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2016 in music

Two screenshots from my Last.fm page to sum up what I’ve been listening to in 2016:

kent decided to stop being kent which made me listen to them more than usually; I welcomed a new blink-182, Silvana Imam released one hell of an album; The Hotelier’s Goodness grew on me and became one of my favorite records of the year; Tiger Lou were finally playing shows in Sweden again and released their first full-length since 2008; I spent weeks listening to Promise Everything by Basement on repeat (mostly on CD, though).

More stats from Last.fm:

 

I found these quite interesting, because – as I’ve stated many times before – I like discovering new music and this is my receipt that I’m pretty good at not just listening to the same bands or records over and over again but seeking something fresh. Not necessarily “fresh” as in recently released, but fresh to me. Not sure whether 21 % new artists or 38 % new albums are high numbers in comparison to other people interested in music, but that’s not very interesting, is it? What will be interesting is comparing these 2016 stats with 2017 a year from now.

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Angry lead singers

This photo of Danish band Lukas Graham showed up in my Facebook feed today:

… and obviously I couldn’t not think of Brand New:

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Top 50 albums 2000-2015

Inspired by Jason Tate’s blog post, I decided to list my 50 favorite records from the past fifteen years. They are listed in alphabetical order.

+44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
AFI – Sing the Sorrow
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Antony and the Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now
At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command
Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast
blink-182 – blink-182
blink-182 – Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Box Car Racer – Box Car Racer
Brand New – Deja Entendu
Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise
Circa Survive – Juturna
Coheed and Cambria – In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
Damien Rice – O
Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
From First to Last – Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There
Jimmy Eat World – Futures
Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
kent – Röd
Laleh – Laleh
Lars Winnerbäck – Söndermarken
Lars Winnerbäck – Vatten under broarna
The Lawrence Arms – Cocktails & Dreams
Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (and Reanimation. This is not cheating; they simply belong together!)
Manchester Orchestra – I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child
The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium
Meleeh – Heartland
Pianos Become the Teeth – Old Pride
Pianos Become the Teeth – The Lack Long After
Säkert! – Facit
Säkert! – Säkert!
Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends
Taking Back Sunday – Where You Want to Be
Thrice – The Illusion of Safety
Thursday – Full Collapse
Tiger Lou – Is My Head Still On?
Tiger Lou – The Loyal
The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters
Underoath – Define the Great Line
Underoath – Lost In the Sound of Separation
The Used – The Used
The Velvet Teen – Cum Laude!
We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls

… and as a bonus, here are the ten best EP:s from 2000-2015 (also in alphabetical order):

Circa Survive – Appendage
Hospitalet – sfh 1
Idiot Wind – Idiot Wind EP
The Japanese House – Pools to Bathe In
kent – The Hjärta & smärta EP
Novo Amor – Woodgate, NY
Real Friends – Everyone That Dragged You Here
Saosin – Translating the Name
Silvana Imam – Jag dör för dig and När du ser mig • Se dig (consider them one and they get twice as good)
State Faults – Head In the Clouds

Some thoughts on making the list:

  • I spent weeks contemplating this list. I wrote the first 25 records or so off the top of my head while the rest took quite a while to decide upon. I had to listen to some records a few times before making my mind up. Spending all that time probably only made things harder because even more great albums constantly came to mind.
  • In many cases I’ve chosen two releases by a band or an artist. I find that a bit interesting.
  • blink-182 members clearly mean a lot to me. They’re represented in no less than four spots on the list. And so is Anthony Green.
  • Deciding upon Have You Fed the Fish? or The Hour of Bewilderbeast by Badly Drawn Boy was particularly difficult. Eventually, I ended up with the latter because it’s an album that is all over the place in such an admirable way.
  • The Shins should be on the list. I simply couldn’t decide upon a release, so I left them out.
  • I’ve surprised myself a bit putting this list together. Some records or even bands ended up here even though I probably never would’ve guessed a while ago that I’d actually put them on a list like this. The fact that I even chose some of those releases over ones I initially listed is still a little weird to me. Head in the Clouds by State Fauls and De-Loused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta are two of those.
  • I recently left out: Biffy Clyro – Puzzle, kent – Du & jag döden, Bayside – Sirens and Condolences, Saves the Day – Stay What You Are, Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP, Sum 41 – Does This Look Infected? and Thursday – War All the Time.

 

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“So I just said nothing, nothing, nothing”

Every day is International Women’s Day. We fight because others have fought before us; we fight because we want to; we fight because we need to. There is no other choice but defeat and giving up will not be an option. We fight for ourselves, for those who can’t or choose not to and for all of those who will still be around when we are long gone. Hoping for them to carry on what we are in the middle of in this very moment.

What could be more suitable today than recommending a magnificent record that deserves more recognition and is performed by a female human being? Sprained Ankle by Julien Baker is a masterpiece in its minimal production. I recall someone writing somewhere (great source, right?) that Baker’s voice is the most haunting since Bon Iver’s debut album which is a very fitting comparison. In this review, Aaron Mook writes that “most of these songs [sound] as though Baker is playing them in the same room as you” and I couldn’t have described it better myself. There is also something about this album cover – possibly the gaze? – that has me hypnotized:

If you feel like giving Julien Baker a chance, here are two songs you might as well start with:


Julien Baker – Something


Julien Baker – Rejoice

Listen to Sprained Ankle on Spotify.

