“Stop for a Minute,” Keane (Download)
In the age of instant downloads, You Tube, and tons of other delivery on demand methods, the past time of sitting down and listening to music is pretty much dead. Nowadays, we often listen to music while doing other things, but I grew up in a family where listening to music was something that we did instead of watching TV. When I say listening to music, I mean we actually sat down and listened to an entire album. There was no multitasking, no real skipping around the tracks, and no shuffle mode. It was side one, and side two. And while you were listening, you would gaze at the album cover, read the track listing, and the liner notes. It sounds antiquated, but really it was a way of really letting yourself be enveloped in the music. It’s a lost past time, really, and I doubt many of us engage in it anymore. I know my “music time” is really relegated to driving and riding my bike (when it’s in stationary mode).
So it was with great surprise when I slipped on my earbuds last night and listened to the new Keane EP on my iPod that I felt like I was back in that space where one is enveloped in the music. Now I won’t lie to you and say that I was just sitting there listening to each track. Nope, it was during my daily (or in this case, my nightly) ride on my bike (which was in stationary mode on one of these things):
Anyway, imagine my surprise when I didn’t reach for my iPod and change tracks on the album. It seemed song after song was a refreshing surprise. I won’t say that this is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, but I will say that lately I’m giving entire albums spins instead of just finding the strongest track and adding it to a playlist. Call in anti-A.D.D. but I really feel that with the enormous output of music these days, one should try and get away from playlists and get back to the lost past time of listening to an entire album. Granted, you’re going to get some duds, but that’s always been the case with album releases. What I’m suggesting is that you give an album a listen without getting all fidgety by looking for the button that will advance the track.
I’ve done that with some albums I recently downloaded (courtesy of my friends and colleagues at Popdose). So, for example, I listened to the new Court Yard Hounds and Tracey Thorn yesterday and thought the Hounds’ album was okay, but Thorn’s album was quite good. Keane’s latest is some of the freshest material they’ve recorded since, well, I don’t know when. It’s quite a departure from their earlier work and I think will surprise newer listeners who haven’t really given the band a try. Have a listen to their latest single and go back and compare to their earlier work — which was more earnest and piano based. Nowadays, it seems Keane is trying to branch out and create songs that are more upbeat and less introspective. The result on their new EP, Night Train, is a mixture of fresh new sounds and some “classic” Keane from 2004 that comes together in an enjoyable way.