The last concert I attended was November 15, 2019. It was my 17th show of the year. My friend Aric and I went for just the opening act, 100 gecs, a Hyperpop band that was gaining notoriety. Had I known that might be the last live show I would see for at least 18 months, I would have stayed to soak in as much as I could.
I produced a 12 page book summarizing my findings. It is a limited edition of 200 copies with some of the charts above and more. It was printed on a risograph and looks really amazing. Order a copy of the book here.
Since 2010, I have been tracking and measuring different aspects of my music listening habits. In 2018, inspired by Steven Soderberg’s Seen/Read tracking and Jason Kottke’s Media Diet posts, I branched out beyond music to track all of the media I consumed. A picture of my media intake would provide context for understanding music’s place in my life.
2019 marks the end of a decade of deliberate listening, intense tracking of my listening, and better perspective on my relationship with music.
Laura Gibson at Cactus Cafe (Dana Falconberry opening)
Jeff Tweedy at Paramount Theater (Buck Meek opening)
illuminati hotties at Beerland (SXSW)
Tamino at The Bungalow (SXSW)
Broken Social Scene performing You Forgot It In People at The Bungalow (SXSW)
Japanese Breakfast at Mohawk (SXSW)
Hand Habits at Mohawk
Molly Burch came out and they did a Fleetwood Mac song
Will Johnson at Cactus Cafe (Little Mazarn opening)
Lucy Dacus at Moody Theater (ACL taping)
Bill Callahan at…
It was my first night out of SXSW 2018 and like most years, I had a long list of bands I was hoping to see. At the top of the list was Sudan Archives — an LA based violinist and vocalist. They were playing that night in the inside room at The Mohawk and I was intent on making it. My hopes were high. I had already started plotting out how to see them a second time later in the week, even before seeing the first performance.
As I had hoped, the show was great. The songs translated really well…
A print version of this analysis can be found here.
On April 7, 2018 at 12:00 AM, Spotify placed Mythological Beauty by Big Thief on that week’s Release Radar playlist. It was the first time I was recommended a song from Capacity, the album that would go on to become my favorite of the year. The last time I took a deep look into music discovery was in 2011. That year my favorite album of the year was recommended to me by the clerk at Slowtrain Records, which is now closed down.
In 2017, I became aware of some biases in the music I listen to. To start off 2018, I made a deliberate effort to get outside of the somewhat narrow slice music that I listen to. I took a page out of Wesley Morris’ summer and for the first two months of the year I only listened to musicians of color.
I noticed that my media bubble and recommendation algorithms were working against me. Tuned to feed me more of the same old, reliable, indie rock that I’ve listened to for decades, it was hard to break out. I pruned…
The debate over lyrics vs melody has been going on since the first musician put words to a song. Or maybe it was a poet who put music to their verse. Ever since, there have been many arguing that lyrics are the most important and others defending the merits of melody. I have always found myself on the lyrics side of the line. In 2016, I analyzed the lyrics from the songs I heard to see what the lyrical data revealed about me as a listener.
Every year that musicians continue to make music is a great year. I love music, especially new music. There are few feelings like that of putting on something you’ve never heard before and hearing it unfold for the first time.
This year had it’s own character. I took a lot more chances on musicians that I would have missed in previous years and took recommendations from a lot of different people (no less than 45 different sources). My year in music was better for it. Here are some of the highlights.
How much of songwriting comes from the heart? How much comes from the brain? Do songwriters follow any sort of best practices? Do they have a measurable style? Are there other quantifiable aspects of a lyricist? What data could help us decode songwriting?
Every songwriter has an opinion on the importance of lyrics but most arguments fit into two camps — compose words because of their meaning or arrange them based on the sound they make and the feelings they evoke. The narrative songwriter…
This year in music had some low lows and some high highs. So many great musicians left us: Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Guy Clark, Merle Haggard to name a few. So many great new albums came into the world. This list is to celebrate the latter. In tabulating my list, contrary to my other data-obsessive tendencies, I employ no scientific process nor rigorous criteria. It’s a qualitative list built from a year of listening and a couple weeks of condensing, down to the ten albums I liked the most. …