Thursday, 2 June 2016

Listening Project: frantic catch-up and May

The March and April playlist remnants

  • Stereophonics - Just Enough Education to Perform
  • Ash - Free All Angels
  • Destiny's Child - Survivor
  • R.E.M. - Reveal
  • Shaggy - Hot Shot
  • Radiohead - Amnesiac
  • Travis - The Invisible Band
  • Usher - 8701
  • Destiny's Child - Survivor
  • David Gray - White Ladder
  • Atomic Kitten - Right Now
  • David Gray - White Ladder
  • Staind - Break the Cycle
  • Slipknot - Iowa
  • Jamiroquai - A Funk Odyssey
  • Macy Gray - The Id
  • Dido - No Angel
  • Kylie Minogue - Fever
  • Steps - Gold: Greatest Hits
  • Michael Jackson - Invincible
  • Steps - Gold: Greatest Hits
  • Westlife - World of Our Own
  • Robbie Williams - Swing When You're Winning

The April playlist

  • Stereophonics - Just Enough Education to Perform
  • The Chemical Brothers - Come with Us
  • Enrique Iglesias - Escape
  • Sting & The Police - The Very Best of Sting & The Police
  • Barbra Streisand - The Essential Barbra Streisand
  • Nickelback - Silver Side Up
  • Céline Dion - A New Day Has Come
  • Blue - All Rise
  • Doves - The Last Broadcast
  • Moby - 18
  • Ronan Keating - Destination
  • Eminem - The Eminem Show
  • Oasis - Heathen Chemistry
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way
  • Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
  • Eva Cassidy - Imagine
  • Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
  • Atomic Kitten - Feels So Good
  • Paul Weller - Illumination
  • Elvis Presley - ELV1S
  • Will Young - From Now On
  • Foo Fighters - One by One
  • David Gray - A New Day at Midnight
  • Blue - One Love
  • Westlife - Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1
  • Robbie Williams - Escapology


  • Avril Lavigne - Let Go
  • Justin Timberlake - Justified
  • Kelly Rowland - Simply Deep
  • Massive Attack - 100th Window
  • Norah Jones - Come Away with Me
  • Linkin Park - Meteora
  • The White Stripes - Elephant
  • Madonna - American Life
  • Blur - Think Tank
  • Stereophonics - You Gotta Go There to Come Back
  • Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
  • Evanescence - Fallen
  • Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love
  • The Coral - Magic and Medicine
  • Eva Cassidy - American Tune
  • The Darkness - Permission to Land
  • Muse - Absolution
  • Dido - Life for Rent
  • R.E.M. - In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003
  • Blue - Guilty
  • Michael Jackson - Number Ones
  • Westlife - Turnaround
  • Will Young - Friday's Child

Wow, that's a lot of songs...


Stereophonics - Just Enough Education to Perform had some tracks missing. I vaguely remember this though. It's pretty miserable stuff, but there's some nice melodies there and it's kind of touching.

Ash - Free All Angels has some decently rocky songs going that I could imagine running to. The washing machine in the (real-life) background was an unfortunate negative factor for this album, but I don't think it prejudiced things too far. I'd definitely be up for listening to this one again. I don't remember these people at all.

Destiny's Child - Survivor doesn't hugely impress me. The vocal are a bit repetitive for my taste, as in, singing the same handful of lines repeatedly. The music has some catchiness but I find that vocal repetition a bit irritating. On the other hand I do get the impression they're good singers, so it's just that this style doesn't particularly work for me. I've also got to admit that I find the songs themselves blurring together - they're not vapid in the way stereotypical pop was, but something about them feels very one-dimensional to me. I suspect I am not the target audience.

R.E.M. - Reveal has melody that catches at me quite well. I'm not initially convinced by Stipe's voice, although technically he seems fine, so it's presumably just a personal taste thing, and I notice it less with listening. I think I might actually get this one.

Shaggy - Hot Shot is unexpectedly good. I was only vaguely aware of one song from years ago, and remembered it as kind of shallow, but there's surprising depth to some of this stuff now I listen again. It's reasonably catchy as well, although not that many of the individual tracks leap out at me.

Radiohead - Amnesiac is deliberately weird and experimental, and I can't really be bothered with it.

Travis - The Invisible Band is pretty classic Travis - listenable, not very cheerful, but fairly easy to put on and get on with things.

