Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

Tag: simple math

Simple Math 2015: Simple Math Is Dead; Long Live The Gospel According To Saint Me

Simple Math 2015: Simple Math Is Dead; Long Live The Gospel According To Saint Me

Veruca Salt – The Gospel According To Saint Me

In October, a catastrophic hard drive failure cost me my entire iTunes library – more than 85,000 songs collected over just shy of two decades. (Really! I started building my digital library way back in 1996, with live Husker Du bootlegs acquired from online trading communities and handfuls of punk and ska rarities downloaded off of sketchy FTP servers.) It doesn’t seem recoverable, not without a small fortune, and very possibly not with one either. I haven’t quite decided if I intend to try and rebuild or not. The real value of the collection was the stuff that can’t be found online anymore (or ever); the parts I could replace are the parts that it might not be worth replacing rather than just resigning myself to streaming from now on instead of ownership. Fortunately, my life has been far too busy to spend time worrying about, or even contemplating, what to do.

Not that iTunes would have been much use for my tallying this year’s Simple Math anyway – over the last few years, it’s largely become an archive of non-digitally-accessible tracks and a repository of star ratings, something to track what I’ve listened to and whether I’ve liked it, but not how much I’ve listened to it. And the one thing it was most useful for – keeping track of which albums I listened to over the course of the year – fell by the wayside when I ceased to add albums to my library post-crash. Meanwhile, my Spotify “Year In Music” feature didn’t, so far as I can tell, include anything I played offline, and certainly doesn’t include anything I loaded onto my account locally. And my, by dint of not scrobbling Spotify plays on mobile, is essentially useless in providing any kind of accurate stats about my listening this year.

Even if I were able to get accurate stats, I’m not entirely sure what I’d find – this year has been one of change and upheaval, and my listening habits have been as chaotic as the rest of my life. The latter half of 2015 saw the bittersweet end of PropertyOfZack; a relocation from the urban hum of New York City to suburban south Florida; a farewell to six years of steady employment and a hello to a whole lot of question marks; and, six weeks ago, the birth of the most beautiful baby boy in the whole world*. Heck, truth be told, I’ve probably listened to more lullabies – played via Lionel’s sleep machine, by way of a decade-old iPod – in the last month than music the rest of the year combined.

The bottom line is that, after a four year run, the yearly tabulation post I’ve been dubbing Simple Math is, for all practical purposes, dead.

That said, Makeup For The Silence has, from the start, been about music and storytelling and the places where those intersect. And if 2015 is the year I stop quantifying the music side of the equation, it is also the perfect year to shine a light on the storytelling I’ve done. While 2015 marked the end of PropertyOfZack, it also saw me making my presence felt more than ever at Alternative Press, as well as opening up new doors at Myspace and the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. And though things are currently a little to busy to focus on pitching elsewhere, I’m hoping that 2016 sees my writing finding its way into even more new spaces.

But it wasn’t just my reach that grew this year – I think I’m more proud of the writing I did in 2015 than any year prior. So, instead of recapping my musical stats, I thought I’d instead share some of the highlights of my year behind the keyboard. Welcome to The Gospel According To Saint Me. It’s gonna get loud; it’s gonna get heavy.

It Just Isn’t Like The Old Days Anymore – Mayday Parade [Alternative Press Magazine 328 / November 2015]

My first cover story for a national publication would have been the highlight of my year in any year. Mayday Parade, pop-punk’s ultimate play-it-safe band, bucked all expectations by growing darker and more daring at the exact time when most career-minded bands would have dialed back on the Risk-O-Meter. I suppose the jury is still out commercially – though it’s hard to imagine the band’s camp wasn’t disappointed by the precipitous fall-off in album-over-album sales, the band’s first in three outings – but Black Lines is an artistic triumph, and I think I did justice to the story of the album’s genesis.

Sting, Bon Jovi And More Help Celebrate 80 Years Of Overtown Legend Sam Moore [Miami New Times]

Writing for the New Times might not come with the paycheck or the prestige of other publications, but the access it’s granted me to big-name artists from across the pop spectrum is priceless. This year I had the good fortune to chat with everyone from piano-pop legend Ben Folds, to Emily Haines of Canadian indie heavyweights Metric, to up-and-coming tropical house DJ Bakermat. But none topped interviewing Sam Moore, one half of Sam & Dave, the voices behind “Soul Man,” “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and a dozen more hits that defined the sound of Memphis Soul at the turn of the ‘70s. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, chatting with a member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame would have been near the top.

Crawling Towards the Sun: The Hush Sound’s Bob Morris Starts Again, Again [PropertyofZack]

It’s easy to forget that 90% of the hot new buzz bands you’ll have served to you on a platter this year will be the ones flipping the metaphorical, and often literal, burgers a decade from now – talent (and, often, fanbase) be damned. Morris is back with a new project, Le Swish, but he’s also got a new outlook on life and some new ideas on where and how music should fit into it. His story isn’t unique, but you might think it was for how rarely it gets told.

SXSW Wrap-Up: These Things Happened. These Things Mattered. [PropertyOfZack]

South By South West is a strange chimaera, a beast of many looks that serves many masters, but it often only gets photographed from its “good” side. Truth is, there’s a lot more than happens at the industry’s yearly bacchanal than the anointment of next big things and the grousing of never-will-bes. There are other stories to be told and, while they’re not sexy, they’re frighteningly easy to find. But when the hype-makers are the ones charged with creating the official record, they develop a nasty habit of only recording what’s hyped. SXSW is so much more than anyone seems to talk about, and it deserves better treatment. With what will be a 3-month-old son, I’ll be missing out on SXSW 2016, but you can be sure my heart will be there, in all the corners the cool kids aren’t.

Andrew W.K. Isn’t Partying Hard Anymore, He’s Got Too Much Else Going On [Myspace]

Conversing with Andrew W.K. was everything I could have imagined it would be; the man is a whip-smart deep thinker and a master of introspection, and better yet, he uses his powers for good. It felt almost criminal to have to edit down Wilkes-Krier’s soliloquies on art, feeling and life into interview-sized snippets.

Start Today: Bad Religion [PropertyofZack]

Bad Religion aren’t only foundational figures in SoCal punk and stalwarts of the current scene, they’re a remarkably consistent machine that’s churned out excellent album after excellent album for more than 30 years. That voluminous output makes their catalog as intimidating as it is deep, and made them the perfect candidates with which to launch our Start Today feature.

Matisyahu Spent The Past Five Years Discovering His True Self [Broward-Palm Beach & Miami New Times]

When your bizarre musical schtick is just a reflection of your unusual real life, what becomes of your career when that life drastically changes? It’s a question to which Matisyahu’s fanbase is still working out the answer, even if the man himself seems more certain than ever of who he’s supposed to be.

