I’m building a still to slow down the time

Recently I purchased Bon Iver’s “Blood Bank EP” from my local Independent Compact Disc store. The title track is a charming lullaby, with Justin Vernon’s typical harmonious vocals rising above the soft instrumentation. The rest of the disc doesnt live up to this highlight, offering up moody, ambient folk with indeterminable lyrics. The words imprinted on the inside of the album case are necessary for the ethereal, vocoder-tinged “Woods”, which rises and falls nicely but without much effect. It has a sensuous feel to it, and a lot of ingenity when it comes to the use of the vocals. But compared to “For Emma, Forever Ago”, the EP’s companion album which it stylistically it is much similar to, it is weaker, and seems to lack any purpose.

After the 16-minute, 4 song collection had finished, I began to ponder not the quality of “Blood Bank”, which is undeniable, but the point. Is the EP a valid way of releasing music? Is it necessary to have something that sits on the fence between an album and a single? An EP is made up, presumably, from songs cut from the main album, in this case from “For Emma, Forever Ago”. I understand the purpose of an EP when used by unsigned bands to attract attention and hopefully finance a full-length equivalent, but “Blood Bank” was released a good eight months after the album. Why would any tracks that had fallen out of favour during the album sessions be used on a mid-length record, when they would make perfectly acceptable B-sides to any singles, or even saved for the next album.

I put on the Fleet Foxes EP, “Sun Giant”, to see if that would enlighten me any further. It does much the same job as “Blood Bank”, it accompanies an album, but without providing much reason as to its existence. I appreciated the quality, but in comparison to the album, the EP did not seem a worthwhile venture.

I quickly realised that this was what had prevented me seeing the purpose behind EP releases. I made needless comparisons with whatever album had been released in sync with it, and presumed that the EP should serve the same purpose as the album. I shifted my perpective, seeing EPs not as half-hearted attempts to create a microcosm of their accompanying record, but instead as a bonus, a reward offered to loyal fans. The audience benefits because every new piece of material they can find on their favoured artist is worth investing in, no matter what manner it is released in.

Of course, at this stage, you may think that excess material should be added to singles, which still benefits the fans whie at the same time being a more widespread release than an EP. However, if you look at the current trend of downloads, singles are starting to become just that, a single track. So perhaps the best way for an artist to release material safe in the knowledge it will get listened to is through an EP. Another argument would be that it can simply be attached to the end of an album, as a bonus track or hidden on the depths of a song. This leads to excessive, overlong albums, or sometimes albums which have inconsistant rhythm. To showcase music without upsetting an album’s mood it cannot crudely be pasted into the middle of an album.

So in terms of length and purpose, EPs deserve their existence, in principle at least. But do they justify it in practice? For definitive proof that the answer is a wholesome “Yes!”, I refer to The National’s “Cherry Tree EP”. Released a few months after their second album, “Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers”, it contained six new tracks and a live version of one from Sad Songs. Another song from it, “All The Wine”, was eventually placed on their next album after good fan reception. This successful experiment would on its own validate the release of the EP (“All The Wine” truly is a beautiful ode to the feeling of immortality that is bestowed upon the severely inebriated), but it has so much more to offer than just that. The opener “Wasp Nest” is melancholy, with The Nationals trademark baritone vocals and slight, arpeggiated guitars framing subtle lovelorn lyrics. The title track is paranoia-laced, filled with droning guitars and slowly rising percussion. The live track, “Murder Me Racheal”, is a stunning frenzy of anger and ill-treated violins. It even has a minor form of experimentation, with the final track being nothing like what is commonly thought of as The National material, elegantly moving as it does at a zimmerframe pace, multiple strained vocal lines sluggishly crawling along parallel to loose guitar strumming, never seeming to go anywhere, but never really needing to. There is so much enjoyable material coming from this that would have been missed had The National decided that they were above EP releases.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I exactly proved the case for EPs as short as “Blood Bank”, but when I listen to “Cherry Tree” I know for sure that EPs are a very strong method for artists to not only getting extra music out to fans without spoiling albums, but also to test out new styles and to make points that could not be made on an album or as a lone B side.

(Obligatory Pitchfork-list update: Portishead’s Third came in at No. 71. I am agape).

(Obligatory My-list update: I have a list of my top 34 albums of the decade, alongside a list of 10 albums I need to listen/re-listen to. These 44 albums must be properly evaluated, cut down to 25, and reviews written of them all. Thus far I have managed to write four of said reviews. I may still be a while, but at least I should come out at the end with a list that I am proud of).

