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“DD Readers’ Survey: ‘How Do You Listen to Your Music?'”

I usually get this phenomenon when I’m listening to metal: (and I’m sort of a snob about it, it has to be Amon Amarth) but I can only do about three or four songs, and then I get this claustrophobic feeling like I’m inside some snarling cave or something. And I turn it off, but for those three or four, it pays off big time. Then if I put more music on that day, since this is probably one of my winter episodes, it’ll be something like Emeralds from the lake effect snow Mecca of Cleveland. And again, I might put it on for like three or four songs, and that’s usually enough.

Anyway, I mention these two examples, Amon Amarth and Emeralds, because in each of these two cases, the songs are generally the same across the entire album. The question is, does it make more sense to be song-oriented in a case like this, or should an album be more serrated into autonomic fragments when it’s something like Taylor Swift, who will toggle unabashedly between genres like hip-hop and country from song to song?
Like most life forms on this planet, I listen to Kendrick Lamar, but if I happen to listen to all of Butterfly in one sitting (I have no interest in that new Unreleased album yet, still digesting its predecessor), it’s more because it’s really dope, and I don’t want to stop listening to the emcee, and not necessarily the result of any thematic or artistic adjacency or connection from song to song. So yeah, I guess you could say it is arbitrary that it’s actually the song order, the proper sequence of the album that I’m going in, but at least unlike The Life of Pablo it WAS put out on CD (Yeezus also was, and that’s an album I enjoy).
Still, I think we’ve all had it happen where we put a song on, used to it really tickling a spot in us, and it just doesn’t do it, and maybe it’s because we didn’t listen to the whole album with it. But that ATTENTION SPAN is so un-American. Waiting for an album to pay off might be like waiting for lobster at some ristorante, whereas the “singles” culture is more like Jimmy John’s — you order, and then you can sink your teeth into that meat. That’s more what Americans are after, more what we’re used to. There hasn’t even been a long radio hit, that I remember, since “November Rain” (before that there was obviously “Stairway to Heaven,” “Layla,” and a bevy of others).
The Wallflowers released a song called “The Difference” as a single, and everybody hated it (rightly), but the funny thing is, it’s actually a pretty enjoyable listen if you’re experiencing the album Bringing down the Horse as a whole — it’s not really a song you’d skip over, even if neither is it really a standout. Actually, I find “Modern Girl” by Sleater-Kinney to be like this too, a song which spawned the title to Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, and so got a lot of attention last year. The song before it on the album, “Jumper,” is a disturbing roller coaster ride through the mind of a suicide victim — it’s Corin Tucker calling for people to help these lost souls, but it’s sung from the first person perspective of one of them, and after this “Modern Girl” just seems like icing on the cake, not to mention a much needed stultification of the noxious energy that’s been deluged. Taking songs individually off this album The Woods is a complete mockery. Stop what you’re doing and devote 40 minutes to it, period.
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Now, I ask you, how do you listen to your music?

Respondent #1:

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“I listen to my music mostly through spotify. Being a premium member is so worth it because you stay updated on releases and it gives you great recommendations. If theres an artist that I’m particularly excited about, then I will listen to the whole album whenever it is released. I do listen to a lot of deep house/minimal techno so there is a lot of ep’s/singles that i listen to as well.”

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Respondent #2:

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“Most of the time I listen to music on Spotify, so I have a tendency to listen to playlists created for specific moods. On some occasions I do choose an artist and just let their catalog play. But that seems to be more for when I’m looking for background sounds to help keep me focused at work. I guess I get comfortable with the songs I love and don’t always give the rest of the album as much attention as I should. I am trying to change that though.”

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Respondent #3:

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“I am actually a CD guy, the proud owner of a new $50 Sony player (they’ve gone up in price for decreased supply), and I believe that albums still have a holistic value, that the songs do feed off of each other. A classic example is Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury: the subject matter is so varied and heterogenous that you could not possibly express all of that in one song, because he handles everything from how to treat women and how to make money, to the wellbeing of his children, and the sage advice of his grandmother, even down to how his comrades are doing in the ghetto, and how he can try to build a better life for them. And then, of course, there is the unforgettable album finale — down-tempo, and half-funny half-serious about severe paranoia “Top of the coupe that’s how JFK got shot bee / Can’t let ni**az roll up beside me and Tupac me”). And seriousness vs. jesting is an element to the situation of its own, like “Chinese New Year” is sort of a funny song about doing a robbery, while the album opener “We Got it For Cheap” handles the stark reality of crack dealing’s necessity, and cites Maya Angelou in discussing the overall position of black people in America. Other full albums I like are Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy, Soul Asylum’s Grave Dancer’s Union, Green Day’s Insomniac, The Hives’ Lex Hives, and the Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks, to name a few, but typically just one song isn’t enough, if I really like the artist, unless it’s Madonna, of whom I will sometimes just listen to one song at a time, more of a radio type thing.”

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Respondent #4:

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“I do think the way we listen to music has changed and not necessarily for the better. I feel like I can barely keep up without spending a ton of dough just to listen to some new stuff. Why? Because we have so many different music forums that we can sample and listen to. I still try to enjoy the whole album at a time and I appreciate when The artists treat it as an entire piece. If I only like a handful of Tracks then I will listen to them as singles but the experience is diminished. And I do not appreciate those artists as much I kind of see them as a one or two trick pony.”