10 Things You Should Know About Phoebe Ryan [Myspace]

Pop singer/songwriter Ryan’s star is on the rise, but with only an EP to her name to date, it doesn’t seem that anyone has really plumbed her backstory yet. There’s nothing groundbreaking in our conversation, just some fun and revealing anecdotes that I haven’t seen told elsewhere – and really, isn’t that what this is supposed to be about? Sometimes the workaday pieces are the ones you’re happiest with.

Matter Of Time: A Chroma Q&A With Cartel’s Will Pugh [PropertyOfZack]

I first saw Cartel live in 2004, opening for Brandtson and the Rocket Summer in support of their debut EP. The full length they were writing at the time, Chroma, would top my very first Yearly Top Ten list in 2005. I’ve interviewed Will before, but sitting down with him before the band played that album in full, on occasion of its 10 year anniversary, felt especially significant. What followed was a marvelously candid discussion of not just the album’s stratospheric rise, but the band’s slow and steady descent over the decade that followed – one that’s landed them at a true career crossroads today.

Links to everything else I wrote this year after the cut.




Live Performance Previews:

Other Music Writing:

If you enjoy these, as always, you can find a complete archive of everything I’ve written on the Clips page.

*every new parent says this about their child. All of them are correct.

Simple Math 2014: Close Your Eyes (and Count To Fuck).

Run The Jewels – Close Your Eyes (and Count To Fuck) (feat. Zack de la Rocha)

At the end of each of the past three years, I ran a piece titled Simple Math here which collected all of my “music stats” for the year prior.This year that all went to hell. Count to fuck, indeed.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a particularly statistically-minded guy. I’ve gobbled down advanced baseball stats like they were the latest diet craze since before I could catch a fly ball. I spent years grinding at poker tables and studying charts until I could intuit the odds of almost anything happening. And, for over a decade, I’ve been tracking (im)precisely what I’ve listened to each year on both AudioScrobbler / Last.FM and via iTunes.

That all changed in 2014. This was the year I got on board (almost fully) with the cloud. I’ve gotten miles of mileage out of my Spotify subscription, supplementing that which can’t be found on their service with mp3s. The problem is that Spotify is very inconsistent with its scrobbling, or, more precisely, it consistently doesn’t scrobble when either listening via iPhone or in offline mode. Unfortunately, that’s 90% of how I consume music.

Additionally, Spotify doesn’t play well with iTunes. I’ve made a consistent effort to add to my iTunes library anything that I’ve listened to on Spotify (or YouTube, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, etc) but there are certainly unaccounted for tracks, especially singles which would have received a sub-3 star rating. And this year, I spent far more time listening to individual songs than I did to full albums.

The end result is that, for the first time in a long time, I don’t have concrete data on what I’ve listened to, or how much I’ve listened to it. Indeed, I don’t even have marginally useful data from which to extrapolate. Last.FM tells me that “Tongue Talk” by the Holidays is my most-played new track of 2014, with nineteen spins. The true number is something like five times that, if I had to guesstimate. Meanwhile, the track doesn’t have a single play in iTunes.

In the end, I’ve decided that convenience (such as it were) outweighs my desire to number-crunch. It’s a choice that pays off 11.5 months of the year, and then bums me out for two weeks. Unfortunately, this is those two weeks.

So which parts of my musical year are still quantifiable? Well, as of December 31, 2014:

  • By my count, over the course of the year, I listened to 107 LPs, EPs, 7″s, splits or compilations released in 2014.
  • There were 1,236 songs released in 2014 added to my iTunes library this year.
  • I attended 48 individual shows this year, along with 43 sets over days at SXSW; 8 sets at 1 day of Warped Tour; 29 sets over 3 days at Riot Fest Chicago; and sets over days of CMJ.
  • In total, that makes for 189 sets at 63 shows.
  • I wrote track review (along with lighthearted holiday song reviews for the annual PropertyOfZack Xmas Review Extravaganza); published 28 interviews, including a 4-part interview with Rob Rowe (Whitewaits / Cause & Effect) and a 2-part interview with Derek Sanders (Mayday Parade) & Lauren Wilhelm (Dazy The Girl); wrote part or all of 15 feature pieces, including missives from SXSW; contributed to 7 PropertyOfZack staff playlists; and, best of all, had pieces published in print, both feature pieces for Alternative Press.

The full list of albums and EPs from 2014 that I’ve listened to this year, alphabetical by artist, is after the cut.

  1. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
  2. Alburn – Mouthful of Glass
  3. Allison Weiss – Remember When
  4. Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – s/t
  5. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
  6. Angels & Airwaves – The Dream Walker
  7. Animals As Leaders – The Joy Of Motion
  8. Antarctigo Vespucci – Soulmate Stuff
  9. Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m So Tethered
  10. Anthony Green – Winter Songs
  11. Ariana Grande – My Everything
  12. Basement – Further Sky
  13. Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills On a Dead End Street
  14. Beach Slang – Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken
  15. Being As An Ocean – How We Both Wondrously Perish
  16. Betty Who – Slow Dancing
  17. Betty Who – Take Me When You Go
  18. Big Data – 1.0
  19. Bleachers – Strange Desire
  20. Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin
  21. The Cab – Lock Me Up
  22. Candy Hearts – All The Ways You Let Me Down
  23. Charli XCX – Sucker
  24. The Cloudy Mountain Band – Demos
  25. Copeland – Ixora
  26. D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Voodoo
  27. Dads – I’ll Be The Tornado
  28. Darlia – Candyman
  29. Darlia – Knock Knock
  30. The Downtown Fiction – Losers & Kings
  31. Dum Dum Girls – Too True
  32. Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways
  33. Four Year Strong – Go Down In History
  34. Foxy Shazam – Gonzo
  35. Frnkiero andthe Cellabration – Stomachaches
  36. The Front Bottoms – Rose
  37. Future Islands – Singles
  38. Gerard Way – Hesitant Alien
  39. Have Mercy – A Place Of Our Own
  40. The Hotelier – Home, Like NoPlace Is There
  41. Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell
  42. Information Society – _Hello World
  43. Onelinedrawing – Me & You Are Two
  44. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
  45. Kitten – Kitten
  46. Knuckle Puck – While I Stay Secluded
  47. La Dispute – Rooms Of The House
  48. Live – The Turn
  49. Masked Intruder – M. I.
  50. Michael Jackson – Xcape
  51. Mikey Mo – All I Have
  52. Moden Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All
  53. Mongol Horde – Mongol Horde
  54. Moose Blood – I’ll Keep You In Mind From Time To Time
  56. Mystery Skulls – Forever
  57. No Devotion – Stay / Eyeshadow
  58. No Somos Marineros – Lomas Verdes
  59. Old 97’s – Most Messed Up
  60. Owl City – Ultraviolet
  61. Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love
  62. Pianos Become The Teeth – Keep You
  63. PUP – PUP
  64. Pvris – White Noise
  65. Rachel Taylor – Come Alive
  66. Real Friends – Maybe This Place Is The Same & We’re Just Changing
  67. Restorations – LP3
  68. Royksopp & Robyn – Do It Again
  69. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
  70. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
  71. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
  72. Seahaven – Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only
  73. Set It Off – Duality
  74. Sir Sly – You Haunt Me
  75. Sledding With Tigers – A Necessary Bummer
  76. Somos – Temple Of Plenty
  77. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  78. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
  79. take nothing, leave everything – winter
  80. Taylor Swift – 1989
  81. This Wild Life – Clouded
  82. Tiger’s Jaw – Charmer
  83. Tiny Moving Parts – Pleasant Living
  84. Toby McAllister – Christmas Bedroom Demos
  85. Transit – Joyride
  86. Twin Forks – Twin Forks
  87. Unicorn Kid – Brain Wash
  88. Vacationer – Relief
  89. Veruca Salt – MMXIV
  90. Warpaint – Warpaint
  91. We Are The In Crowd – Weird Kids
  92. White Lung – Deep Fantasy
  93. Whitewaits – Island
  94. Wild Adriatic – Big Suspicious
  95. Xerxes – Collision Blonde
  96. You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing
  97. You Blew It! – You Blue It
  98. You + Me – Rose Avenue
  99. 5 Seconds of Summer – She Looks So Perfect
  100. VA – Adventures / Pity Sex
  101. VA – Death To False Music Vol. 1
  102. VA – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 40th Anniversary
  103. VA – In Utero, In Tribute, In Entirety
  104. VA – Punk Goes 90’s Vol. 2
  105. VA – Spitback / Power Wrench
  106. VA – Whirr / Nothing
  107. VA – Mat Kerekes / Chris Kerekes Winter Split