You have tried your best to please everyone (but it just isn’t happening)

For once, I am going to engage in a post that is largely topical rather than personally important. A few days ago I noted, with interest, the tracklisting of the forthcoming soundtrack to “Twilight: New Moon”. It contains a number of musicians who one would not immediately associate with a film aimed prodominantly at young teenage girls, such as Thom Yorke, Grizzly Bear and an intriguing collabaration between Bon Iver and St. Vincent. An almighty fuss has erupted over the blogterweb (TM) from the two differing cultures as to why each appears to be fusing with the other.

Fans of the Twilight series will be eyeing the unfamiliar band names suspiciously, or just ignoring the music and fawning over a film that has been perfectly engineered to exploit their uncertain hormonal bodies (this is just my opinion, and probably isn’t true. It’s also probably not true that Robert Pattinson was synthetically created in a lab as the ultimate recipient of screeching fangirls, but you never know).

On the other hand, fans of many of the bands appearing on the soundtrack are crying foul, claiming they are selling out, or somehow dooming the indie culture to ridicule. Personally, I think that this is particularly (although not unexpectedly) haughty of said fans, to presume that the film is not worthy of the quality of music. Even worse are those fans who have been led to believe that in this post-Napster world they have some control over how an artist chooses to output his music. It is the choice of the music’s creator how it should be put to use, they are under no obligation to cater to the tastes of their current followers.

One particularly ludicrous argument is that the bands on the soundtrack are somehow aiming at the wrong audience, simply because they are part of a different self-appointed culture to those who are most likely to watch the film. In some extreme cases they may have a point, but not in this specific one. If we assume that the audience will be packed with the sort of tweenagers that packed the previous film in the franchise, then in fact this would be the perfect choice for a band. The age group is one that is unsure of its musical preference, and can be susceptible to gentle persuasion by any number of genres. If the soundtrack opens just the one Twilight fan up to some of the glorious albums that have been made by the soundtracks contributing artists then it is not a failure. The next generation of elitist, pretentious indie hipsters may be eagerly awaiting New Moon’s release as we speak.

I’m not saying that some of the anger is unreasonable, after all, when a favoured band releases new material, you do not want to have to pay to see an overly commercialized PG film just to hear it legitimately. So its lucky that people can just buy the soundtrack, treat it as a sort of informal compilation, and ignore the whole Twilight franchise.

“But, O wise blogger”, I hear you cry, “I am still giving my money over in support of this franchise that oh so contravenes my precious indie sensibilities”. At which point I start getting Clint Eastwood-grouchy, tell you to get off my e-lawn and reach for my pistol. Because let’s be honest, why should the place in which music is used matter more than the music itself? I would understand if these bands had slightly changed the style of their music to suit the new audiences tastes. That would be selling out, and would warrant outrage. But, as far as I’m aware the bands involveed are simply making more of the music they love to make, and have chosen to market it towards a slightly different audience. That is their choice.

The rise of free music has now meant that a lot of listeners associate bands attached to commercial projects as “greedy”. But why should other song they write end up making them no money? I don’t really want to wade into the whole file-sharing debate, at least, not yet, but I will say this. A group of musicians, whose professional job it is to create music in whatever form they so choose, should earn the money they deserve from putting so much time into said music. In this society, when a job is done well, the services are paid for. This is a golden rule in most aspects of capitalism, and yet somehow that rule is being broken in music, mostly because of the prevalance of the internet and the large-scale possibilities it allows.

So the artists who appear on the soundtrack have every reason to appear on it, to attract new fans and to make money. But more importantly because they have exercised the freedom they have as an artist to choose which project their music will appear on. Fans have no right to question that choice, save if the project itself is unethical.

It could be argued that the Twilight series is overblown, greedy and just downright terrible. But it could never be argued that it is unethical.

(PS: Pitchfork has placed The National’s Boxer at No. 110 on their Top 200 Albums Of The Decade list. A deep sadness has overwhelmed me that this number is the actual number it is at, as opposed to the binary number of its position)

It feels good…

… to write a proper full-length “article” again, as opposed to the lists I’ve been making recently. Maybe the honeymoon period of four 1000-word blogs in 4 days is returning. Although I may have run out of stuff to talk about. I don’t want to be reduced to fawning over Wish You Were Here or Kid A just because I cannot come up with more abstract ideas. Still, it was nice to write a blog about musical disappointment. So nice I decided to make another post describing my happiness with it.

