A Casual Look (at singles vs. albums)…

17 Jun

When I’m alone in the house I like to have music going on the speakers, and tonight’s selection was “Burst Apart” by The Antlers- it’s really good night music. I probably can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the album on repeat (or even if I could I wouldn’t dare let you know how many hours days weeks ermmm I’ve listened to it), and I’ve gotten to know it better than I myself had even realized. You know that moment when one song ends and there’s that couple second gap before the next tune, but in your head you can already hear the first few chords? That happened to me tonight between “I Don’t Want Love” and “French Exit”.

The first album I ever had this experience with was The Beatles’ “1”. Beginning when I was in elementary school, this was my dad’s and my “car album”- the one that you have in the glove compartment that’s your go-to when there’s nothing good on the radio or you just want to groove. (It was also one of the albums that made me love music four times my age, but that’s a story for another day…) I heard those opening twangs on “Ticket to ride” almost before “Eight days a week” was even over, and got excited every time my brain correctly jumped the next-song-up gun.

I’ve always been a complete album kind of gal, and this is one of the reasons why. I like knowing the flow of songs, and love when they almost melt into one another (my favorite example of this being The Dandy Warhol’s “Welcome to the Monkey House”- to me that feels like one 45 minute jam).

In this digital age, the importance of the album is starting to be overlooked. I do like singles- but only really when they’re being released as teasers, whetting my appetite for an album to come. For finding bands as well- a single song may be what draws me in, but I do like sample the rest of the album. Sometimes I haven’t loved a single, but it’s made more sense and appealed more to me when I’ve heard it in the context of its LP.

Main points: Thumbs up Antlers, thumbs down singles

I think I’m going to create a whole post category for talking about albums, I have a feeling I’ll have more to add to this discussion… :)

Currently listening to: We Don’t Want Your Body by Stars, the music video for this song came out today and it’s a giggle

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6 Responses to “A Casual Look (at singles vs. albums)…”

  1. Patrick June 17, 2011 at 11:10 PM #

    I cannot agree with you more. It seems too many recent albums are combinations of a couple hit singles and a bunch of mediocre filler songs. Sure, to hardcore fans the filler songs can be worth a listen. To people who like sitting down and listening to an album all the way through, though, the lack of continuity is extremely disconcerting.
    Honestly, its because of this that bands like Kamelot, Opeth, and even Within Temptation are among my favorite groups of all time

    • blogonlyknows June 18, 2011 at 11:16 PM #

      I have to dork out for a second- you’re my first non-spam comment! Thanks and yay! ^___^

      I haven’t heard much of those bands- what albums of theirs are your favorites?

  2. lundygras June 18, 2011 at 2:04 AM #

    After rereading this, I felt I needed to add this at the top. (My comments below are about the vinyl world. :D)
    I’m with you on the album. However, I would like to make a quick point here that has come to me over the years. I’m not sure if its the current thinking in the industry these days, but in the past, I always felt the single was a way for a band to deliver new material to the public and the airwaves in a relatively short period of time. This release often gave the band a hit record and also a keystone into building an album or making some changes in their album before it went to press, to increase the sales potential. I remember reading stories about bands that came into the studio with 2 to 3 times as many songs as they were going to be able to use. The B side to a single was often thought of as a throw a way.
    For true fans during those lulls when the band wasn’t releasing any new material, Checking out that single B side was often a way to get a “fix”. The B side often didn’t make the album cut.
    After doing a little google search, I found a list of forgotten “B sides” many of which I really enjoyed “discovering” while waiting for the next single or album. I thought you might enjoy the list.
    http://forgottenhits.com/your_top_200_favorite_forgotten_b-sides

    • blogonlyknows June 18, 2011 at 11:06 PM #

      You’re right about singles, they do serve a purpose- I mean how else could we have “one hit wonders” that burn so bright then fade into oblivion? ;) But you do have a point about singles being sweet little treats during big release lulls, and boy do I appreciate them then!

      About the link- wow I can’t believe that “We Will Rock You” was a B-side!!
      …And “Color My World”!
      I guess there’s hope for B-sides yet- not that they’re a terribly relevant concept these days, but that’s beside the point. ;)

  3. lundygras June 18, 2011 at 2:25 AM #

    Oops, meant to include this but it slipped my mind till after I hit post.
    I think the vinyl period that you and I love was a more conducive period to to creating a thematically coherent album in large part, due to the artistic component (Album art and Liner). They could take you on an aural and visual journey that an ipod just can’t do. Any thoughts? :)

    • blogonlyknows June 18, 2011 at 11:11 PM #

      Agreed! On iPods you can still technically see the album cover while playing a song, but it’s not big enough to see the details. You can’t feel raised edges, or read along with the lyrics on a sleeve. Sure, you can look them up online and read them there, but it’s not the same.

      As far as art goes with an album (the cover, etc.), maybe music videos are taking control of that area? That’s the most visual way I can think of a lot of artists I consider “artistic” today, and that’s where they can show their art to a large audience, and by putting it on MTV or the internet there’s a likely chance that people will see it. Just a musing, maybe I’ve got something here, maybe I took a wrong turn… ;)

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