2018 Music Challenge

Once again, I find myself wondering what the fuck I was ever going to do with all the god damn music I have accumulated over the years on my hard drive. Listen to an album week for the whole year, of course.

Was I successful?! Enough prep work can do wondrous things.

The rules were simple enough. Every week I had to listen to a single album. I could listen to other things in the meantime, but by the week’s end, that album had to be listened to, completely. Well enough to develop a quick opinion about it.

The ultimate judgement of these albums will be: will it remain on my phone.

January

Week 1 (Monday, 1st Jan)-

Tom Petty – Wildflowers

I picked this album first because Tom Petty was one of those artists I considered myself a ‘fan’ of without really doing the fucking work. It was completely undeserved. So I wanted to rectify this.

The album was different than what I was expecting. It was a little softer, and not nearly as weird. Not unpleasant though, would certainly do more Tom Petty later on.

I like some songs enough for me to think that I may keep this one on.

Week 2

Arvo Part –

I have no idea what this album is named. Let’s just call it Estonian Philharmonic music. Or gothicy Christmas time church music. The most puzzling thing about this album was that I actually felt that I knew some of the music on it.

It wasn’t bad but I really need to think about the mood with which I would listen to this music. If I were some kind of super villain I could see myself listening to this musc while sulking and brooding over my tragic backstory.

But in normal situations? No. Deleted after first listen.

Week 3

Gnarles Barkley – St. Elsewhere

I had no idea how great this album is. I put it on not knowing what to expect and found myself enjoying every single track.  I can easily see this staying on my phone for some time.

Week 4

Stromae – Cheese

This, on the other hand, was awful. I am not above admitting that I am a sucker for one hit wonders.  I also do not feel I need to support an artist by buying an album when a song will suffice. Here, I am certainly glad I never purchased the album. The one song I liked on it (if you guessed Alors on Danse then give yourself a sticker) is still great. Shame the rest of the album isn’t.

Week 5

The Smiths – The Queen is Dead

This one was weird. I wouldn’t call the music bad in any way, but it just wasn’t for me. I just can’t envisage  situation where this is what I would want to listen to. Each individual track is catchy in its own respect, and pretty damn cool.  But cool in a dated, 1980’s kind of way that has not aged like a fine wine.

As a bonus, I now know what the fuck people are talking about when they nominate Morrissey.

That is until the last track. I heard that and laughed my dick off. Not sure what they were thinking there.

February

Week 6 (5th Feb) 

Control Machete – Artilleria Pesada

Control Machete was a pretty memorable album from last year’s music challenge, and when I saw that I had another of their albums on my hard drive, I was more than happy to give it a whirl. I can’t say I was disappointed by it, but it didn’t grab me as much as it did last year. Admittedly, I didn’t get as many chances to listen to it as I did the other album, so there might be that. I can see myself returning to this album later, so it is staying on the phone for now.

Week 7

Duke Ellington – Forever Gold

This really wasn’t at all like listening to a new album. I swear I felt that I knew every single track on it – and I likely did. But up until that point I couldn’t codify these songs as being by Duke Ellington, so there has been some worth to it all. The songs are great, but there doesn’t seem to be any cohesion in the album as a whole. I could see myself keeping it on my phone for a while.

Week 8

Jay Z – The Black Album

I am pretty sure I got a raised eyebrow when I told someone that I had never listened to this album. In my defence, I actually had been living under a rock for some time.  This album was great, and every song on it was pretty damn good. However as a whole the album didn’t flow for me. It was a great collection of songs, but it felt disjointed as an album.

Week 9

Segovia – The Great Master

Almost immediately into my listening of this album I wondered if I was going to even realize when the album looped and started playing from the beginning. Classical music has that saminess to it that makes me fairly unsure whether it actually exists or is in fact all just one song and no one ever noticed. That being said, it really calmed the shit out of my morning road rage filled commute. It’s hard to berate the sexual practices of strangers when listening to soothing guitar music.

That being said, this was great background music but I don’t see myself seeking it out.

March

Week 10 (5th March) 

Κακo Συναπαντημα – Κακo Συναπαντημα

So this challenge was partially inspired by a desire to ‘burn through’ a bunch of albums I had on my computer for years and never got around to listening. I potentially had Κακο Συναπαντημα on my computer for the better part of a decade. I maybe heard one song from it and somehow got the whole CD.

I couldn’t bother to listen to this more than once. I know I have said this a few times already, but this album felt like the same song over and over again.

I guess there was a reason I never listened to it.

Week 11

Animal Collective – Water Curses

I don’t often beleive in intuition, but walking to my car to listen to this I got the feeling that this was going to be exactly the kind of music my sorta-stoner friend likes. I was exactly right.