Simple Math 2013: Add It Up

Violent Femmes – Add It Up

I don’t think I’m going to have nearly as much to say this time around as I did in last year’s Simple Math. I once again fell short on plans to expand my writing venues (though, as usual, there is stuff brewing which may or may not come to fruition), but that said, I compensated by greatly expanding the sorts of pieces I wrote this year over at PropertyOfZack. (As always, links to everything I’ve written here). It’s been comforting to see the site grow along with me, to see our staff grow and mature and, along with that, allow me to range further afield from the bread-and-butter reviews writing. I actually see myself doing more reviews this year – I rather miss digging into a piece of work in detail like that – but all the actual listening involved is terrible time-consuming, time I find myself less and less willing to dedicate. Domesticity is really underrated, isn’t it?* I greatly enjoy having the freedom to spend time outside the review rubric, and I plan to continue taking advantage of that.

*There is one bit I need to work on for myself – when I’m hanging out w my fiancee (feels great to type that, btw!) I need to get more OK with ignoring her to work on writing. It’s not any pressure that she’s ever put on me, it’s merely that I feel neglectful when I’m ignoring her in favor of my own work. It’s silly and I need to get over it.

I would like, this year, to start writing more for other outlets, just as I said I would last year and the year before; it’s the stuff that comes before the writing that keeps holding me up. Perhaps I really need to commit to exploring my options more, and to knocking on doors – they ain’t gonna open themselves. One Week One Band was a blast, and I want to keep pushing myself on that sort of thing as well – I’ve had a couple ideas in the past for true deep dives – either a) writing my way through a band’s catalog (see either my friend Will Stegemann’s A Year Of Billy Joel or the great Matthew Perpetua’s REM blog Pop Songs 07-08 for some ideas), or else b) working on a book / extensive series of articles similar to Steven Hyden’s marvelous Whatever Happened To Alternative Nation (though, as is typical of me, probably regarding subject matter about which I’d prove not just the author but also the majority of the audience). Perhaps by actually announcing it here I’ll motivate myself to do more than think about it and begin at least putting some preliminary content down.

I also totally failed on last year’s pledge to listen to fewer podcasts; indeed, it only got worse this year. There’s such a glut of content out there, good content, that it’s literally impossible for me to keep up on it all, and the truth is a lot of times I enjoy listening to music discussion (or some of the other stuff I keep up on via podcast, like sports and tech) even more than I enjoy listening to the music being discussed. I do want to listen to more music in 2014, but I think what I really need to do is to just listen to what I enjoy and resolve to not give myself unnecessary agita over it. I started listening to music because I enjoyed it; if I’m listening to podcasts because I enjoy them, I shouldn’t feel any sort of angst over that. If someone wants to pay me for my listening time, I’ll listen to what I need to; outside of that, my plan is to simply take pleasure in listening to whatever pleases me.

So how did I spend my listening time this year? As of December 31st, 2013:

  • By my count, over the course of the year I listened to 139 LPs, EPs, 7″s, splits or comps released in 2013.
  • There were 1,588 songs released in 2013 added to my iTunes this year.
  • In total, songs from 2013 added to my iTunes library this year received 2,293 plays. I had an additional 544 streams on Spotify. In total**, I had 2,837 plays this year.**I also had a number of plays via YouTube and Bandcamp, unfortunately I don’t really have a way to tally them.
  • My albums with the most track plays were***:
  1. Kanye West – Yeezus (136)
  2. Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll (90)
  3. The Summer Set – Legendary (71)
  4. Transit – Young New England (67)
  5. Little Bombs – New Album Demos (49)***as always, this skews toward albums I reviewed / was planning to review. Excluding Legendary and Young New England, Sparks The Rescue – Truth Inside The Fiction (35) would have been next up
  • My most played songs were****
  1. Cassadee Pope – Good Times (17)
  2. Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (15)
  3. Kanye West – New Slaves (14)
  4. Kanye West – On Sight (14)
  5. Kanye West – I’m In It (14)****I honestly have no explanation for that Cassadee Pope track – I can’t even remember what it sounds like. It might be a scrobbling error. Moving past tracks where the whole album received a great deal of play and on to true® singles, The Reign Of Kindo – Feeling In The Night and Francis & the Lights – Etc. both clock in at (11).
  • I attended 58 individual shows this year, along with 2 days of Skate & Surf, 34 shows over 6 days of SXSW, 1 day of Governor’s Ball, 1 day of Warped Tour, 3 days of Riot Fest Chicago, 14 shows over 3 days of CMJ, and 5 shows during a Las Vegas trip, for a total of 118 shows.
  • At these shows/festivals, I saw (by my inexact count) 309 different sets played.
  • While I only wrote 3 album/single reviews this year (along with 7 lighthearted Christmas reviews), I refocused much of my writing time to other music-related writing. I wrote 1 live performance review, took part in 28 interviews, wholly authored 2 feature pieces and contributed to 29 others, filed 8 pieces from SXSW and 1 from Riot Fest, contributed entries/blurbs to 23 POZ Staff Playlists, and wrote 17 pieces on The Maine for One Week One Band. It’s easily the most writing I’ve done in a year yet.