Until next time (where I’ll be fawning over Wish You Were Here and Kid A), bye

Let down and hanging around

I feel that disappointment is a very core feature of music. When you fall in love with music, you become expectant of it. When you become aware of the quality of a piece of work, you hope, and sometimes demand, that the next piece of work you hear will live up to its mental predecessor. And if it doesn’t, there is the disappointment of an album or song wasted.

One of the reasons that I created my musical autobiography was to try and get some new material to write about for this blog, and looking through it I’ve noticed a recurring theme where I have been let down by albums I have invested time and money in. There are different ways that a band can disappoint me. I think the most demoralising of these ways can be summed up by Snow Patrol.

On a whim I had purchased their 3rd album (but their major-label debut) “Final Straw”. It proved to be a very worthwhile risk, it is clever and holds the attention. The style evolves as the album progresses and though the quality does vary there is a lot to enjoy from it. It was one of the first indie/rock albums I ever bought and “Run” quickly became one of my favourite songs. It was critically well-regarded, did fairly well commercially considering the style. They even managed to get to play at Live 8, although they were given one of the lowest billings.

Unfortunately, it seemed as though the small achievement willed them into changing their style, their ambitions suddenly growing after that small morsel of success. Their next album, “Eyes Open”, was released around a year after I first got into them, and I purchased it on the first week of release. Their sound had changed, they had become a pop band with basic guitar backgrounds and dull, cliched lyrics. The album was difficult to get all the way through and I have played it on only a handful of occasions since.

Now this in itself is bad enough. A band aiming for bigger things and needlessly changing their style is a disappointment. What annoyed me even further was its overwhelming success, eventually becoming the most-purchased album of 2006 in the UK. Snow Patrol were a household name.

It would be all too easy for me to come across sounding bitter and elitist, harping on about how “they sold out” or how “becoming popular has ruined them”. The point I want to make is that every time I heard a clip from the album on TV or I heard its popularity being discussed, I would silently wince to myself, and wonder how the album had become so widespread when “Final Straw” was by far the superior album. It annoyed me when an album of better quality was not getting the recognition obtained by the dreary “Eyes Open”. And of course, from thereon in Snow Patrol could not return to their more carefree, loose sound. They had mass-appeal pop-rock to make. A talented band had been shot down by the need to make money.

Of course this is all just my opinion. But the disappointment I felt, along with a lot of Snow Patrol’s earlier fans, was acute. No doubt many people are enjoying Eyes Open, more so I imagine than ever enjoyed the previous albums. I cannot help but wonder if maybe we would have seen one or two more special albums from Snow Patrol had their kept their heads and not irrationally evolved a sound that contravenes the one that clearly worked for them.

On a number of albums I have noted a change in style in an attempt to win over a certain audience, and it is often the album that is referred to as the “breakthrough” album. Note the popularity change for Kings Of Leon between “Because Of The Times” and “Only By The Night”. The former is a Southern drawl of an album, mixing together dirty rock and bluegrass sensibilities. The latter is packed with radio-friendly tunes, laden with simple riffs and a sense of indifference that went against the scorn of “Because Of The Times”. The disappointment I felt with “Only By The Night” seems to have somewhat put me off of previous Kings Of Leon albums, in fact the whole genre of American garage-rock seems to have somewhat decayed in my mind since their sudden rise. Bloc Party’s “A Weekend In The City”, Muse’s “Black Holes & Revelations”, Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible,” these records followed some of my favourite albums of the decade, and in each case the band took a direction that was anticlimactic to me after their earlier successes. None of the bands have recovered in quality since.

That is not the only way to be disappointed musically. Several times I have heard great things about an album, both critically and by word-of-mouth, and found the album not to my taste. Although this is a let down, it often teaches me what styles I should avoid in future. I now know that albums referred to as “the new Agaetis Byrjun” are not for me, as I found the original to be plodding and monotonous, with the moments of beauty drawn out, thereby nullifying their effect. I also can confidently avoid Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Silversun Pickups albums, safe in the knowledge purchasing them would only lead only to disappointment already felt by the well-reviewed albums “Show Your Bones” and “Carnavas”.

