An Album A Day: Week 2

I know, January isn’t even over and I’m already behind on blogging. That being said, I’ve still been listening to an album everyday and haven’t broken any rules, there’s just a bit of a backlog on the blogging. Hopefully I’ll get that sorted out in the next couple weeks.

January 7, 19 by Adele

Adele - 19.png

Genre: Like a jazzy, cabaret pop.
Year: 2008
Runtime: 43:41
Total Number of Tracks: 12
Number of tracks I had heard before: I swear I had listened to this album in full prior to this project, but I only remember “Chasing Pavements” and “Hometown Glory.”
Why I picked it: I needed to fall asleep and it seemed like it could be a good album for falling asleep, in a good way.
Cohesiveness score: 3/5
Average song score: 3.1/5

Singles you might know:
– “Chasing Pavements”
– “Make You Feel My Love”
– “Hometown Glory”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Cold Shoulder”
– “Right As Rain”
– “Hometown Glory”

“Cold Shoulder” is probably the song that best foreshadows the type of stuff we’d hear on Adele’s subsequent 21 album that really made her a superstar, and I prefer that motown-esque vibe to the more stripped down sound of many other 19 songs. Like a lot of Adele’s work, this song excels at taking influence from vintage music and doing it in a way that still feels modern and not gimmicky.

“Right As Rain” barely squeaked into the top songs list despite it not standing out after the first several listens. However, it possesses a lot of those same vintage qualities that make “Cold Shoulder” so good. I also love how “Right As Rain” offers a delightful middle ground between that coffeehouse open mic night sound and that full band/orchestra sound. I think the album as a whole would have really benefitted from an extra song or two in this vein.

“Hometown Glory” is heartfelt and has fresh lyrics, and it’s also the perfect amount of production: enough of an orchestral sound to enhance Adele’s beautiful vocals without overshadowing them.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: None.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: As I was listening to the album trying to give each of these songs an individual song score, I accidentally forgot to write down a score for “Melt My Heart to Stone,” which is Track 6. I realized my error while listening to “Right as Rain” which is Track 8. No big deal, I’ll just write the score late, right? EXCEPT I COULD NOT REMEMBER HOW “MELT MY HEART TO STONE” WENT JUST TWO SONGS LATER. And mind you this wasn’t the first time listening, this was after playing it probably close to 10 times over the course of 2ish weeks and I could remember how most other songs on the album went. If that doesn’t scream “songs that don’t stand out at all” I don’t know what does.

Do I recommend it: There’s a rawness to this album that doesn’t exist on Adele’s other albums, and it’s interesting to see that different side of her. If you’re into stripped down songs that are just a strong vocal and one or two other instruments, there’s a lot to love here. If that’s not you, then this isn’t something I think you really need to listen to all the way through unless you really love Adele. There’s no denying her talent as both a songwriter and vocalist, but after she proved what she was fully capable of with 21, it’s hard to not be a little bit bored with 19. 

January 8, 21 by Adele

Genre: Pop, with a soul/motown vibe.
Year: 2011
Runtime: 48:12
Total number of tracks: 11
Number of tracks I had heard before: Again, I’m fairly confident I HAD listened to this whole album before but I’d forgotten any track other than the four that got played everywhere for 2 years.
Why I picked it: Listening to 19 made me want to explore Adele’s whole discography.
Cohesiveness score: 5/5
Average song score: 3.7/5

Singles you might know: 
– “Rolling in the Deep”
– “Rumour Has It”
– “Set Fire to the Rain”
– “Someone Like You”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Turning Tables”
– “I’ll Be Waiting”
– “Someone Like You”

“Turning Tables” was a pleasant surprise, and much like “Someone Like You,” it perfectly captures the sentiments of trying to stay strong while still feeling incredibly vulnerable.

I’m actually really mad at myself for not realizing how amazing  “I’ll Be Waiting” is prior to this project. I honestly enjoy it better than the singles, and I still really like all the singles.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: There aren’t any.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: I could probably skip “Don’t You Remember” without noticing, but it’s still an amazing song.

Do I recommend it: Yes. This is one of those rare albums where damn near every song can stand on its own two feet and could’ve been a hit single. Yet at the same time, there’s still enough changes in tempo and mood to keep the album as a whole interesting.