Julien Baker currently has 22 694 listeners on Last.fm.

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“I lost my patience with it all”

The artwork for this single (The Wolves by Ben Howard) is greatly appealing. I’m a big fan of typography, so this would do well as a framed poster on my wall.

 

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January 1st

My only New Year’s resolutions will be: 1) Listen to more music. 2) Buy more records in order to support music I like.

Here’s my 2015 top twenty according to Last.fm:

 

Now let’s just hope 2016 brings us some nice songs!

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Sun Kil Moon – Universal Themes

This album cover, though…

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Goodbye, Apple Music!

My Apple Music free trial is soon to be over. Even though I’ve enjoyed parts of it, I’m not sticking with Apple’s music service. I’m going back to Spotify as of today. Top three reasons why I’ve had it with Apple Music for now:

* No Last.fm integration.

* Not as social as Spotify.

* No easy way to create and share playlists (having to add songs to “My Music” just because I want them in a playlist bugs the hell out of me).

 

What I will miss most about Apple Music is probably the design. It just looks far prettier and more appealing than Spotify ever has. (I find Spotify’s Start page very disturbing, for one. No, Spotify, I never want to listen to your shitty pre-made playlists.) But, you know, looks isn’t everything. Clearly.

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Update/Breakdown

I’m at my most vulnerable today. It’s been exactly three years since my mum passed away. Things were quite alright all day; I had a lot to do at work so I was distracted enough. After work I went to the cemetery just to light a candle and breathe and focus on mum in an environment that allowed concentration. Not sure if that makes any sense. But then again, what does?

Considering the circumstances, I was fine. Until I opened Last.fm. They’ve “gone live” with their new interface (quick tip, Last.fm: don’t force users to use something that’s clearly not finished any time soon) and this is just too much for me on a day like this. My eyes have literally teared up several times during the evening (that’s a little too much, I know, but I’m simply not ready for this change today) because of the new design. It’s just that incredibly awful. You can see for yourself in these photos:

This is my new profile. Why would I want my most played track emphasized at the top? See how Last.fm have decided that blink-182 should be in my cover photo just because they’re my most played artist – what’s up with that? No town or country listed – really? Track – artist instead of artist – track – REALLY? Following/followers – really? This isn’t Twitter, you know. An ugly fucking heart next to each song. A Google ad as one of the first things you see in my profile? Are you taking a fucking shit on me, Last.fm?

Here’s my new home page. Recommending me shows I’m already attending – really? Ads that take up one third of the whole page? What?

Back to my profile, a bit further down. The dimension of things is just really strange. Those photos are way too big and the way they’re presented looks stupid. And if I don’t want to list my top albums on my profile, can I remove that section? Nope! Is there perhaps a way to see more of my top artists in a text based list, like before? No, of course not! Because Last.fm love to give us shitty updates and they want us all to hate them. Are ads taking up one third of my profile? Yes! There’s no way to overview my profile and scrobbles in an easy way because all I see are large photos and irrelevant ads.PS: Where are my upcoming events? My bio?

Here’s what things look like if you visit a song page. If you think this is good and/or useful design, you must be 1) an idiot or 2) totally inexperienced with web design.

I hate you so much right now, Last.fm. I’m so sad to feel this way because I’ve cherished this site for nearly ten years and loved it to bits. I think my eyes are tearing up again.

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Apple Music

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for Apple Music‘s three-month free trial. There are quite a few things I find disturbing about Spotify, which I’ve been using on and off for the past few years. I thought that Apple would’ve come up with a much better service, given they’re so late into the game and, you know, they’ve got quite a bit of money to invest. I read a bit about Apple Music and its features before I signed up for it. It all seemed pretty good to me, even though I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about using iCloud Music Library (especially after reading those horror stories about how Apple fucked up people’s collections) and losing a bit of control over my iTunes library. However, the three-month trial is free after all, so I decided I might as well give it a try (after making a backup of my iTunes library, of course).

(As far as I can see, Apple haven’t fucked up my iTunes library so far. Phew.)

Tomorrow I’m unsubscribing from Spotify. Because I love Apple Music? Nope. Simply because my trial is still running. I’m  usually a fan of Apple products and until a few days ago I was sure that they’ve convinced me to stick with their music service. Some more getting used to is all I need, I thought. But these past few days a couple of things have been bugging me more than I believe is necessary for a music streaming service:

1) No integrated Last.fm scrobbler. Is this even possible?! you might all think. Well, yes. Apparently. Apple Music doesn’t scrobble streamed tracks easily on iPhone or iPad. I’ve found a way around the issue by running an app for scrobbling in the background. It’s not bullet proof but most streamed tracks get scrobbled. But hey, a separate app for scrobbling? That’s just stupid. And this app isn’t even available on iOS, which means music I’m streaming on my Macbook isn’t listed on my Last.fm page. Ugh. (Any music I decide to add to My Music scrobbles just fine, but that’s not the point here. Isn’t streaming plus scrobbling basically a human right nowadays?)