On rare occasions, however, it is worth persevering with an album, and band, that at first did not appeal. Personally, had I given up on every album I did not enjoy first time round, I would have missed out on the glorious darkness and cold beats of Portishead’s “Dummy”, having persumed it to be a one-note album after the first listen. But my taste has evolved since then, and I regard myself as a happy owner of Portishead’s entire discography. TV On The Radio also originally passed me by, “Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes” not having registered on my musical subconscious until after a few listens.

So the moral of the story is, disappointment is integral for music, sometimes to make you hark for the early days of now mediocre bands, sometimes to let you know what styles will suit your taste, and sometimes to give you a little lesson in perseverance. It’s just as important as enjoying a piece of music first time round.

By the way, Pitchfork have started their Top 200 Albums Of The Decade list, and if you like music, even if you dont share Pitchfork’s taste, I recommend you check out their lists, because they really are good for starting debates. Admittedly, I’ve only heard 6 of the albums between 200 and 151, but 2 of those 6 will be in my top albums, and there are maybe a half-dozen more on the list thus far that are by bands I have a vague interest in. I hope the list will assist me in writing my own, which I may publish soon. Well, it’ll definitely be published by the end of the year anyway. “Soon” is a particularly ambiguous term.

Gonna make some plans, wait and see

I came up with an interesting idea after watching High Fidelity recently, and that is to make my own musical autobiography. Whereas in the film the record collection is organised into when it most had an effect on its owner, I have instead listed all the albums that have most highlighted my musical life in a form of large-scale diary, witht he date corresponding to the time the album most had an impact on my musical listening choice. These aren’t the best albums, just the ones that shaped my the way I enjoy (or otherwise) my records. Comparing the start to the finish and mapping the route through between the two is a wild nostalgic trip for me, I can recall my initial and evolving views on each of these albums simply by noting where they came in my journey of music.

This is an ongoing project of course, new albums will be appearing at the end as time progresses. This just seemed like such a cool idea to me I felt I should share it. Also I haven’t blogged for a week and after going at a rate of 1000 words a day earlier I felt like maybe I should prove to myself I can still be produtive. And I can! I hope you all will be able to soak up the memories of a few years of your own musical discovery in the same way that I have done this morning. It’s fun.

Apr-04 Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head
May-04
Jun-04
Jul-04
Aug-04 Keane – Hopes And Fears
Sep-04 Coldplay – Parachutes
Oct-04
Nov-04
Dec-04 REM – In Time
Jan-05 Snow Patrol – Final Straw
Feb-05
Mar-05
Apr-05
May-05
Jun-05 Muse – Absolution
Jul-05
Aug-05 Coldplay – X & Y
Sep-05 Foo Fighters – One By One
Oct-05 Muse – Origin Of Symmetry
Nov-05
Dec-05 Radiohead – OK Computer
Jan-06 Radiohead – The Bends
Muse – Showbiz
The White Stripes – Elephant
Feb-06 Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
Mar-06 Blur – The Best Of Blur
Apr-06 Radiohead – Kid A
Damien Rice – O
Snow Patrol – Eyes Open
May-06 Radiohead – Hail To The Thief
Radiohead – Amnesiac
Pink Floyd – The Wall
Jun-06 Pink Floyd – Animals
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones
Jul-06 Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Muse – Black Holes & Revelations
Aug-06 Arcade Fire – Funeral
Sep-06 Kasabian – Kasabian
Kasabian – Empire
Oct-06
Nov-06 Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
Silversun Pickups – Carnavas
Dec-06 Gnarls Barkley – St Elsewhere
Jan-07 Foo Fighters – The Colour And The Shape
Feb-07
Mar-07 Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Apr-07 Pulp – Different Class
May-07
Jun-07 The White Stripes – Icky Thump
Jul-07 Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace
Aug-07 Jeff Buckley – Grace
Sep-07
Oct-07 Radiohead – In Rainbows
Nov-07 Kings Of Leon – Because Of The Times
UNKLE – War Stories
Dec-07
Jan-08 Portishead – Dummy
Feb-08 Portishead – Portishead
Mar-08
Apr-08 Portishead – Third
REM – Accelerate
Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple
May-08 Kings Of Leon – Aha Shake Heartbreak
Jun-08
Jul-08
Aug-08 The National – Boxer
REM – Document
Manic Street Preachers – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
Sep-08 The Beta Band – The Three EPs
Oct-08 The National – Alligator
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Nov-08 The Verve – Urban Hymns
Dec-08 The Smiths – The Sound Of The Smiths
The Strokes – Room On Fire
Jan-09 The National – Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers
Laura Marling – Alas, I Cannot Swim
Feb-09
Mar-09 TV On The Radio – Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes
LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
Apr-09 Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
May-09 Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
Jun-09
Jul-09 Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production Of Eggs
Islands – Return To The Sea
Aug-09 Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
My Morning Jacket – Z
TV On The Radio – Dear Science

Everything In Its Right Place

I have an underlying desire to construct. It is part of my nature to want to build. Not structures or physical entities, my skills at manual labour are limited. I enjoy starting with nothing and ending up with something that satisfies the definition of “work”. Normally this comes in the form of pieces of writing like the ones that adorn my blog but my particular interest in terms of creation is lists.

