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  1.  (10008.1)
    The consumption of the album in one sitting doesn't happen as much as it used to. This stems from technology to some degree - when you had vinyl only it was such a pain in the ass to switch between songs/discs that you just rolled through the entire thing, now you've got MP3 players and playlists with thousands/millions of choices at your fingers. It could very well come from economics also - people simply don't buy albums as much as they once did (in any form), and the single-track buying revolution happened a while ago ala iTunes, eMusic, and the like. But the album has not gone away. In fact, some of my favorite front-to-back albums grew out of the 2000's Age, and it seems more often than I think an artist will put out a brilliant concept album. Hence, my questions:

    - How often do you listen to an album straight through?

    I probably do every time/every other time I listen to music. I've got an MP3 player that doesn't get too much use unless I'm on a train or in my car. I've got a vinyl collection, which helps, and I still listen to CDs quite a bit. Even when I'm on my computer I'll put a whole album on while I'm doing something else.

    - What was the last album you listened to in its entirety?

    A wonderful, stream-of-consciousness little thing called Hunting For Father by a guy named Kristoff Krane. It's part Citizen Cope, part Daniel Johnston. Part World, and part Hip-Hop. One of the best things I bought in 2010. I'd suggest looking into it.

    - What bands -- past or present -- do you find make excellent albums as a whole?

    El-P always knows his concept going in, and does a brilliant job of combining the tracks into one long piece. The Hold Steady make great albums, with lyrical threads weaving throughout. For older bands, besides the obvious picks (Floyd, Beatles, etc.)... Fugazi made good albums, start to finish. And Bob Dylan's albums, for whatever reason, always feel representative of himself at the time he made them.

    - And, the big one... what do you think makes a good album?

    Cohesiveness. Even if a band isn't doing a "conceptual" album, I still like to hear the band/artist put together a group of songs that sound as if they'd been made over a short period of time (even if they weren't). When a band puts out a new album, it is (or should be) the most representative material of that artist in their current iteration, an album should reflect that. I also really, really like when artists/producers tie songs together and reference other songs in different tracks. That's something I try to do, but that's still a work in progress. Ha
    •  
      CommentAuthornorton
    • CommentTimeJul 6th 2011
     (10008.2)
    How often do you listen to an album straight through?
    I might be in a minority here but on the whole daily. I take the dog out in the evening and the usual walk is about 40-45 minutes so perfect.

    What was the last album you listened to in it's entirety?
    Last night it was the Blade Runner soundtrack, last week it was a Ghost Box record each night.

    What bands -- past or present -- do you find make excellent albums as a whole?
    Ghost Box definitely fits in here, then it's folks like Current 93, Nurse with Wound, etc. although if you look these are albums conceived as a whole with no plans for singles being released.

    And, the big one... what do you think makes a good album?
    Quite a few things here but the main ones; the running order, an overall musical idea and attention to detail.
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      CommentAuthorrazrangel
    • CommentTimeJul 6th 2011
     (10008.3)
    I almost always listen to albums straight through when I'm driving because I don't have a way of playing my MP3 player on the stereo but I do have a CD player. I quite like it. When I have an album that I like - and out of my collection there is a couple dozen that are on continuous rotation - I like nearly all the songs on it so I'm happy to hear it through. Good production means a solid movement through of the tracks that should make the most sense in the order they already are on the album.

    At first I thought you were asking after listening to an album straight through as an activity - hitting play and staring at the stereo, doing nothing but listening. The last I think was Amanda Palmer's Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I was going to point out I haven't bought CDs since then because I'm poor, but I've recieved a few as gifts. Since none in particular stand out, I figure I listened to them while doing some busy work in my room like cleaning.

    Usually the artists I like make (or made) great whole albums, though it's possible that's just my bias. Nine Inch Nails, Tori Amos, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Ruby, afp/Dresden Dolls, Dead can Dance, Portisehead, Tricky, A Perfect Circle, REM, Machines of Loving Grace, Bauhaus, Siouxsie.... Some are concept, some really stick to a theme, most approach an album as a comprehensive project.