January 9, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles


The Beatles, holding marching band instruments and wearing colourful uniforms, stand near a grave covered with flowers that spell "Beatles". Standing behind the band are several dozen famous people.Genre: 
A psychedelic soft rock I guess?
Year: 1967
Runtime: 39:52
Total Number of Tracks: 13, including a 1:19 reprise of the title song.
Number of tracks I had heard before: All of them
Why I picked it: A reader mentioned the Beatles when I announced the project and this has always been one of their more intriguing albums to me.
Cohesiveness score: 3/5
Average song score:
2.9/5

 

Singles You Might Know*:
– “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
– “With A Little Help From My Friends”
– “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
– “When I’m Sixty-Four”

*Technically, none of the songs on this album were released as singles until 1978. This is just my guess as to which songs modern audiences are most likely to recognize.

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
– “Fixing A Hole”
– “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”
– “Good Morning Good Morning”

The title track revs you up the way that the first track of an album is supposed to. There’s a great energy that gets you excited about what’s to come but with more originality and complexity than some of the Beatles’ equally energetic earlier material.

“Fixing a Hole” was perhaps one of the biggest surprises for me, in terms of songs I really enjoyed but was previously unfamiliar with. This along with “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” balance the catchy hooks of McCartney with the more trippy hippy experimental vibes of Lennon the way a true collaboration should. I also love the brass on “Good Morning Good Morning” (think Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” but if the Beatles did it.)

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: I can’t think of any.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: I can’t say I really remember “She’s Leaving Home” but I don’t remember disliking it either.

Cohesiveness score: 3/5

Do I recommend it: Yes! I thought this was definitely a great example of an album where there’s a lot of cool, interesting stuff happening beyond the most popular tracks. There’s a reason it’s gone down in history the way it has. That being said, most of these are songs I would never really go out of my way to listen to on their own. I definitely recommend listening to this as the album it was intended to be.

January 10, Up All Night by One Direction

One direction up all night albumcover.jpg

Genre: Bubblegum pop
Year: 2011
Runtime: 45:56
Total Number of Tracks: 13
Number of tracks I had heard before: 13, and I’ve also heard the two bonus tracks I didn’t care to listen to this time around.
Why I picked it: I realized that for the sake of this blog I needed an album I know well and could write about without listening too many times.
Cohesiveness score: 6/5
Average song score: 3.2/5

 

Singles you might know:
“What Makes You Beautiful”
“Gotta Be You”
“One Thing”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
“Tell Me A Lie”
“Taken”
“I Want”

“Tell Me a Lie” was actually written by Kelly Clarkson and sounds like some of her most popular songs. Compared to the rest of this album, it’s a slightly more mature pop song with slightly more creative lyrics. It’s a breath of fresh air without being so different that it feels out of place.

“Taken” and “I Want” also feel a little more mature and the emotion feels a little more authentic. One of the drawbacks to overly pop-oriented boy band music is that virtually all of it is about being in love with whoever the song is about. Even the sad songs tend to be about missing someone they’re still in love with rather than being angry or frustrated about being mistreated. “Taken” and “I Want” are the few exceptions to that rule and provide some much needed lyrical variety. “Taken” is also the only acoustic track making it one of the few that shows how well some of these boys could sing.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: While it’s still a guilty pleasure song for me personally, “Stole My Heart” is objectively bad. It’s trying to be a techno-y dance club anthem while still trying to maintain a PG rating and being too bubblegum-y to work.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: “I Wish” and “Same Mistakes” tend to get lost in the mix for me.

Do I recommend it: If you didn’t like “What Makes You Beautiful” I’m doubtful that you’ll like this album, though I might still refer you to my top three tracks. If you did like “What Makes You Beautiful” there’s a fair chance you’ve already listened to this album and my opinion is irrelevant to you.