The full list of albums and EPs from 2013***** that I’ve listened to this year, alphabetical by artist, is after the cut.

***** I think these are all 2013 releases; I did my best to cull out stuff released prior, but no promises.

  1. Against Me! – True Trans
  2. Alkaline Trio – My Shame Is True
  3. All There – All There
  4. Allison Weiss – Say What You Mean
  5. Andrew McMahon – The Pop Underground
  6. Balance & Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing
  7. The Band Perry – Pioneer
  8. Betty Who – The Movement
  9. Beyonce – Beyonce
  10. Big Sean – Hall Of Fame
  11. Boys – Demo 2013
  12. Brett Detar – Too Free To Live
  13. Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal
  14. Butch Walker – Peachtree Battle
  15. Cartel – Collider
  16. Cassadee Pope – Frame By Frame
  17. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
  18. Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe
  19. Citizen – Youth
  20. Conditions – Full Of War
  21. Dads – Pretty Good
  22. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  23. David Bowie – The Next Day
  24. Daylight – Jar
  25. Deafheaven – Sunbather
  26. The Dear Hunter – Migrant
  27. Defeater – Letters Home
  28. Depeche Mode – Delta Machine
  29. Desaparecidos – Anonymous / The Left Is Right
  30. Drake – Nothing Was The Same
  31. Edelweiss – Honduras
  32. Fall Out Boy – PAX AM Days
  33. Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll
  34. Follakzoid – II
  35. Francis & The Lights – Like A Dream
  36. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
  37. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
  38. Gin Wigmore – Gravel & Wine
  39. A Great Big Pile of Leaves – You’re Always On My Mind
  40. Haim – Days Are Gone
  41. Have Mercy – The Earth Pushed Back
  42. The Here And Now – Born to Make Believe Part 1
  43. The History of Apple Pie – Out Of View
  44. I Is Another – I Is Another
  45. Icona Pop – This Is… Icona Pop
  46. Into It. Over It. – Intersections
  47. Jay Z – Magna Carta… Holy Grail
  48. Jimmie Deeghan – Cheap Therapy
  49. Jonny Craig – Find What You Love and Let It Kill You
  50. The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law
  51. Justin Bieber – Believe (Acoustic)
  52. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
  53. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience – Part 2 of 2
  54. K. Flay – West Ghost
  55. Kanye West – Yeezus
  56. Katy Perry – Prism
  57. Kitten – Like a Stranger
  58. Kitty – D.A.I.S.Y. Rage
  59. Lacey Caroline – Songbird
  60. Lady Gaga – Artpop
  61. The Limousines – Hush
  62. Little Bombs – Strange / My Oxygen
  63. Little Bombs – Subway Rat Bite
  64. Little Bombs – New Album Mixes
  65. Lorde – Pure Heroine
  66. Lydia – Devil
  67. The Maine – Forever Halloween
  68. The Maine – Live at Flying Blanket Studios
  69. The Maine – Live in Sao Paolo
  70. Man Overboard – Acoustic Covers Vol 1
  71. Mansions – Doom Loop
  72. Mayday Parade – Monsters in the Closet
  73. Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
  74. Moving Mountains – Moving Mountains
  75. Murder By Death – As You Wish: Kickstarter Covers
  76. My Bloody Valentine – mbv
  77. My Chemical Romance – Conventional Weapons
  78. The Neighborhood – I Love You.
  79. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
  80. Olafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter
  81. OMD – English Electric
  82. Panic! at the Disco – Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die
  83. Paramore – Paramore
  84. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
  85. Paul McCartney – New
  86. Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
  87. Pentimento – Inside The Sea
  88. Polyenso – One Big Particular Loop
  89. Puig Destroyer – Puig Destroyer
  90. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
  91. Raine Maida – We All Get Lighter
  92. The Ready Set – I’ll Be Waiting
  93. Real Friends – Put Yourself Back Together
  94. The Reign Of Kindo – Play With Fire
  95. Rhye – Woman
  96. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines
  97. roboteyes – roboteyes
  98. A Rocket to the Moon – Wild & Free
  99. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels
  100. Sainthood Reps – Headswell
  101. Savages – Silence Yourself
  102. Shone – Heat Thing
  103. Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals
  104. Smallpools – Smallpools
  105. Sombear – Love You In The Dark
  106. Some Stranger – Some Stranger
  107. Sparks The Rescue – Truth Inside the Fiction
  108. Squid the Whale – Four More
  109. The Story So Far – What You Don’t See
  110. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
  111. Suede – Bloodsports
  112. The Summer Set – Legendary
  113. Tancred – Tancred
  114. Tegan & Sara – Heartthrob
  115. Their / They’re / There – Their / They’re / There
  116. Tilian – Material Me
  117. Title Fight – Spring Songs
  118. Tommy & The High Pilots – Only Human
  119. Touche Amore – Is Survived By
  120. Transit – Young New England
  121. Twenty One Pilots – Vessel
  122. Twin Forks – EP
  123. Twin Forks – Tour EP Vol 1
  124. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
  125. The Venetia Fair – Every Sick, Disgusting Thought We Have In Our Brain
  126. Vinnie Caruana – City By The Sea
  127. Washed Out – Paracosm
  128. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
  129. Whitewaits – An Elegant Exit
  130. William Backett – Genuine & Counterfeit
  131. William Beckett – The Pioneer Sessions
  132. William Control – Live In London Town
  133. William Control – Skeleton Strings
  134. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
  135. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever
  136. Young Statues – Age Isn’t Ours
  137. 2 Chainz – B.O.A.T.S. II: Metime
  138. The 1975 – The 1975
  139. VA – See A Little Light: Bob Mould & Friends In Concert

Simple Math 2012: Everything Counts

I’m not really one for New Years resolutions. That said, as long as we’re using the turn of the calendar to drop another breadcrumb onto this trail we call life (and grind out lists, because everybody loves lists!), I might as well take this moment to reflect on whatever got accomplished over the past twelve months, and set out some goals for the year ahead.

One place where I fell short of my plans was in the writing department. I actually stepped up my game a bit, writing more on PropertyOfZack than ever (despite mentally checking out for the final two months of the year). But I had hoped to branch out more, both in terms of places where my writing appears and in terms of the kinds of pieces I’m writing. On the former, I did some work for a site that never got off the ground, and made some halfhearted attempts at finding some additional places to run my work, but this year I’d like to get a little more serious about pitching stories and such. (You can find links to almost everything I did write here, and a little bit more here). Per the latter, the good news is that 2013 is already looking up: I’ve got a major project happening at One Week One Band in March, and we’re hard at work behind the scenes at PoZ on expanding our non-news offerings (in particular, I have a few plans for long form pieces that I’m set on venturing into in 2013). I even have a kinda-sorta book idea that I’m probably way over my head venturing into (and which probably lacks any sort of readership appeal outside of, oh, me). In general, I’m making little steps, and little steps are good and important, but this year I want to push myself to take bigger ones.

