Throughout the month of October I alternated between listening to newly acquired music (of which I had quite a bit) and a dynamic playlist that was weighted so that most of the music had auto-ratings above 90, less music above 75, and even less above 50. Any song that I listened to only once would fit in the third category. After that, if I skipped it just once it would fall out of the group. So it gave me a nice mix of music including forgotten favorites. Now that I’ve listened to a good chunk of my library since the last time the Amarok database was corrupted I may modify the playlist to include the caveat that it couldn’t have been played in the last x days. I’m not sure if I want to make the date large enough that I only hear songs once per quarter or my standard two week waiting period. Given how little time I have to listen to music nowadays I might go for the 90 days. I also spent some chunks of time listening to my music on random on Google Music. That’s completely random so I end up hearing some songs I didn’t even remember ever acquiring. A lot of my new music came from Jamendo when I got an email with the month’s most popular songs and I decided to do a search for ska. Although I really enjoy ska, I got into it rather late so I don’t have very much ska music. (Mostly just Five Iron Frenzy, Save Ferris, No Doubt, and the Orange County Supertones – who are an OK ska band – I mostly like their least ska songs)
In November I started off with the same playlist as in October. I tried to switch to a “haven’t played in three months” playlist, but a lot of my music had an undefined last played date because of the last time the database was corrupted. Convinced that the Amarok guys had finally fixed things, I decided I’d go through my entire music collection again. I wouldn’t necessarily listen to all the songs, but I’d play all the songs. This would have the added bonus of giving all the songs scores as I either listened or skipped. A few songs now have a score of 5 rather than 0, which is good since it signifies I skipped it on the first listen. This should help make my dynamic playlists more accurate. When I loaded in the “Various Artists” artist into my playlist I ended up with 4 days and 10.5 hours of music. Given the holidays coming up which may mean that I don’t spend as much time playing my music off of my computer, this playlist could last me through the end of the year. I guess we’ll see. Plus I’ll be wanting to throw some Christmas music in there. I’ve already discovered some songs that had bad tags – including some of them that just didn’t have an Album Artist (which I think is a RELATIVELY new tag because I don’t remember it from the old days) and that automatically puts them in “Various Artists”. Overall, it’s great to have a nice, semi-random mix. And, although it somewhat defeats the purpose of background music, it’s nice to continue my quest (started nearly a decade ago) of having properly tagged music. That’s the shame of having acquired so much music back in the early mp3 days. Even the legitimate music (like that on mp3.com) was often badly tagged or not tagged at all. Frankly, any music that doesn’t come from a store is often badly tagged. I often have to spend a few minutes on the music I get from RollingStone.com to fix up the tags. Let me make yet another plug for them – Rollingstone.com gives away about one mp3 per day every weekday and a lot of that music is REALLY good. (Although sometimes it’s just not my style)
In December continued to listen to the Various Artists. Finished that up on 20 Dec 2012. Went to the Music I Love playlist for the rest of 2012. That’s a rating of five or a score of greater than 90.
So that resulted in…..
1. MC Frontalot (97 listens) – This semi-surprise as the #1 listen in Q4 comes mostly from a couple days I spent in the basement working on computers. I only had his Greatest Hits album on the computer there so it got a lot of listens. In general The Front (as he’s known) is like Jonathan Coulton, Weird Al, or Tom Lehrer. The songs make you laugh and sometimes make you think, but you can’t listen to too many of them in a row without wanting to take a break.
2. Five Iron Frenzy (75 listens) – The majority of these listens come from me finally getting their final CD (well, until their new kickstarter-backed CD comes out) for my birthday. I’d copied it off Dan a long time ago, but lost the songs when moving my music from one computer to another. Since I love FIF I decided I wouldn’t reacquire the songs unless I was buying them. It’s a massive album with two discs worth of music (that distinction won’t mean much in anotehr few years) – both their last studio album and a recording of their last concert. A great album – I hope the new one is like this one.
3. DJ CUTMAN (67 listens) – As I’ll mention in my 2012 post, this year was a big one for discovering new music. Somehow I ended up on DJ CUTMAN’s mailing list. He puts together some great video game-based albums.
4. Relient K (57 listens) – Once again, a great band I really enjoy. I’m hoping their next album is a bit of a return to the more rocking music of the earlier albums.
5. Danny Elfman (46 listens) – I listened to a lot of The Nightmare Before Christmas during this quarter because of the two holidays that fall in there.