January 11, Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell by Meatloaf

Genre: Theatric hard rock
Year: 1993
Runtime: 75:38
Total Number of Tracks: 11, including a 2:41 spoken word piece and a 2:46 instrumental interlude.
Number of tracks I had heard before:  All of them.
Why I picked it: Again, I needed an album I was familiar with and I had a long enough car trip to justify this masterpiece.
Cohesiveness score: 4/5
Average song score: 3.8/5

 

Singles you might know:
– “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
– “Out of the Frying Pan (and into the Fire)”
– “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”
– “Good Girls Go to Heaven (But Bad Girls Go Everywhere)”

These long-ass epic rock anthems are what sets Bat Out of Hell albums apart from anything else I’ve heard in music. Without them, it’s no longer a Bat Out of Hell album. Totaling 34:27, these four tracks could be an album all on their own, and a lot of times I skip around and treat them as such.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: The album could’ve definitely done without the spoken word track “Wasted Youth.” I’m not fundamentally against incorporating spoken word into music albums, but I feel like it’s really hard to do just one track of it without it feeling a little bit disruptive. I love the following track “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” and I can’t say that listening to that song without the spoken word lead up affects it in an adverse way.

Songs that don’t stand out at all:
– “Back Into Hell”
– “Lost Boys And Golden Girls”

Maybe it’s just because they’re among the shorter tracks, but you could omit either one and I don’t think the album would be worse off for it.

Do I recommend it: I love this album to hell and back (yeah, I said it). I gave all four of my top songs a 5/5 rating and frankly it’s rare to find an album with four songs that I love that much. Even the other songs are all still really good, albeit many of them are longer than they probably need to be.

January 12, 5150 by Van Halen

Genre: Classic rock
Year: 1986
Runtime: 43:14
Total Number of Tracks: 9
Number of tracks I had heard before: All of them.
Why I picked it: I had stayed up watching football and needed an album that was barely over the half hour limit so I could get it in before midnight.
Cohesiveness score: 3/5
Average song score: 3.3/5

 

Singles you might know:
– “Why Can’t This Be Love”
– “Dreams”
– “Love Walks In”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Why Can’t This Be Love”
– “Dreams”
– “Love Walks In”
– “5150”

As far as I’m concerned, the real strength of this album is its ability to show a softer, more emotional side of Van Halen while still feeling like a true rock album. These are the songs that do that.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: While I wouldn’t really say “Inside” is a BAD song, it does sound just different enough from anything else on the album to feel like it doesn’t truly belong here. This is made even more frustrating by the fact that it’s the last song and the preceding title track would’ve been a far better finale.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: Maybe it’s just because there’s fewer songs on here, but this is actually the first one I’ve reviewed where I really don’t think any of them fall into that forgettable filler category.

Do I recommend it: This is one where listening to my favorite songs on their own is a better experience than listening to the album as a whole. The shallow, just-for-fun rock songs here are okay, but if you’re in that mood you could also just listen to Roth-era Van Halen and get shallow, just-for-fun rock songs that are superior.

January 13, Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf

Futuristic motorcycle rider; the motorcycle has jet exhaust. A bat-like figure on the tower of a building.Genre: Theatric hard rock.
Year: 1977
Runtime: 46:33
Total Number of Tracks: 7, including two epic “suites” that are over 8 minutes long.
Number of tracks I had heard before: 7
Why I picked it: I felt like it would be fun to do this the same week as Bat Out of Hell II to compare.
Cohesiveness score: 4/5
Average song score: 3.6/5

 

Singles you might know:
– “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”
– “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”
– “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
“Bat Out Of Hell”
“Paradise By the Dashboard Light”

As mentioned above, when I’m in mood to listen to a Bat Out of Hell album, it’s because I’m in the mood for long-ass epics that give me the drama of musical theater but the edginess of rock music, and these are the two that fit into that category. Honestly, outside of these two songs, I find most of this album to be fairly forgettable.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: N/A

Songs that don’t stand out at all:
– “Heaven Can Wait”
– “For Crying Out Loud”

Do I recommend it: Yes. Even the songs that aren’t my favorites are still good albeit maybe a little more generic. I find these albums to be vastly underrated by my generation and if this blog can help change that it’s all worth it.

Other albums I listened to this week: 

Badlands by Halsey
Wide Open Spaces by Dixie Chicks
by Ed Sheeran

An Album a Day: Week 1

So first let me explain some stuff. 
Ideally, I will be following this template every week for 2019, thought I certainly reserve the right to tinker with it if I feel it’s necessary. One thing I do wish to explain is the difference between my “cohesiveness score” and my “average song score.”

