I always have headphones in. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing video games, cleaning the house, walking, or driving somewhere. I’m always listening to a podcast or album, and despite some concerns I have that I will end up as hard of hearing as Pete Townsend, my faith in biotechnological medical advances over the next 50 years keeps me listening away at low volumes. The tug-of-war rope between podcasts and music this summer has been squarely in the music camp. Here are the releases I’ve been spending my summer with.
Highlights of the Summer
Frank Ocean – Blond(e)
You can’t talk about Blonde without talking about the wait and the agony it put you through to get to its release. The wait was long and frustrating, but it was worth it when it finally dropped. The production is sparse, aside from a few tracks like Pink + White and White Ferarri which have a sonic fullness that really stands out. While I still prefer Channel Orange to Blonde, it’s an album that I haven’t yet put down. No matter how many new albums dropped this summer that I gave time in my mind, this is the one that I kept coming back to when they completed their cycle. Blonde is so full of singable lines that I’ve often found myself working away, saying something contextually nonsensical aloud like “Go on, Michael Jackson, climb that tree” or “These bitches want Nikes”. I can’t say that I’ll be going back to Blonde for a long time to come, but I can sure say that it made some memorable summer drives and moments. That’s more than I can say for most.
Angel Olsen – My Woman
Angel Olsen’s My Woman hit me in the gut the first time I listened to it and I don’t think I’ve recovered since. Each time I hear the chorus to Shut Up Kiss Me crunch on or the album opener, Intern, float by, I have a hard time recalling what I was previously thinking about. It’s engaging and arresting, and it’s been one of the main reasons I’ve picked up my guitar again after a few years of dust collection duty.
I listened to this album as due diligence more than anything. I received a promotional email about shows in the area for the next few months, and I was excited to see Rodrigo Amarante was playing some new solo songs he had written as an opener for Angel Olsen. Not about to drop money on a few songs without liking the headliner, I jumped into the latest album I saw of hers and fell in love. While I wish I had known about Angel earlier, there’s something special about discovering an act simply by accident in the days of BNM. I hope the rest of her catalogue is as interesting as My Woman is.
Google Play’s Jazz For Reading Station
I hate listening to the radio, or any service where I don’t control exactly which song I listen to. I have a hard time listening to singles because I feel like my attention and emotions are being pulled in different directions continuously. Of my many musical neuroses, this distaste is best explained by my love of concept albums and my approach to each album as if it were.
Despite all of this, I have been listening to this station continuously, all summer, as I make my way through David Foster Wallace’s behemoth, Infinite Jest. I always like to listen to music while I read so I can block out the other conversations around me, and nothing has proved more productive than when I read with this station. I’m sure I probably wouldn’t feel this way if I was well versed in jazz, but my relatively fresh ears to the genre makes it the perfect, aurally pleasing white noise.
Wolf Parade, Moonface & Siinai
Between Wolf Parade’s EP4 and the latest Moonface & Siinai album, My Best Human Face, Spencer Krug had a grip on a lot of my music time this summer. While the new Wolf Parade EP doesn’t strike me as the best work they have ever done, I’m excited at the idea of another Wolf Parade album and that keeps me coming back for more. The first Moonface and Siinai collaboration was not a favourite of mine, but this album hits the right spot for me.