Lists are more difficult than simple individual reviews. For me to write a Top 50 Tracks of the 00’s list (a thing I have done and is posted below), I have to think of a number of things. Are these my favourite tracks or my most listened to tracks? Should I select the tracks that I currently feel are the best, or should I factor in songs I used to like? What does the word “Top” really mean, the best songs, or the songs that I have got an emotional attachment to? Each time a decision is made, the list becomes more personal. A critique on another persons list shouldn’t be made without the knowledge of the rules with which the list was constructed.

Too often a magazine or website will publish a list based on the decision by a multitude of critics. I disagree with the notion of it, as it is not personal, and therefore feels almost artificial, and it also makes debate difficult. Sometimes lists are created as a way of giving recommendations or as to establish the styles and genres that the writer is a fan of. Personally, the purpose of the sort of lists I am making is to share my experiences of music with other people. I have lived through this decade and somehow feel I should claim it as my own. This is my 10 years of cultural growth, and this is what affected me during those years.

My top 50 songs of the decade was really intended as a template so that I can set out the rules that wil be put in place when I finally get round to a corresponding albums list. I don’t deem it as important as the abums list, but I still think that particular songs at particular times in a life can have a serious effect, and I wanted to make sure that some of the songs that have really had an effect, either due to their quality or their passion, is properly noted. So here it is.

50. The Strokes – Reptilia

49. Kings Of Leon – Charmer

48. The Guillemots – Trains to Brazil

47. Muse – Citizen Erased

46. Arcade Fire – Antichrist Television Blues

45. Damien Rice – Delicate

44. Portishead – Hunter

43. The National – So Far Round The Bend

42. My Morning Jacket – Off The Records

41. R.E.M. – Supernatural Superserious

40. Radiohead – Idioteque

39. Islands – Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby

38. Bloc Party – Banquet

37. Radiohead – The National Anthem

36. My Brightest Diamond – Workhorse

35. Modest Mouse – Float On

34. Yeasayer – 2080

33. Bon Iver – Flume

32. Laura Marling – My Manic & I

31. Andrew Bird – Fake Palindromes

30. Bloc Party – Like Eating Glass

29. Arcade Fire – Wake Up

28. Wilco – Heavy Metal Drummer

27. TV On The Radio – The Wrong Way

26. Radiohead – 15 Step

25. Muse – Falling Away With You

24. Thom Yorke – Skip Divided

23. TV On The Radio – Dancing Choose

22. Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks

21. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal

20. Portishead – We Carry On

19. Bright Eyes – Lua

18. Radiohead – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

17. The National – Murder Me Rachael

16. TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me

15. Radiohead – Cuttooth

14. Grizzly Bear – Southern Point

13. The National – Apartment Story

12. Bright Eyes – At the Bottom of Everything

11. Wilco – Jesus Etc

10. The National – Friend of Mine

9. The National – All the Wine

8. Bon Iver – Skinny Love

7. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends

6. Arcade Fire – Tunnels

5. Portishead – Threads

4. The National – Brainy

3. TV On The Radio – Ambulance

2. Radiohead – How to Disappear Completely

1. Radiohead – There There

So anyway, there is my list. And Radiohead’s There There deservedly comes out on top because in my mind it provides everything I want music to provide. Interesting, memorable lyrics, guitar hooks you want to learn immediately, all-encompassing percussion, invention and a rising tide of mood that feels like an event. The scale of it is immaculate, and no matter where or how I hear it, live, blasted through speakers, quietly on my headphones, it feels so sublime. There are too many things about it that are good, and they all come together to create my favourite 00’s song, a track that would top my list no matter what rules I applied to it.

I encourage you to Google any track here that you don’t recognise. I’ve thought a lot about the choices and I hope people will invest time in discovering good music.