    Good album: that comprehensive thing... or as you called it cohesiveness. When an album is a whole project and everything that fits in that project is on or associated with the album, then they're on the right track. By project it can be an investigation of an idea, tackling a new form or musical style, specific parameters around what sounds/songs suit the theme.
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeJul 6th 2011
     (10008.4)
    - How often do you listen to an album straight through?
    Every time I buy a CD I play it on a discman all the way through and sometimes when I'm walking around with my I pod as mood music.

    - What was the last album you listened to in its entirety?

    Bob Dylan- Bringing it all back home.

    what do you think makes a good album?

    How the songs fit together, pretty much what everyone else is saying so far.
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      CommentAuthorjoe.distort
    • CommentTimeJul 6th 2011 edited
     (10008.5)
    how often:
    nearly every time i turn on the turntable (sometimes i just listen to a stack of 7"s, sometimes just one side of an lp), plus sometimes on the mp3 player. probably 5 days out of the week.

    what was the last album:
    LAWRENCE ARMS, greatest story ever told. ties together wonderfully, with the last track leading into the first.

    what makes a good album:
    enough in common that it sounds like one record, while varying enough as to not be boring as fuck or all blend together. this is why D-beat and crust are HORRIBLE for full albums, yet intricate metalcore and weirdo-post punk makes for good stuff

    what bands: this is waaay to broad, so i will just say that REFUSED-shape of punk to come is probably my favorite complete album (it is insanely varied, and probably the most pretentious record ever mad eby hardcore kids who discovered jazz and other shit), with MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE AS THE BLACK PARADE a close second. some of my favorite bands are NOT GOOD at writing whole records, and are best sticking with 7"s, or split 12"s
  2.  (10008.6)
    Two days ago I let Broken Social Scene's self-titled play in full during a workout.

    A pretty appropriate item since even though I play albums in full several times a week, including basically a normal number of new releases as I ever have, 2005 was the last time I could really be moved to experience albums as a whole. That was a good year for it.

    Not exclusively, but pretty close. Mostly if an album's good (cohesive but interesting) then I'll play it in full but that's more out of convenience and then I just get pissed off at the thing for being convenient. My favorites lately will tend to be played just half at one go. They tend to be over-long a samey but allow for frequent nibbling.

    I get my 'whole is more than the sum of parts' experience these days from mixes, including the ones I make myself. I like to see who different artists' ideas support or undermine way other and form stories.

    Now we can chalk this down to format (I haven't bought a cd without regretting it in several years, but buy my mp3s almost exclusively by-the-album) and economics, but for me one of the biggest disruptors has been that there's a lot more good bands than there used to be. In the post radio-control days of ~2000, finding good bands on Napster was like being pulled out of the torture chair in Brazil and landing in the green countryside, and so I would give bands a lot of loyalty and attention. When that wore off, my tendency to romantify albums dwindled.

    typed on mobile
  3.  (10008.7)
    How often?:
    Depends on setting. In the car, my iPod is 100% shuffle because I don't want to mess around with changing things while I'm driving. My commute is 2-2.5 hours so it would be a couple of albums. When I'm sitting with iTunes fired up, it's the inverse. I'm almost 100% full albums. In fact, I find that songs I own as singles get played way less than ones on full albums because I have to remember to listen to that one song between albums.

    What was the last?:
    Right now I'm listening to Ministry's Psalm 69 and I just finished Kim Boekbinder's Impossible Girl.

    Who/what makes a good album?:
    Depends on how you define it. If you put on anything by <PIG>, I'm a happy boy, so yeah, he makes a good album because I'll love every song. While I like a good concept album if well executed, I'd rather have a collection of solid songs that flow nicely from one to the next. I'll give it to NIN for both. Opeth puts out solid albums as well. And of course sellmeyoursoul... he's effing amazing! (OK, I'll stop wanking now)


