Month 2 of my algorithm-free music discovery. I think my Top 5 songs definitely reflect that.

You can listen to this playlist on Apple Music or Last.FM

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The Alison is a real gem that I found digging through Bandcamp. I’m withholding judgment a bit on Epic’s takeover of Bandcamp. I hope it doesn’t destroy the product/community and/or turn it into an onboarding platform for musicians to sell NFTs.

There are a lot of strange ones on the list, too, because I’ve found this Apple Music Playlist called Sleep Cycles that has a bunch of really excellent ambient drone stuff that I use to sleep on the couch when family obligations force me up at 4:30AM. So if you’re listening and wondering why those tracks are on there, it means I was up early so many times that some of the tracks got repeated, a bunch. Not entirely sure how or if to filter them out.

Anyway, The Weather Station was another gem of a find. So suggestive of Kate Bush but the band is also crackling with quiet intensity which I love.

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As promised, I’m trying to get better with tracking my listening and less-algorithmic with my music discovery process. Here’s what I listened to a lot of in January. Maybe next month I’ll figure out some fancy way to make this list streamable? We’ll see.

Here’s the playlist on Apple Music.

Wet Dream – Wet Leg – Wet Dream – Single
Slide Tackle – Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
Be Sweet – Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
Wild Blue – John Mayer – Sob Rock
Tell Me Something Good (feat. Chaka Khan) – Rufus – The Women of Soul
the angel of 8th ave. – Gang of Youths – the angel of 8th ave. – Single
Bonny – Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen (Remastered)
When Love Breaks Down – Prefab Sprout – A Life of Surprises: The Best of Prefab Sprout (Remastered)
Anxious – The Housemartins – London 0 Hull 4
Happy Hour – The Housemartins – The Last King of Pop
Better Now – The Weather Station – Ignorance (Deluxe Version)
But Not for Me – Ahmad Jamal – Dinner Jazz Classics
Remember – Air – Moon Safari
Nicoteen – Bunny Lowe – Nicoteen – Single
My People – Cha Wa – My People
Bring On the Dancing Horses – Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever
in the wake of your leave – Gang of Youths – angel in realtime.
Don’t Change – INXS – GLUTTONY – EP

A few weeks ago I began using an iOS app called Marvis (which, I cannot recommend enough for helping to organize and find albums/playlists in your Apple Music). Using Marvis, I’ve created a few rule/filter sets that help me surface albums I haven’t listened to in a while.

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However, what I am finding is a disappointingly large number of albums I have ripped or collected in MP3/FLAC over the years are incomplete. 

Take this Neil Young album, After the Gold Rush for example:

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Why in the world am I missing track 3?

I know that I own this CD and ripped it myself. I’m totally confused as to why the track is missing. At first I thought Apple’s Cloud Sync was somehow to blame and that this track was just missing in my Apple Library but not on the actual filesystem. No such luck. It’s missing on my external SSD as well as on my backup drive. 

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I am totally confused about what’s going on here! 

The Great Purge

Marvis has helped me realize that I have a bunch of albums in my Apple Music Library that I am never going to listen to. Stuff that I’ve acquired over the past 20 years or so. In the early years of digital audio, in a frenzy of “digital music acquisition syndrome” I just piled my external drives up with all sorts of garbage as friends and I would trade drives. For example, I like some Bjork now and then, but do I need her complete library? Prob not.

Anyway, I have set a goal to reduce my Apple Music Library to just the essentials. I’ll keep complete albums that matter to me and remove stuff that I’ll probably never spin. But while I remove the cruft from my Apple Library, I’ll keep the source files on my filesystem/external drive so that if I ever want to reimport them, I can. 

Which leads me back to my incomplete album problem. Some of the albums I want to keep in my Library have ended up being incomplete which is a bummer.

As usual, Doug AdamsDoug’s Applescripts site has a script I can run to help me at least determine which of my albums are incomplete. Albums Amiss has proven especially helpful:

This script uses track information to calculate whether a particular batch of tracks with the same Album title represent an incomplete or over-complete album, with either too few or too many requisite album tracks. Such batches will be copied to a discrete results playlist where they can be examined. The entire Music library or an individially selected Smart playlist can be scanned. (To be clear: the script does not check some kind of online database; it uses the extant local track entry information. Thus, tag accuracy is essential.)

Of the 2,400 or so albums currently in my library (I’ve already purged about 300, so, progress!) this AppleScript found 700 that are incomplete. Now, at least some of those are because my track entry tags are missing but a lot are just plain incomplete albums. So this helps jumpstart the purge in 2 ways:

  • Start by reviewing the albums that are missing tracks for stuff I’ll never listen to and remove it from my library
  • Determine which incomplete albums I want to rerip from CD (and do so in some kind of lossless format this time around)

Hopefully when this little project is done, I’ll have an Apple Music Library that consists of complete albums that I want to listen to and not a lot of cruft. From there, I ought to be able to build out some especially useful/inspiring lists in Marvis. 

This, combined with my current habit of buying vinyl from artists I’m currently digging, makes me feel like I’m moving just the tiniest bit away from streaming as my preferred way of listening to music. 

Anyway, if you are interested in learning more about Marvis, here is a terrific writeup of the application from Marc Barrowclift.

Really a bummer that iOS makes it so tricky to log listening to last.fm. While on vacation this week I haven’t been sitting at my computer that much and have been doing a bunch of listening on my iPhone and iPad and very little of what I’ve listened to is showing up in my log over at last.fm. I’ve discovered some great music this week and feel like a bunch of those discoveries are gone now because I have no easy way of resurfacing them. Agh. So frustrating.

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I like the hypnotic quality of the instrumental (National resonator guitar) that leads up to the very short lyric part (which is great in its own right). Feels like a combination of atmospheric and folk at the same time. Not that they’re mutually exclusive but listen and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s a live performance of jaybird on YouTube

If you are a dog person, you will almost certainly dig this track, Dog, off of his more recent release… a soul is a soul is a soul is a soul.