Usher - 8701 doesn't really do anything for me at all. It fades away into the background, but that's about it. I can't readily make out the lyrics, they seem repetitive and musically uninteresting.

David Gray - White Ladder has a slow, thoughtful feel to most of its tracks. They're not particularly adventurous melodywise, but they seem pretty relaxing company. The lyrics are unexpectedly gloomy (a bit Travislike, I suppose, only less weird) but okay.

Atomic Kitten - Right Now seems pretty generic. I suppose basically this is the kind of thing that was all around in the days when I listened most to music, and it's effectively part of my pop baseline. It's fine - it doesn't annoy me in the way a lot of music does, it's easy to have on without bothering me, and there are some tracks that I find myself tapping along to.

Staind - Break the Cycle is probably the first band I do not remember at all. They're decent actually; the rocky feel is more my usual sort of thing than a lot of what's come before, and there's some quite striking lyrics in here. On the downside, it's the tempo-shifting style of rock that I can't run to, which is a big downside. Also: reminds me of Nickelback.

Slipknot - Iowa seem to really need some kind of cough syrup I think? Occasionally I can make out an occasional lyric, but otherwise it sounds to my prejudiced ears like they are practicing drum riffs while waiting for the last of the band members to arrive. I skipped through a large selection of songs and couldn't tell the difference between them. No.

Jamiroquai - A Funk Odyssey is very listenable, although I can't remember a single thing about it. Am I too mean? It's unintrustive and pleasant, in the coffe shop sort of way.

Macy Gray - The Id has a voice that I find annoying and I move on.

Dido - No Angel I actually own. I listen to it anyway, for form's sake. I still like it. We are still well in "stuff I am at least vaguely aware of" territory, just at the turn of the 21st century. Once I hit university things will start to change.

Kylie Minogue - Fever is catchier than I expected. It's still repetitive pop, but it's okay.

Steps - Gold: Greatest Hits is a hits album so it's a) going to be better than average, and b) going to include stuff I've heard before. Both are true. It also has some truly preposterous videos (the one with devil costumes is particularly hilarious, but I think the ice queen one probably tops it). I remember Steps being a source of mild embarrassment, and some of their stuff is pretty cheesy; on the other hand the cheesy stuff is often catchy and danceable, and there's some more interesting stuff here too.

Michael Jackson - Invincible is sort of interesting in that it's varied and a bit experimental; there's some nice segments in here. However, overall it feels a bit nodescript to me.

Westlife - World of Our Own. I have always quite liked Westlife; I know they're a boyband, but they actually work well together and I find the music itself is interesting enough to overcome the slight disadvantage of pop-style repetition. The vocals always come through loud and clear (with the sole exception of the song that, tragically, proved not to be the "Shine On, Imaginary Beaver" of my glorious imagination), they don't over-rely on repetitive beats or three-chord progressions, they're just generally good at what they do. This is much of the usual.

Robbie Williams - Swing When You're Winning is a good example of something I only want in small doses. He performs well and I like some of the songs, but it's not something I'd want to own. It's something to actively listen to rather than chill out to, if that makes sense.

Phew! I made it that far, at least...

Catching up on April

The Chemical Brothers - Come with Us is some kind of experimental electronic. It's not melodic enough to relax into intellectually, but it's too irregular and disrupted to be a pounding beat sort of affair that just catches my mood. It sounds like something that might be on in some kind of rave club? I dunno, I've never been to one. A few of them are sort of catchy in places, and I find I can do some things with it on in the background, but it wouldn't be a first choice.

Enrique Iglesias - Escape is... I need to go and buy this, just wait there.

Sting & The Police - The Very Best of Sting & The Police is a perfectly good album, but I've already heard every song on it so feel there's no need to do so again.

Barbra Streisand - The Essential Barbra Streisand is really freaking long you guys. On the other hand, she's a good singer and I'm kind of sappy, so this one works for me (in small doses). The music and the lyrics are both relatively varied within songs, which is nice compared to some of the newer albums, but it must be recognised that this is very much not "new music" that I'm listening to here, it's nostalgia for the people with money in their pocket in 2002.