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Respondent #5:

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“I like to think of music similar to how I view tasty beverages. I like many styles of drink and many forms of consumption, all depending on how I feel at that moment. There is a time and a place for everything. Some days I feel like kicking back, sipping a tasty pale ale and listening to Wilson Pickett I’m in Love back to front on the turntable, some days I feel like drinking straight from the whiskey bottle and raging Reign in Blood over and over until I fall over. One can look at the question of song versus album from numerous angles. Did the artist create an album to be viewed from beginning to end as a cohesive body of art or did the artist create individual pieces of art and decide to house them on an album? We live in a time where we control our own destiny of consumption and perception. We can choose to consume music anyway we desire. We can debate what the artists original intentions were, or we can seize the moment and consume the music to our liking and let us take it where it may at that time and place.
In regards to concerts, I saw Charles Bradley and the Extrodinares and man that dude was into the show like nobody’s business. Charles is one dirty old man filled with enthusiasm, appreciation and love for his craft. I saw Fuzz shortly after that, they rocked it savage. I believe they were into it, but probably not as much as me. Kamazi Washington and the boulder theatre was intergalactic and those dudes took the crowd to a distant planet. While I love Medeski Martin and Wood, my consistently favorite live band is the Melvins. Those dudes melt my face off, tour like barbarians, and rock like a fucking Minotaur on Lsd. I really dig local music, always a roll of the dice. You never know where the night will take you.
But what do I know. Eh. Send me the link to your blog. What are your thoughts about this?”

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Respondent #6:

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“How I listen to music these days is probably 75% listening to singles vs. 25% listening to whole albums. I’ve definitely started making more playlists with random songs from random albums throughout the years on my I-Tunes. I go to BIRP.com and download indie songs I like from unknown bands every month. When I cruise in my car, it’s no longer cds but mostly hooking up the i-pod and playing playlists I’ve made. I do still however get that urge to go through my cds from the past 20 years and throw one in the boombox. I did this recently with The Shins “Chutes Too Narrow”. Two artists I think do a good job of creating whole albums in the rap game are Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, so I’ll listen to their albums front to back. Other bands that I’ll listen all the way through would be Arcade Fire with “Funeral”, Death Cab “Plans” and “Transatlanticism”, Belle & Sebastian “The Boy with the Arab Strap”, Kings of Leon “Come Around Sundown”, The Decemberists “The Crane Wife”, and The Strokes “Is This It”. I like to piece together Indie songs from different bands and old Country music from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. I feel like technology and our decreasing attention spans will lead to more single song listening and less listening to full albums. It’s sad to say, but the compact disc will probably be on its way out sooner than we think as well.”

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Respondent #7:

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“I listen with my ears. Ha. Sorry. Just got off wk from BWB (half-day) – I’m sure you can relate. Well, er, thanx to friend Kim I have an iPod (I call it the KimPod, haha) and thanx to hockeyfriend Steve it’z loaded with a lotta my favorite tunes…that’z a lifesaver at work (sorry broken record hahaha)…in the car, it’z CDs. Also, thanx to my sister I’ve got a stereo with a turntable at home so I can listen to vinyl LPs. With some bandz it’z entire LPz I love but with otherz it’z more individual songz. With some it’z pure sound (Cocteau Twins, fr example) while with otherz it’z sound & message – Morrissey’z high on that list.”

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Respondent #8:

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“I have little time anymore to just sit back and listen to some tunes like I used to do. These days there is always some sort of jazz Pandora station on in the background at home. I listen to albums in the car. My test of how good an album is has always been how long it stays in the CD player in my car. I put in an album and it stays till I can’t stand it anymore. Sometimes that’s weeks. Although, there is the occasional interlude of WFIU, local NPR station. If I’m listening to some sort of Internet radio or good old fashioned radio then that’s about the only time I’m not listening to an album straight through. Then it’s a semi-random mix of songs mashed together.”

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Respondent #9:

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“I think this generation mostly listens to music when they work out so its a pump up next track phase more then a front to back. I’m a album dude and it usually is casual listening making food, chilling, or just a change of pace. The attention span got a lot of people this now this now this sometimes they ain’t even finish there track. But listening for me is almost a mode like I may do something else at the same time but my mind is 100% on the listen. The science behind it is usually the buzz or what you heard someone say. Then it’s one solid listen like hr set aside break down. Then it’s usually second or third where you know your favorites but after those listens you catch the tone of the album. Sometimes I’ll be listening to a song somewhere it will end but in my mind I’m waiting for that next track. It almost gets you excited for the next one to play. Some artists don’t fit this scheme tho you don’t listen like juicy j and Jayz in the same tone. Juicy your party mode or trying to kick off your Friday. Jayz your like what sequence is he going to use next. What producer what’s his song selection. A ill song selection you never touch a button on your phone or deck it’s just like a marriage. I can usually remember where I was when something in the full listen realm drops. If I’m not feeling the hype especially a LP might get put off for a month. I like to make sure the dickriders are done before I put it in my box. I may want to give someone a shot at a full listen if I’ve heard two songs I really felt as well. Honestly I haven’t had a lot of full listens lately and I think that’s just what’s out. I’m not going to give Pablo a chance for ye because it sounds like a vibe he was heading to and I like old ye. After graduation where do you go. Some people hail twisted fantasy as his greatest project but to me it sounded more mixtape like feat feat feat. Don’t get me features ain’t bad but if you have a million spitters it better be “one train” esque. Had to look at your question and I love concepts better like Blackstar, dynospectrum is considered a state gem out here, Be with common, nas and junior kong, Mf doom and madlib, quasimoto, mmm food, so many to name. I love songs and albums with stories behind them not just ill shit you put together. Nas is my favorite rapper, then blueprint “1988”, one be lo, Jayz, and probably like mos or blackstar.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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