    I've actually been doing a lot of thinking about this lately. I've spent the last two years (time permitting) working on the most high concept album I've ever put together. There's still a lot of work to do, but I'm thinking this may be the last "album" I do. If people are more interested in singles these days, it seems more reasonable to put out rock solid singles on a more frequent basis than to put out full albums. Of course I self produce and release 100% digitally, so that might have some impact. As an artist (OK, I just vomited a little in my mouth) what's the point if you don't have a unified vision that requires the songs to be collected? There's more risk bundling 10 songs together if only three of them are going to sell. Besides, you can generate more buzz by releasing something regularly. The album as we know it is really a function of market forces that don't exist anymore, so why be married to them? (says the guy who feels compelled to own/listen to full albums if they're available)
  4.  (10008.8)
    Depends on circumstance and mood. Probably 50-50, I'll often stick an album on the train and listen to it all the way through - usually if I'm relaxed (or more often than not too exhausted to do anything other than weakly jab at the media player on my phone). If I'm jumpy/stressed I'll tend to pick a bunch of high-octane/high emotional response tracks and go for those.

    I've listened to JuJu by the Banshees as a whole quite a few times over the last couple of weeks, also the last Arcade Fire album. A lot of albums that I had vinyl of I've got the A and B sides hard coded - the Mary Chain's Automatic for example, I loved the A side and didn't dig the B side so much, and as such tend to cut the CD off at that point! There's quite a few like that!

    What makes a good album? Cohesion, sometimes a concept - Crime and the City Solution made some beautiful, brilliant records that really hang together well - The Bride Ship, for example, had a concept and musically was full of little echoes of Dvorak's New World symphony (I don't think I've imagined that!), and just works so well as a single piece. I'd very seldom dip into those for single tracks.

    What I hate about CDs is when spurious tracks get stuck into something that worked as a whole on vinyl, seemingly randomly, that were perhaps B-sides and just don't fit.
    • CommentAuthorOrpheus
    • CommentTimeJul 6th 2011
     (10008.9)
    First off, i'd like to say that I am a pretty big fan of music. The only thing is that it generally is not recent music, unless i am a huge follower of a particular artist.

    - How often do you listen to an album straight through?
    Unless i really fancy a particualr track, it starts from track one to the end. The exception to this is when i get a new album, where i split it into fragments and learn the rhythm in two or three pieces. Progressive rock, withot exeption, is played from the beginning.

    - What was the last album you listened to in its entirety?
    Oddly enough i listend to 'Placebo - Without You I'm Nothing', which flows out of the speakers like a tide. This is an album which i find you can play really quietly and unwind or completely unravel.

    - What bands -- past or present -- do you find make excellent albums as a whole?
    Ive recently dicoverd a 'progressive rock project' Under the name 'Ayreon', comprising of one man and a revolving door of a team for each album produced, as far as i understand anyway. So yes, excelent albums to absorb. Along similar lines, progressive bands like Coheed and Cambria, Procupine Tree and Dream Theatre capture great flow. Just about anything containing 'Joshua Homme' i can listen to without end, meaning QOTSA, Kyuss and Them Croocked Vultures (and to a lesser extent Eagles Of Death Metal).

    Other than the rock and metal side, composer 'Ennio Morricone' and his western movie sound tracks are really someting.

    - And, the big one... what do you think makes a good album?
    Im a sucker for any song that leads into another one, or albums that tell stories/contain hidden stories.

    I also like to 'tune into' a certain sound, so it becomes a mindscape (mind landscape) with wich to expereance or work with. Wich is why i can get so peeved at spotify adverts and 'what were they thinking?!' tracks, i find it akin to intentionally writing Pi to twenty digits incorrectly in front of an OCD genius.
  5.  (10008.10)
    @Sonny- I think this is a neat question and one I've often considered when wondering why music is, well so bad these days. The ritual of listening to records as you described it, made it just that; a ritual. Now I get into someone's car and they have like a thousand songs on shuffle and only play about 30 seconds from each!

    I am not going to try and fight progress/technology but this sort of thing is affecting ( sometimes good, sometimes bad)the way we consume all art - book, pictures, comics, music, movies ect...anyways


    - How often do you listen to an album straight through?

