Last spring, I attempted to start a recurring feature that used my tendency to play single songs on repeat for good and intentionally listen to more new releases. It lasted for a few months, but old habits die hard. I couldn’t keep up with the releases. There were just too many: too many I wasn’t interested in, too many in a single week, any other excuse you could make up.
In order to maintain that spirit of musical exploration, but with the comfort of choosing what I’m actually curious about and without the strict time constraint, I started a personal project at the beginning of the year in which I listen to a new album in full every day. There aren’t many rules, just that I can’t have listened to it before. Something about calling it a project and making a spreadsheet and taking notes makes me accountable. That responsibility holds me to it, but the reward of discovering something unexpected or returning to my favorites with an ear for new details lets me enjoy.
No music exists in a vacuum. Artists leaning on their influences, taking part in multiple projects, or even just releasing music at the right time and place creates a web of relations that I’ve been getting to know a little piece of. Expanding that mental musical network has easily been a highlight just one month into this. I won’t say much more, but here are some notes and assorted takes for January:
- Amoeba’s “What’s In My Bag?” videos are good sources of suggestions. I would strongly recommend listening to your fave artists’ selections for their insight, or for the reminder that celebrities are humans, too.
- I listened to three Arthur Russell albums. Long overdue, very educational, certainly a standout.
- The new James Blake was probably the most talked about release in my circles. It was nice to hear some life in his music after The Colour in Anything, but Toro Y Moi’s Outer Peace emerges as my favorite new release based on the fact that I kept listening to it.
- I theorized that pop and electronic music offered the best releases of 2018. After catching up on some albums I had missed out on, can confirm.
- Wasted a day on Maggie Rogers tbh.
- Listened to more Dirty Projectors than I would ever be willing to admit. Only thing I got out of that was being able to clock Dave Longstreth contributions to the new Vampire Weekend songs without reading the credits. And that’s not any kind of flex.
Everything I listened to:
Selections in chronological order and other things on rotation: