Monday, January 26, 2009

The Working Dead: A to Zed

The importance of music in my life is hard to overestimate; nearly every moment of my life is done to my own personal soundtrack. I listen to music on my walk to work, on my walk home, on break, I have CDs spinning while I'm online, or cleaning the house, or giving my daughter a bath, and I fall asleep to some songs that are usually, but not always, soothing. It's been this way my entire adult life, from the moment I first began to formulate my own tastes outside of what my Mom liked, or what the radio played. I got my first CD player when I turned 16, but I had already been buying CDs, making dubs to tape at a friends house and eagerly awaiting my birthday. From there I was hooked. I piggybacked on the BMG Music Club memberships of friends and relatives, and scoured used shops and new releases every time I got a few bucks. When I got my first job, a good half of each paycheck would go to music.

Over the years my collection has fluctuated a bit, but it's constantly growing ever bigger. Occasionally I'll decide I've outgrown something and either sell it or pass it along, but those moments are growing more and more infrequent. Of the 4 discs I bought from BMG in the days before my CD player, I think I only have one left, although nostalgia may lead me to one day rebuy them(for the curious, the discs were REM; Automatic for the People, Dire Straits; Brothers in Arms, The B-52s; Good Stuff, and the Waynes World Soundtrack, I only retained the REM album). My tastes are varied, if you name a genre I can name at least three bands I like in it, and if I can't, well, then a little bit of research and firsthand experience would lead me to them. My tastes are ever-changing. I'll find some new band(at least, new to me), and become obsessed with that sound for a short time, until the next sound comes along. Those older discs fade away for awhile, but become part of the larger mosaic that is my taste in music. For a few years in a row I would make mix CDs in October, not consciously, but it worked out that way. When I went back and reviewed them I found a bit of crossover in terms of bands, alongside whatever my newest obsessions were, so that each disc seemed like a slowly changing chronicle of my years.

Which is all to say that I like a lot of different styles of music, and I own a lot of it. So much of it that there are some discs I haven't listened to in years. Expecting that I'll listen to every disc in my collection regularly is just unrealistic, even if I was allowed to listen to my iPod at work every day. This has been a problem for awhile, actually, ever since my collection first grew past 100 discs(well over a decade ago). Looking over my collection recently, I realized how much stuff I haven't heard in years, and I've decided to try and rectify that.

My iPod makes this incredibly easy, and I can even track my progress by seeing when the last time I listened to something was. However, since I'm a completist, I'm going to ignore that and listen to EVERYTHING, regardless of how recently I had reviewed it. This isn't a new practice, I've done it several times in the past(though not since exiting my teens), and I know it's one of those things people do occasionally. I'm planning on going through my collection, and although I don't plan on doing any excising from my collection, I do plan on reflecting a bit on why I like a particular disc or band. I've not thought up a schedule for this, so it might be a bit infrequent, but I'm planning on posting my results at least biweekly. Ideally I'll listen to 10 full albums a week(give or take, because when Amber and I are home together I probably wont be sticking to this album-at-a-time formula), and then write about them. Of course we've seen how good I am at keeping a schedule, so I'm giving myself some leeway.

I'm going to be going through my iPod alphabetically, but by album instead of artist. There are two main reasons this appeals to me. 1) I like listening to albums more than singles, so this way I won't be splitting up my compilations or soundtracks that have multiple artists on them. 2) When I can listen to an album by Flogging Molly and follow that up with Mates of State, well, I stand less chance of getting bored, or at least burned out on a band. I have over 20 different albums by The Cure(their studio work, some live recordings, and fan club exclusives from back in the day. I'm a dork, I know), and having to listen to them all in a row may give me a greater appreciation of their musical evolution, but they also run the risk of running together on me.

I might not have something to say about every album I review, but for those interested(and if you are, really, what's wrong with you?), I'll be listing the albums I listened to at the end of the various posts. I'm also cutting this a bit short, since I'm using up space with introductions, and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

A-Haunting We Will Go-Go; The Ghastly Ones: I can't actually remember the exact moment I first heard this band, but it would have been in 1998, probably after I had started DJing at the local college station, and definitely after The Red Elvises and Man... Or Astro-Man? had destroyed my shoegazing, self important world and rebuilt it, brick by brick, into something much more open-minded and, well, fun. One of the very few records released by Rob Zombie's Zombie A Go-Go label, and so far the only disc I've heard by these guys. The album tells the story, in between tight surf instrumentals, of the band breaking down one dark night and seeking aide in a spooky old castle inhabited by Dr. Diablo and his evil Robot Atomico. It's not the best example of it's particular 'spooky surf' genre, but it's still an awesomely fun disc, and was one of my first introductions to the world of Surf Music.

The A-Team; Mike Post: Alright, if I was going to start cutting music out of my collection, I have to admit I'd probably start with this one. I'm not a big fan of television incidental music in general, and definitely not of mid-80s incidental music. But what can I say, I'm a big A-Team nerd. I own Mr. T's autobiography, and I love my A-Team t-shirt even though I can't wear it in public due to a washing machine mishap that melted something into the fabric. For awhile I wanted my first car to be a Custom GMC Van. Of course, maybe I just like that van. I love TV shows where the hero(s) drive around the country in a van. But back to this disc. The music is not good at all, but man, Mike Post can write an awesome theme song.

ABBA-Esque; Erasure: Erasure have a couple of really great synth-pop songs that I love listening to frequently, but none is more awesome than their cover of Take A Chance On Me, that only falters in the annoying reggae-ish vocals towards the end.

Absent Friends; The Divine Comedy: The Divine Comedy are one of my very favorite bands, although it took me a short while to appreciate them. I was initially put off by their overbearing romanticism and bourgeoisie pretensions, until I saw them live on TV and realized, it was all part of the joke. Oh, they actually are pretentious and ridiculous, but lead singer Neil Hannon at least recognizes this and delivers almost every line with the smile of a congenial drunk from a movie made in the forties. Absent Friends is currently my favorite album of theirs, although that sometimes changes. They frequently cause me to reevaluate every previous album whenever they release a new one, and I somehow end up liking them more each time. With this album, that combines Ennio Morriccone with chamber music and drunken romanticism, they hit a creative peak.


Albums this post: A-Haunting We Will Go-Go; The Ghastly Ones, The A-Team; Mike Post, Abba-esque; Erasure, Absent Friends; The Divine Comedy, Absolution; Muse, Accelerate; R.E.M.

1 comment:

Liz said...

You're certainly slacking.