What I’ve Been Listening To (8.1.21)

The music I listened to the most from July 25-31, based on song plays per album

Welcome to my weekly column “What I’ve Been Listening To,” where I publish a post every Sunday with my 5×5 collage of most-listened releases (which is sourced by my Last.fm account and made into a collage via this site). I do not intend these to be lengthy write-ups, but I like to include notes on my listening habits, discoveries, etc.

  • Some weeks, the music listed in my 5×5 is the perfect encapsulation of what I listened to. Some weeks, I don’t even listen to enough music (or enough variety) to fill out a 5×5. This week, it’s hilarious how much is missing. This is largely because I spent two days listening predominantly to Spotify playlists, including a UTR Media playlist of the best music of 2021 thus far (which features my song “Q2FN”), a Spotify-curated playlist of “the new grunge,” and another official Spotify playlist featuring independent rock artists. It was an interesting change of pace for me, and while it didn’t yield much in terms of artists I want to hear more from, it did get me in front of a lot of artists I was unfamiliar with, including two styles of rock that are refreshingly different from what I usually listen to or create.
  • You’ll notice that I listened to most of Paramore’s discography, but we haven’t finished it yet, so I’ll report back next week with my updated thoughts and ranking. The only full discography I listened to this week was Common Children, a band I’d never heard of and didn’t much care for. That said, their sophomore record Delicate Fade was a really lovely listen.
  • I mentioned last week that I quite liked the new Leon Bridges album, and that remains true; in fact, it’s probably one of my favorite releases of 2021. I revisited 2018’s second album Good Times and can now confidently confirm my opinion that Leon’s latest is also his best.
  • I listened to a LOT of new music on Friday, but not much made it to the 5×5. Partially, this is due to listening more to new singles than to new albums. I only made it five tracks into the new Billie Eilish album, which I hope to finish eventually but wasn’t enjoying at all on first listen.
  • The only new album that I finished was Needtobreathe’s Into the Mystery, which was a profound disappointment coming after last year’s excellent Out of Body. Mystery was the album that the band created during quarantine, giving themselves only a month to write and record the whole thing from scratch, and the end result proves that this was a bad idea; consistently, they lean on overdone melodies and musical ideas, spewing out cliched lyrics that, despite being passionately performed and produced with polish, all wreak of “first draft.” I expected the band to hold themselves to higher standards or to use this opportunity to experiment more broadly, but the finished product seems more lazy than anything else.
  • Silk Sonic are finally back, baby! “Skate” released this weekend as the duo’s second single, finally giving us new music after the massive success of the #1 hit “Leave the Door Open.” We still don’t have a release date or track listing for the rest of the album, but the amazing pairing of Anderson Paak. and Bruno Mars continues to shine, as they perfectly capture and reproduce the magic of old school R&B-pop a la Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder. “Skate” isn’t as musically adventurous as the first single, but it’s a stupid fun time that gets me stoked for more.
  • Dissonants by House of Heroes was one of my favorite albums of 2016, but this was my first listen in about a year. It mostly stands up as an awesome 00’s alt-rock album. A few other all-timers filled up this week, like Mew’s Visuals, Switchfoot’s Oh, Gravity, Finch’s Say Hello to Sunshine, and Thrice’s Illusion of Safety.
  • Speaking of Thrice, one of my highest played releases this past week was, yes, their new single, “Scavengers.” I wrote fairly positively about the single last week, but it really clicked for me this week in an exciting way, which led to me obsessively listening on repeat on multiple occasions. (In fact, if I had pulled my 5×5 early enough this morning, there’s actually a chance that the song would’ve been listed first with over 30 plays.)
  • The soundtrack for Attack on Titan is brilliant.
  • My album Development & Compromise made it onto my 5×5 because I’ve been practicing and playing along to the songs. I’ve got some exciting things in store, so make sure you’ve signed up to my mailing list to stay updated with the latest news.

Author’s Note: The reason I created this website and write these articles stems from my belief that artists should support other artists, in the same way that art inspires art. My sophomore album Development & Compromise is available now and I’d love for you to hear it.

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