Monday, June 21, 2010

That's a deal breaker: Less is More: Double Albums

I have an aversion to double albums.  Time wise, a double album is quite an investment. Blame it on a short attention span, but for me the ideal album length is between 40-45 minutes and no more than 13 songs.  Certainly there are exceptions to this rule, like Blonde on Blonde or London Calling, but an album would have to pretty fabulous to keep my attention much past the 50 minute mark. I'd much rather long to listen to an album again than wonder when it will be over.

Also, the more songs, the more chances are that at least one of them will be dreadful and usually it's more than that.  Many albums suffer from a smorgasbord effect, artists take on too many different styles and none all that successfully.  Or they let the drummer put his song on the album. Between the length and the somewhat hodgepodge quality, double albums feel less like fun and more like a homework assignment.

Exceptions to the Rule include:

The Beatles- White Album (1968).  I have a love hate relationship with this album, as in I love pretty much everything that John Lennon does on the album and hate pretty much everything else (especially everything by Ringo and "Savoy Truffle" and "Long, Long, Long"), though this is more-or-less my attitude towards everything done by the Beatles. Still the Beatles are at their experimental peak and it's hard to write off any album that has "Dear Prudence" and "Sexy Sadie" on it.
Find it in the Catalog!

Husker Dü- Zen Arcade (1984).
Find it in the Catalog!  

LCD Soundsystem-LCD Soundsystem (2005).
Find it in the Catalog!  

Magnetic Fields-69 Love Songs (1999).  The Magnetic Fields are a gateway drug to art rock, concept heavy with a nice, catchy pop sound.  I don't really love every moment out of the album's near 3 hours, but it's hard not to admire Stephin Merrit's songwriting.  The album spans several different genres and a variety of love relationships. Useless Magnetic Fields trivia, their accordionist/ keyboardist is Daniel Handler aka. Lemony Snicket.
Find it in the Catalog!

Pavement- Wowee Zowee (1995).
Find it in the Catalog!   

Rolling Stones- Exile on Main St. (1972). Whether it is the greatest Stones' album (I prefer Sticky Fingers) or the last great Stones' album, Exile is one of their most influential albums.   This is the Stones' at their most intoxicated and experimental, yet they somehow still produce highly listenable music.
Find it in the Catalog!    

The Smiths- Louder than Bombs (1987).  This is a compilation of Smiths' singles and B-sides.  The Smiths' themes tend to carry over from album to album, so expect many witty songs about being shy and unlucky in love.
Find it in the Catalog!     

Sonic Youth- Daydream Nation (1988).
Find it in the Catalog! 

Wilco- Being There (1996).  Most bands release a double album during the twilight of their career, however, this is only Wilco's second album.  This record shows the band modifying their alt country sound by incorporating other genres.
Find it in the Catalog!

1 comment:

  1. RE: Magnetic Fields Trivia

    Daniel Handler and Stephin Merritt have a side project, cleverly named The Gothic Archies. Their album The Tragic Treasury: Songs from A Series of Unfortunate Events is actually a lot of fun. I particularly like the song "Shipwrecked."

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