Nickelback - Silver Side Up is rather noisy (in terms of drums, distortin etc.) but the songs tend to change gear in the Meat Loaf vein that I prefer, rather than being relentlessly the same throughout. Too Bad appears to be a song about poverty and a broken family, which is relatively unusual. And I liked How You Remind Me already. Unfortunately, although the main lyrics are intriguing, in the later songs we're back to seeing repetitive choruses padding out a couple of promising verses. Okay, but not amazing. I mean, I can get behind just some pounding guitar in a general sense. I think the most interesting song otherwise is the last: Good Times Gone, which is a little less grungy and has a different sort of tone, though that too gets grungier as it goes on and loses the almost country-style promise of the opening.

Céline Dion - A New Day Has Come is fairly cheerful, which is nice. It isn't intrusive and has quite a soothing air to it. I might actually want this one, even though Dion seems to get a lot of stick in general.

Blue - All Rise. Ooh, I remember this one! I even remember this song. It was... vaguely interesting? Yes, it is. I like the mixture of musical styles here, and they're non-boring for a boyband. Not all the songs manage to be memorable, but they're pretty catchy on the whole. I note they have a few hits on this list and I can see why. Wonder why I never got into them? Um, possibly because listening to boybands at my (boys') school was not really in favour.

Doves - The Last Broadcast is nebulous and weird in places. Once the songs settle into vocals they're not bad, and easy to have on in the background. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing I'd bother to learn, and it's not easy to make out the lyrics anyway, but it's inoffensive.

Moby - 18 reminds me of Isobel Campbell from Belle and Sebastian. That's... not entirely a good thing. There's some very similar music in there (Great Escape for one), and although it's completely inoffensive it also tended to slip away from me.

Ronan Keating - Destination seems like a decent, not especially distinctive album. I'm happy enough listening to it; it has a bit of that "film soundtrack" note to it that tends to make the songs a bit forgettable. However, I quite like some and suspect that I could pick them up if I wanted.

Eminem - The Eminem Show is unexpectedly listenable, and at times pretty interesting. The wordplay and rhyming is good and I can see why people like this. The themes aren't really to my taste - the ones about life are good, but the more self-aggrandizing ones don't do much for me and it's very profanity heavy, including what seems like some questionable attitudes to women.

Oasis - Heathen Chemistry made no impact on me whatsoever, other than a vague awareness that something by Oasis was playing.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way is fairly chilled listening. I like the sound of their voices, although I'm not sure what any of it is about.

Bruce Springsteen - The Rising is a good album. Although relatively repetitive musically, there's a sort of emotional strength behind some of the songs that helps them catch my attention, while others are just pleasant listening. I say this even though I haven't really thought of Springsteen as someone I have time for - Born in the USA bores me to tears.

Eva Cassidy - Imagine doesn't really do much for me. I'm not particularly keen on her versions of the songs I know, and the others wash over me.

Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head sounds very Coldplay-like, but the only one that really registers with me is Clocks, which I quite like.

Atomic Kitten - Feels So Good is a slightly unmemorable album, and I can't find most of the songs anyway.

Paul Weller - Illumination is fine. I've never even heard of him. He's got quite a nice voice, but his music is repetitive.

Elvis Presley - ELV1S surprises me a bit. I've not particularly paid much attention to Elvis before, and wasn't especially impressed by what I heard, but you know what? This world-famous, intergenerationally-popular bestselling musician is actually pretty good. Who'd've thought?

Will Young - From Now On is tolerable but slightly wet pop. He does a reasonable job on Long and Winding Road (though I prefer it without the random off-beat ooohs) and Evergreen is okay, but otherwise it doesn't leave much impression. I wouldn't mind hearing it in the background.

Foo Fighters - One by One. I mostly missed this band when I was at school - presumably my mates weren't into them. I'm not particularly struck by anything here. The singing style makes it quite hard to make out the lyrics, and the music seems repetitive.

David Gray - A New Day at Midnight is oddly pleasing, even though I don't particularly like his voice. I'm not sure why. I can't always make out the lyrics, but the music itself appeals to me, and there's nothing actually wrong with his singing. I'm swaying.

Blue - One Love is okay.

Westlife - Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1 is a nice collection of feelgood songs. Man, I kind of miss Westlife.

Robbie Williams - Escapology is good, I like it. He's a good musician and this is an interesting, and sometimes weird, collection of songs.


Nope, didn't make it! Maybe next month... but I hit the end of 2002, which is progress of a sort. Wish I'd started earlier in the year though...

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