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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
Micro Reviews of All My CDs (in alphabetic order) 
22nd-Oct-2008 10:00 pm
pentacle disc
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. -- Frank Zappa

Some facts about my music collection:
  • In the past ten years, I have legitimately acquired nearly 500 albums of music.
  • The vast majority of these CDs I purchased used at one of the many fine independent music retailers in the Boulder/Denver area. I hope the RIAA takes note of the fact that when I buy a CD, I'm often inspired to do so by an unauthorized mp3 I downloaded in college.
  • I bring eight CDs to work each day and use the number I listen to as a productivity metric. If I don't spend much time listening to music in a day, I probably didn't spend much time programming. The converse is not necessarily true, though.
  • I select some albums on workday mornings much more often than other albums. In fact, I own CDs I didn't listen to for over four years.
  • I am running out of shelf space to file new CD acquisitions.

In light of the last two items, I decided in May that I should listen to all of my CDs so I could decide which to get rid of and which to listen to more often. Since I didn't think I would remember how I felt about each album five months later, I wrote a very brief review of each album in alphabetic order. Perhaps this 200KB of obsessive compulsion will be useful to someone else on the Internet. If any reviews pique your interest, let me know and I'll try to get you a copy on the condition that you don't use it as an excuse not to patronize your local record store.

Final reflections:
  • I indeed have some albums I'd incorrectly assumed were New Age crap. I also have some albums that are in fact New Age crap. (To be fair, I also have other crap. I bought a hair metal album before I knew what that meant because I liked the band's name.)
  • Symphonic rock covers are neither good symphonic music nor good rock music. With one exception (Us and Them), I have no reason to keep any of this abomination to human ears.
  • I realized halfway through the project that listing genres might help. However, some of the music I like is tough to classify and besides, I didn't want to provide it for just half of the artists. Maybe I'll add them all in a fury of boredom sometime.
  • Sometimes it's hard to come up with something distinct to say about an album. Sometimes this is because the music affects me in nonverbal ways. Sometimes that's because it's yet another Rush album.
  • Some music is very good, but not well suited for getting work done. One key factor is how well I know the album, making it hard for CDs to break into rotation.
  • I would love for rock to make up a smaller percentage of my collection, but I can never remember the names of awesome artists on my ethnic music compilations. Not that record stores usually have much flamenco or Arabic groove in stock.
23rd-Oct-2008 05:38 am (UTC)
So wait. You don't own ANY They Might Be Giants?! This is a travesty beyond all imagining.
23rd-Oct-2008 05:51 am (UTC)
Note that an album's absence from this list doesn't mean I don't listen to it. I have over 75 days worth of material on iTunes which I do not wish to review at this time. In many cases, I downloaded or borrowed a popular album from a band and was then inspired to buy their other CDs.
I have eight hours of TMBG mp3s. Unfortunately, they seem to require rapt listening to fully appreciate so when they slide through on shuffle it's out of context and doesn't come to the fore when I ask "What should I listen to next?" (Note: This doesn't apply to catchy songs like Why Does The Sun Shine?, I Palindrome I, Istanbul, Don't Let's Start, et al.)
23rd-Oct-2008 07:56 am (UTC)
After just a very quick skimming of that list, I've discovered that I really like your taste in punk rock, arena rock, and various other forms of rock/metal. Having stated that -- if you've got any recommendations, I'm interested. :D
29th-Oct-2008 05:18 am (UTC)
How well do you know the bands that planted the seeds of punk and other alternative rock? Sonic Youth, The Clash, The Velvet Underground/Lou Reed, Captain Beefheart...

Definitely check out Lunch Hour with Johnny Trash (early-punkish, Sunday noon to 2) and Under The Mattress (Sunday 4 to 6) on Radio 1190 AM.
23rd-Oct-2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
1. I think you and I are the only ones on the internet who know how to spell "pique my interest."

2. I totally agree about familiar CDs being better for working. For programming I also do well with electronic music, particularly house or breaks. Something with a heavy beat.

3. The list will be useful to me the next time I go to Bart's... There's certainly stuff on there I've forgotten I want.

4. Any suggestions for a winter solstice-themed album that isn't new-age crap?
29th-Oct-2008 05:33 am (UTC)
Re: 1 -- The opposite of the alternative spelling, I suppose, is "Flatline my interest."

Re: 2 -- I wonder if one could write a random productivity electronica generator. A couple slider bars to account for mood and you're always ready to get to work.

Re: 4 -- It's hard enough finding Christmas-themed albums that aren't crap, let alone lesser-celebrated holidays. Loreena McKennitt's two albums A Winter Garden and To Drive the Long Winter Away aren't necessarily solstice-themed, but at least have the right mood. The Winter Solarbration always starts off with a round of Christmas carols with heathen words, some of which are quite good; well above par for filk. And while Neo-Pagans are good at coming up with chants, whole songs don't seem to be our thing.

Noel Sing We Clear is one of my family's favorite Christmas albums. It's a great British chorus doing all sorts of lively songs you've never heard of. I also like John Fahey's The New Possibility: Guitar Soli Christmas Album, which is instrumental guitar.
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