    I actually only listen to albums in their entirety, and what's even more odd I generally listen to one album for weeks on end! Then once the album becomes less than satisfying I try another from the same artist and go through the same process until the artist becomes less than satisfying or more appropriately until I need something else. ( Usually by this point I have grown a deep affection for the musicians).

    For example: 2011 has gone something like this - Jan-Feb Iggy Pop "Idiot" , late Feb Iggy Pop ' Lust for Life", March-April Bowie "Heroes", April-Bowie "Low" May-June Bowie "Scary Monsters & Super Creeps"


    What bands -- past or present -- do you find make excellent albums as a whole?

    The Miles Davis electric Period 1969-1976( Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Isle of Wright, In Concert, Dark Magus, Agarhta & Pangaea +) is especially amazing. The whole thing continually revolves & evolves around a small set list (like 5 songs or something) that never gets played the same way twice. Every album takes a specific approach, (for example one is funky, another rock-metal, and another one is eastern psychedelic) and every album plays non-stop as a single track from beginning to end, never a fade out nor a dull moment.

    also Frank Zappa- especially Live in New York this one is mixed from a couple performances but the bloody thing is seamlessly incredible, again it never stops...

    - And, the big one... what do you think makes a good album?

    I like cohesiveness (like the themes on the Miles Davis Albums), and I like the segue structure where every song blends into a suite or single track, I hate it when the music ends.
  6.  (10008.11)
    years ago i read a statistic that said most new albums are played on average only two and a half times. with the proliferation of music these days I can see that as being a perfectly viable number.

    I regularly listen to full albums (i'm a reviewer, it goes with the territory) but the music I listen to is generally devised to be listened to that way. Much experimental or odd music is produced with the 'album' format front and centre as opposed to the 'song' format of more commercial genres. Also a lot of these people (myself included) write really long pieces of music.

    the last album i listened to all the way through was God in Three Persons. I had a bit of a night of music by The Residents last night and that was the one I played before bed.
  7.  (10008.12)
    Interesting that the majority of you are saying you listen to albums quite frequently. This goes against what I thought was happening with the music listening public. Then again, Whitechapel is probably not (thankfully) a very good representation of the general public. Or, perhaps the general public listens to more albums straight through than I think?
  8.  (10008.13)
    i think this is a self-selecting group of responders who are all kind of huge music fans, especially when compared to the average person.
  9.  (10008.14)
    - How often do you listen to an album straight through?

    Most of the time. Sometimes I'll put my music player on shuffle, or just run through my most played tracks, but most of the time I'm listening to a full album.

    - What was the last album you listened to in its entirety?

    Drunk Injuns - From Where the Sun Now Stands I Will Fight No More Forever

    - What bands -- past or present -- do you find make excellent albums as a whole?

    Good ones.

    - And, the big one... what do you think makes a good album?

    Songs I like. Cohesive energy. Knowing when to stop. No 8 minute keyboard solos.
    • CommentAuthorOrpheus
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2011
     (10008.15)
    @joe.distort

    You're probably right, for i find most people will get an album and quickly focus on thair favoured tracks and disregard the rest.

    I think it also depends on what music it is too. I mean, stop me if im wrong, but Pop music beyond what it sounds like tells me that it pops. If that makes any sense.

    As for my 'mindscape' brainfart, think of it better as channeling an album.
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      CommentAuthorinfomancer
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2011
     (10008.16)
    - How often do you listen to an album straight through?

    If available listening time permits, I'd guess about 85% percent of the time. The other 15% is playlists that I throw together based on theme. I don't really collect tracks by themselves at all. If a band can't be bothered to put out an album that works as a whole, then I probably don't really need to bother with them.

    - What was the last album you listened to in its entirety?

    Two today so far: Rammstein's last one, Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da. I was surprised by how good that record is. They managed to make their normal sound feel bigger and still managed to get outside my expectations a bit and do some interesting new things. I think the four year break between albums really helped with that. Also listened to Fu Manchu's Signs of Infinite Power. High quality stoner metal. Their guitar work stepped up a notch on that one, though the mixing takes a little bit to get used to.

    - What bands -- past or present -- do you find make excellent albums as a whole?


