[Album Reviews] 2020 Half-Year Review

I’ve listened to shy of 230 albums released in 2020 between January 01 and May 16. I listen to new albums primarily to hear new things but secondarily to find new favorites. Over these past few months, I’ve only found three albums that I would consider buying. All the rest I heard legally, through streaming platforms, so I’ve invested zero dollars into this project. I still wonder, though, why do I keep up this project, this Album Review Game?

Didn’t I already answer the question: to find new favorites?

Well, I could do that casually throughout the year, but this is a more formal game, if you will, of listening to the cool, rare, popular, or painful albums and writing about them. My approach starting this year has been to leave thoughts on every album I’ve heard. What started off as meandry prose turned into writings about my experiences going to shows. It’s been wild for me to consider that I’ve been going to concerts with some degree of frequency since around 2012.

This game presents one challenge: finding new favorites that year.

My 2008 Albums list was a challenge for me to assemble because most of the albums weren’t legally acquirable back then. I had to download each one. I even missed some current favorite albums, but what can one do? We can’t hear everything. No matter how hard I try to clear out my queue of albums I want to hear released in 2020, I keep adding more. For me, though, it’s not a challenge anymore. Although the 3863 views and 3 favorites I received for the 2008 list or 584 views and 12 favorites I’ve received as of this writing for the 2010 list won’t net me any writing success, it’s a fun way to hear new things.

DESIREand “Tavern Kween” were surprising favorites to me.

I don’t often like dance music, and it could be easy for this rhythm to become annoying for me, but there’s just something about this album and specific song that appeals to me. I’ve decided that even if I write about music, like I do, I don’t want to be a formal music reviewer or analyst. If I can write like how I write on my 2020 list, let me know, because I enjoy writing impressionistically about how I feel when I listen to music. I find that perhaps more useful for readers than just telling them generic information about the music’s genres or attempting to write critically.

You can read me struggling to write concert reviews before giving up.

I can write about how Merzbow created some of the most accessible noise music in StereoAkuma from my subjective perspective, where I can say that listening to that album is like getting sucked into a noisy tunnel, but it feels nice. I can’t write about the instruments used, so we write about what we know. And rounding out my Top 3 of the half-year is the latest Sepultura album, which is more sonically interesting than some of their other albums, but is included here more because I like the band than because I like the album, I guess.

What other albums will be in store for me throughout the rest of the year?

I know that even if it’s just those three that are high watermark albums, I’ll be happy, because I just like listening to a wide variety of things. I’ve found that I really only listen to CDs anymore when I’m driving, and lately, I’ve been less interested in getting locked into an album that’s like a 2-star or 3-star, so I’ll replay the same handful of CDs just because it’s more predictable. I don’t have to eject the CD at a stoplight and switch it with something less offensive. My tastes have become more critical and most of my good CDs are boxed up.

I’ll consider buying these albums if I get the chance.

I’ll write about this more in-depth, but I would like to go back to concerts, once it’s deemed safe to go back to them. At my next Sepultura show, if they have any Quadra CDs available, I’d buy them. Will Merzbow ever tour the US again? If so, I’d go. I know that a Desire Marea concert would be completely outside my usual concert tastes, but based on how much I enjoy this album, I’d want to go, or at least buy the CD when CD stores reopen.

I guess I would phrase my relationship with albums as this:

I’m open to listening to anything, so long as I can stop playing the music at any time. When I have a physical CD, I tend to listen to it in the car, so I have to listen to it all the way through, and if I skip tracks, why even listen to anything but those few highlights? I hate to say this, but my days of buying random physical media – CDs, videogames, books – has ended. It’s not exactly because of current events or downsizing efforts, but in general, I should only want to own those special CDs, like ones I got autographed at the show, or ones that I love.

Otherwise, I’ll finally take friend-of-the-website IDKFA’s advice that going CD hunting is boring.

When music stores reopen, I’ll probably go back, but my meandries will only go through my top favorites along with current favorites. I would buy DESIRE if I see it for sale. I’m not interested in online sales because like I was implying before the physical item has to mean something besides just physically owning a copy of it, which doesn’t seem like it’s possible right now so maybe by year’s end I might buy a digital copy and make my own physical reproduction. I’ve learned my lesson, too, that buying albums just because I temporarily love them doesn’t mean that I’ll continue to love them for years to come. It would be cool to buy my Top 10 albums of 2020, not out of obligation, but because I love them so much.

We’ll see in December…

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Saw that it was about halfway through the year on my writing calendar, so I wanted to write some half-year content.
Related: Other Media Meandry essays.
Picture: A drawing of my Top 3 album covers.
Written On: 2020 May 16 [10:19pm to 11:04pm]
Last Edited: 2020 May 16 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.