First quarter listening: artists

Lots more Ke$ha!

Okay, so I did the songs. Next in my cavalcade of music-related geekdom is the artist analysis. Most of it is pretty simple stuff (‘I listened to an album a couple of times’), but humour me, eh? This is the first of what will hopefully be… a number… of quarterly reviews that I can use to spot patterns of listening, trends and longevity, areas of nostalgia etc. Or just a way to pad my post count. Either way, here we are.


Ke$ha (318 plays)

Wow, after the last post, you’ll be super-surprised to learn that the most-listened artist of 2010 q1 is Ke$ha. Bloody hell, what an upset: she only had 15 of my 16 most-played songs of the young year. Well I’ll be. You get the idea. Facetiousness aside, her album is great, and I listened to it a lot. I’ve slowed down now, thankfully. (Later in the post we’ll address what happens when obsessions don’t die down so readily. It gets messy.)

Propagandhi(135 plays)

They are pretty distant second in 2010, but absolutely owned my 2009 in terms of plays. I might one day actually get round to my planned 2009-in-numbers dorkfest, but you know what I’m like when it comes to planning anything. Let’s just say they had 1339 plays and leave it at that for now. They’re the best band in the world, and I think it’d admirable that they were still the second most-listened artist in the fourth quarter after their most recent album (Supporting Caste, in March) had been released. To be quite honest, I can add 30-40 plays to their count at any time without really thinking, such is their quality and staying power. I even like the relatively lame first two albums now.

Paramore (128 plays)

I don’t know why, but I used to think Paramore were Canadian, like Propagandhi. Instead it turns out they’re from Tennessee. Like Ke$ha. Err, and Miley Cyrus, Jay Reatard, His Hero Is Gone and Be Your Own Pet! Now that’s what I call a musically awesome state. At one point, most of their listens came from criminally under-rated sophomore album Riot! (2007). Now, I’m really starting to feel the more traditionally (i.e. second generation, rather than the current third) emo debt album. You know: plaintiveness and sensitivity, rather than melodrama and rocking out. But you already know I think 3rd gen emo has more in common with glam metal than it does any other type of emo. Finally, after initial disappointment, latest album Brand New Eyes is growing on me. I expect this band to surge as the year goes on.

Lady Gaga (98 plays)

I can pretty much guarantee la Gaga will win q2, as I think she’s already added 100 plays to this total since the screengrab was made. The Fame was good, if rather lacking in consistency. The Fame Monster displays outrageous growth, both in terms of overall quality and in variety of sounds. But I’m working on a review of that one. Yeah, that’s how weird I’ve got now. Reviewing Lady Gaga albums apropos of nothing. So I’ll leave most of my fawning for then.

Shining (87 plays)

As I said in the songs round-up, this lot would be a lot higher up if iPhone scrobbling wasn’t outlawed by Apple’s hardware. I seriously listened to this every day in January/February, because the album was imminent, because the then-constant snow put me in mind of the band’s native Norway, and because Blackjazz is the best album of 2010. I also listened to the two great albums preceding it – In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster and Grindstone – once or twice in anticipation. They really need to tour England. Especially now the snow’s gone!

Miley Cyrus and Black Breath (64 plays)

Slightly contrasting artists here, but I’m no snob. If something is worth listening to, I will listen to it. At least half the Cyrus plays (maths was never my strong point) come from the two songs I banged on about in the last post. The one album I do have, Breakout, is rather hit and miss. Some of it is perfectly serviceable pop-punk-pop (the title track especially); some of it is crap (the ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ cover springing immediately to mind); overall it’s surprisingly listenable. The Black Breath is destined to be reviewed by me in the very near future. Suffice to say it’s the best pure thrash album I’ve heard in years, and makes Municipal Waste sound like a set of chancers. Dark, brutal, fast and brilliant. Just wait for the review!

Also, I’d pay to hear a Miley Cyrus & Black Breath album.

Blink-182 (59 plays)
NOFX (46 plays)

The finest exponents of pop-punk. After a youth spent denying the ‘182, and claiming they were just a crap band for kids, I caved and bought Enema of the State (1999) in 2008. Turns out it’s brilliant, and one of the best albums from that year. Were any evidence needed, I’m still listening to it. I think this quarter’s listening was bolstered by my finally buying the following album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. It’s reasonable, but not a patch on the faster, fresher Enema… hmm, that sentence looks so wrong. NOFX are just the masters. Been into them since 1997, the year their magnum opus (the unfortunately- and misdirectingly-named So Long and Thanks For All the Shoes) was released. Still listening to it. I mentioned patterns and nostalgia earlier. Pop punk seems to be that particular trip, even though I wasn’t really a fan at its 1990s peak, preferring instead the far more manly post-thrash (Sepultura, Machine Head, Pantera, Skinlab et al) at the time.

Soundgarden (39 plays)

No real pattern for this one. I just happened to listen this number of Soundgarden songs in this three-month period. It may have been a subconscious return to the musical womb in reaction to how crap the once-brilliant Chris Cornell had been. Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, that brilliant first solo album: he was on fire in the 1990s. And everything he has done in the intervening decade has seen a downward spiral into mediocrity. And then further, into Timbaland collaboration. Let’s just pretend that never happened, and listen instead to this. How hot was he.

Trapped Under Ice (38 plays)
Snapcase, Integrity and the Dillinger Escape Plan (25 plays)

Went through a big metalcore phase around a month ago. Discovered some new stuff, such as the Trapped Under Ice (a big and pleasant surprise for 2009), and revelled in the nostalgia of yer Snapcase, Dillinger Escape Plan and Strife. I’d never actually given Integrity the time of day when they were knocking about. This was due to the combination of their singer seeming like an idiot, their being called Integrity, and the singer firing everyone and forming Integrity 2000. Turns out their early stuff was really good. Though I planned on doing so, I never really did listen to any more recent metalcore, TUI excepted. Still, DEP (not technically metalcore, but I’ve written over 1000 words at this point) have a new one out. I wonder if I’m going to review it…

And then other stuff. I listened to the Reatard because Jay very unfortunately died during this quarter. He was born in the same year as me, so it’s very sad stuff. Jaga Jazzist had an album out this quarter, but like the Shining, I did most of my listening on the move. I listened to the Posehn album once. It’s good, but beeped promos are rubbish. MadLove, one of the highlights of 2009, are still getting some… love off me. Naked City, Genghis Tron and Kid Dynamite are all fantastic jazzcore experimentation/technonoisecore/good old-fashioned punk rock, and I will hopefully listen to them as long as I live. Just not in massive amounts.

And that was my first quarter!

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