For the second quarter in a row The Beatles have NOT made the list! But that’s easily explained: I have been listening to a lot of new music and a lot of playlists that don’t include The Beatles. But as you’ll see, they kinda snuck in sideways. This quarter I spent a lot of time listening to Jonathan Coulton and I Fight Dragons because of their Kickstarters, which I backed. I Fight Dragons released two albums as Kickstarter bonuses – a live recording of their most recent concert and a remix album of sorts in which the band members sung different arrangements of the songs. There was also the new Fall Out Boy album, Save Rock and Roll. I really enjoyed the album but it was overtaken in my mind by the previously mentioned IFD and JoCo music and I quickly forgot they had a new album out. Again, that’s a shame since I did enjoy it and while I was in Florida last week I quickly tired of “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark”. Incidentally, I was reminded of why I stopped listening to live radio – it’s far too repetitive. I think the true problem is that it’s too formulaic in its repetition. I didn’t mind hearing “The Princess Who Saved Herself” every day for a week because the songs surrounding it were always different. On a separate note, I got some music for Father’s Day and I’ll mention that below.
1. Fall Out Boy (142 listens) – As I mentioned, the new album came out. I’d say that out of this 142 listens, probably 50 are from the new album. The rest of the listens come from me revisiting the old albums, as I usually do when a band is about to release a new one.
2. I Fight Dragons (135 listens) – I enjoyed the vibe of the concert album. I go hot and cold on the idea of live albums in general. Sometimes I think they’re great and other times I think they’re a more crappy version of the songs I like and the crappiness is not offset by my being there live with the vibe of the fans. This particular album is a little uneven. Most of the tracks are great, but the singers – both lead and background – go off key on a few songs. This was the last stop on a tour so their vocal chords may have been a bit strained. Plus humans just make mistakes live that can’t be edited out like they can in the studio. The instruments were solid and on target and the improvisation worked well. So while I enjoyed it a lot, I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing it with someone who hadn’t heard the band for fear they might think the band always sung off key. (And I have heard bands for whom that’s their thing – singing off key)
3. Jonathan Coulton (83 listens) – Something greater than 10% of this is “The Princess Who Saved Herself”. I love that song. As I’ll likely have mentioned on Monday’s post (I’m writing things out of order this week), it can be hard to find female-positive songs out there. But this is a song I’m happy to play for Scarlett. She likes the groove, too. It’s one of the songs that she’ll almost always dance to if it comes on. And it’s the entire reason I backed the JoCo kickstarter – they’re making a book out of this song as a stretch goal bonus. Enjoyed listening to the classics that Dan always chides me for focusing on: “Chiron Beta Prime”, “Mandelbrot Set”, “Code Monkey”, “Skull Crusher Mountain”, “Re: Your Brains”.
4. Chance the Rapper (75 listens) – As usual, Dan was ahead of the curve in recommending music to me. He recommended Chance about two weeks before I finally got around to listening to it. And then it was about another two weeks before he was suddenly everywhere. He appeared on NPR Music’s artists to watch in 2013. Then there was an article on him on Rolling Stone. Then I started hearing about him everywhere. He’s from Chicago and he’s only 20 years old, but his mixtape “Acid Rap” from which most of these listens come from is a GREAT album. He first came on the scene with his album “10 Day” which he created on a 10 Day suspension from High School. I heard that as well, but it didn’t resonate with me as much. I’m not sure if he’s matured that much (musically) in the past couple years or if it’s just a bias towards the first album I heard. I continued the trend of listening to albums Dan recommends while playing Team Fortress 2, so I think of that when I hear the songs. I pretty much like all the songs on “Acid Rap” except “NaNa” which has an incredibly annoying hook. My absolute favorite is “Cocoa Butter Kisses”. Be forewarned that there’s a lot of profanity and drug references on this album. That’s a testament to his musicianship, I think. Because I’m not into drug culture AT ALL and I prefer not listen to those songs for fear of Scarlett thinking I’m condoning the lifestyle. But there’s something sad on “Cocoa Butter Kisses” that really makes you identify with and feel bad for Chance (or the character in his song if it’s not auto-biographical) for being shunned by his family just because of his drug use. Also of worthy of special note: “Everybody’s Something” and “Favorite Song”.
5. Nobuo Uematsu (67 listens) – I was going backwards though my artists in Amarok and Japanese comes after latin characters, so I ended up listening to some great Final Fantasy music.
6. Anberlin (59 listens) – As I mentioned last time, I really enjoyed Anberlin’s new album, “Vital”. I continued to play it this quarter.
6. The Oneups (59 listens) – For Father’s Day I finally got their Super Mario Kart cover album; it’d been on my wishlist for years. I enjoy it quite a bit and it reminds me of way too many hours spent playing that game with Dan.
