Listening to Albums
It has been easy to forget about albums, the collection of songs that would encompass an entire CD, and vinyl and cassettes before that, with the fractured attention in the online era. It has also been easy to forget about record stores, since they have largely disappeared outside of the occasional vinyl record shop these days. Every now and then, an artist will promote their album, asking us to buy it on such and such a date, when I have, for a few years now, been a subscriber to Apple Music, giving me unlimited access to whatever they happen to have on file. Up until about early 2017, I hadn't made much use of it, though it had come in handy when someone had discussed something they thought I'd be interested in. Discovery of new music has become somewhat more difficult after music blogs stopped really being a thing, and it's impossible to rely on Facebook and Twitter for anything involving focus.
I've been a longtime reader of Pitchfork, and I still take their reviews seriously. The end of year is my favourite time, since anything I would have missed over the course of 11 months had a chance to come back on my radar. I have often committed to listening to the top 100 tracks of the year, with the top albums being a bit daunting. Their album list trends towards the mainstream, and I was craving something a little more daring. In late 2016 or early 2017, a friend pointed out The Quietus's top 100 list, and it satisfied the criteria of being just a little outside of what I would find on Pitchfork. Not content to listen to the albums in order, though, once the top 100 list comes out, I shuffle the list and make an effort to listen to each of them.
About 90% of the albums can be found on Apple Music, with the rest being streamable from Bandcamp. It has been the rare album that I can listen straight through in one go, since it's rare that I have an hour or so at a time to focus on any one thing. That said, since early 2017, I've listened to over 150 unique albums, ranging in genre from rap to electronic to experimental to bluegrass to metal. While metal is the music I have most difficulty with, a commitment is a commitment. I've been able t hook up my Last.fm profile with my iPhone, which has required installing a separate app called QuietScrob and ensuring that albums are in "my library" before playing. For any new-to-me artist that I like, I check Songkick to see if they're playing in whatever city I happen to be in, and I declare my plains both on Songkick and on Facebook if either is possible. Songkick has been good for getting notified of old faves rolling through town, too.