The other quasi-resolution I made last year was to listen to fewer podcasts, and in that plan I failed miserably. If the podcast market felt waterlogged in 2011, 2012 brought a level of saturation I didn’t even know was possible, especially when it came to music podcasts. Programs like Going Off TrackWashed Up EmoNothing To Write Home About, and 100 Words Or Less all became essential listening. Add to that a proliferation of tech and baseball podcasts, and for much of the year it felt like that was all I was listening to – something that’s borne out in my listening numbers. The number of new* albums/tracks I listened to was barely half what I did in 2011, and the number of listens I gave to those tracks was down even further. I enjoy writing about music, but this year it felt like the music I was listening to explicitly for the purpose of writing about it dominated listening for pleasure.

*It’s probably worth noting that none of the below numbers include time spent listening to pre-2012 releases. While that’s certainly a significant amount of my listening time, I’d guess that, proportionally, it was about as far down as my new-music-listening time.

Which is not to imply I didn’t enjoy much of that listening; many of those albums I wrote about wound up as my favorites for the year, and would have gotten the plays regardless. And I saw as much music live as I did last year, which was almost exclusively for my own enjoyment’s sake. But running through my most-played songs and albums of 2012 on, it’s a muddled mess of stuff I loved and stuff I didn’t care for, and while I suppose spending time on stuff I don’t much care for is just one small, necessary downside to choosing to write about music in a serious sort of way, not spending more time with music I did love doesn’t have to be a side effect of that effort. So, in 2013, I’m doubling down on that whole fewer-podcasts-thing, and making a conscious effort to prioritize listening to music over chatter.

Now with all that out of the way, on to the numbers!

So how did I spend my listening time this year? As of December 29, 2012:

  • By my count, over the course of the year I listened to 121 LPs, EPs, 7″s, Splits or Comps released in 2012.
  • There were 1,155 songs added to my iTunes this year that received at least one play (unlike last year, this only includes tracks from 2012 releases).
  • In total, songs from 2012 added to my iTunes library this year received 3,074 plays.
  • My albums with the most track plays were**:
  1. Dave Melillo – Eskimo Kisses (143)
  2. The Forecast – Everybody Left (110)
  3. Foxy Shazam – Church Of Rock And Roll (109)
  4. Sharks – No Gods (108)
  5. John K. Samson – Provincial (97) **This year’s numbers are almost entirely skewed toward albums I listened to (at least in part) for review. The album with the most track plays that I listened to merely for pleasure this year: Our Lady Peace – Curve (69)
  • My most played songs were***:
  1. The Maine – Good Love (16)
  2. The Forecast – Clear Eyes, Full Hearts (15)
  3. Eisley – Laugh It Off (14)
  4. The Forecast – Skyline (14)
  5. Sharks – Matthew’s Baby (14)*** The same skew applies here. The song with the most plays that I listened to merely for pleasure this year: Our Lady Peace – Find Our Way (11)
  • I attended 93 shows this year, in addition to a week of SXSW and the first three days of CMJ.
  • At these shows/festivals, I saw (by my inexact count) 352 different sets played.
  • I wrote 42 album reviews, along with eight lighthearted Christmas song reviews this year. In general I try to ensure that every album I review gets at least ten full listens over the span of at least a week, though I apparently fell short of that a bit this year. I also wrote one live performance review (of four different performances), and conducted fifteen interviews which were all published in Q&A form.

The full list of albums and EPs from 2012**** that I’ve listened to this year, alphabetical by artist, is after the cut.

**** I think these are all 2012 releases; I did my best to cull out stuff released prior, but no promises.

  1. All Time Low – Don’t Panic
  2. American Gospel – Tall Tales Vol. 1
  3. Anthony Raneri – New Cathedrals
  4. Artist Vs. Poet – Remember This
  5. Austin Gibbs – Fall 2011 (Live)
  6. Basement – Colourmeinkindness
  7. The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made The Radio
  8. Black Cards – Up The Anti-
  9. Bob Mould – Silver Age
  10. Bonaventure – Come Hell Or High Water EP
  11. Breathe Carolina – Hell Is What You Make It: Reloaded
  12. Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss
  13. Cassadee Pope – Cassadee Pope EP
  14. Circa Survive – Violent Waves
  15. Classics Of Love – Classics Of Love
  16. Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory
  17. Coasta – Coasta EP
  18. Code Orange Kids – Love Is Love // Return To Dust
  19. Cold Crows Dead – Album Demos
  20. Cold Crows Dead – Ghost That Burned Your House Down EP
  21. The Company We Keep – Making Moves 7″
  22. Crosses – Crosses EP 2
  23. Dads – American Radass (This Is Important)
  24. Daniel Rinaldi – Daniel Rinaldi EP
  25. The Darkness – Hot Cakes
  26. Dave Melillo – Eskimo Kisses
  27. Daytrader – Twelve Years
  28. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
  29. Desaparecidos – MariKKKopa / Backsell 7″
  30. DIIV – Oshin
  31. Dion – Tank Full Of Blues
  32. The Early November – In Currents
  33. Eisley – Deep Space
  34. Enter Shikari – A Flash Flood Of Colour
  35. Eve 6 – Speak In Code
  36. For The Foxes – The Revolution
  37. The Forecast – Everybody Left
  38. Forever Came Calling – Contender
  39. Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock & Roll
  40. Frank Ocean – channelORANGE
  41. fun. – Some Nights
  42. Further Seems Forever – Penny Black
  43. Giants At Large – Doubt
  44. Go Radio – Close The Distance
  45. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
  46. A Great Big Pile Of Leaves – Making Moves 7″
  47. Happy Body Slow Brain – Sleepy EP
  48. Have Mercy – My Oldest Friend
  49. Hit The Lights – Invicta
  50. Hostage Calm – Please Remain Calm
  51. Hyper Crush – Night Wave
  52. I Call Fives – I Call Fives
  53. I See Stars – Digital Renegade
  54. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
  55. Jeremih – Late Nights With Jeremih Mixtape
  56. John K. Samson – Provincial
  57. Jonah Matranga – Voices And Dedication
  58. Joyce Manor – Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired
  59. Just Kait – Once Upon A Girl
  60. Justin Bieber – Believe
  61. Ke$ha – Warrior
  62. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D. City
  63. Kevin Devine – Matter Of Time: KD&GDB Tour EP 2012
  64. Kowloon Walled City – Container Ships
  65. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
  66. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
  67. The Maine – The Good Love EP
  68. Masked Intruder – Masked Intruder
  69. Matt Pryor – May Day
  70. Matthew Ryan – In The Dusk Of Everything
  71. The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past
  72. Metz – Metz
  73. mewithoutYou – Ten Stories
  74. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dreams
  75. Minus The Bear – Infinity Overhead
  76. Misser – Every Day I Tell Myself I’m Going To Be A Better Person
  77. MOD SUN – Happy As Fuck EP
  78. Motion City Soundtrack – Go
  79. Motion City Soundtrack – Making Moves 7″
  80. Moving Mountains – New Light EP
  81. Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy
  82. The Narrative – B-Sides And Seasides
  83. Now, Now – Threads
  84. Our Lady Peace – Curve
  85. Owl City – The Midsummer Station
  86. Owl City – Shooting Star EP
  87. Pentimento – Pentimento
  88. R. Kelly – Write Me Back
  89. Richard Benjamin – Day Jobs / Night Lives
  90. The Rocket Summer – Life Will Write The Words
  91. A Rocket To The Moon – That Old Feeling EP
  92. Say Anything – Anarchy, My Dear
  93. Set It Off – Cinematics
  94. Sharks – No Gods
  95. Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania
  96. Sparks The Rescue – Sparks The Rescue EP
  97. Speechwriters LLC – Hollywood College
  98. States – Room To Run (Deluxe Edition)
  99. Steven Padin – Out Of The Silent Nest
  100. The Swellers – Running Out Of Places To Go EP
  101. That’s Outrageous! – Psycho
  102. theHELL – Sauve Les Requins EP
  103. This Century – Acoustics EP
  104. Thrice – Anthology
  105. Title Fight – Floral Green
  106. The Tower And The Fool – How Long
  107. Vacationer – Gone
  108. What’s Eating Gilbert – Cheap Shots EP
  109. What’s Eating Gilbert – The Nashville Session 7″
  110. William Beckett – Walk The Talk EP
  111. William Beckett – What Will Be EP
  112. William Beckett – Winds Will Change EP
  113. William Control – Silentium Amoris
  114. With The Punches – With The Punches
  115. 2 Chainz – Based On A T.R.U. Story
  116. VA – G.O.O.D. Music Presents: Cruel Summer
  117. VA – Glamour Kills Tour Split
  118. VA – Pioneer North American Tour Live EP
  119. VA – Punk Goes Pop 5
  120. VA – Punk Is Dead. Get A Job. Split
  121. VA – Scott & Aubrey’s Wedding 7″