Cohesion is a dangerous thing, because while I don’t think an album should feel disjointed and random, I also can’t stand albums that make me feel like I’m listening to the same song over and over again. It’s possible to be so cohesive that you end up looking like a one trick pony, and that’s not great either. I’ve decided albums that cross this line will actually score ABOVE 5. So 6/5, 7/5 etc. depending on how bad I think the problem is. Songs that score below 5 score that way because they lack cohesion, whereas the perfect 5/5 score is reserved for those albums that I feel reconcile these two things and balance cohesion with variety.

The “average song score” is just that. I’ll give each song it’s own individual rating from 1-5 and then average them up. That score is as follows:
1/5 = A song that is shit
2/5 = A song that has redeeming qualities but isn’t GOOD. I don’t like it, but don’t abhor it.
3/5 = Decent song, but nothing special.
4/5 = A legitimately good song and the album is better off for having it.
5/5 = Fucking spectacular song that makes me realize what music is supposed to be.

I hope that these two separate scores help give you an idea of how good each individual song is on its own as well as how these songs function together as a unit. All other criteria in the template are pretty self-explanatory.

January 1, What If Nothing by Walk The Moon

Image result for what if nothing 300 x 300Genre: Pop rock/Alternative
Year: 2017
Runtime: 58:01*
Total Number of Tracks: 13
Number of tracks I had heard before: All of them
Why I picked it: It was in my car’s cd player and as much as I enjoy the other cds in my car’s cd player, this was speaking to me at that time.
Cohesiveness score: 4/5, and honestly would probably be a 5/5 if not for “Sound of Awakening”
Average song score: 3.5/5

*According to Wikipedia, the physical album (which I have) is 58:01 but the streaming version is 55:46. Who knew?

Singles you might know: 
– “One Foot”
– “Kamikaze”
– “Tiger Teeth”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons: 
– “One Foot”
– “Surrender”
– “Kamikaze”
– “Tiger Teeth”
– “Can’t Sleep (Wolves)”

Each of these is so special and amazing in its own way. They’re all beautifully emotional and somehow the electronic nature of the music doesn’t lessen the authenticity of that emotion. I semi-routinely just skip between these five.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons:
“Sound of Awakening” has always been a little too experimental for my tastes. It just feels out of place among all the other songs. This is not aided by the fact that it’s over six minutes long. I’ve also never been a big fan of “Headphones” but I can at least see how it fits into the album and makes for an upbeat, angsty addition to an album that can at times feel very melancholy.

Songs that don’t stand out at all:
I legit forget “Lost in the Wild” is on here ALL the time, but it’s a decent enough song.

Do I recommend it: Yes. Even most of the songs I skip over to get to my favorites are still bops.

January 2, It’s About Us by Alex & Sierra 

Image result for It's about us
Genre: Acoustic folksy pop.
Year: 2014
Runtime: 42:03
Total Number of Tracks: 13, including a 1-minute interlude.
Number of tracks I had heard before: Two, I think. “Scarecrow” because it’s a single and “I Love You” because I’d heard a rumor Harry Styles wrote that one.
Why I picked it: My friend Dillan suggested it. (Thanks Dillan!)
Cohesiveness score: 4/5
Average song score: 3/5

Singles you might know:
– “Scarecrow”
– “Little Do You Know”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Scarecrow”
– “Bumper Cars”
– “Here We Go”

“Scarecrow” does a fabulous job of balancing sad lyrics with an upbeat melody to come up with something truly special: a song that capture the desperate pleas of a broken heart while also sounding hopeful and optimistic. “Bumper Cars” is a much slower ballad, but its fresh analogy makes it stand out from the other sad ballads on the album. “Here We Go” is one of the more upbeat songs and it’s so good I wish there were more like it.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons:

The 1-minute interlude “It’s About Us” feels like an idea for a song that was not properly fleshed out. They put a weird effect on the vocals that isn’t present anywhere else on the album and it makes this track stick out like a sore thumb. The song/interlude is weak on its own and it also disrupts the flow of the album.

I also found “Just Kids” to be (and I know this sounds dumb) overly childish. It feels like one of those music videos I would’ve seen on Disney Channel in my youth. That isn’t necessarily a BAD thing, but since so many of these songs do have a more mature tone, this just feels like an obligatory “try to appeal to younger people” song that a marketing dude said they needed. And it’s also just not that good.

