Podcast #150, free for all

Celebrating a small milestone tonight with the 150th podcast I've put out since I started doing them. Hopefully they've provided a bit of added value to the site.

No real topic of discussion with this thread, so feel free to talk about whatever. The random threads sometimes turn into the best ones anyway.

Commenting has been closed on this article.

Andy
Oops, sorry that was me, Andy.


A few others that would be great to see reviews of: Tape and Minamo (Bird of a Feather), Tenniscoats (Tan Tan Therapy), Jonquil (Lions). These three albums arrived on my desk a week ago and all three are spectacular.

Sam
Aaron, will you still be reviewing the Jens Lekman album? I've been wondering what you made of that.

It's interesting to see all the end of year lists coming out over here in the UK. So many great records get completely passed over - I've not seen a mention of stuff like The Field, or Stars of the Lid, or James Blackshaw - it's shocking! Panda Bear gets a cursory mention, but is always many places behind something far less original.

almostcool
I know this has been discussed in a past thread, but my rule for when I used to download a lot more music was pretty easy. Basically, I had a 3-month rule. At the end of three months (which seems like a pretty good evaluation period), I had to throw the files out. If it was something that I really loved, it forced me to get a real copy of it. If it was something that wasn't that great, I wouldn't end up missing it at all in the long run.

Jon
Oh yeah, I actually JUST got around to buying The White Birch's album about a month ago. I had the song of their's that you put in the year-end mix in my head for about, oh, 6 months to a year (!). Anyway, if someone here hasn't picked that album up, please please do, pretty amazing. Your review of it was spot on (just to touch on a year-old review!).

Really liked what you had to say about the venetian snares review...the song off their EP that you had on the year-end mix was pretty nuts. Think I'll have to give this one a-go.

Jon
I've honestly bought many more albums since downloading became a reality. However, I'm not sure if I can attribute it solely to that, since these last couple of years have been made up of high-school, college, and post-college time periods; all of which I assume are among some of the heavier "record-buying" musical-immersion times in ones life, or at least serves as a foundation for it, if it happens at all...

However, downloading has served as a nice "preview" most of the time. Rarely do I download a whole album, but rather just sample it mostly (save the whole listen for the record!) and maybe read some reviews if they're available. I think I know somewhere that offers some pretty good reviews that have served as a solid reference once or twice :P.

Anyway, having said that, I also agree that the top 10 is very easy...I might just be making a 10-long list in fact!

lee
I happen to think downloading is far better than buying not only because of the cost. This is my reason. I dont like to think that im sticking to something just because it came at a certain time in my life. I dont like to overly conecptualize an album,or too try to make sense of it in any way which would probably be wrong anyway after repeated litsens. There is much variation for what and how people litsen to music ,thats good,but downloading works spectacular for me.I only use peer to peer software,because i have to have at least a decent amount of backgrond info on what im about to consume.

bubbachups
From what I've heard I have to agree with you on the Ole-Henrik Moe release. I've heard some bits on the radio and someone played me a good portion of "3 Persephone Perceptions", but for me it was either too much or too little, I'm not sure which is a more appropriate description. I can’t imagine anything on the album being inspired by memories of childhood, unless we are speaking of a severely traumatized childhood. Merely interesting for a couple of minutes, but I can't imagine listening to it in its entirety. I would only recommend this album to Guantanamo Bay’s interrogators for new interrogation techniques.

almostcool
I agree with you both, Eric and Sam. The top order of the list usually comes a lot easier than the rest, but this year feels pretty solid to me. I've started filtering down my list for 2007 and it's getting pretty close, although I'm planning on hearing at least a couple more things yet before I completely nail things down.

I'm planning on posting my year-end list later on in December along with my favorite songs mix. I've got some work to do between now and then, though!

Michael
Sam,

really like the Robert Wyatt album, totally different to anything I have ever experienced before. It reminds me of Syd Barrett in a way, I guess that is valid given the Soft Machine connections. I still need some more time with it, listening through headphones is next on the agenda

Eric
Thanks for the quick response! Even though I'd rather not have the ratings go up and down very much, I like how you show a sense of care for the reviews after they are written and some time has passed, going back to check them etc.. I really like how the rating system works as well, keeping it simple with a ten-graded scale and not go all out on huge numbers or percents as some bigger sites tend to do, it becomes a bit shaky and unreliable. Your ratings are often very spot-on and accurate too, reserving the really high and really low scores for the releases that deserve it and making podcasts available for 7,5+. Again, it will be interesting to see how you rank this year up considering the good portion of quality releases we have seen posted on this site during two thousand and seven. I sure don't know how to pull it off yet.

