All My Little Words

Listening by Numbers: 2013 at Halfway

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 12, 2013

At the start of this year I made a vow to be more honest about my music taste, to avoid (as far as possible any misrepresentation) by trusting the numbers as accrued via last.fm scrobbles, and then to evaluate the data impartially. Here’s what my list of albums, ranked by listens, looks like after six months:

last.fm scrobbles

Of course the numbers aren’t infallible, as not only does last.fm not count anything I’ve listened to via anything other than Spotify (I have, for example, the Bastille, Taylor Swift and older Caitlin Rose records on vinyl) but it also won’t include any Spotify listens that were played but not scrobbled, such as when I went skiing, listening offline and was all over the Tegan and Sara.

Even with that qualification the list looks about right to me. It’s felt like a pretty fair fight between the top three, with both the Caitlin Rose and To Kill A King records being added to my Spotify playlist on March 2nd and Bad Blood arriving just two days after that. Still, for there to be only three plays between them is pretty impressive.

For Caitlin Rose to be responsible for a full 5% of my listening this year, she absolutely deserves the top spot and I really do love the melancholy magic of The Stand In – with the exception of the final track which is a bit waltzy for my taste – as much as I did her first.

It’s worth asking if I would have listened to Bastille’s album quite as many times if I didn’t know Dan? It’s impossible to answer that but I suspect a few of those might have fallen by the wayside, if only because I probably would have got to it a bit later. Regardless, it’s a fantastic pop record, the songs suiting every occasion you might choose to hear them in – i.e. just as good in a tent with ten thousand as on my own, at home, in the dark with a large whisky, after a fight with friends. (Which I haven’t ever actually, done, obviously. That’s just an example.)

Cannibals With Cutlery is very different but equally powerful and it’s no surprise that there should be a strong musical connection between these guys and Bastille. I once drunkenly told the lead singer that fans of The National ought to really like his stuff. I’m sure he’d never thought of that before. Still, I stand by the assessment of the album – dark, uncompromising, whistful, wonderful wonderful wonderful stuff.

That’s the big three done and although I’m not gonna go through each of these but a shout out is definitely due to Kacey Musgraves for Same Trailer Different Park. A proper country record but smarter and more self-aware than most of what I’ve come across recently, I love the stories she tells and the way she tells ’em.

Having referred to The National I ought to mention their album as well. After the success of High Violet there was a lot of expectation on the follow-up, even more as it had been such a long wait, and this could so easily have disappointed. Although it wasn’t as easy to get into as it might have been Trouble Will Find Me rewards persistence. I expect to be listening to this for a while yet.

Phosphorescent’s Muchacho feels oddly similar in tone to Trouble Will Find Me but is more sunrise to The National’s sunset. Song For Zula with its wonderfully stereoed strings might be an early contender for track of the year.

I actually don’t like Settle by Disclosure as much as its ranking would suggest, but dancing to this bunch’s live show in the middle of a henge of illuminated perspex boxes will go down as one of my all-time favourite Glastonbury memories.

Frida Sundemo deserves extra praise for making it so high up this list despite Indigo having only six tracks on it. That puts her at seven full listens for the EP and, if we were normalising the data, would propel her up the rankings. I’m not gonna do that though.

In my head Charli XCX and Tricky’s albums are, in some ways, two sides of the same coin. While one is a debut the other the work of a veteran both are a huge amount of fun to play at volume and throw yourself into. It’s been a pretty great year so far.

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One thing I would like to add to this is that Devotion by Jessie Ware, 2012’s table-topper is only not seen in this snapshot because its plays are split between the original release and the more recent Gold Edition. Each of these received a solid thirty seven listens apiece, the sum of which would park it firmly inside the top ten. LOVE HER.

 

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