Monthly Archives: December 2011

Album covers

2011, My Year In Music

Back at the junction of 2010 and 2011, for whatever reason, I neglected to record a retrospective of the previous year’s music-listening activity – or indeed, any sort of look back at the preceding twelve months. These gaps in recorded history niggle at me; like a lot of anally-retentive computer nerds I am an inveterate list-maker, and I like nothing more than drawing up information-rich lists of data to discover how my habits changed over the entirely arbitrary period of the past year.

All of the data here comes from last.fm, which has dutifully collected my scrobbled tracks from both work and home, iTunes and Spotify, since 2005. Most links are to Spotify.

 Top 10 Artists listened to in 2011

  1. Afghan Whigs
  2. Arcade Fire
  3. The Black Crowes
  4. The Gaslight Anthem
  5. Radiohead
  6. Daft Punk
  7. PJ Harvey
  8. The Beatles
  9. Foo Fighters
  10. Elbow/Pearl Jam/Bon Iver

This was the year that I discovered The Afghan Whigs. I already had a copy of their album Gentlemen, courtesy of Jeremy Keith during the big Pownce shutdown of a few years back, but this year I obtained first digital and then physical copies of the rest of their back catalogue, and they are now one of my favourite bands. Lead man Greg Dulli’s current work with The Twilight Singers and (with ex-Screaming Trees and QOTSA Mark Lanegan) The Gutter Twins also ticks a lot of my boxes.

The rest of the top ten comprises a few new album releases this year (Arcade Fire, Daft Punk, PJ Harvey, Foo Fighters) together with some perennial favourites.

Top 10 Albums listened to in 2011

  1. 1965 (The Afghan Whigs)
  2. The Suburbs (Arcade Fire)
  3. TRON: Legacy (Daft Punk)
  4. For Emma, Forever Ago (Bon Iver)
  5. Sigh No More (Mumford & Sons)
  6. Amorica (The Black Crowes)
  7. Wasting Light (Foo Fighters)
  8. The Seldom Seen Kid (Elbow)
  9. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel)
  10. Play (Moby)

1965 had almost twice as many plays as the next album on the list, and would have been even more if my stereo scrobbled CDs as well. I also really liked Arcade Fire’s third album and Foo Fighters’ latest, and re-acquired a couple of old favourites lost in house moves or Spring cleans over the years. In particular, The Black Crowes Amorica has had a lot of love; for me, it’s one of those albums that reminds you of a particular time in your life.

Foo Fighters and Daft Punk were the only albums actually released in 2011, and the TRON: Legacy soundtrack was actually my first ever MP3 purchase from Amazon, a process that should be simple but is immeasurably over-complicated by their insistence on using their own download software.

The rest of the top ten – Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons, Elbow – reflects the realities of living with someone who doesn’t share 90% of your taste in music; inoffensive modern folk dominates our mealtime or evening listening.

 Track of the year

It should be no surprise that the track I listened to the most over the last twelve months (twenty-three times according to last.fm) is from the #1 album and band. The Whigs’ final album was recorded in New Orleans and has a real loose, sultry feel to it – “Uptown Again” is the standout track for me:

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All of the albums above are available to listen for free on Spotify – I’ve collected them into a single playlist for easy exploration: 2011, My Year In Music.

Mutation station

Photo of road sign in Holland: This area is protected by DNA-sprayThese road signs strike me as slightly scary. The caption reads “Area protected by DNA-spray” but it’s not entirely clear how that process works. Will the spray somehow extract my own DNA for later identification purposes? Perhaps it will make bits of me drop off for police retrieval. Or maybe the sign is trying to tell me that at the first sign of foul-play, I will be sprayed with some other, unknown DNA, leading to uncontrollable mutation so that I have to leave my family and go to live in an upstate New York school with Hugh Jackman.

Actually, that’s enough to put anyone off committing a crime on this street…

The wrapping finally comes off the new Stedelijk Museum

 

Finally the scaffolding and coverings have been (mostly) removed from the new Stedelijk Museum at the south-west end of Museumplein, and the new building is looking pretty impressive.

Stadelijk Museum in Museumplein

Like so much modern Dutch architecture it is big on counterweighted overhanging parts (see for example the various hotels and things up near the central library), and the material it is coated in has a strange, almost ceramic look to it. The doors have all been covered now so you can’t see the state of the inside, so hopefully it will all be completed in time for the planned 2012 re-opening.

The official website is a bit strange as well – the enormous fixed-position ‘T’ initially looks like part of the layout, until you start scrolling…