I Miss Spending Time With The Album

By Will Oliver, October 5th 2010 — with 38 comments Feature

I decided to rant about my frustrations found with the “disposable” nature of our music culture. Sorry that it’s so long:

I love music. I don’t know how it become such an essential part of my life. I can’t play any instrument. My parents never influenced me in any way. It just happened.

I love music so much I started a music blog in order to find a place where I could spill out all of my favorite songs and new discoveries. I expected my friends to maybe read it, but that was about it. I never expected people to read my site daily. I never expected to befriend other great bloggers and even great bands. However, all this has happened to me somehow, and I’m very fortunate.

I always have had a pretty large music collection. I have hundreds of CD stacked in my room making a mess out of my shelves. I also have an ever growing record collection. I get more music than I can even listen to now with the start of this blog. I was already bad enough when I bought albums. I would buy albums based on word of mouth or good reviews and often, they would just sit there. Truth be told, I never really had time to listen to everything that was out there. I still don’t. However, more & more music comes piling in. It doesn’t stop.

You don’t need to be a music blogger to notice this. There’s an absurd amount of new music constantly being pumped out of artists. It’s impossible to keep up. Even if you do somehow stay a float in the myriad of new releases, are you really spending time with records? I bring this to your attention because I’m afraid to say I don’t know if I am anymore.

I find myself drowning deeper and deeper with new albums, new songs, new artists, and hell…even WAYS of finding music. Each day it seems like there’s a hot new buzz band, or a new album from an artist that you could have sworn just released one months ago. Then you have that older band releasing their comeback album. Then you want to dive back and give The Beatles a listen.

My point is, holy shit there’s a lot of music. With blogging, I’m constantly finding myself looking for new music because I love the discovery. However, another part of my new-found job as a blogger is keeping up. New bands will never stop coming.

There have been a lot of good albums in 2010. Some we can even call great. However, upon reflection, I realized I wasn’t getting to know these records very well. I’m jumping from new release to new release like it’s nothing. I was thinking of how I used to spend weeks with an album like Illinois, and it would literally be the soundtrack of my cold winter nights falling in love for the first time. It was a part of me.

While there have been tons and tons of solid albums, I don’t know how many I have let into my life the same way, and it pains me. I love music, but I don’t know if I love how disposable it’s all come.

I think I need to slow down and get myself to focus on spending more time with albums, and less with the kiss kiss, bang bang, nature of this new music culture.

You’re probably lying if this is not a problem for you. If it isn’t then god bless. I just want to slow down sometimes and just divulge in a few albums and get to know them like I used to. There’s so much great music out there, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem the same.

Please leave comments with your thoughts & feelings on this.

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Bruce Warren
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Bruce Warren

Great article. I had a similar feeling about four or five years ago and decided that part of my “challenge” was that I needed a “get back to being a fan” plan and to spend more time as a fan with music than I do as a music industry person just sort of processing music for my “job.” Sometimes it is VERY easy to get co-opted by the “professional” part of what you’re doing and all of a sudden there’s not much difference between being a fan and just another brick in industry wall. So, set aside some fan time.… Read more »

Brian
Guest

In the 00’s, as cassette culture began to reflurish thanks to the noise/DIY scene (and most popularly, Wolf Eyes), I loved that this affordable medium was helping creating a sense that noise was a folk art. In other words, that noise was something for everyone to participate in; and anti-elitism. The evolution of this mass into free, downloadable albums is really positive to me in an environmental and financial sense, but I agree it creates this feeling that everything is disposable even when it is great. This disposable aspect existed/exists for the cassette realm as well, but since you have… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

Loved the article, have the EXACT same feeling. It seems there is an almost constant stream of new artists, albums and songs being released every day. Just to stay afloat you have to avoid dwelling on older releases. I think that the “newness” of a song has a huge impact on the listener, as opposed to how good it actually is. By that I mean that an old song might be great, but the excitement of listening to something new and foreign temporarily clouds a listener’s perception of a song. Dunno. Lately there’s just been a disconnect between my life… Read more »

ted
Guest

I agree with you. I’ve been discussing this lately with friends and family. I miss the album — sure there are clunkers on every album, but the album represents an experience that is lost when you buy the single off of iTunes. Singles come and singles go — and with them bands. You learn more about a band listening to their albums. You get a better sense for their motivations, their interests, their outlook on life — if not for their whole lives, then at least for that time period in which the album was created. I think that themes… Read more »

