Everyone Is Guilty

I woke up this morning with probably the worst cold I've had in two years. My throat feels like someone sandpapered it while I was sleeping. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's what happened, because I was never sick enough in the days leading up to this to warrant such a horrible-feeling throat.

Unfortunately I still have one more final to finish before my life can stop being on hold. I'm not even allowed to do anything for my mom's birthday until after my final! I plan on baking her a two layer sponge cake with pastry cream filling in between the two layers of cake, and a layer of sliced bananas on top of the pastry cream. I think it sounds good, but who knows. Sponge cake and pastry cream aren't very hard to do, just so long as you know a couple of tricks. I do plan on sharing the recipe, but only after I've actually made it.

I haven't really been engaging in listening to my music, at least not the last two days. Sometimes it all feels a little bit too much; I now have 10,164 songs in my iTunes library. I read the interview Ed Droste did on Pitchfork (I know that I'm really lazy, don't rub it in!) where he comments on this "download culture", where every album and artist is pretty much all replaceable.

Pitchfork: The record leaked online before its release. Was that a disappointment?
ED: Well, it happened, literally, maybe five days after we mastered it. That was a really huge shock because it came from a really sort of shady-- no one ever confessed to it, but something sketchy happened. It was a really huge bummer that it happened so soon. We knew it was gonna leak and we were prepared for that, but really, the biggest bummer for us was that we spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into making sure that it's a really rich recording-- recording it to tape and doing all these nice sonic details-- and then it leaked and I remember listening to it and it sounded like an underwater YouTube stream or something. It was really, really bad. And so it's just a bummer to think of everyone's first impressions of this album being this horribly compressed, terrible-quality version of the album.
But that said, the excitement behind it and everyone's reaction was really encouraging and exciting for us to see. I think people find their own way of showing support, whether it be through an album sale or coming to a concert or even just telling some friends about it. Obviously, the leak didn't hurt us because we debuted in the Top 10. You've gotta be sort of Zen about it. I would never be angry at someone for downloading the album. Sometimes people just wanna listen to it first to see if they like it and that's totally fair. I'm as guilty of that as anyone else. The only thing I find a little strange about the download culture now is that people have so much music at their fingertips that it's really easy to dismiss an album quickly. I'm speaking from my own experience, where I've caught myself downloading a bunch of albums and then I sort of listen to one and I'm like, "Eh." And I wasn't really giving it my all or listening to it in the right order. I caught myself one day where I was like, "What am I doing? This is so not how this artist intended it to be."
Pitchfork: It's definitely not the way I listened to music when I was a teenager-- I memorized every album I bought, whether I liked it or not.
ED: Remember that feeling of buying an album? And you didn't have a lot of money so you bought one album and you had that album for like, two months or something until you bought another album? This really cool thing that would happen where you would be forced to only have that album because you couldn't just download a million more, and you may not have liked every song on it, but then as you started listening to it more and more you'd be like, "Oh wait, I do like track nine." You lived with an album, and that doesn't happen as much anymore. I'm sure some people do have that experience still, but it's a little bit harder to get to that place because you can easily just switch gears and go off to something else if it's not tickling your fancy at that moment.
I haven't had that kind of experience with an album for awhile, either. And I sort of miss it-- that feeling of not necessarily settling for an album but just of having an album and having your initial favorites, then listening to it and listening to it and discovering new things and being like, "Whoa, I really like this part now." Just the feeling of "This is what I have for the next six weeks or so until I can buy another album."
Pitchfork: There was time to develop that relationship. Now I feel like it's so hard to develop a relationship with anything because music moves so fast.
ED: There are so many more releases that people have access to. I don't know, maybe there were this many releases when I was growing up and I just didn't know where to look for them. That's probably very much the case. But it just feels like there are a billion [new records] every year. A lot of people are curious and excited about stuff, and one of the great things about the Internet is that people are excited about music and wanna hear a random album from a band somewhere in Romania or something, and to listen to all sorts of stuff from around the world. They have access to new stuff that they would have never had access to [before]. But sometimes I feel like it's a total overload. Where you're like, "I can't even focus anymore." You know?
Pitchfork: Sure. Everything feels disposable.
ED: It is definitely much easier to feel that an album is disposable-- to dismiss an album or delete the tracks you don't like or to just throw it into shuffle or whatever. But that being said, it's a case-by-case situation and that's the way it is and there's nothing we can do about it. People digest and process music differently, and I'm sure that was the case even when I was a kid. I'm not critiquing the general public, I'm speaking from my own experience of being guilty of deleting a track that I didn't like. Then I'm like, "Wait a second, that's not fair. Why am I doing that?"
Pitchfork: We all do it. I do it all the time. Do you read reviews?
ED: When we were smaller we read much more than we do now. We get updates from the label or from our manager but I think reading too much of that stuff can be a little bit unhealthy. You just sort of have to go with it and be like, "If people like it, they like it and if they don't, they don't." I remember thinking, like I was talking about the situation with everyone being able to stand 100% behind every song, I remember being like, "Well, I can stand behind this album. If someone hates it, I can stand behind it and be like, 'Well, I'm proud of it and I love it and sorry that you don't like it.'"

So I think that might actually be what's going on here. I'm definitely not tired of music, but I am feeling a little bit spread thin. My Best of 2009 is going to happen in about four days, and there were so many fantastic albums to come out this year that it's kind of hard to think about. I don't think that a year is enough time to really explore every album, and though I am looking forward to 2010, I honestly wish for a little pocket of time so I can fully explore every album I like. But that's simply not possible. 

The worst part is that you have to acknowledge that there are good albums basically every year since we started recording them; there are albums that are truly worth listening to. My secret project of 2010 (I refuse to call it a resolution, because it isn't one) is to go through all the albums worth listening to (all the albums that people have been hyping up for the past few years on their blogs) and actually understand why they're so great. It's a grand undertaking, but fortunately I have a pretty good starting point; most people have been putting lists of best albums for the past decade. I don't know what I'm hoping to get out of it, but it won't hurt anyone -- at least my project isn't listening to the last decades' worst albums ever. Who knows, maybe I'll document the entire project.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

You are ridiculous kiddo, but I fully support this awesome venture as long as you record your findings and post them here :D