Commemorating 10,000 plays

RSS
Condividi

Mag 1 2009, 5:46

How I've gotten here:
I've come a while since I joined Last FM in October 2006. I actually barely listened to any music at all before the summer of that year: I've never really been a big fan of popular music, and I guess I never realized just how much more was out there. But when a friend got me into Dragonforce that summer, my mind was opened to a whole new world. I listened to their three albums pretty much constantly for months (to the point where I had memorized all of Valley of the Damned and most of Sonic Firestorm, including the solos). I don't actually remember how I found Last FM, but I know that at that point they were finally starting to get sort of tiresome, and I was ready to branch out from there. The first band I checked out through Last FM was Rhapsody; next I moved to Blind Guardian, with whom I spent a pretty huge amount of time. Symphony X formed a sort-of bridge from power to progressive metal, although prog metal didn't click quite so quickly as power metal had; the first time I heard Dream Theater's Images and Words, it went completely over my head, and I put it down for more than six months without listening to it again. It wasn't until I got stuck on a bus trip that went about three hours longer than planned thanks to an accident, that I got bored enough to give it another shot; and I don't know what had happened in the meantime, but I suddenly had a breakthrough, "Oh, I get it now" moment. And the rest is history.

Top Artists
The point of the story is that I feel my charts are particularly interesting because they represent just about all the music I've ever listened to. They're not quite complete: there's the several hundred Dragonforce plays I mentioned before; I also lost a pretty big chunk of time when I was mostly listening to music on my iPod but couldn't get iPod scrobbles to work. If these are accounted for, I suspect Symphony X would be #1 with Dream Theater not far behind, and Blind Guardian and Dragonforce would be pretty much equal at 3 and 4, and Redemption would be about where Iron Maiden is now.

But, with that aside, here's what I do have: my top bands and why I like them, and my favorite albums and songs. I don't know how well journals circulate now that recommended reading is long gone, but, if you come across this, you're welcome to use it as an "If you like X band, try out Y" type of thing, especially since my charts aren't really that diverse (unless you came here through Bruce Hornsby or Bruce Springsteen, in which case I'll tell you right now that they're big outliers and you won't find anything else you like). Recommendations, especially of more obscure bands I may not have heard of, would be awesome.

Honorable Mentions:

25. Transatlantic (104 plays)- Supergroup consisting of Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater, Neal Morse, Roine Stolt from The Flower Kings, and Pete Trewavas from Marillion. Their songs are LONG, but their music is amazing. I was very excited to hear they've recorded a new album.
Favorite album: Bridge Across Forever
Favorite songs: Stranger in Your Soul, All of the Above, Duel With the Devil

17. Souljourners (189 plays)- Brilliant (and very obscure) prog metal band from California. The best thing I can compare them to is a somewhat less crunchy, more melodic Redemption; they don't have Ray Alder, but the guy they do have is no slouch, either. The first thing that jumps out at you when you hear these guys is that this is prog metal with balls. They have it all: technical talent, well-written songs with memorable melodies (seriously, any song on the album is capable of getting stuck in your head), and interesting lyrics as well (their album is a concept album about a Brave New World-like dystopia). They're not on Last FM, but if you're a prog metal fan at all you need to go on their Myspace right now and check them out.
Favorite album: Mind Control
Favorite songs: Permanent Scars, Tangent Universe, The Avenger

The Top 15(ish):

14. Demons & Wizards (222 plays)- I guess sort of obligatory for someone who was once a big Blind Guardian fan. I actually find their self-titled album a lot more consistant than most of BG's stuff now, and I think that Hansi and Schaffer work well together. I'm holding out on getting their second album because I feel I'd appreciate it more if I had actually read the Dark Tower series.
Favorite album: Demons & Wizards
Favorite songs: Fiddler on the Green, Blood on My Hands

13. Darkwater (234 plays)- Sort of obscure (although not as much as they used to be) prog metal band that makes use of long, atmospheric songs that have a "wintery" feel to them; their singer reminds me somewhat of the guy from Circus Maximus but a bit better, although without the lower range. They aren't exactly the most uplifting band, but they're still pretty pleasant; I've found they work particularly well as background music.
Favorite album: Calling the Earth to Witness
Favorite songs: Tallest Tree, Habit

12. Circus Maximus (236 plays)- They try to strike a balance between epic, technical, and melodic, and the for most part do a pretty good job; their singer has a very impressive range, although some of his higher stuff can get a bit grating. But the songwriting is pretty interesting and creative, and they sure do know how to make a good hook.
Favorite album: The 1st Chapter
Favorite songs: Alive, Sin, The 1st Chapter