8. MC Frontalot (58 listens) – I just wanted to listen to a lot of tracks from The Front
8. Alan Menken (58 listens) – I created a dynamic playlist for Disney and Pixar music and it turns out I have a LOT of music scored by Alan Menken.
10. The Protomen (55 listens) – For Father’s Day I also got Act II: The Father of Death. This is a rock opera album retelling of how the world of Megaman came to be. However, despite being about a video game from my youth, I’d actually recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of rock opera. The album has a tinge of Queen to its sound. This is my first rock opera album so I’m not sure if this is par for the course or worth complaining about, but if you really want to know the story that’s going on with the rock opera you need to read the lyrics (where they have explanations of what’s happening during the instrumental sections). The upside is that many of the songs are great standalones. I was listening to “Light Up the Night” for 1-2 years before I bought this album and I loved it. Now that I think about it – I’m sure it’s not too different from my Broadway soundtracks, it’s just that I know the stories (having seen them) and subconsciously fill in the story between the songs. If “Light Up the Night” is still available for free, check that out and if you like it – buy the album!
11. Anamanaguchi (51 listens) – I’ve mentioned Anamanaguchi before – having used their music as great ambient music while studying or taking online exams. Until now I hadn’t paid for any of their music – I’d just grabbed whatever they’d put up for free on their website – some singles and a live performance at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. When I saw on my new music RSS feed that they had a new album, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to make the conversion to a paying customer. I tend to enjoy I Fight Dragons and their background use of chiptunes. I’d kinda burned out on chiptunes in general after Octorock. But then June’s Amazon Sampler had “Endless Fantasy” (the single) and I really enjoyed it, so I added the album to my wishlist. I ended up getting it for Father’s Day. I REALLY like “Prom Night” although you shouldn’t be surprised as it’s one of the songs on the album with lyrics. Bianca Raquel, who does the vocals on that track, has a beautiful voice. It’s also fun to see the humor in their titles: “Echobo” -> making fun of Chocobos, “Space Wax America” -> making fun of Weezer’s “Surf Wax America”, and “EVERYTHING EXPLODES” followed by “Interlude (STILL ‘SPLODIN’ THO)”. And it’s pretty awesome that they’re apparently not as obscure and niche as I thought they were since Wikipedia notes: “On May 23, 2013, the album debuted at the no.1 position on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart as well as no.2 in Dance/Electronic Albums”
12. dj BC (50 listens) – A scrobbler error kept this from being at #6, but that’s OK. I heard about dj BC in a Boing Boing article that explained he’d created 3 mashup albums with Beastie Boys and The Beatles. As is the case with mashups, some of the songs are more seamless than others, but it’s still pretty awesome how well it works over so many songs. I’m not a huge Beastie Boys fan – I was a little too young during their heyday, but I find his three albums The Beastles, Let It Beast, and Ill Submarine to be pretty awesome and definitely worth a listen.
12. Nintendo (50 listens) – Again, from when I was listening to my music from the bottom of the pile in terms of artist names. Mostly Mario theme songs.
14. Relient K (40 listens) – They happened to come up whenever I did listen to music on random. I’m looking forward (at the time of this writing) to their latest album which comes out on 2 July, “Collapsible Lung”. (will be out for >1 week by the time this post comes out) It appears to be a return to a more pop sound although some of the samples seem a bit TOO generic pop (vs a more rock sound) so I’m cautiously optimistic about it.
15. Donald Glover (38 listens) – The final album I got for Father’s Day, “Weirdo”. I’d seen it on Amazon Video and really enjoyed it so I wanted to be able to listen along with all the other comedy albums I have.
I wanted to include this new section going forward mostly for my own use because I’m a stats geek. I wanted to see how my collection was changing quarter on quarter and year on year. Was I getting more music or less than before? Was I more singles focused or album focused? Additionally, the final section, Total Scrobbles, will allow me to see how many songs I listened to in one quarter. It will be interesting to see what percentage of the songs I listen to in a quarter the Top 15 are. It’s an indirect measure of how many different artists I listened to. After all, when I listen to the songs I get from Rolling Stone it counts as a scrobble, but it doesn’t have a chance of appearing on the Top 15 compared to artists for which I have 5 or more full albums of music to listen to.
Total Songs: 11 977
Total Artists: 3 706
Total Albums: 3 352
Average Songs Per Album: 3.57 – lowered, of course, by the many singles I have
Average Songs Per Artist: 3.23 – incredible, considering the artists for which I own their entire catalogue, they are essentially swamped by the number of artists for which I only have one song.
Average Albums per Artist: 0.9 – there should be at LEAST 1 for 1 so I’m going to attribute this to two things. First of all, compilation albums that have multiple artists per one album. Second, while I try to be very meticulous about my metatags, I do still have some mp3s from the wild west days (original napster) that might not have an album
Total Scrobbles at end of this quarter: 64 440