Derek
Guest

I think since you’ve chosen to run a music a blog, there are expedited external pressures on you to listen, evaluate and reflect. In any case, we’re all feeling the effects of the rapidly changing technological-based music climate, whereby artists have increased opportunities to record, produce and distribute music. That combined with the instant accessibility that the internet has provided have certainly changed the way that the majority of people will forever listen to music… Although it’s unfortunate that most of us aren’t able to afford/find the time to enjoy the pleasure of putting the needle down on freshly bought… Read more »

Natalie
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Natalie

I don’t know how you even keep up with yourself, let alone the whole music world. For me, I can only deal with one or two albums. I nurse them for weeks. It’s beautiful.

Sam
Guest

I think it’s when listening becomes a business that it makes it really difficult for albums to break through. I know I’ve listened to albums just to get through them–and I’ve listened to more albums this year than any other. Digitally, my collection is huge and has a lot of fluff, stuff I don’t really care about. But there are still definitely stand-outs, and it’s the stand outs that I buy on vinyl, which keeps that collection something very special for me and that’s helped me keep some value in my music. It helps that there’s something very different about… Read more »

Corey
Guest

Awesome post man. I think you’re right when you say our culture is just kiss kiss and then move “on to the next one”. It’s not even about albums anymore, its just about producing a single that will make an artist cash in. In a way, it’s kind of like relationships with women. Kind of. It’s easy to find a find a fine woman to have a sex with and bounce. It’s hard to find a woman to make love to and be committed for the rest of your life. Remember, I said kind of.

Paul
Guest

Good thing: the matter is in your hand. Just decide what you like the most.
Good news: you can even have a successful blog not sticking to the news. Aquarium Drunkard is probably the best example out there.

Erik Burg
Guest

I think you’re absolutely right Will, as a fellow blogger myself (though not on your scale), I feel these same kinds of pressures each day. Every morning as I wade through my inbox and rss feeds I feel like I’m doing something wrong when I gloss over new tracks that are championed as “fresh” “new” and the like. But I think this is how our music scene has changed (yes “ours” as blogs are now the records labels in the case of this music); what we have now are Singles and short EPs plastered on Bandcamp and ready for the… Read more »

Jack Conway
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Jack Conway

I think what you are touching on here is truly a feeling so many come to realize in today’s music society. Many complain there isn’t enough music out there that is worthwhile, I, as many other people, have been met with too much talent spilling from so many different bands. Too much to where I am losing sight of sitting down to listen to an album constantly but now taking slight breaks for a brief listen then moving on to the next great thing merely to say I am well acquainted with this ever-changing scene. Is there a solution?

Benoit
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Benoit

I feel the way that you do! It scares me sometimes. I’m beginning to get tired of listening to an album when I listen to it three days in a row. My musical brain is getting used to changing from day to day.
Maybe it’s like the modern days are : fast, changing every day, we can’t concentrate on one thing in particular, our brain is everywhere at the same time. I don’t know when or where it’s gonna end, but it’s kind of scary!

AOTW
Guest

You make such a great point dude: it really IS hard to find the time to actually sit down and listen to an album, amidst the frantic influx of new tunes and bands and visuals to get your head around on a daily (hourly?) basis. Sometimes with blogging about music we can be our own worst enemy – not taking the time to have a real emotional relationship with the artists or the albums we really love in our haste to get our latest discoveries heard by other people. What we’ve got to do is ease back into that space… Read more »

Sam D
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Sam D

If there were a nail to hit on the head, it’d be hurting right now. I find myself having to consciously take hype machine breaks to listen to Sgt Pepper’s. I especially realized how much I missed the concept of the album when Miike Snow came on shuffle. I had had their CD in my car for a couple months straight a while ago and hearing just brought me back to that time entirely.