10. Riverside (257 plays)- I like their unique sound and find it particularly well suited for relaxing or as "rainy day" music. They're at their best as far as I'm concerned in their long, atmospheric instrumental passages, although the vocals are really good as well.
Favorite album: Out Of Myself
Favorite songs: Volte-face, Out Of Myself, Reality Dream (1)

9. Bruce Springsteen (275 plays)- It's hard not to appreciate it when mainstream music manages to be as intelligent and thoughtful and cathartic as Springsteen often is, and still be pleasant to listen to and sometimes even kick ass. His "Barcelona" DVD is probably the best live performance I have by any artist.
Favorite album: Born to Run
Favorite songs: Jungleland, Born to Run, The Rising

8. Breaking Benjamin (285 plays)- I am from near Wilkes-Barre and it's pretty much impossible to be from near Wilkes-Barre and not listen to Breaking Benjamin. I don't think their genre is really all that interesting, but they have some decent stuff and more personality than many of their peers, so they're worth a listen every now and then.
Favorite album: Phobia
Favorite songs: The Diary Of Jane, Evil Angel, Dance With The Devil

7. Redemption (310 plays)- This somewhat lesser-known prog metal band is one of my favorite artists right now. Their two main albums (they have a third one, but it's basically a studio project with a mostly different lineup) are near-perfect, with brilliant songwriting and melodies, excellent musicianship, great lyrics, and mind-blowing vocals from Fates Warning frontman Ray Alder. I really can't overstate just how much I love this band.
Favorite album: I consider The Fullness of Time to be my favorite album by any band
Favorite songs: Sapphire, Threads, Fall On You

6. Rhapsody (373 plays)- For me, these guys have always belonged to the category of bands that are pleasant and fun but don't really leave me dying for more. Right now I have the first two albums of the Emerald Sword saga, but although I've always thought I'd like to eventually hear the rest of it, the priority's never been high enough that I've actually gotten around to it. The cheese doesn't really bother me and I like the orchestration, but still, for whatever reason, I never really got into these guys. The only reason they're up this high is because I've had them in my library for longer than most of the other bands on this list.
Favorite album: Symphony of Enchanted Lands (1)
Favorite songs: Lord of the Thunder, Emerald Sword, Eternal Glory

*. Bruce Hornsby / Bruce Hornsby & the Range (214 + 237 = 451 plays)- I grew up listening to Bruce, and even as I've moved into metal and progressive music I've never forgotten him. He remains my favorite single musician of any genre. I guess I have some kind of emotional connection to him; to me his music is relaxing and refreshing and comforting. I'm not overly focused on the hits, although they're good too, but I could listen to just about anything he's done (ok, maybe not Big Swing Face) and enjoy it. Bruce is probably the reason I love piano so much, even in metal. He's amazing live as well.
Favorite album: I know pretty much no one will agree with me on this one but I have to go with Hot House
Favorite songs: Cruise Control, Spider Fingers, the live version of The Way It Is from Here Come the Noisemakers

5. DragonForce (604 plays)- I can't say they really do a whole lot for me anymore (although I did get a pretty good amount of playing time out of Ultra Beatdown when it came out last year), but Dragonforce will always have a place in my heart as the band that got me into not just metal, but music in general.
Favorite album: For sheer nostalgia, Valley of the Damned
Favorite songs: Fury of the Storm, Black Fire

4. Iron Maiden (639 plays)- I have a whole lot more back-catalogue to work through before I'll feel fully justified in considering myself a Maiden fan (really, I'm still missing most of the classics), but I've got to respect their musicianship and their class. They fully deserve every bit of popularity they've earned over the years, and I actually feel that their newer albums are criminally underrated (although that might just be because I like the almost-progressive direction they've been taking, especially with A Matter of Life and Death).
Favorite album: Dance Of Death
Favorite songs: Paschendale, Different World

3. Symphony X (915 plays)- I was originally attracted to them for the neoclassical stuff and the mythology themes (I still find the story behind V fascinating), and it was through them that I got into the progressive genre. Russell Allen was my favorite singer for a long time, although I wish that he would actually use his great voice more and tune down the stupid half-growls, which work some of the time but generally don't use his abilities to their full potential. I don't really like the darker, heavier direction they've headed into with Paradise Lost. But, damn, no one can write a ballad/half-ballad better than they can.
Favorite album: The Odyssey
Favorite songs: Awakenings, Paradise Lost, The Accolade