I agree with Sam that the first ten are easier, but at the same time they are all so strong that they all want to move up on the list pushing another one down. It's really a struggle for the top 5, haha. =)

Sam
I too have noted some ratings shifts, though of course I think it is only natural that opinions should shift. I'm pretty sure that The Richard D. James album rocketed from a 7.75 to a 9.25, but this was more than deserved - it being just about the greatest album on Warp there's been. Also around the time of the new DMST record, I noticed their previous albums change a bit, with & Yet & Yet being downgraded from a 9, and Winter Hymn upgraded to one. I think it's especially good with bands with a back catalogue to bring the scores into line with their other releases (even if I still think & Yet & Yet is their best!).

On the subject of year end lists, I always think the first 10 come easier than the second 10. It's easy to know which are the records which really were head and shoulders above the rest, but I think more difficult to rank the other runners-up, usually because I've spent less time listening to them. Anyone agree?

almostcool
I must say Eric, you're a vary astute reader if you noticed the rating changes, but yes, I have adjusted some of them over time. It usually comes when I arrive at the end of a year and basically give everything a quick look again. In some cases, things have graded down a slight bit (I think the most I've _ever_ done is .5) and in some cases up (again, the most is .5). These are the cases where the written review itself allows for a slight change of point rating without a rewrite. In most cases, I feel like the written reviews themselves hopefully give a pretty good flavor of how I feel, but I add the ratings at the end for yet another way to measure things.

I'll be the first to admit that this perhaps seems shady, and I will also admit to simply not being able to get to every single review and revising it at the end of the year (and most of the time my feelings are pretty similar to when I wrote the review anyway). There are some cases, where my feelings do change drastically for a release, though. For example, I have a much higher opinion now of Caribou's "The Milk Of Human Kindness" than I did when I reviewed it.

Most of the time I simply let reviews stay as they are, though. There's no harm in admitting that my taste has changed over the years, and looking at my old year-end lists I sometimes wonder what I saw in certain albums. Due to the sheer amount of reviews on the site now (2100+), it would be impossible to keep revising everything to keep it in line with my current opinion. Although, if a wealthy benefactor wants to help me make this my full-time job, I would certainly try. :)

I think that long-time readers of the site probably have the best idea of how my interests have changed and evolved over time, and hopefully have a sense of how I review things. That said, you can get a decent idea of those same shifts by looking at my year-end lists for certain years and seeing how those interests have changed as well.

Hopefully that makes sense. Thanks for the question.

Eric
Hello Aaron. As a faithful reader of your site I have been trying to figure out your grading scale, thus paying a lot of attention to the ratings in reviews. I have noticed that for some strange reason a couple of previous 7.25 reviews have dropped in score to 7. I think this is the case for Band of Horses and Rickard Javerling. Also, didn't Burial's debut use to be an 8.25? I'm pretty sure it did. Have you been adjusting the scores lately or is my memory just fuzzy?

Other than that, I'm really looking forward to your end-of-year list. Thanks for a resourceful and steady site, keep up the good work! /Eric

Sam
Michael, let me know what you think. It took me a while to get, but it's such a gorgeous wash of sad, surreal, watery sounds that I now consider it a favourite album.


reverand and the makers sound so like duran -listen to heavyweight champon of the world


reverand and the makers sound so like duran duran

cole
first and foremost, two-toots to almostcool, great writing, great music.
thanks for the blog links everyone, I'll add them to my google reader.
Danny-
I like nodatta and wearemonsters
here are a few more:
http://deb4ser.wordpress.com/
http://pop-apocalypse.blogspot.com/
http://www.regnyouth.com/
and for excellent roots reggae, check out http://nattyroots.blogspot.com/

Michael
Sam, by very wierd coincidence I bought 'Rock Bottom' last week from Amazon and it arrived today!. I have just started listening to it

Alex
I have really only been using downloading as a "listening booth". 20 years ago, when I would pop into a record shop I would invariably walk out with something I've never heard, but I liked the album cover, or someone from my favorite band produced it, etc. Now that I'm older, and 1) record shops have gone on the decline and 2) money means something, I'm not as likely to take a blind leap on an album. However, if I grab it off Soulseek and listen to it, I just have to pop back over and pick it up. But I don't in general do much downloading of new stuff for the sake of having it. Just a balance I have struck that works for me.

erich
Thanks for the blog links!
If I could add one more:
http://narcoagent.wordpress.com/
is also very nice, albeit a bit quiet at the moment

roman
i'm late on the last topic, however since this is anything i'm going to comment on it.. in the shadows of motown is fantastic. it's about the house band at motown records. they were the backing band on all those great records for stevie wonder, ottis redding, marvin gaye, martha and the vandellas, smoky robinson etc.., i think the film starts out saying that this band recorded on more chart hits than elvis, the beatles and the rolling stones combined and nobody knows their names!!

shawn
Thanks so much!