    Too many to list. But I will say that Murder By Death have some great ones that are only loosely conceptual, but have a cinematic scope that really draws a listener in. I've been lucky enough to see them play two of their albums in order back to back live and it was like seeing a movie with a kickass soundtrack.

    - And, the big one... what do you think makes a good album?

    I think it works best when a band makes an album that they would want to listen to. I like that honest sense you get with some bands where it's like, "Well, here it is... this is what we do. Hope you dig it."

    Sidenote: I agree WC is probably filled with more people who pay serious attention to what their music does rather than those who just want background noise. And of those, the ones who pay the most attention will likely post here, so it makes sense that you get a lot more album listeners than track-wranglers.
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      CommentAuthorinfomancer
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2011
     (10008.17)
    @razrangl I agree with quite a lot of your band choices, but most certainly REM. They're particularly good at not letting the last half of their albums drag like a lot of bands do.
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      CommentAuthorrazrangel
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2011 edited
     (10008.18)
    @infomancer - Yay! I kind of think that REM was a good tape-band in particular. That is they really grasped how to use the cassette tape as their friend and that's why they didn't lose steam when one flipped to the B-side. In fact, I feel that many of their albums from the 80s and 90s had sub themes that were explored depending on which side of the tape was playing. The groups that are good at keeping the whole concept flowing just never stopped thinking about the vinyl experience and moved seamlessly to CDs. NIN's Downward Spiral was so thick and purposeful from beginning to end that I could see they had a hard time working out exactly where to cut the tape and have the listener turn it over. The result was side B had far less music and a ton of dead air after "Hurt." it switched up the theme and made it feel different from the CD. (I picked up the tape while in high school, and bought the CD when the ten-year reissue came out.)

    @Sonny We're self-selecting even inside of Whitechapel. Also you left out a lot of questions if you really want to know our listening habits, rather than finding the people who listen to albums rather than tracks. For example:

    How many people buy individual tracks and how often (keep it to within the last year to get a contemporary feel)?
    How much time would they estimate in a week or a month they leave their music player (whether MP3 machine or computer media player, etc) pulling tracks at random from their entire collection, or run through play lists that are tracks from different artists?
    How much time would they estimate they listen to a player service (or hell, the radio!) like Pandora or Last.fm - or even turntable in a week or month?
    How do you determine if you would rather listen to random music, even if it's your music, or if you would rather listen to an album?

    Your questions geared the answers toward listening to albums. I tried to note that my listening is largely an accident of what I'm doing at the time, with the exception of when I get a CD home for the first time and really want to listen to it and have nothing else in mind. I listen to CDs in the truck because I can't play my MP3 player, not because that's always how I want it (though I have no complaints, I like my music). When I'm doing chores in the kitchen I can connect my MP3 player in the speakers there but playing a CD would be difficult so I don't bother. When I used to work in an office I switched back and forth but often found myself keeping Windows Media Player on random because that way I didn't have to think about it.

    I don't buy individual tracks because I'm old fashioned, and a sucker for retail prices. Sad but true. This also means I rarely buy CDs anymore, but whatreyagonnado.
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      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2011
     (10008.19)
    i could hide behind the "i used to review albums regularly" shield, but i've always been a full-album person. i could be elitist and propose that the musicians i listen to are REAL artists, who put care and skill into every track, and craft an album as a whole with intention of creating a cohesive and beautiful artifact... but the truth is, i don't really listen to radio or any other place that would expose me to a single or two without giving me a chance to hear everything. i occasionally dig around on 8tracks, but when i find something new i like, i find a way to hear the whole record instead of just obsessing over the song. i like choosing my own hit singles. (and then putting them on 8tracks for other people to obsess over.) i'm just not exposed to de-contextualized tracks that often.


    i agree with joe.distort: we are definitely the wrong people to ask about selective listening. :)
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      CommentAuthorinfomancer
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2011
     (10008.20)
    @Allana - I concur entirely. I have next to zero exposure to individual tracks, unless it's a streaming album preview or something. But then I just want the whole album.