2. Dream Theater (1067 plays)- The remarkable thing about Dream Theater (well, besides their god-like technical ability) is how diverse they are. Images and Words, Awake, and Scenes from a Memory all practically sound like they come from different bands, and that's not even counting the heavier stuff they've gotten into recently. James LaBrie may not be the greatest vocalist, but he works so well with their sound that they just wouldn't be the same without him. And the song-writing may not always be the greatest (you know, with all the instrumental wankery and stuff), but I don't see anything wrong with a good jam as long as you keep it within reason, which they've generally managed to do, at least until recently. But what I really love about Dream Theater is that they've got something for just about every mood: relaxed, happy/optimistic, depressed/pessemistic, angry, regretful, troubled/conflicted, nostalgic, and, of course, the mood where you're looking for something epic. That's why I can listen to so much of them: their music always seems to strike just what I'm looking for.
Favorite album: Images and Words
Favorite songs: Learning to Live, Octavarium, Strange Deja Vu

1. Blind Guardian (1112 plays)- They basically epitomize everything I used to love about power metal: the catchiness, the energy, the epicness, the fantasy lyrics. I think I started to turn away from them as I began looking for more album-oriented (rather than song-oriented) music, because I never, even when I really loved them, thought they were all that consistant. But still, like Dragonforce, they'll always hold a special place in my heart.
Favorite album: [album artist=Blind Guardian]Somewhere Far Beyond

Favorite songs: Imaginations from the Other Side, Somewhere Far Beyond


Top 20(ish) Songs (Last FM count):
18. Circus Maximus - Silence From Angels Above, The Prophecy (36 plays)
18. Dream Theater - Wait for Sleep (36 plays)
18. Symphony X - Paradise Lost (36 plays)
16. Dream Theater - Take the Time (37 plays)
16. Blind Guardian - Another Holy War (37 plays)
15. Breaking Benjamin - Unknown Soldier (38 plays)
12. Iron Savior - Wings Of Deliverance (39 plays)
12. Blind Guardian - Turn the Page, Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill) (49 plays)
11. Symphony X - King Of Terrors (40 plays)
7. Dream Theater - Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, Surrounded (41 plays)
7. Circus Maximus - Sin (41 plays)
7. Blind Guardian - Mirror Mirror (41 plays)
5. Dream Theater - Pull Me Under (42 plays)
5. Blind Guardian - Imaginations from the Other Side (42 plays)
4. Symphony X - Accolade II (44 plays)
3. Dream Theater - Learning to Live (52 plays)
2. Symphony X - Awakenings (55 plays)
1. Symphony X - Inferno (unleash The Fire) (59 plays)

Top 16 Songs (Itunes count - reset mid-March 2008):
(16 because there are like 10+ tied for 17th and I'm not typing that all out)
16. Dream Theater - The Mirror (25 plays)
14. Dream Theater - Home, Erotomania (26 plays)
13. Dream Theater - Voices (27 plays)
9. Redemption - Sapphire, Man Of Glass (28 plays)
9. Dream Theater - Learning to Live, Through Her Eyes (28 plays)
7. Redemption - Parker's Eyes, The Fullness of Time IV: Transcendence (29 plays)
4. Dream Theater - 6:00 (30 plays)
4. Redemption - The Suffocating Silence, Fall on You (30 plays)
3. Dream Theater - Overture 1928 (35 plays)
2. Dream Theater - Strange Deja Vu (37 plays)
1. Redemption - Threads (38 plays)

I think I sense a pattern in that last list.

Favorite song:
For a long time I would have said it was Awakenings by Symphony X, but I haven't really been listening to them much lately, and, right now, I'd have to say my favorite is Learning to Live by Dream Theater.


10,000th song (May 1, 2009, 1:29am):
I figured I couldn't really do anything else than go back and remember how this all began, with Dragonforce's Valley Of The Damned.


New Userpic:
It's amazingly creative, isn't it?


The Future:
I will, of course, happily continue to delve into increasingly obscure prog metal for the forseeable future, as well as going deeper into discographies of bands I already like (an enormous number of bands I like are releasing new albums this year as well). However, I'm also trying to diversify a bit, because, despite outliers like Bruce Hornsby, my collection is still rather one-dimensional. For one thing, I'm looking to get into more prog rock, especially the classic stuff from the 70s that I'm unjustifiably missing. I'm also becoming more willing to at least try out mainstreamish stuff, because, if all else fails, it'd nice to be able to join in conversations among my friends about music every now and then. I don't really care about trying to project a certain identity with what I listen to, so I'm open to just about anything that I think sounds good. It doesn't have to be progressive, it doesn't have to be metal. It just can't be rap. Fuck rap.

It's entirely possible (maybe even probable) that I'll come up with something completely new by the time I hit 20,000. It'll be interesting to see where the journey heads next.

And at this time, on the off-chance anyone's made it this far, I open up the floor for comments or suggestions.

Commenti

Aggiungi un commento. Accedi a Last.fm o registrati (è gratuito).