Sam
Since we're talking about anything and everything, I thought I'd mention a couple of retro classics that I've recently got into. I finally got around to listening to Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom - and it's so wonderful, sad and strange.

Secondly, I've been a fan of Cluster for a while and their work with Eno, but have never bothered with their 4th album Sowiesoso, as it doesn't really get mentioned as much as their others (like Zuckerzeit). However, having now got it I think it's easily their best - full of very warm, pastoral synths and with a beautiful cover. Do check it out if you haven't!

bubbachups
Jon, funny you should say that because I definitely have that with "In the Aeroplane over the Sea" too. I can listen to it more easily now than I used to, but I still can't put it on without getting a punch in the stomach. It's definitely one of those records I don't want to listen to with other people around, it needs a quiet moment. And the point is, you can’t really grow such powerful attachments to albums if you only listen to them very briefly now, can you? Same goes for Max Richter’s “The Blue Notebooks” and Paul Metzger’s “Three Improvisations on Modified Banjo” but for more personal reasons. I can rarely scrape together enough courage to revisit these albums. So I guess you’re not the only one who’s overly-sensitive...

Jon
Well, a very interesting topic indeed!

Aaron, you've got such a full plate; really don't know how you do it! I'm somewhere in the vicinity of bubbachups' sentiment of being somewhat overwhelmed at points with how much stuff comes out and my inability (or anyone's I would imagine...) to actually keep up with it and give a proper listen(s) to what's deserving of it...

I think I move particularly slow in terms of listening to things. I actually JUST bought that White Birch album from last year after realizing that the song of theirs' that was on your year-end mix had been in my head for 6-7 months...but for whatever reason I usually need a really long time with an album to fully understand it; so I tend to slowly add new things that I really really thoroughly enjoy to the very solid group of things that I already am overly-enamored with...and most likely have been for some time.

Being a musician myself I suppose I try to listen to music the way I want people to listen to mine; very very closely, and for it to eventually tie-in with their life in some intimate way. For whatever reason I feel like it takes a lot of time to do that, and that's the way I listen to stuff...so perhaps that's the reason I make it that way! But if you're able to listen to 5-15 new albums a week and still write kick-ass reviews you're...well...you're Aaron! And we all have benefited greatly from that I presume; thanks so much! Really looking forward to the year-end mix and lists in general.

Oh, and since a long post might not stick out so much right now: does anyone have particularly favorite pieces of music that you listen to very rarely? A kind of 'it's so good I can't listen to it very often' experience. I guess perhaps since I have such attachments to albums like "lift yr skinny fists like antennas to heaven", "like hearts swelling", and "in the aeroplane over the sea" I only listen to them occasionally due to their potent emotional impact. Anyone experience that before? Maybe I'm just overly-sensitive, haha...

Michael
I'm not a supporter of the download blogs. It makes it far too easy to track something down and there is very little control as these things are cropping up everywhere. Soulseek on the other hand requires a degree of skill and knowledge of what you are looking for.

almostcool
Some great discussion so far. Exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned that the best threads often start out randomly.

To answer one question, I rarely download. I simply have too much to listen to already, and through releases that are sent my way and things that I purchase with my own money, there's never any real let-down in terms of stacks of stuff on my desk. And of course, I still try to go back to older things in my collection as well. Andy was correct in that I wrote an entry about this on my personal blog some time ago. I'm lucky in that I have a job where I can listen to music most of the time (although it's sometimes hard to give full attention to things), and I still have a hard time getting to everything.

That comment pretty much directly leads into my answer for bubbachups as well. To state it simply, I'm not even anywhere close to reviewing everything that I listen to. I'm sure that every reviewer gets a bit of guilt sometimes when they see how much stuff they haven't gotten to, but it's simply inevitable. I've been doing reviews for nearly a decade now (yikes!) and I have gotten to the point where a good number of labels/artists send me things to review.

Because of that, I go through a rough process of elimination that makes management somewhat possible. Basically, I listen to everything once all the way through. If I don't like something, I give it some space before I listen to it again, and it's on the second listen where I begin the process of weeding out things I want to review. It's only fair to give people a fair shake, but after two listens I can pretty much tell whether something is even close to my radar in regards to whether I'm going to like it or not.