Songs that don’t stand out at all:
After listening to this album four times in three days, I have no recollection of what “Back to You” sounds like. You could probably make a playlist of all the other songs together, tell me it’s the full album and I would not notice the omission. “Give Me Something” is on the more forgettable side as well.

Do I recommend it: If you’re into white people with acoustic guitars singing about their feelings, you need this album in your life. But if that’s not your thing, this certainly doesn’t break the mold enough to make it your thing.

January 3, Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World 

Image result for bleed american

 

Genre: Pop punk
Year: 2001
Runtime: 46:36
Total Number of Tracks: 11
Number of tracks I had heard before: 4. The three you probably know, and then “Hear You Me”
Why I picked it: Suggested by my friend Bonnie!
Cohesiveness score: 6/5
Average song score: 3.3/5

 

Singles you might know:
“A Praise Chorus” (ft. Davey Vonbohlen)
“The Middle”
– “Sweetness”

So before moving on, I do feel the cohesive score needs a little explanation on this one. While there are several ballads on here to help break up the monotony, there really isn’t THAT much differentiating each angsty rock song from the other angsty rock songs, nor is there all that much differentiating the gentle ballads from the other gentle ballads. While there aren’t any true bad songs on here, I definitely found myself getting bored after track 6, “Hear You Me.” It just feels like after you get past this track, you’ve heard all the album has to offer, and what lies beyond is just a rehash of what you already heard. That’s why it gets the “too cohesive” score despite 4 out of 11 tracks sounding significantly different from the other 7.

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “A Praise Chorus” (ft. Davey Vonbohlen)
– “The Middle”
– “Hear You Me”

The world may never know if “The Middle” made it onto this list because it’s actually one of the best songs or simply by way of nostalgia, but either way it’s damn near impossible to be sad while I’m listening to it. When I really think about it though, I think I actually prefer the dynamic shifts of “A Praise Chorus.” Most other songs on the album establish their sound within the first 10 seconds and don’t stray from it, so I really appreciate how this one goes for a quieter chorus and gives you some contrast within a single song. “Hear You Me” is just a beautiful, sad ballad full of raw emotion and vulnerability. It has an authenticity to it, like they didn’t just throw it on here simply to prove they could do a ballad as sometimes happens with pop punk/alternative albums.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: 
Again, I don’t really think there are BAD songs, but the album has a nasty habit of making the slower ballads a little too long for what they are. “Cautioners” and “My Sundown” are the most egregious examples of this, ringing in at 5:21 and 5:47, respectively. Unfortunately, neither really grows and builds the way a song has to in order to justify being over 5 minutes long. Decent songs, but possibly better if they were one minute shorter.

Songs that don’t stand out at all:
I kinda feel shitty having to be this hard on it, because again NONE OF THESE SONGS ARE BAD. But after probably 5ish listens within one week none of the later tracks on the album really stuck with me. So that leaves the following in this category:
– “If You Don’t, Don’t”
– “Get It Faster”
– “Cautioners”
– “Authority Song”
– “My Sundown”

Do I recommend it: Sort of? I really love certain songs from this album and respect Jimmy Eat World as a band. However, I will say this is one of those albums that actually did make some of its best songs the singles. Outside of “Hear You Me” I don’t really think there are any hidden gems here that are better than the songs you most likely already know. So if you love “The Middle” and need more songs like it, great! This has them. But in the future, I really don’t see myself listening to this in-full without skipping any tracks, so take that for what it’s worth.

January 4, dont smile at me by Billie Eilish 

Genre: Electropop. Or maybe synthpop? I don’t know the difference tbh.
Year: 2017
Runtime: 29:00
Total Number of Tracks: 9
Number of tracks I had heard before: 2? I think? I’d definitely heard “Ocean Eyes” and “Idontwannabeyouanymore.”
Why I picked it: I was trying to fall asleep and from what I knew of Billie, this was something that could relax me but still be interesting.
Cohesiveness score: 5/5
Average song score: 3.4/5

 

Singles you might know: 
– “Ocean Eyes”
– “Idontwannabeyouanymore”
– “bellyache”

Before moving on with the “review” portion, I do want to address the whole EP vs. Album thing. Technically, this is an “EP” however when it comes to MY parameters outlined in the introductory post, this counts as an album. It hits the song minimum of 9 and is just one minute shy of the time minimum of 30 minutes. There’s also enough going on here that I don’t think it’s unfair to judge it as an album the way it’s unfair to just an EP of 4 or 5 radio-friendly pop songs as though it’s a full album. I actually have a lot of respect for Billie and her brother/collaborator Finneas for not throwing a couple more subpar tracks on here just for the sake of calling it an album, as some other people might have. They’ve chosen consistency and quality over quantity, and that’s to be commended. Anyway, moving on with the review.