I really liked this music in a way that is hard to explain. Despite the fact that this was music that would be much better on drugs and I was clearly sober, I found this really enjoyable.

Week 12

Beck – Odelay

This album was meant to fill a hole in my knowledge. I had heard of Beck, but I honestly could not have put a face to the name in any noticeable way.  And considering how big a name he was, I was glad I did it.

If asked to describe this album, I would say it was very 1990’s. If pressed further about that comment, I would have to admit that I have no idea if that is a positive or negative attribute. It merely is.  I have no idea what the big deal about this album is, or what the big deal about Beck is. I was pretty happy when that one song I knew before hand came up. I have already forgotten the rest of the album.

Week 13

Mano Negra – Casa Babylon

I’m shocking no one in the world be saying that this is here only because of Manu Chao. But there is something odd about this album. I first got into Manu Chao via his album Clandestino. When I got around to the next album Proxima Estacion: Esperanza I found myself disappointed by the fact that it felt far too samey as his first album. It was just more of the same.

So why in the fuck then was I disappointed by this album? It was kinda Clandestino but it had a bit of something else. I dunno. It just felt like it was not there yet. Like a cake that is still a little raw.

April

Week 14 (2nd April)

Don Byas Howard McGhee – Bebop: Jazz in Paris

This is another one deep from the bowels of I have no idea. It is what it says on the tin: Jazz. And like the Duke Ellington album from a month or so ago, I was pretty uninspired by it. I mean it wasn’t bad, but I don’t see myself ever actively wanting to find this music. It was just background stuff.

The song Cement Mixer on this album might be the new winner in the ‘all time dumbest lyrics’ contest. Anyone who complains that modern music is stupid should be made to listen to this track.

Week 15

Dr. Demento – The Very Best of

Is this a music album? It might not be. It might qualify as something else entirely.  But it was given to me with a bunch of musical albums, and it was largely musical in nature (though the primary genre would be comedy), so let’s count it.

There is something revealing about the fact that I liked this as much as I did. This whole project seems to be proving more and more that I maybe just don’t like music.

Week 16

Kanye West – My Beautiful dark twisted Fantasy

I got weird friends.

I specifically remember the guy who recommended this album to me, and it was expressly because I had mentioned having liked College Dropout. He figured I should give this a whirl. It was interesting to see how Kanye’s career has evolved.

Week 17

Cake – Fashion Nugget

This band is famous, isn’t it. I am fairly sure I have heard some of this before. It sounded very familiar. Don’t know if I am ever going to listen to it again. There is something annoying about how the singer goes about his job. You really hear it in the cover of ‘I will survive’: It sounds like an unenthusiastic karaoke cover. And that is kind of what every song on the album sounds like. An unenthusiastic cover of their own music.

Week 18 (30th April)

Magnetic Fields – Get Lost

I listened to this and I thought it was just more of The Smiths.

I feel like that says everything I need to say about it.

I’ll remind you that I didn’t like The Smiths.

May

Week 19 (May 7th)

The XX – The XX

I really enjoyed this album. It came pretty highly recommended, and I had heard bits and pieces of it before. But the bits I hadn’t heard were really nice as well. Would recommend. I see this one staying on my phone for some time.

Week 20

Jacques Dutronc – Et moi, et moi, et moi

This one was recommended to me by a different friend (and frequent reader of this blog). The recommendation came years ago and I am ashamed to say that in the intermittent time I never managed to listen beyond the first track. Shame, really, as the whole album is rather nice. So if you actually read this far E***, you were right and I should have listened to this ages ago.

Week 21

David Bowie –  The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust

Can you believe I got to the age of 34 without ever listening to this?

Yea, this didn’t blow me away. What the F is the big deal? People talk about Bowie like he was the second coming. Frankly, even the one song I knew from this album (Suffragette City) didn’t blow me away. Meh

Week 22

Goat – World Music

Cool, in a weird way. The songs here were very enjoyable, and they didn’t sound all the same. Considering just how different some of these songs felt from one another, I felt like there was likely an explanation to some of the song choices. Some are obviously covers, and I am wondering if it isn’t called World Music because it isn’t just covers from all around the world.

But I’m busy so I’m not going to bother to do any research on this.

June

Week 23 (4th Jun)

Bjork – Homogenic

I am pretty sure that everyone who reads this blog (both of you) have been to college. And doing so, you very likely had that college creativity phase, where you tried new and weird artistic shit just for its own sake.

That’s what this album feels like, your college creative phase. I mean it is well produced and all, but it has that different for the sake of being different feel to it.

This is going to start sounding repetitive, but I liked this album, just not enough to ever desire putting it on. If it came on I could see myself saying “aw cool i know this,” and I would likely enjoy every second of it. But the likely truth of the matter is I would never put it on of my own volition. It’s like crabcakes. I’ll eat them if they are available, but I don’t crave them. If other things are on the menu, i’ll order something else.