Simple Math II – The Raw Data

So how did I spend my limited listening time this year? As of December 27, 2011:

  • By my count, over the course of this year I listened to exactly 250 LPs / EPs / splits / compilations released in 2011.  
  • There were 3,306 songs added to my iTunes library this year got at least one play (this includes older music added this year).
  • In total, songs added to my iTunes library in 2011 received 7,982 plays
  • My albums with the most track plays were:
  1. Go Radio – Lucky Street (319)
  2. Panic! At The Disco – Vices And Virtues (214)
  3. Sparks The Rescue – Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With (211)
  4. Tancred – Capes (193)
  5. Dredg – Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy (171)*

 *it’s funny how skewed these results get due to my reviewing; I don’t think I’ve  given that Dredg album a single listen since I wrote my review

  • My most played songs were:
  1. Go Radio – Kill The Beast (57)
  2. The Bigger Lights – Bullet Believers (Rah Rah Rah)  (38)
  3. Sparks The Rescue – Saturday Skin (38)
  4. Panic! At The Disco – Always (33
  5. Go Radio – Lucky Street (33)
  • I wrote 37 album reviews this year (as well as 10 short, lighthearted reviews of holiday singles for the annual PropertyOfZack Christmas Extravaganza).  By my own rule, each album I review gets no fewer than 10 listens over the course of no less than one week

This is all focusing on 2011 releases, but of course I spent plenty of time this year both revisiting old favorites and digging into new-to-me music from years past.  I’m not going to try and figure out how and where I spent this listening time; my account (feel free to add me) was out of commission for the first half of the year or so, and that totally skews any data I try and pull regarding my overall year.  I will say that there was a good two month stretch where I was listening almost exclusively to Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s back catalog; my newly-developed OMD obsession will be as strong a musical memory of this year as any current release.

In addition, I spend a lot of time listening to music live, and I feel like that counts as much (if not more) than listening to CDs.  I won’t argue that a live performance is necessarily better than a recorded album – they’re two very different arts, and both can be great or lousy, and just because a band is lacking in one of these forms doesn’t make them less enjoyable in the other, at least not to me – but it’s definitely something different, and should be included here as well.  

  • I attended 108 shows this year (including three festival-style shows – all 3 days of Bamboozle, the Long Island stop of Warped Tour, and the Poughkeepsie dates of A Very GK Holiday).
  • At those shows, I saw (by my inexact count) 363 different sets played. 

The full list of albums and EPs from 2011** that I’ve listened to this year, alphabetical by artist, is after the cut.  Unfortunately I don’t have any way of pulling the info from my Foursquare checkins other than by hand, so I’m not going to try and figure out which bands I saw this year or how many times I saw each (though I may go back and do this sometime in the future, if I’ve got a little time to kill).

**I think these are all 2011 releases; I’m excluding anything I’m pretty certain is older, as well as rereleases, but I’m not about to go and crosscheck all of these.