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Idontwannabeyouanymore”
– “bellyache”

“Idontwannabeyouanymore” is a really great balance between live instrumentation and more electronic vocals, plus I found it to have the most memorable lyrics. “bellyache” is probably the only song I would describe as “catchy” and it manages this without sounding bubblegum-y or like it was trying too hard. It maintains the dark, haunting tone that runs throughout the whole album while still giving us a faster tempo that gives the album some contrast.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: There really aren’t any. If you like one of these songs, odds are you will like all of them.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: “watch” is pretty damn forgettable. In fact, I didn’t even notice that the last track is a remix of this song until I read it on Wikipedia. Even though it’s track 4, I totally forgot what it sounded like by the time I got to track 9.

Do I recommend it: Her sound isn’t for everyone, and I would definitely say you should skip it if catchy hooks and powerful vocals are a high priority for you. That’s just not what Billie Eilish is about. However, if you’re on the fence, I would definitely encourage you to give dont smile a chance. Eilish is the type of artist that’s hard to appreciate after just one song, and I don’t think you’ll really know if you like her or not until you give the whole EP several listens. Getting lost in this kind of music for a half hour is ethereal in a way that “Ocean Eyes” alone never can be.

January 5, Fly by Dixie Chicks

Image result for fly dixie chicks

 

Genre: Country
Year: 1999
Runtime: 48:02
Total Number of Tracks: 13
Number of tracks I had heard before: 13
Why I picked it: I’d had the same 6 cds in my car stereo for too long and decided I needed a change, so I busted out this oldie-but-a-goodie.
Cohesiveness score: 5/5
Average song score: 3.5/5

 

 

Singles you might know:
– “Ready to Run”
– “Cowboy Take Me Away”
– “Goodbye Earl”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Ready to Run”
– “If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me”
– “Goodbye Earl”
– “Sin Wagon”

This is one of those albums that’s so good it’s hard to pick favorites, but I tried. “Ready to Run” has a celtic vibe and relatable lyrics that give it a timeless quality. “If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me” is upbeat and fun, and a nice hybrid between rock and country, like if the Eagles had a top notch fiddle player. “Goodbye Earl” has original lyrics that tell a proper story which make it the most memorable of any song on the album. “Sin Wagon” is perhaps the best showcase of Emily’s banjo skills and Martie’s fiddle skills, plus it’s just an-all around fun song. I could probably go on and include damn near every track on this list, but that defeats the point of picking favorites, doesn’t it?

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: I could live without “Hole In My Head” but I wouldn’t say it’s bad enough to worsen the album.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: There are a few ballads that seem a little underwhelming next to some of the more upbeat songs, “Heartbreak Town”  and “Without You” probably being the best contenders. But they’re still damn good songs, as are the other ballads, they just take a few more listens before you really appreciate them.

Do I recommend it: This is one of those magic albums where virtually every song reaches high standards of amazingness while still sounding unlike any other song on the album. Highly recommend, even if you don’t typically go for country music (I don’t).

January 6, Last Young Renegade by All Time Low

Last Young Renegade.jpgGenre: Pop punk, emphasis on pop more than punk
Year: 2017
Runtime: 36:31
Total Number of Tracks: 10
Number of tracks I had heard before: 10
Why I picked it: I needed an album I was fairly familiar with and could review without listening to it too many times, so it seemed like this would be fun to revisit.
Cohesiveness score: 4/5
Average song score: 3.6/5

 

Singles you might know:
– “Dirty Laundry”
– “Good Times”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Last Young Renegade”
– “Dark Side of Your Room”
– “Afterglow”

“Last Young Renegade” used to be on the rotation at my old place of work, and it singlehandedly got me to listen to the whole album. Both this track and “Dark Side of Your Room” are full of the youthful exuberance I crave when I’m in the mood to listen to pop punk. “Afterglow” is a bit gentler and more vulnerable, and it’s a perfect mix of All Time Low’s typical sound as well as the synthpop trends of 2017 (I think it’s synthpop, not electropop). The result is something euphoric, but delicate.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: There really aren’t any.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: “Ground Control” ft. Tegan and Sara doesn’t really offer much of anything, which is sad because it feels like a waste of Tegan and Sara’s talent. Despite playing this album pretty consistently for a solid week less than a year ago, this was the ONLY song where I couldn’t remember the chorus. “Nightmares” is also on the more forgettable side.