6. The Beatles (43 listens) – Yeah, they’re always on here, but I think this is the lowest they’ve ever been.
7. Frank Ocean (42 listens) – Got his album “Channel Orange” based on all the hype and a listen of “Super Rich Kids”. The internet did not lead me astray. I love this album – it’s one of the best and tightest album experiences. For someone who thought of R&B as sex music or club music (depending on the cadence), it was pretty exciting to discover Frank Ocean’s biting satire. I love me some satire (see aforementioned MC Frontalot), but I love it most when it’s played straight as Frank Ocean does in this album. It’s a shame my wife hates R&B or I’d be listening to this even more often. Special mentions go out to “Thinking about You” – a great carrying the flame song with some great sarcastic lines, “Sweet Life” – which is almost a companion piece to “Super Rich Kids”, and “Bad Religion” which is almost surely the best song, lyrically.
8. Anberlin (38 listens) – I got their latest album, “Vital”. While I miss the carefree lyrics of the first few albums, I think Anberlin has really grown a lot musically. I think this is my favorite album in a while. The drums on “Self-Starter” are a great way to amp yourself up for the work day. If you ever loved Anberlin you need to check this album out.
9. I Fight Dragons (37 listens) – Got their latest album for my birthday. The band continues to evolve in a good way. There are a couple songs on here that were also on the EPs. “With You” really makes me wish that Kina Grannis had stayed with the band. I think her voice really works so well in duets. Hopefully they could collaborate with her on the future album. Unless my memory is failing me, “Don’t You” is also from one of the EPs. Great songs, both of them. It’s funny, when I heard the first few singles they released – “Save World Get Girl” made me want to buy the CD, but “Kaboom!” made me want to wait. But there are a lot of great songs on here. “The Geeks will Inherit the Earth” is a great anthem about how the world now favors the information workers over the brawny dudes of the past. “Working” is a great track about the transition into adulthood and the droll of the workplace. It really captures how I felt 7 years ago when I thought I’d finally made it only to become a cubicle farm drone. (With time I’ve found a fulfilling job/position and actually look forward to coming in to work) Where they really shine in unexpected ways are in the softer songs “Before I Wake” and “Disaster Hearts”. These songs together with the aforementioned “With You” really showcase the lyrical depth you wouldn’t expect from a pop/rock band with video games providing some of the instrumentation. I really hope on the next CD they can continue to balance the power songs with the softer songs. While radio play is slowly meaning less and less vs YouTube views and Pandora/Spotify plays, I do hope I Fight Dragons is able to get their dues and appear on the radio. I think they have quite a few songs that would really resonate with a large audience, not just those of us internet junkies with a fondness for Nintendo sound effects.
10. Elvis Presley (35 listens) – Um, it’s The King. Got an album of his #1s.
11. “Weird Al” Yankovic (32 listens) – Once again I’m left asking myself if I really did listen to this much Weird Al.
12. Cee Lo Green (28 listens) – Got his Christmas album. It’s a good change of pace and I’m glad I broke my “no more Christmas albums” ban for this one.
13. Garfunkel and Oates (26 listens) – I added some albums by this duo onto my wishlist because the brunette had been on Scrubs. I also liked the craziness of the song titles – it reminded me of the irreverence of the song titles. It reminded me of Tom Lehrer and the fun of listening to the dirty jokes on my dad’s Alvarez Guedes albums (which he played for us to my mother’s chagrin). This group is extremely vulgar – dirty lyrics and lots of bad words including F-bombs. Even I, who am fine watching Quentin Tarantino movies sometimes find myself skipping a song because it’s just way too much for me. If you can get past that, there’s some great social satire here. Special mention goes to “Sex with Ducks” which is making fun of a speech that said if we allow gay marriage it will lead to sex with ducks. Look, I know I’m not the best Christian by conventional, American standards. I listen to music with profanity, I have no problem seeing Django Unchained, etc. However, I just feel ridiculous to call myself a believer in Christ when I hear the stuff that comes out of the vocal minority (I hope it’s a minority). So I love this song and enjoy whenever it comes up.
14. Anamanaguchi (25 listens) – I’ve spoken a lot about them. I put them on a loop earlier in the quarter while I worked on my final paper for my master’s class. The lack of lyrics is perfect for letting my left brain work while my right brain gets to relax.
14. Ken Gao (25 listens) – Ken’s on here for the incredible job he did with the “To the Moon” video game soundtrack. More about that video game in a future post. It’s not quite as awesome as the Bastion soundtrack, but that’s because it was meant to be evocative of SNES and Genesis-era RPG music. So the tracks are short and repetitive, but the main song that’s a huge plot point early on is so great!