I’m not gonna waste more of your time with any more personal drabble though, I just agree completely. Thanks for loving music as much as I do.

Chris
Guest

Tis very true. Everybody has really made great points. The problem that I find myself encountering is since there is so sooo much new music out there, it has to REALLY impress me on it’s first listen for me to return — or offer some bit of alluring mystery to it — which I’m consciously not really cool with. There have been a ton of great records that I’ve had to spend a bit of time with to allow them to actually “grow” on me — hell, I remember there being a time where I didn’t get Morrissey’s voice, now… Read more »

tankboy
Guest

I’ve written about music for going on 20 years now, and never before have I had to dig through so much. And yes, we are losing the simple pleasure of — and critical acuity provided by — submerging ourselves in whole albums for extended periods of time. And that is a tragedy. And yes, maybe it is time to proactively work to turn that tide back the other way, as much as is possible on this brand new landscape.

Mich
Guest

I completely agree. This year I took a major step back from trying to listen to as much new music as I could and went back to truly enjoying just a few. I’m happier. I like music again. The magic of truly stumbling upon something great is back. It started to feel so forced that I wasnt having fun anymore, and that is how I know when to walk away, or at least take a major step back. I may not become the career writer I dreamed of, but there is more heart and quality in my fewer pieces these… Read more »

juliaL49
Guest

Really great post and I feel the same – well more as a reader but still. I have gigabytes of (free) downloads accumulated that I never listen to. So three years ago I started a little project that I have repeated every year since: for three months I buy no music (and no dvds but that is a different subject) and listen to albums I already own more intensly like I used to. This year though the effect was muddled a bit by Spotify but it still works. In the beginning I still had the nagging feeling if I was… Read more »

Jayden
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Jayden

“Music is the vernacular of the human soul.” – Geoffrey Latham Truthfully, I’m surprised; after being sincerely interested and up to date with this blog, I would think you’re the complete opposite of what you’re currently putting into context. I will only listen to the band/artist unless I enjoy the full LP/EP. Music has been there for me throughout the hardest and most emotional times in my life. Whether it do with females, family, distresses and life troubles. When I listen to music I never listen to one track, I have to listen to the full album, on top of… Read more »

Robby
Guest

I agree 100%, miss the time when you actually saved up your money to go and but that ONE album and you just listen to it and you found out all the the things that made it that record, everything that made it so great. You took YOUR time. Great records will still come and go, but no GREAT records will ever be released again…

chris
Guest

So true. I was just thinking about this today as I looked at the ever growing list of albums that I’ve been trying to get around to listening to, meanwhile all the albums before have only gotten a few listens. I think I have a favorite album of the year though, and it is no coincidence that it’s the one that I’ve been able to spend the most time with. But I guess the problem is that I don’t know what to do about it, because when 10 people tell me how great an album is, I certainly want to… Read more »

THE RECOMMENDER BLOG
Guest

Music bloggers are busy folk, often holding down ‘real’ jobs, or school careers, whilst attempting to blog every day. In order to find new content to blog about you have to search music out and that often takes a lot of time, so all in all in it sounds as though it’s a time issue. This is particularly problematic if the blogger tries to be first, or simply not late, with the bands they’re writing about. To keep on top of it all it seems the chase is constantly on, forcing the blogger to put down what they were looking… Read more »

thomas
Guest
thomas

this was wonderful.
we live in a society that doesn’t appreciate “ALBUMS” in the first place. Singles are all that really matter these days. I’m a big fan of spending days and days obsessing over an album like Illinoise or In Ear Park, or Pet Sounds or whathaveyou.
my point being that even though we live in an age where the music business is dead, and ‘good’ music really is hard to find, im glad that people can still appreciate the art of a wonderful album