2) Making playlists is incredibly complex. Here’s how I create a playlist in Spotify: I name my list. I search for a streamed track and then I drag and drop it into my playlist. Here’s how I would have to create a playlist in Apple Music (I haven’t done it yet because I get mad just thinking about it): I name my list. I search for a streamed track, click three dots that show up next to it (can I just right click? NOPE!) and click “Add to” (can I just hover this option? NOPE!) and then I can choose the playlist I want to add this track to. Alright, fine. I could’ve lived with that. But there’s more. Once I’ve decided to add a streamed track to my playlist the track is automatically added to “My Music” (which contains my music library). W H A T ? ! Have Apple lost their minds? Just because I want a specific track in a playlist doesn’t mean I want it in my library! Is that too much to ask?

3) I can’t find my friends as users. People who are familiar with Spotify probably know that you can find friends by searching their username or adding them or whatever. On their page you can see playlists they’ve made or subscribed to, as well as what they’ve been listening to. Quite a neat feature if you have friends with nice taste in music. And it doesn’t even have to be a real-life friend. Want to check out some playlists made by Mark Hoppus? Of course you do. And they’re right there!

On Apple Music, you can’t subscribe to playlists like you can on Spotify, either. That’s very strange, considering how much they emphasize the social feature “Connect” in their marketing. Not finding any friends or other people’s playlists seems really unsocial to me.

Some of the things that are bugging me might change for the better eventually. But how long will it take? If these things haven’t changed when my trial is over I’m subscribing to Spotify again.

One last thing (as if I haven’t listed enough first world problems already): the desktop version of Apple Music isn’t as pretty as it could be…

Ah, the potential Apple had to make something incredible with their music service. Still waiting for it to happen.

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Quite pretty

Have a look at the cover of Beach Slang’s upcoming album The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us. That is one beautiful cover. And the album title is very appealing, too.

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I’ll never forget 2014

When it comes to concerts, 2014 was kind of weird. In a cool way. A great way. I saw Bayside, NOFX and Taking Back Sunday live. Three bands I’ve been listening to for about a decade; two of which have never been to Sweden before. Sure, seeing them live eight years ago would have been cool, but honestly I think I somehow appreciated it even more now. It’s cool going to shows when you’re a little older and you’re not too caught up in being a fan; it’s not as much a competition as it is a pleasure. I like not being as overwhelmed by the fact that this or that bandmember is standing in front of me, or feeling like I’ve got to remember every word to every song or I’m not a “real” fan. You know what I mean?

Bayside.

NOFX.

Taking Back Sunday.

Sorry for the shitty iPhone photos, but in Sweden we’re hardly ever allowed to bring DSLR cameras to shows anymore. Not sure if that’s the case for most people in other countries too.

But those bands weren’t the best part of 2014. I finally got to see blink-182 live. A band I’ve been listening to for 15 years or so; three of my favorite people in the whole world. They have meant and still mean more to me than any other musicians out there. I went to London in August to see them perform at the Brixton Academy. As if that wasn’t enough I also met Travis Barker after the show. The brief encounter was over in seconds, but it was one of the most memorable moments of my life so far. At 25 I feel a little too old to wait for bands by their bus after shows but blink is my only exception. blink-182 life. For life.

blink-182.

Travis after the show.

2014 gave me a lot of awesome concert experiences. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 will bring.

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Newest additions

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who still buys records.

Today I picked up:
Hello Saferide – The Fox, The Hunter and Hello Saferide
Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were
Ryan Adams – Gold
Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine
The Velvet Teen – Out of the Fierce Parade

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How to get good music recommendations

Having a coffee listening to bands I haven’t listened to before. I love doing this. I’ve got a whole bunch of recommendations, based on what I’ve listened to before, that I’m just working my way through. Most recommendations fit my taste very well, others are spot on. So what’s the key to getting good music suggestions? Sign up for a Last.fm account! It’s completely free. Once you’ve listened to music for a while you’ll be able to see all your recommendations like this:

I’ve had my Last.fm account for about nine years now so they know me pretty well. What I love about this is that I get suggestions of established bands as well as those that are less known.

And hey, if you decide to get a Last.fm account – make sure to add me as your friend!

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Beautiful covers

Speaking of that letter in my last post, buying or listening to records based on their cover art is something I’ve always enjoyed. Among my drafts I found a post on that topic. Let’s read it!

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One of my favorite things about buying records is owning little pieces of art. Because some album covers are just insanely pretty to look at. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve bought records based on their covers many times. Here’s some of my favorite album art:

Prawn – You Can Just Leave it All

The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace is There

Albert Hammond, Jr. – Yours to Keep

Jens Lekman – Oh You’re So Silent Jens

Ben Howard – Every Kingdom

Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Seabear – The Ghost That Carried Us Away

We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls

Damien Rice – 9

Minds Like Mine – Set Up & Set Out

Best Coast – Crazy for You

State Faults – Vespers

Elliott Smith – New Moon

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning

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