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Monday, April 11, 2011 

Music Diary #1 (last Monday)

So, the esteemable Nick Southall came up with this Music Diary project, and last week I participated. By which I mean I kept track of every bit of music I consciously experienced during one full week, and promised I'd write about it. Due to both the rather hectic pace of my week and the recursive spiral I would enter while writing about each day at the time, I decided to wait and post each day a week after it occurred. Times listed refer to the time I started listening to that album/group of songs/whatever, even if I didn't finish listening for a few hours. You're getting the same sort of write up everyone else who participated did, only a week later. Think of it as an after-dinner mint, if you've been following the project.

Monday, April 4

Matt & Kim - "Yea Yeah"/Los Campesinos - "Ways to Make It Through the Wall"/Johnny Boy - "Johnny Boy Theme"/Oneida - "$50 Tea"/And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - "Days of Being Wild" (9:30 AM)

These days, one of my primary music listening times is at the gym in the morning. And I have an ever-expanding exercise playlist that I listen to on random; this morning, this is the selection I got. (I will skip past a song I don't feel like listening to at the time, but I generally don't pick specific tracks.) Today was a cardio day, so these songs accompanied me on the treadmill; I actually listen to less music on cardio days, because I'm in the pool for longer. This was a pretty good selection, although a bit slower than I normally like it. That Oneida song is a burner, though.

The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck (10:30 AM)

This Monday was an atypical one; I knew that I had a ridiculous weekend lined up, so I booked off Monday morning and worked from home in the afternoon. But before that, I went and got breakfast with my housemate; this is what she was playing in the car, and I wound up hearing the rest of the thing while we did errands after work. I really love the Mountain Goats, and this was just my first listen, but I was mostly (disappointingly) underwhelmed. I've heard the album a few times since and I'm warming to it a little, but so far it's the only Darnielle album I've heard that I didn't fall for immediately, excepting Heretic Pride (which I just never managed to like, for the most part). I love Get Lonely and The Life of the World to Come, but this one just wasn't gelling for me. Listening to it in the arm in pieces, driving around and talk, may not have helped.

The Kills - Blood Pressures/The Kills - Midnight Boom (11:10 AM)

I had a half-written review to finish before work, and I tend to find it impossible to write about something without listening to it or something related to the review at the time. It's a kind of fact-checking - yes, the guitar sounds like this, not that. Yes, they use that beat twice. Oh, I just heard a lyric I want to mention. That sort of thing. Neither of these listens were straight through, but I did hear all of both records.

Low - C'mon (4:10 PM)

By this point I've been working for a few hours, and maybe because I was writing earlier I didn't listen to music when I started. Usually working from home is an excuse to listen to MORE music, because it's a little more private (and I don't have to wear headphones), but before I notice it I've let a good chunk of the afternoon slip away. Low's new record is phenomenal, and I've got to review it before the end of the week, so I make sure to listen to it again. I don't know how typical this is (same with the practice I mention in the entry for today about the Kills), but I only start actually writing very late in the review process; most of the 'work' gets done through repeated listening and lots of thinking. Usually at some point that thinking generates a beginning or an ending, and then I start the actual writing. But if I work on a review for (say) two weeks, the business of turning my reactions into sentences and paragraphs might occupy two or three hours over the course of a day or two, and total time sitting in front of my computer trying to write (writing/researching/procrastinating, rinse and repeat) probably no more than four or five. Like I said, I have no idea if this is an odd way to work, but it's evolved over years.

The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck (7:00 PM)

The aforementioned errands and further listening. Boy, I really do not like the choir on "High Hawk Season." Then again, I didn't like Darnielle's voice the first time I heard it. We'll see.

Low - C'mon (8:10 PM)

Finishing off the last couple of tracks and going back and listening to a few specific ones to figure out more stuff for the review. Nothing too exciting.

The Mountain Goats - "Moon Over Goldsboro"/The Mountain Goats - "Isiah 45:23" (9:05 PM)

After another gap, I recall that driving around listening to All Eternals Deck brought these two to mind; the former, my favourite from the underrated Get Lonely and one of my favourite Mountain Goats songs period, partly because a friend recently casually dismissed the album in the midst of writing about AED, the latter for no appreciable reason. Having them brought to my mind while I'm sitting at my computer finally answering long-overdue emails (I haven't really gone through my person account since, oh, a year ago) means that I find them on YouTube and listen to them again. They fit together surprisingly well.

Mountains - Air Museum (9:15 PM)

The new album from a band that is, quite frankly, just perfect. Their genre and method (ambient music, basically) means that their work isn't for everyone, but I have yet to hear or see them put a foot wrong. This is more research; I'm working on something with/about them that won't be published for a bit, but in any case I'm quite enjoying this so more background research is as good an excuse as any.

TV on the Radio - Nine Kinds of Light (10:05 PM)

As I'm going through my emails, I'm also dipping in and out of message board conversation, much of it about this album. I love, love, love Dear Science (and "Wolf Like Me," and a few other things the band has done), but strangely I don't feel that warm towards TVotR. And this is a disappointment, or maybe it would be if my expectations were higher. I've since been informed by some of the same friends whose naysaying made me intrigued enough to check it out now that it gets better, but I just don't know if I care.

Radiohead - "How to Disappear Completely (Live)" (10:40 PM)

A little while back I wrote a brief piece for PopMatters about this song, and while going through my email (an enterprise rife with guilt for me, because 90% of the stuff I hadn't responded to is lovely, some even borderline fan mail, and that makes it much worse that I haven't gotten my shit together enough to write back) I see that someone had sent me the live version I wrote about having many years ago. Of course I listen to the MP3 right away. Of course it's gorgeous and just what I was looking for. Of course I feel like a jackass.

Zapruder Point - "The O.M." (10:55 PM)

And last but certainly not least, I find that the nicest email of all is from Dan from Zapruder Point, and not only should I have answered his email long, long ago, but I finally realize where I recognize his name from; long ago, via glenn mcdonald (still and always a personal patron saint in the field of writing about music) I downloaded and loved "The O.M." This fact, of course, makes me feel even worse that the writer and singer of that song wrote me a really nice and actually quite flattering email and I let it sit there for months. Thankfully, Dan will wind up accepting my profuse apologies.

Tomorrow: A longer day at the gym, Singles Jukebox work, and I get something in the mail.


Found on YouTube while looking up those two Mountain Goats songs:


Too good not to share.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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