  1. Aaron Gillespie – Anthem Song
  2. Aiden – Disguises
  3. Aiden – Some Kind Of Hate
  4. The Airborne Toxic Event – All At Once
  5. Alkaline Trio – Damnesia
  6. All Time Low – Dirty Work
  7. Amely – The Raleigh Sessions
  8. Anarbor – The Mixtape
  9. Animals As Leaders – Weightless
  10. Any Time Today – Any Time Today
  11. Asking Alexandria – Reckless And Relentless
  12. A$AP Rocky – LIVELOVEA$AP
  13. Balance And Composure – Separation
  14. Basement – I Wish I Could Stay Here
  15. Battles – Gloss Drop
  16. Bayside – Killing Time
  17. Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding
  18. Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues
  19. The Bewitched Hands – Birds & Drums
  20. The Bigger Lights – Battle Hymn
  21. Bilal – Airtight’s Revenge
  22. Blood On The Dance Floor – All The Rage
  23. Brian Posehn – Fart And Wiener Jokes
  24. Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
  25. Brighten – I’ll Always Be Around (EP)
  26. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale
  27. Butch Walker – The Spade
  28. The Cab – Symphony Soldier
  29. Cartel – In Stereo (EP)
  30. Cash Cash – Love Or Lust
  31. Cassette Kids – Nothing On TV
  32. Cher Lloyd – Sticks And Stones
  33. Childish Gambino – Camp
  34. Chris Carrabba – Covered In The Flood
  35. The Cinema – My Blood Is Made Of Airplanes
  36. Circa Survive – The Myspace Transmissions (EP)
  37. Clive Tanaka y Su Orquesta – Jet Set Siempre 
  38. Close To Home – Never Back Down
  39. Cobra Starship – iTunes Session (EP)
  40. Cobra Starship – Night Shades
  41. Cold Cave – Cherish The Light Years
  42. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
  43. ††† (Crosses) – † (EP)
  44. Dance Gavin Dance – Downtown Battle Mountain II
  45. The Dangerous Summer – An Acoustic Performance of “Reach For The Sun”
  46. The Dangerous Summer – War Paint
  47. Dave Melillo – Future Focused (EP)
  48. Dave Melillo – Thinking Of You
  49. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
  50. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
  51. Decoder – Decoder
  52. Demi Lovato – Unbroken
  53. Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows – Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows
  54. Dia Frampton – Red
  55. Divided By Friday – Prove It (EP)
  56. Dot Dot Curve – Dot Dot Curve
  57. The Downtown Fiction – Let’s Be Animals
  58. The Downtown Fiction – Pineapple (EP)
  59. Drake – Take Care
  60. Dredg – Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy
  61. Duran Duran – All You Need Is Now
  62. Edelweiss – Pre-Columbians EP
  63. Eisley – The Valley
  64. Every Avenue – Bad Habits
  65. Falling In Reverse – The Drug In Me Is You
  66. Family Force 5 – III
  67. Farewell Fighter – The Way We Learn (EP)
  68. Fireworks – Gospel
  69. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
  70. Forever The Sickest Kids – Forever The Sickest Kids
  71. Four Year Strong – In Some Way, Shape Or Form
  72. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
  73. Frank Turner & Jon Snodgrass – Buddies
  74. Freezepop – Imaginary Friends
  75. The Friday Night Boys – Everything You Ever Wanted: The B-Sides
  76. The Front Bottoms – The Front Bottoms
  77. Fucked Up -David Comes To Life
  78. Further Seems Forever – Acoustic (7")
  79. Gallows – Death Is Birth (EP)
  80. Gates – The Sun Will Rise And Lead Me Home
  81. The Get Up Kids – There Are Rules
  82. Glassjaw – Coloring Book (EP)
  83. Go Radio – Lucky Street
  84. Good Problems – Be Eccentric (EP)
  85. Good Problems – I’m Changing My World (EP)
  86. The Graduate – Every Other Time: B-Sides From Only Every Time (EP)
  87. The Graduate – Sea Legs
  88. A Great Big Pile Of Leaves – Boom! (EP)
  89. Great Cynics – Don’t Need Much
  90. The Greater The Risk – Say What You Never Said (EP)
  91. Gym Class Heroes – The Papercut Chronicles II
  92. Hawthorne Heights – HATE
  93. Hey Monday – Candles (EP)
  94. Hey Monday – The Myspace Transmissions (EP)
  95. The Horrible Crowes – Elsie
  96. An Horse – Walls
  97. Hot Chelle Rae – Whatever
  98. The Human Abstract – Digital Veil
  99. I Am The Avalanche – Avalanche United
  100. I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business – Gold Rush
  101. I Fight Dragons – KABOOM!
  102. I See Stars – The End Of The World Party
  103. The Icarus Account – Love Is The Answer
  104. If By Yes – Salt On Sea Glass
  105. Innerpartysystem – Never Be Content (EP)
  106. Into It. Over It. – Proper
  107. Into It. Over It. – Twelve Towns
  108. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
  109. Jack’s Mannequin – People And Things
  110. James Blake – James Blake
  111. Jamestown Story – Find A Way
  112. Jesse Barrera – You’ll Feel Alive (EP)
  113. John Nolan – Songs I Didn’t Write (EP)
  114. Jonah Matranga – You’re All These Things And Then You’re None
  115. Joyce Manor – Joyce Manor
  116. Just Kait – Here We Go Again
  117. K. Flay – I Stopped Caring In ‘96
  118. Kevin Devine – Between The Concrete And The Clouds
  119. Kevin Devine – Nevermind
  120. Kids Of 88 – Sugarpills
  121. Kula Shaker – Pilgrim’s Progress
  122. La Dispute – Wildlife
  123. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
  124. Late In The Playoffs – Everything I Know (EP)
  125. Lemuria – Pebble
  126. Lights – Siberia
  127. Lights Resolve – Feel You’re Different
  128. Lindsey Buckingham – Seeds We Sow
  129. Little Bombs – Little Bombs
  130. The Little Indians – Let’s Split / What Makes You Grin (7")
  131. LMFAO – Sorry For Party Rocking
  132. A Loss For Words – No Sanctuary
  133. Lydia – Paint It Golden
  134. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
  135. The Maine – In Darkness And In Light
  136. The Maine – Pioneer
  137. Man Overboard – Man Overboard
  138. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
  139. Maniac – Mania
  140. Mansions – Dig Up The Dead
  141. Marianas Trench – Ever After
  142. Maritime – Human Hearts
  143. Mayday Parade – Mayday Parade
  144. MC Lars – Indie Rocket Science
  145. Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Go Down Under (EP)
  146. Meg & Dia – Cocoon
  147. Mike Posner – The Layover
  148. Mod Sun – Blazed By The Bell
  149. Mod Sun – In Mod We Trust (EP)
  150. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck
  151. Moving Mountains – Waves
  152. My Favorite Highway – As/Is: The Storytellers Tour Live
  153. The Narrative – Kickstarter EP
  154. Never Shout Never – Time Travel
  155. Nick 13 – Nick 13
  156. Nightmares For A Week – Don’t Die
  157. Noah And The Whale – Last Night On Earth
  158. Nocturnal Me – Two Faced (EP)
  159. Now Now – Neighbors (EP)
  160. Nowe Gloaming – Shuttle Plume 
  161. O’Brother – Garden Window
  162. Of Legends – Stranded
  163. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – History Of Modern
  164. Owen – Ghost Town
  165. Owl City – All Things Bright And Beautiful
  166. Panic! At The Disco – Vices And Virtues
  167. Patrick Stump – Soul Punk
  168. Patrick Stump – Truant Wave (EP)
  169. Pianos Become The Teeth – The Lack Long After
  170. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
  171. Places And Numbers – Travels
  172. Protest The Hero – Scurrilous
  173. Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
  174. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
  175. Ratt – Infestation
  176. The Ready Set – Feel Good Now (EP)
  177. Relient K – K Is For Karaoke
  178. R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now
  179. Rhett Miller – The Interpreter: Live At Largo
  180. Richard Benjamin – Patience Is A Virtue
  181. Rise Against – Endgame
  182. The Rocket Summer – Bryce Avary, His Instruments And Your Voices
  183. Roy English – FearLove
  184. Runner Runner – Runner Runner
  185. Sainthood Reps – Monoculture
  186. Santah – White Noise Bed
  187. Saves The Day – Daybreak
  188. Set It Off – Horrible Kids (EP)
  189. Set Your Goals – Burning At Both Ends
  190. A Skylit Drive – Identity On Fire
  191. Social Distortion – Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes
  192. Sparks The Rescue – The Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With
  193. Squid The Whale – A Worrisome Voyage Through Inclement Weather
  194. Stamps – Stamps Ventures Of A Lifetime (EP)
  195. Stay – American Cherry Bomb
  196. Stephen Jerzak – Miles And Miles
  197. Steve Moakler – Watching Time Run
  198. The Story So Far – Under Soil And Dirt
  199. The Strokes – Angles
  200. The Summer Set – Everything’s Fine
  201. The Summer Set – What Money Can’t Buy (EP)
  202. The Sunbeams – The Ocean, You And Me
  203. The Swellers – Good For Me
  204. Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday
  205. Tancred – Capes
  206. Tancred – String & Twine (EP)
  207. That’s Outrageous! – Teenage Scream
  208. There For Tomorrow – The Verge
  209. Thrice – Major/Minor
  210. The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West) – Watch The Throne
  211. Thursday – No Devolucion
  212. Tiger’s Jaw – Two Worlds
  213. Title Fight – Shed
  214. Tonight Alive – What Are You So Scared Of?
  215. Touche Amore – Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
  216. The Trace – The Trace (EP)
  217. Transit – Listen And Forgive
  218. Transit – Something Left Behind
  219. TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light
  220. Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
  221. Unicorn Kid – Tidal Rave (EP)
  222. VersaEmerge – Live Acoustic (EP)
  223. VolHolla! – Villains
  224. Washed Out – Within And Without
  225. We Are The In Crowd – Best Intentions
  226. We Still Dream – Chapters
  227. Wilco – The Whole Love
  228. William Control – Novus Ordo Selcorum
  229. Wim – Wim
  230. The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing
  231. The Xcerts – Scatterbrain
  232. Yellowcard – When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes
  233. You, Me And Everyone We Know – Things Are Really Weird RIght Now (EP)
  234. Young Statues – Young Statues
  235. Young The Giant – Young The Giant
  236. Various Artists – The American Scene / Daybreaker (Split)
  237. Various Artists – Fences / Mansions (Split)
  238. Various Artists – Germs Of Perfection: A Tribute To Bad Religion
  239. Various Artists – Handguns / Forever Came Calling (Split)
  240. Various Artists – Run For Cover: Mixed Signals
  241. Various Artists – The Muppets: The Green Album 
  242. Various Artists – Never Shout Never And The Maine (Split)
  243. Various Artists – Punk Goes Pop 4
  244. Various Artists – SPIN Presents Newermind: A Tribute Album
  245. Various Artists – Such Gold / A Loss For Words (Split)
  246. Various Artists – Such Gold / Into It. Over It. (Split)
  247. Various Artists – A Tribute To Alkaline Trio
  248. Various Artists – Vs. The Earthquake
  249. Various Artists – Motion City Soundtrack / Trampled By Turtles (Split)
  250. Various Artists – Fueled By Ramen Winter Rarities Vol. 2

