a success. I started listening to the 27 missed albums in the order they were ranked in the top 100. I heard 8 albums. (Well 7.25 but we'll get to that...)

My intention is to sum up the initial impression of the album in a few words. Please know full well that this was the distracted album as background listen, anything subtle will be lost and pretty much no lyrics will have been heard.

As I said in the comments of the last post it has been fun to listen to a few artists for whom I have absolutely zero preconceptions. I sort of can guess from my knowledge of the name that I am 'supposed' to like bands like Mercury Rev, but in reality I know nothing about them & the album I listened to. No knowledge of history, hometown (or country even), no knowledge of chart dates nothing.

I learned today that this lack of knowledge is a good thing.

After jotting down my initial impression of Mercury Rev (which is unedited below) I listened to more of the tracks and felt as though I had confirmed my initial thoughts. I absentmindedly I clicked the 'Biography' tab in Spotify only to discover that one of the bands I compared them to was very closely related. Suddenly I felt the joy of zero preconceptions slipping away, so clicked away from the page. Sadly the page I clicked to was the 'Related Artists' page, and saw the name of the other band I had compared them to (so there it was, the first two comparisons I had made were the first two bands listed and I felt dirty for having my initial thoughts confirmed before the deeper listen.)

Before I start telling you what I thought about each album, I want to say that something I love about music is that everyone hears something different. A common discussion (and belief) which I have is that pretty much every artist, every album and every song is someone's favorite artist/band/song. And that fact is magnificent. All music is magnificent.

Jeff Buckley - Grace -- Reminded me of pleasant older more refined version of Radiohead, from a time when I enjoyed Radiohead. Looking forward to a closer listen.

Travis - The Man Who -- Quite nice in the background, but not really anything which caught my attention, I do wonder whether this is one of the albums which was on in the top 100 because of when it was complied in 2006, and whether this would get a look in even 5 years later. I do however think that when I sit and listen to the lyrics there may be something here which delights.

Coldplay -Parachutes -- The first few bars of Yellow had me thinking that my prejudice might have been misplaced, a bit rockier than I had expected. By the third or fourth song in, I was ready for it to be done. Everything sounded over earnest, over emoted and covered in a thick layer of whiney whinging.

Prince -Sign 'O' the Times -- Quite a fun background listen, found myself grooving along a few times. I have obviously heard (and enjoyed) quite a few prince tracks, and know his oft repeated reputation as a musical genius, but have never actually listened to more than a few of his tracks in succession without getting a bit bored. I enjoyed the background listen, but time will tell whether I can take the concentrated listen.

Lauren hill - The Miseducation of Lauren Hill -- To me she has a more than irritating droney almost expressionless voice. Each track seemed to comprise of a load of random shouts/wails/noises layered over each other in what to me sounds way too busy and discordant. Maybe the rhythm is supposed to be ‘advanced’ but to me it sounds mismatched and unsettling (but not in a good way). I really want to hear what people love in this record; even quietly in the background it’s irritating the hell out of me. (Full disclosure time I couldn't take the whole thing, flipping forward a few tracks before skipping to the next record altogether.) I know she is a massive star, so must be appealing to her huge audience, but I don't get it. I will try to listen 'properly' but this has been the first real confusing record.

Mercury Rev - Deserter's Songs --When did the Flaming Lips and Spiritualized get together and have a lovechild? This is an album I wish I had listened to before, an album I could grow to love.

Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of the Bewilderbeast --This is someone I have often thought I would like, but haven’t made the time to listen. On first impressions this is album beautiful , lovely horns, lovely pianos, lovely guitars, random lovely textures and a heartfelt sweet voice (even though I can’t quite hear/follow the words as I’m listening in the background with my thoughts on work stuff).

Macy Gray - Macy Gray on How Life Is -- So far quite enjoying the background listen of this. I don’t hate her voice and I quite like the fact that she's quite unique sounding. Lots of lovely well matched grooves taking me towards the end of the afternoon. With no clue about her background or her music I can say that I am pleasantly surprised and hope that the deeper listening works out nicely.


Blogger Indolent Reader said...

I love it, and will be following closely! You make me want to do the same thing, like the big copycat I am....

(Oooh look at me and my stupid new blog sign-in name!)

7:38 PM  
Blogger theboywil said...

Ooooo you do have a nice new name...

And there is nothing wrong with doing the same. It's what bests-lists, subscription music services & blogs are built for..

8:17 PM  
Blogger baggies_boy_Tony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:34 AM  
Blogger baggies_boy_Tony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:36 AM  
Blogger baggies_boy_Tony said...

Even your "old dad" likes Harry Nilsson, does that mean you're getting old or your tastes in music are improving!!!!

12:38 AM  

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