Do I recommend it: It’s a solid album, albeit rather unoriginal. There’s a stronger pop feel compared to what I know of All Time Low’s earlier work. That might put some people off, but it also might make this fairly palatable to people who aren’t usually into this genre.

Other albums I listened to this week:
LM5 by Little Mix 
19 by Adele
Ten
by Pearl Jam
Conscious by Broods
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles
The Spirit Room by Michelle Branch

With the exception of LM5 which I’m already fairly familiar with, these are mostly albums I haven’t listened to enough to do a proper writeup for, but hopefully within the coming weeks that will change. Stay tuned!

Introducing: An Album a Day!!!

Okay. So this might be a bit of a bother to some of my subscribers who initially followed me for movie/tv/writing related content. In 2019, I’m going to be seriously upping the music content of this blog. That’s not to say there won’t be more thoughts about movies and tv (hell maybe even books), but I want to get more into music, specifically albums. Maybe that suits you maybe it doesn’t, but hopefully my charm can make music critiques interesting enough to you.

In 2019, I will listen to a full album of music everyday. By “album” I mean

  • Music that was all recorded by the same artist (movie/theater soundtracks don’t count, although albums that include collabs do count.)
  • Albums that are NOT greatest hits/compilations
  • Albums that are AT LEAST 30 minutes long or 9 songs long (the idea being that no, I can’t count EPs of 4-6 songs as albums. However, it was also brought to my attention that the Ramones’ eponymous debut album is only 29 minutes long despite being 14 songs, hence a song quota AND a time limit quota.)

Other rules in play:

  • I must listen to ALL songs in album order (though ALL songs doesn’t have to include bonus tracks on special editions and the like).
  • I cannot pause the album for more than 4 minutes. Pausing music to get my Dunkin coffee at the drive thru is okay. Listening to half the album on the way to a work gig and then the other half on the way back is not okay.
  • No repeats, sort of. I AM allowed to listen to the same album as many times as I want/need to, but it can only be the official Album of the Day once. Meaning that by the end of the year, I will have listened to at least 365 different albums.
  • I’m not allowed to count a standard edition and a deluxe edition of the same album as two separate things.
  • Unlike any of my movie/tv watching challenges, I AM allowed to listen to an album while I’m doing other stuff.

The point of this, more than anything, is to force myself to process music as albums rather than singles and playlists. There’s nothing inherently wrong with singles and playlists and I probably will continue to bump them in 2019 as well, but there’s also something beautiful about the album. I know there are artists who make beautiful albums and the single that Google tells you about is nowhere near enough to capture that beauty. Janelle Monaé’s “Make Me Feel” is a perfectly good song but once you listen to Dirty Computer you realize that this single is just a tiny fraction of what Monaé is capable of.

I know this is true for a multitude of artists/albums, yet all too often when I’m considering letting a new artist into the rotation, I STILL judge them based on the first single or two that Google spits out for me. I need to correct this paradox in my life, and so 2019 will be the year of listening to albums.

I will not be blogging every single day, but I hope to publish a weekly recap that lets you know what I listened to and some brief thoughts. To be honest with you, this is almost entirely selfish so that I can keep track of which albums I’ve listened to and which ones I haven’t. There may even be more detailed monthly recaps, though that might end up not happening. I’d like to keep the blogging aspect of this whole deal painless enough that I still have motivation to write other kinds of content as the ideas hit me, so a lengthy monthly recap might not happen.

I hope this challenge inspires me to rediscover artists I haven’t listened to in years.

I hope this challenge gives me a new respect for artists who make great music but could never get their marketing team to pick the right singles.

I hope this challenge forces me to listen to new genres outside of my comfort zone.

I hope this challenge motivates me to stop defining artists of decades gone by simply by their greatest hits compilations.

I hope this challenge expands my mind and my music tastes.