Friday, 1 July 2016

Listening Project: June

The leftover May playlist

  • Avril Lavigne - Let Go
  • Justin Timberlake - Justified
  • Kelly Rowland - Simply Deep
  • Massive Attack - 100th Window
  • Norah Jones - Come Away with Me
  • Linkin Park - Meteora
  • The White Stripes - Elephant
  • Madonna - American Life
  • Blur - Think Tank
  • Stereophonics - You Gotta Go There to Come Back
  • Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
  • Evanescence - Fallen
  • Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love
  • The Coral - Magic and Medicine
  • Eva Cassidy - American Tune
  • The Darkness - Permission to Land
  • Muse - Absolution
  • Dido - Life for Rent
  • R.E.M. - In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003
  • Blue - Guilty
  • Michael Jackson - Number Ones
  • Westlife - Turnaround
  • Will Young - Friday's Child

Actual June stuff!

  • Katie Melua - Call Off the Search
  • Norah Jones - Feels like Home
  • George Michael - Patience
  • Usher - Confessions
  • Anastacia - Anastacia
  • Guns N' Roses - Greatest Hits
  • D12 - D12 World
  • Keane - Hopes and Fears
  • Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
  • Faithless - No Roots
  • The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free
  • Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
  • McFly - Room on the 3rd Floor
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Live in Hyde Park
  • Anastacia - Anastacia
  • Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane
  • The Prodigy - Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned
  • The Libertines - The Libertines
  • Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
  • Embrace - Out of Nothing
  • Green Day - American Idiot
  • Joss Stone - Mind Body & Soul
  • R.E.M. - Around the Sun
  • Ronan Keating - 10 Years of Hits
  • Robbie Williams - Greatest Hits
  • Il Divo - Il Divo
  • Eminem - Encore
  • U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

May Opining

Avril Lavigne - Let Go is pretty fun. It does feel curiously dated, perhaps because in my head Lavigne is intimately tied up with the brief surge of skate-themed subculture towards the end of my secondary school days. Still enjoyable though.

Justin Timberlake - Justified isn't especially working for me. I find his voice a bit annoying, and his lyrics rather cliched (not that it can't be said of plenty of the others). The music seems repetitive.

Kelly Rowland - Simply Deep is a mixed success. She's a good singer with a pleasant voice, in a style I'm not familiar with, but I don't especially like the actual songs either lyricswise or musically. Perfectly tolerable album on the whole.

Massive Attack - 100th Window is probably the kind of thing you'd really like if you are into experimental meditative stuff, but I am not really. I tune it out very quickly and realise I have missed it all.

Norah Jones - Come Away with Me didn't grab me initially, but after a while I warmed to its fairly chilled style and soothing vocals. Not something I'd sing along to though because I just can't sing in that looser style.

Linkin Park - Meteora is not a huge departure from the sort of music I like, but it's just too shouty. I can't really hear what they're singing and I'm not about to try singing along to it (my voice gets knackered easily).  The less shouty bits are okay.

The White Stripes - Elephant. I don't entirely know what to make of this. It doesn't stick firmly to anything that I recognise as a specific genre. It's decent, but not my favourite thing. I could probably get into it with enough time though. I'm realising that one of the issues with liking newer music (yes, I appreciate this is from 2013!) is simply exposure. You get into things as a teenager because you tend to hear the same songs a lot - your social group plays them, and often you've bought just a few albums so you listen to them repeatedly, and in my case I was listening to rather repetitive local radio. Even things you don't particularly care for to begin with, or are at best ambivalent about, will grow familiar and comfortable. As an adult you tend to have less time for that, and I'm going to be listening to most of these exactly once, so there'll be no time to mellow to them.

Madonna - American Life feels surprisingly unassuming for a singer I think of as relatively brash. I actually quite like this one; it seems at times like it's blurring the lines between pop and indie.

Blur - Think Tank isn't really doing anything for me.

Stereophonics - You Gotta Go There to Come Back makes literally zero impression on me. I listened to it all and now I can't remember a single thing about it.

Radiohead - Hail to the Thief is tedious.

Evanescence - Fallen on the other hand seems like very much my thing. I have heard a bit of this before, but it's got the strong guitar rhythms and compelling vocal flow that I find perfect for running and so forth. There's some nice more melodic sections as well. It is a bit repetitive at times, but still, I should probably buy this.

Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love is a pretty accomplished display of singing, but I find the music repetitive and the lyrics rather uninspiring. It doesn't seem much of a change from what people were singing 20 years earlier - not that the content of music has fundamentaly changed, but it surprised me a bit given how famous she is for having changed stuff, I thought? Maybe this album isn't representative? Or maybe it's just about being more confident and explicit? I dunno.

The Coral - Magic and Medicine feels a bit dreary, although musically it's not bad. I quite liked Bill McCai despite it being quite depressing. Pass it On is sort of catchy. Rest is basically just okay.

Eva Cassidy - American Tune is reasonable croony stuff, but not easy to find online. I have to be in a particular mood for this sort of thing.

The Darkness - Permission to Land is very silly (especially the videos, which are just splendid) but has that driving quality that I prize in my rock. I remember I believe in a thing called love but not the others. One due another look when this is over.