If it makes it through that process, subsequent listens either raise or lower the profile of the release, with more falling by the wayside and some gravitating upwards (of course, there are some great releases that come through and beg for many, many playbacks in a short period of time).

Albums that are reviewed on the site have generally been listened to anywhere between 3-5 times (and sometimes more), usually with a bit of space between the listens to allow for growing/slowing on me. On any given week, I probably listen to between 5-15 new releases, as well as filtering in second/third/fourth listens on other releases as I have time (and probably have 70 hours or so where I'm actually listening to something).

So there's the exciting background to my process. I've tried to come up with a system that I feel is fair to the artists sending me their music (because ultimately, I make music myself and know how much time goes into making it). It's probably not the best way of doing things, but as a one-person show I've tried to do my best.

Andy
Bubbachups, I totally agree with you. I currently am stuck in this bad habit of downloading too much, and feel like I need to start making an effort to stop. Sites like this one I find are a pretty good incentive to spend more time with music -- good writing about music, and about the listening experience is a good way to reconsider listening/consuming habits. I seem to recall that Aaron had an article (in his non music-review blog) about this very issue - about mass amounts of music coming in and dealing with the i-tunes phenomena.

This is actually the one reason I find the Christmas season so rewarding: I find myself thinking about all the music I have been exposed to all year, creating my best of list, and ultimately buying those albums for friends and relatives.

bubbachups
Ps. And with me not downloading I'm actually speaking about p2p applications. Like Danny I do listen to whatever is posted on a couple of blogs, but not entire albums.

bubbachups
Still can't believe how you pull this off, Aaron. Reviewing five albums every week. I was wondering, do you more or less review all (or most of) the albums you actually listen to? And do you still have time to let albums grow on you? Because I can imagine that the “obligation” of reviewing such a large number of albums every week can take some of the pleasure away from the actual listening experience. Somehow I always get the feeling from your reviews that – despite of this – you still manage to get to the bottom of each album, with the new Supersilent as a prime example.

I was talking about a related subject at the record store the other week. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of great music released every week that there’s a big chance of getting more or less underwhelmed by each individual album if you try to keep up with everything. Simply because there’s always another new album waiting to be heard that prevents you from taking the time to look past first impressions. This is quite paradoxical, don’t you think? The more we love music (and therefore try to keep up to date with everything) the less time we give music to really let it get to us and to grow an emotional bond with it.

For years out budgets were a convenient (although it didn’t feel that way) constraint to prevent us from overkill. But with our current ability to download pretty much everything we want it has become very tempting to give in to this overflow. For some people it seems as if all dams have already been broken. Listening to each album once or twice (and in some rare occasions three times) before moving to the next. This is really the biggest reason why I don’t download music. It’s not a fundamental reason but just a very practical one. I’d rather enjoy one album each week and grow an emotional bond with it and miss out on other possibly great releases than listen to everything remotely interesting without really getting to the bottom of the music. Of course this is quite a balancing act and sometimes I have to instruct myself not to buy anything new for a whole month, but it’s really during those breaks in which I listen more closely to the albums already in my collection that I fall in love with music all over again.

bubbachups
I think the new Supersilent is really great. Especially 8.5 is one of the best and most exciting things I've heard this year. And where it took me a couple of listens with their album 6, I had instant satisfaction with this new one. Quite possibly a top 10 contender.

Neil, you're right, I've already started compiling my year-end list. I think 2007 is just extraordinarily good, so many great releases that it seems quite impossible to make a top 10. Currently The Necks, Meg Baird and Frode Haltli are in the running for the top spot.

As for blogs, I'm a big fan of "Raven Sings The Blues". Always dead on when it comes to new, exciting releases. But also forgotten gems. Mostly folk and psychedelia.
http://ravensingstheblues.blogspot.com/

Neil
I'm not one for downloading at all, I'm afraid. It feels "temporary" to me.
I guess I'll have to change my ways at some point, and accept the inevitable.
This also means that I've yet to hear a single note of the new Radiohead album - roll on December 31st!!

I'm also assuming that people are in the process of compiling their end oy year lists. Not long now, boys!
Is list-making purely a male trait?

Danny
To be honest, I'm an avid downloader! I however never use any peer-to-peer software and all my downloads are through blogs and community journals. Here are my favorites:

http://nodatta.blogspot.com
http://community.livejournal.com/idmxchange
http://wearemonsters.blogspot.com

Anyone with any other suggestions?

Aaron gave us the freedom to talk about whatever so I hope this is fine.