I trust I can rely on your vote

OK Computer must be one of the most talked about albums of all time. And I would happily put money on it being the most talked about album on the Internet. Who the hell am I to think I can add anything to the discussion with this blog? Well, I’m giving it a go, by talking about the track that on the whole least fills a Radiohead fan with joy, Electioneering.

Now I want to put it straight out there that I really like Electioneering. That point needs to be made instantly, so that there’s no uncertainties about my stance. It’s a great rock track, that’s structured well, with the vast riffs giving way to a jittery, spine-tingling solo. It really harks back to Radioheads punk days, whilst still being a mature and modern piece of work. I don’t think many people would disagree with its quality, but there is a general agreement within both the Radiohead fan community, as well as the general critics community that it is the weak link on a near-perfect album. Why should this be?

The standard answer given is that Electioneering doesn’t ‘fit’ with the template set out by the rest of the album. If I were to pick some random adjectives generally used to describe OK Computer, (“Sonic”, “Gloomy”, “Tense”), I would agree that Electioneering is not in sync with the blueprint for the rest of the album. Its position on the album, following the eerie Fitter Happier, also causes some scorn. An electronic, philosophical voice leading into… just another rock song? How annoying.

It is the only track on the album in which Thom Yorke really lets loose in terms of anger, with the exception of about 30 seconds of Paranoid Android. Imagine the album, if you would, with the vocals remaining staid, controlled almost throughout. Where the mood remains uniform, and where you know that every time one track ends the next one will keep up the same stylistic thread. Would this make it a better album? OK, I’m sure a lot of people will still be saying “Yes, yes it would”. And I think therein we find an interesting and subtle difference between two types of music listeners.

There are those people who like an album to be a cohesive piece, a 50 minute record rather than a dozen 4 minute pieces. These I will colloquially (and probably inaccurately) refer to as “Electioneering-haters”. These people will scorn those who pick and chose tracks from an album to listen to, and can be heard uttering phrases such as “as the artist intended”. I don’t mean to deride these people, or call them elitist, but as I am not one of them, I feel compelled to. So apologies.

The other type of music listeners, the “Electioneering-lovers”, will be those who like to rate each individual track. They will listen to a lot of radio, and will make a point of visiting as many websites as possible in a bid to find obscure b-sides of live bootlegs by their favourite bands. Often they will be found using the shuffle all function and tirelessly organising Towering Above The Rest into a coherent order (I am now presuming these hypothetical people are Radiohead fans).

Those are two extremes, of course. There’s a lot of grey area in between, of course. But I have to say I sit much closer to the second type than the first. Of course I generally listen to albums all the way through, and I enjoy them that way, as pieces of work. However, I do not enjoy an album that relies on only one way of thinking throughout. An Electioneering-hater will state that an album must be entirely self-contained, in a way, with the innards of the album all connecting together perfectly. To me, this seems dull. An album that follows perfectly and seamlessly on from itself the whole way through? Where is the unpredictability? Where is the excitement of not knowing what the album will deliver next?

Another example would be The National’s two much lauded and most recent albums, Alligator and Boxer. I would say that Boxer is stylistically consistent throughout, keeping a steady hand and using the musical equivalent of its “indoor voice” on every track. Alligator mixes up the moods, so that the listener, even one who has memorized the tracklist, will still be unsure as to what comes next, it could be a sweet melancholy anthem as equally as it could be a shouty fist-pumping rock track. I simply cannot help but prefer Alligator, despite it having some weak parts. It has contrast and sweeping changes, something Boxer cannot muster in an attempt to remain fixed in one position.

So there you have it. That is how I enjoy albums, and also a way of determining a person’s musical listening preference, all extrapolated from just one song, Electioneering.

Er, this blog wasn’t nearly as much about OK Computer as I might have led you to believe. But I’m sure you’ll get over it by reading the 78 billion other blogs that have written about why it is under-rated /over-rated /under-appreciated /over-apreciated. So go there instead.

I have put off writing a blog about my favourite albums of the 00’s until it actually gets to the end of the decade. That seems logical, and also gives me 3 more months to discover some new music to put in there. And it also allows me to scour Pitchfork’s 200 Albums Of The Decade (released in parts between September 28 and October 2) in a bid to ensure I haven’t missed any gems.

I have just finished listening to Broken Social Scene’s self-titled album for the first time. It has a lot good about it, but it just doesnt warrant its 63 minute length unfortunately. I shall press on.

‘Til next time.