Muse - Absolution is better than I remember Muse being; I listened to them a bit as a teenager but grew to find them too dissonant and unmelodic. This was decent, although not especially memorable.

R.E.M. - In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003. Gosh, there's a lot of these collected works of established artists on here... it's not helping me much in discovering newer music! That being said, although I do recognise some of these songs, I'm favourably impressed by the album. It feels creative linguistically and musically, and is a pretty compelling listen.

Blue - Guilty seems perfectly tolerable, even pleasant, but few of the songs make any impace. It's flowed over me without me noticing it much. That's a mark of quality to some extent - it's not annoying - but talk about damning with faint praise. That being said, Where You Want Me attracts my attention for some reason.

Dido - Life for Rent I've owned for years and am fond of, so I don't need to listen to it here.

Michael Jackson - Number Ones is okay; a lot of the songs I've already heard, and the others are a bit nondescript. I confess to not listening to the whole thing, because a) it's a bit monotonous and b) it's really freaking long.

Westlife - Turnaround is another compelling album. I think What do they know is the most striking track here; it feels weirdly ambiguous, with what I read as an unreliable narrator to the realities of the relationship involved.

Will Young - Friday's Child is fine, perfectly decent, pleasant to listen to.

June Opining

Katie Melua - Call Off the Search is a fun listen, with nice chilled-but-catchy rhythms and a very pleasing voice that harmonises nicely with the jazzy melodies.

Norah Jones - Feels like Home is chilled and easy to listen to, although I feel like it would be intrustive if I had company over - I find this sort of music often irritates me in cafes for that reason. For this, though, it's pretty solid.

George Michael - Patience doesn't do very much for me. I don't find the music very interesting and it seems quite a repetitive album (ironically, I am losing patience with it).

Usher - Confessions seems repetitive (it's not very easy to tell when songs change over) and not very musically interesting either. That being said, I do like his voice. It all seems to be about being awesome and rich and sexually dominant? Save it for your mates in the bar, I mean, y'know?

Anastacia - Anastacia is quite fun - slightly generic rock, yes, but I'm finding it very swayable-along-to which is an important consideration for me.

Guns N' Roses - Greatest Hits is as good as you'd expect. I'm not especially knowledgeable about the group, but they're a popular hard rock group for a reason, and these are some of their best songs, and I like rock. Of course I like it.

D12 - D12 World. I have trouble with this one because I can't really make out the lyrics in many songs, which is (to my ears) the main point of this sort of music. There's just a beat and some muffled muttering. This is partly because I can't turn music up very loud because the neighbours complain, and there's some background noise here too, but the audio itself isn't great. The lyrics I can hear seem to be about sexual violence. I decide to abandon this album.

Keane - Hopes and Fears is a pretty good album. It reminds me of Coldplay to some extent but a little more accessible.

Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin is another solid offering with some decent rocky stuff, although there's a surprising range of music in here within that broad category.

Keane - Hopes and Fears turns out to be lots of stuff I've heard without any idea who it was. I quite like it, to the point where I might buy it.

Faithless - No Roots has at least one decent track on it - the first - but I couldn't find the others.

The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free is depressing and musically uninteresting. It's almost exactly like being on a bus next to a couple of lads chatting about their Friday night and playing with ringtones.

Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters is good stuff. Incomprehensible, but somehow head-noddingly catchy.

McFly - Room on the 3rd Floor is a sort of mix of generic boyband pop and a slightly rougher, more indie edge. Although I remember them being cause for contempt in my youth, they're better than I remember. There's a little bit more going on in the music than there needs to be for generic pop, and also (intentionally, I'm sure) they do give off an air of actually enjoying themselves, which is quite refreshing.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Live in Hyde Park is decent, but somehow I never quite got into the RHCPs. I mean, they're fine, and some of their songs are fairly catchy, but I think either they're a little too impenetrable for me, or too repetitive despite the playing around the guitarists do.

Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane is another one of those albums that makes me go oh, THAT's who that song was. It's okay.

The Prodigy - Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned isn't recognisable to me as music.

The Libertines - The Libertines isn't particularly interesting to me for some reason.

Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten is reasonably fun.

Embrace - Out of Nothing is a pleasant and fairly listenable album, though some of the later tracks are a bit noisy.

Green Day - American Idiot is solid good stuff by a band that generally offers reliable cynical rock that's good to run to. I should buy this.

Joss Stone - Mind Body & Soul is okay? I find her style of singing rather intrusive, it's got that almost-shouting vocal quality. It varies by song whether or not this bothers me. It's otherwise reasonable enough.

R.E.M. - Around the Sun is okay, pleasant to listen to.

Ronan Keating - 10 Years of Hits is actually getting ignored under a new rule: the point of this project is to listen to new stuff, so albums of music from the past are not especially constructive.

Robbie Williams - Greatest Hits ditto.

Il Divo - Il Divo is getting skipped because it's classical music. I don't care why it's in the charts.

Eminem - Encore didn't particularly impress me - the songs felt more self-indulgent somehow and less... important? I dunno.

U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is a steady album from the group; sounds very much like a U2 album (you might say a little unimaginative?) but relatively thoughtful somehow.

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