Week 24

Gorillaz – Gorillaz

This was ok. There were some killer tracks on it, but the album seemed to jump around from theme to theme. It seemed to lack cohesion. That tends to bug me in an album. Still, the tracks I liked were really good. It was nice to discover that I didn’t only like the tracks with Del on them.

However, I can’t figure this out what the schick of this album is meant to be. I don’t know why they didn’t just call it “The guy from Blur ft art from Tank Girl” Why create a cartoon band and give them a little story?

Makes no sense.

Week 25

The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You

Meh. This is my dad’s music. Not impressed.

Week 26

Θάνος Μικρούτσικος – Υπέροχα Μονάχοι

I enjoyed this. I might be being a little lenient. It felt at times a bit samey, but I started to wonder if that wasn’t just because my grasp of Greek isn’t all that good. But I did find myself humming some of the songs from this album a few days later. Sounds like success to me!

July

Week 27 (2nd July)

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Catch a Fire

You’re probably thinking ‘why didn’t he listen to Exodus?‘ and the answer is ‘I have no idea’. Maybe cause everyone listens to Exodus.

Anyway, despite not being there most famous album, this one had a fair amount of songs that even I knew. That isn’t too surprising. Altogether it was an enjoyable album. Not sure if it will stay on my hard drive or not.

Week 28

Captain Beefheart – Safe as Milk

You know this one is weird. I liked it a bit, in that it had that occasional weird Tom Waits-ish vibe. But a lot of it, while being still kinda good in some technical sense, felt kind of forgettable.

I think this one is a pass.

Week 29

Silver Apples – Contact

Well this was weird.

The only version of this I could find was of some funky file type I had never heard of (.ape). I managed to converter it to something normal, but it spit back the album in one damn file.  To make it worse, my mp3 player would start it over if it got paused. So i had to listen to this all in one go.

That was annoying. And I don’t know if that affected me or not, but this album felt super long at 1hour:30minutes. It’s unsurprising then that I really enjoyed the first few tracks and started to loath the album towards the end. I did however only manage to listen to the whole thing once.

Maybe I need to give this thing another shake. Some other time.

Week 30

Young Magic – Melt

It was fine, I guess? This sounded like a proto version of Animal Collective. At the end of the week I don’t think I really remembered anything from this album.

Meh.

Week 31

The Mars Volta – De-Loused

You know, doing this music listening project I was starting to think that maybe I just didn’t care about  music anymore. So many things here are getting a ‘meh’ vote. But then there was the Mars Volta.

It made this list because it is often bulked together with music I really enjoy. I have no idea why, because this is complete and utter shit. It’s everything I hate in an album. It is typical of the self-indulgent moaning that I hated about 2000’s era music.

Please, kill it with fire.

August

Week 32 (6th August)

Kraftwerk – Computer World

Ever wonder what the soundtrack to the Cold War was like? It sounds like this. These songs were oddly catchy, particularly for how minimal they felt. I seriously wanted to pop-and-lock listening to this.

Week 33

Beirut – The Lon Gisland EP

I think the most interesting about this EP was how often I had to look up the title to see if I had it spelled correctly. The music was ok, but not really my thing.

Week 34

E.S. Posthumus – Unearthed

Is this the official soundtrack to everything ever made by Warhammer? I think I like the idea of this better than the object itself.

Week 35

The Make-up – Sound Verite

Alright, so this made me think. I was (still am) a really big fan of the 90’s band Soul Coughing. I found that they were much hated by many people, mostly due to Mike Doughty’s ‘awful voice’. I never thought I would subscribe to that mentality. Sure, Doughty’s voice isn’t great, but the music makes up for it.

Ehhmmm.

We kind of had that here with The Make-Up. The lead singer’s voice is awful, perhaps intentionally.  I found it irritating, particularly when he just repeated the same words over and over again. And yet, the music here was really, really good.

September

Week 36 (3rd Sept)

The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo

Why? I know who recommended this to me and he has already been reprimanded. What can I say except no thanks not a fan of country music.

Week 37

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

This was well and truly not what I was expecting. I guess I assumed it would be more heavy metal-ish. I kind of felt that it wasn’t. It felt muted, but not in any way that was bad. It felt like a mood piece, enough so that I almost wondered if it was part of a musical or something (but not enough so that I was curious to actually go check).

I think I have said this before, but this felt like really good mood music for a mood I will never in my life actually be in.

Week 38

The Knife – Silent Shout an Audio Visual Experience

I thought I was getting burned out on this music challenge. Then I hit this.