Double Hawk
Guest

I found that once I started my blog and began reviewing music, I spent so much more time with the album than I would have normally. Usually, I would just listen to the one song I bought the CD for or just listen to it once and never again. But when I write reviews, I have to listen to the album several times to really get an honest/accurate review of it. My favorite albums that I still to this day play on repeat were discovered and processed that way. I haven’t reviewed as much recently and I find that that… Read more »

Nina
Guest
Nina

Up until high school it was all about the album for me — playing The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Squeeze, The Band, Marshall Crenshaw, The Grateful Dead (I’m an oldies dork)…I only had physical CDs of these bands, and an old Walkman, and that’s how I listened to music. But come high school and mp3 players, I turned to the internet and lost touch with connecting songs with albums. I don’t know whether this was a good thing or a bad thing (or just a thing thing) but I tended to forget about bands and songs once they… Read more »

Eliza
Guest
Eliza

I love the album. I really do. But do you think that because albums are so easy to churn out in the modern music world that quality has gone down? It’s hard to listen to full albums sometimes because only a few songs are worth it. I think there have been a handful of albums this year that have three or four really good songs. I miss the days when I felt attached to every single track. I also feel that so much of music culture today is focused on consumption rather than on digestion. There is pressure to go… Read more »

Bencky@msn.com
Guest

Wow…I Had The Same Feeling…Yesterday October 6th…haha what a coincidence! i definitely agree with you, there’s no such thing like listening to an album and havin the feelin that it grows on you and you know you’ll listen to it for the next 3 weeks because it’s just getting better! (sorry for my english i usually speak french)

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Just adding to the chorus that appreciates the post and agrees with the sentiment. I spend a lot of time with my music. It’s playing through my computer most of my work day, in the car on the way home, in my ears when I walk the dogs, and on my nightstand when I fall asleep. In all that time with my music, I am constantly rethinking what I’m playing, wishing I had more time to really listen to a new artist, and regretting leaving behind cherished favorites. There just isn’t enough time in the day for all the music… Read more »

Teri
Guest

I still put CD’s in may car with only one or two options to choose from. I forces me to listen and develop a relationship with the music and consequently forces my kids to do so as well!

Jessi
Guest
Jessi

I feel the exact same way. I find that I sometimes have to shut my brain off, lock myself in a dark, cold room and force myself to listen to one or two records over and over again. At least I know I’m not alone in this!

kat
Guest
kat

Want to agree with you entirely.I work in the music industry within the a&r field and music supervision, but unlike many folk, where it’s about capitol gain – I agree with you entirely. There is a strong lack of focus on the the listening of the album from start to finish. It is totally unfortunate, a hit for me isn’t the one song that gets radio play, and media exposure. A hit is the memory that remains of the music ten years after…something that is created by sitting with an album…not through a click, download, save it to the latest… Read more »

Michael
Guest
Michael

Agreed. I often finding myself compiling to do lists for new albums that I need to listen to. I then often find myself listening to it just once or twice so that I can say I crossed it off the list. I’m not getting the full experience I don’t think, which is probably a shame because I’m sure there’s some really good stuff that I’ve probably missed out on because of this.

Markus
Guest
Markus

Hi Will, I agree with you. I would describe myself as a an “after-work” listener and my Last.fm accounts tells me that my daily listenings are at an average of 22 Songs. After work I get home, have dinner and get to check Mails, Facebook, Music Blogs etc. . I discovered with your help some really good stuff that I wouldn`t miss anymore. I have difficulties to really get trough the amount of new&fresh stuff that are out there in the blogosphere. I follow 5-6 music blogs (PMA, Indieshuffle, etc.) and every day there is a new hot fresh must… Read more »

Desolatejoy
Guest
Desolatejoy

Hi Will, It’s heart warming to see your piece getting such a strong & positive response. As you have said it goes to show that there are alot of music fans, who differ in the way they digest tunes, but are feeling the way you expressed in your writing. For my part ,as someone who regularly consumes their musical input via the internet or radio, it seems that the industry has lost a way to regulate itself. At a time where there is no commercially strong scene or dominant rock/indie group(s) major labels have swaned off to Pop-sville where they… Read more »




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