Simple Math 2011

Manchester Orchestra – “Simple Math”

One thing I’ve learned this year is that to be part of the critical conversation, you basically have to choose to play in the same corner of the sandbox as everybody else, even if the toys there kinda suck. I don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture, and I don’t know whether it’s correlation or causation, but it seems that as a general rule, the people who are interested in a critical dialogue about music are by and large also interested in rather specific genres (and largely only in those genres) of music.  There’s a very clearly- and rather narrowly-circumscribed Canon Of The Now; its contents are ever-changing, but it’s always almost instantly apparent what’s In and what’s Out.

This year, for really the first time, I took it upon myself to engage that community in some way.  Generally by just sort of inserting myself into the conversation, but hey, I’m not above kicking down a door or two if that’s what it takes to get into the party.  (Which is not to say I’ve ruffled feathers merely for the sake of ruffling feathers; I’d at least like to think I’m above that.)  But, really, ultimately, I’m much more interested in bringing the kids over to play in my corner for a while.  I’m not sure they’ll bite; maybe I just need to really do a good job of pointing out just how interesting this corner is. Maybe I just need to find new friends to join me over here, ones who are equally unpleased with the dirty, overchurned sand over there.  Whichever of those it is, it starts with elevating the level of critical discussion of the music I’m interested in discussing; if I have a goal for 2012, that’s it.

But perhaps the biggest issue of all this is simply one of time: there’s only so much time to listen to music, only so much time to spend relistening to and really examining it, only so much time to write about it and go through that process that often generates two new ideas in my head for each one I lay out in text.  And there are so many releases that it’s quite literally not possible to have a deep understanding of more than one or two focal points at a time, and maybe a passing familiarity with a few more.  Simple math says you can’t get to it all.*

There’s actually been some discussion this past week about genre-dabblers and “token” albums – how many other r&b albums have people who love The Weeknd listened to this year? how many other hardcore albums have people who put Fucked Up’s “David Comes To Life” in their year-end lists listened to? – and I’ll admit I’ve snarked it up a bit there.  Really, though, token albums are a godsend; they’re a way to ensure you’re at least getting good stuff (if not the best stuff) from a genre you’d be missing out on entirely otherwise.  It’s not a flaw to only have a shallow understanding of certain genres; it’s a fact of life in a universe where time is finite but human creativity is near-infinite.  Which is why it seems a somewhat Sisyphean challenge to bring people over to music they might not give critical time to otherwise, but I think it’s one I’m up for.  If you spend your life tilting at windmills, but people still tell your story half a millenium later, well then maybe you were winning after all.

The irony, of course, is that this blog is specifically not intended for that kind of critical examination and dialogue; this place exists, or at least has come to exist, more for personal storytelling.  Most of that discussion, for me, happens elsewhere: my personal twitter, my personal tumblr, even to a degree in my reviews at PropertyOfZack.  I’m still working out how, or if, I want to integrate all of these together in the coming year.  I do know that one of my goals is to expand my writing to other places, and with that I’d like to push myself into other kinds of writing as well.  And ultimately, that means writing more.  It’s something I’ve intentionally carved out time for recently, but now the hard part – pushing myself to use that time to write, and not either wasting it or spending it on valuable-but-other things – begins.

*(Tomorrow, in Simple Math Part II, I’ll actually dig into the numbers)

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