I don’t know if it just hit my nostalgia button (this music took me back to six or seven years ago, when I didn’t hate my life). I don;t know who gave me this album, or why thy choose a live album specifically, but it had me running for YouTube to hear the studio versions.

Week 39

Mazzy Star – So Tonight That I Might See

Hey!, is this that one track used on Rick and Morty?

Oh, it isn’t…

Hey!, is this that one track used on Rick and Morty?

Oh, it isn’t…

Hey!, is this that one track used on Rick and Morty?

Oh, it isn’t…

This didn’t blow me away, though some of the tracks were very good.

October

Week 40 (1st Oct)

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Oddments

Me:

So I feel like oddments suffers from ‘good songs/bad album” syndrome

The songs are good, but they don’t seem to form an album

Just like stitching together steaks doesn’t get you a cow

Friend (who recommended this album specifically):

Lol. Yea its a collection of B sides so that’s an apt way to describe it

 

Week 41

Portishead – Portishead

I don’t know. I was in a pretty shitty mood this whole week and it is tough to say whether I listened to this fairly or not. I may not have. It sounded like something I should have liked. It had all the hallmarks of shit I like. I’m slating to listen to this again at some point.

Week 42

Stereolab – Dots and Loops

If muzak were a pokemon, Bossa Nova would be the final form of that pokemon. It seems to be the best possible music to put in the background and do your best to ignore. And that is kind of how I felt about this album. It sounded like a really good sound track to a movie absolutely no one was interested in watching.

Week 43

Yusaf Islam – Another Cup

This one had a tough sell. Although anything that my parents introduced to me has a strike against it (for purely personal reasons), I still have some love for Cat Stevens. When I was younger and having a particularly difficult year of my life, I would go to sleep listening to that album.

But this one? Meh. I was pleased when I found that indeed, one song was just a Muslim version of what you would hear in Christian Rock, but was then disappointed by the fact that the same song’s lyrical ambiguity meant that it could be talking about either Mohammad or Jesus.

Week 44

Simon and Garfunkel – Greatest Hits

Alright, I know I have moaned about music from my parents generation, but even I can’t hate on Simon and Garfunkel. They are the real the deal. Particularly, their lyrics do not contain the pop pseudo-poetry that I hate. No, the lyric here are actually pretty good.

However, I can say that this album went against the spirit of what I am doing here because it consisted of nothing but songs I already knew.

November

Week 45 (5th Nov)

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

My reaction when I saw that this was on the list was pretty negative. I thought to myself that surely this was not the kind of music I like. But I put it in anyway and found myself really enjoying  it. It was only then that I realized that I had mistaken ‘My bloody Valentine’ with ‘My Chemical Romance’.

Whoops.

So yea, this was pretty good. I would definitely keep it.

Week 46

LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

I constantly vacillated from liking and disliking this. Some of the lyrics were pretty stupid, but the tunes were catchy. So yea, its a toss up.

EDIT: Maybe I only really like the first song. Everything else was meh.

Week 47

Dead Kennedys – Give me convenience or give me death

Punk is like tofu.

People went on about how good a tofu dish would be in China. It doesn’t matter how good it is, if I don’t like tofu.

That’s how I feel whenever I listen to punk. I’m sure its fine. But its not for me.

Week 48

CAN – Ege Bamyasi

This was rather cacophonous, excepting one song. Pass.

December

Week 49

Curtis Mayfield – Superfly

It’s definitely a good album, but some of the songs felt a little samey. Still, some of the songs on it are great.

Week 50

Daft Punk – Alive

This worked for me. It felt like a good background album to keep on when you had other stuff to do.

Week 51

The Police – Greatest Hits

If the point of all this is to broaden my musical horizons, then this album was a waste of time. I knew every song on this. It’s funny, because I don’t think I ever sat down and listened to The Police before in any organized way.

The Police is the most ubiquitous band ever.

Week 52

Sunsay – Дайвер

Blah. I put this on the list for the one or two songs the youtube algorithm suggested to me and that I enjoyed. But the album over all was pretty meh. Just nothing I was terribly interested in.

 

Fuck, this was exhausting.

AND THE WINNER IS….

Bear in mind that this is tentative. I haven’t had time to digest all the things that I listened to in December, and maybe they will have a really lasting effect. But that being said.

Gold Medal: The Knife. It wasn’t because the album was terribly good (it wasn’t) but listening to it made me hunt out that

Silver Medal: Animal Collective. This album is in my head. Its in there good, and it is not going anywhere.

Bronze Medal: Gorrilaz. This was an album that changed my mind. Before listening to it my thoughts on this band was that they got famous for ‘that one Del song’, and while I still thinks this is true, there are now songs off of this album that I love more than that one Del song.

Let’s do it all again!

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