Wednesday, June 18, 2008

365 Albums - The Experiment

So I got a strong craving to listen to "Round Here" by Counting Crows this week. I couldn't tell you why, but I really wanted to. I dusted off my August and Everything After CD, and was surprised by how good I forgot the entire album was.

I do that a lot. I'll listen to an album over and over for up to several years, and then forget about it. It will sit on my shelf, unappreciated.

Everyone, it seems to me, does this to a certain extent. They "outgrow" certain music, or their tastes change, or new favorite albums overshadow past favorite albums. And sometimes, people just get in musical ruts. They listen to the same 15-20 albums over and over for the most part, with new stuff shuffling in and out every once in a while.

Note that I have not fully transitioned into the "iPod age," where you can download songs and mix them however you like, rather than entire albums. For me, something gets lost in the experience. I mean yeah, I was all about mixtapes back in the day and enjoy mixed CDs today, but there's still something about an album start to finish that helps create the experience. Context, man. Context. The other trap is just having all the hits downloaded and missing out on some unknown gems.

Anyway, my re-discovery of August and Everything After coupled with my realization of my own rut brought a question to my mind: what else have I forgotten, or never experienced, because of this rut?

Which leads me to my next crazy scheme.

For the next 365 days, I will listen to an entire album a day. Some stuff on my shelf I've neglected, and new stuff I've never heard. Some stuff I've always been curious about, some stuff I didn't want to give a chance to begin with. Some stuff I've only read about in Relix magazine, some stuff I missed out on during my Christian music phase. Some new stuff, some really really old stuff. Some stuff I forgot I had and some stuff I wonder why I have.

365 albums over the next year.

It'll involve a lot of trips to the public library and raiding friends' collections.

I think there'll be some stories to tell along the way, not just about the particular albums, but also in that way that music has about conjuring emotions and past memories and invites reflection and reaction. In other words, I think this will be as much a spiritual journey as it will be a musical one.

I'll blog my weekly selections, and any stories that come up with them.

In conjunction with this, I have to do one other thing.

Since I'll be blogging this little experiment, that means that the end of an era is approaching.

We will say goodbye to the weekly Pop Culture Roundup. After 3 1/2 years of it, it was probably time for a change anyway. It never seemed to be a particularly popular feature. But, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't still do my year-end roundup.

I figure that the fun will start this Sunday.

P.S. I'm open to recommendations, too. And I'll frequently ask for them throughout this thing.


erin said...

Matt and I agree that 'August and Everything After' is one of these most fabulous albums ever. You just don't get tired of it.

That being said, here are a couple suggestions for you...these are albums that I can listen to on 'repeat' over and over.

Jewel (her first album, I'm blanking on the name)

Norah Jones 'Come Away With Me'

Dave Matthews Band (of course) 'Remember Two Things' and 'Crash'

Randall Goodgame 'The Hymnal'

Andrew Peterson 'Love and Thunder'

If I think of any more, I'll be sure to pass them along. :)

Jeff Nelson said...

I've got the Jewel and Norah Jones albums. Norah Jones makes me smile...

And I figured that using DMB would be kind of a copout, since I know most of their material by heart.

I've tried to work out some guidelines that I'll post later.

Ryan Kemp-Pappan said...

Anything by Dengue Fever, Amos Lee, and Ben Harper's Welcome to the Cruel World. I hope you enjoy this journey...yes and Journey!

Anonymous said...

I never stop listening to CC. In fact, I have some darn good seats to see them in September here in Dallas. I never get tired of Duritz. A&EA is a great album, but Hard Candy is better. The new album (Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings) is ok - it's growing on me and has some great songs.

May I suggest CAKE "Motorcade of Generosity" and Guns N Roses "Use Your Illusion I & II" (also saw the original GNR in concert years ago).

Oh - and a good one is Beck (my other favorite artist besides Duritz) "Midnight Vultures."

As I think of more, I'll let ya know! ;)

LutherPunk said...

Consider something by the Drive By Truckers. I love all of their albums, but "Pizza Deliverance" and "Gangstabilly" really stand out for me. These are older ones, but you could always pick up their latest, "Brighter Than Creation's Dark," which may be their most diverse work yet.

Unknown said...

I'm currently "stuck" on Fleming and John, Adam Again (Worldwide Favorites), and R.E.M (Automatic for the People). Oh, and there's always the soundtrack to "Once More With Feeling." Any Buffy fan should know it by heart:)

Gene said...

Johnny Cash: Any of the American recordings
Damien Jurado: either And Now That I'm in Your Shadow or I Break Chairs
Old Crow Medicine Show: Big Iron World
Bright Eyes: Cassadaga
Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger, Gold, Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights
Band of Horses: Everything All The Time
Cat Power: The Greatest
Blue Mountain: Homegrown
Amy Millan: Honey from the Tombs
Radiohead: In Rainbows
Travis: The Invisible Band
Allison Kraus and Union Station: Lonely Runs Both Ways
Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska, The River, Magic, We Shall Overcome
Van Morrison: Moondance, Astral Weeks
Pat Bradley: The Musical Tales of Pat Bradley (free to download)
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Plastic Fang
The Derailers: Reverb Deluxe
Old 97's: Satellite Rides, Too Far To Care
Wilco: Sky Blue Sky, Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost Is Born, Being There,
Son Volt: Trace
Uncle Tupelo: Anodyne
Brendan Devereux: Songs from a Yellow Chair (available at
Marianas: Summering EP (free to download)
The Jayhawks: Rainy Day Music, Tomorrow The Green Grass, Hollywood Town Hall, Smile, Sound of Lies
Langhorne Slim: When The Sun's Gone Down
David Gray: White Ladder
Loup River Band and Street Choir (my own band, both of our records are free to download at or