Recently I stumbled across a large spreadsheet of all the Progressive Metal albums released this year (and it’s a wiki on /r/progmetal now). I wanted to listen to as many of these as possible and ultimately came to the conclusion that it would be ridiculous to even attempt, although it couldn’t hurt to give some albums a listen.
This lasted for about a month and then I promptly fell back into my comfort zone of listening to the same album for the 100th time (hey the White EP is a masterpiece, can you blame me?). Then as I was browsing Reddit one day I came across someone’s question where they asked how their fellow redditors discover new music and the top comment was eye-opening.
The Redditor stated he had an hour drive to and from work and thus he had a “theme” every day where he’d listen to one album on his drive to work and another on his drive home and they’d be surrounded by this theme. I really wanted to try this, but my drive to work is only fifteen minutes meaning I’d get through half an album in a day. So, naturally, I just went back to my comfort zone until my desire for new music was eating me alive.
Obviously I’m getting to listen to music so the qualifier of driving to and from work isn’t needed, so I decided I’d create my own “musical routine” and broaden my horizons. I first had to decide when and how this would work. Was it going to be a whole day dedicated? What about those days when I really want to listen to Agalloch or Dream Theater? If I leave it too flexible I’ll just jump into my comfort zone so there needs to be guidelines.
I finally settled on a very reasonable expectation and schedule, which is this: each day has a theme for the first half of the day (my morning) where two albums will be listened to. The two album limit allows for my morning meetings and work to be accomplished considering two albums should come out to somewhere around two hours. After that, it is a free-for-all (my afternoon) meaning I can listen to whatever I want. This might include either catching up on or just straight up listening to an album from the morning session or just listening to that White EP 6 more times.
Here is my current theme schedule which I don’t think will need tweaked any time soon:
Monday – Classics/Jazz
Tuesday – New World
Wednesday – Case Study
Thursday – Genre Staples
Friday – Favorites
Mondays start the week with some smooth Jazz (typically ripped straight from Fallout’s soundtracks) or maybe some Hendrix or something to that extent. No need to start my week off with Behemoth and get stressed before work has even started.
Tuesdays we venture into the realm of new releases. While I’m currently aiming for albums only released in the current year, this could be extended by a year if needed (i.e. January rolls around and there’s nothing released yet). So far this has given me the chance to experience the new Mastodon album, the new Subterranean Masquerade album, and so many more I may never have given a thought to listen to.
Wednesday I pick a band I enjoy or at least have heard a few songs and listen to two of their albums to get a feel for the band. Now bands can often change style, so this one could require research to determine what two albums would be a good case study. Of course a band could return the next week if their discography calls for it. Baroness and Power Trip have been thoroughly examined. I will say I did cheat with Power Trip considering they have 2 albums and their latest album, Nightmare Logic, is already a personal favorite. Still counts dammit!
Thursdays we venture into genre staples to get a feel for what defines a genre. Since Spotify doesn’t have a Genre Staple filter, this is another research effort. My current plan is to knock out /r/metal’s Subgenre Essentials list before venturing further. So far I’ve enjoyed listening to some Slayer, Integrity, and Discharge, to name a few.
Finally we have Fridays where I, more or less, listen to whatever I want. While this could just be an “open day”, I actually want to focus on albums I really, really like. Something off of this list would be a good candidate. This usually gets me pumped up and excited, something we all should experience on a Friday.
What this has led to is a spark in my love for music. I used to aimlessly decide to listen to a new album and while this was giving me some new material, it never felt like I was finding new stuff all too often, and if it was truly a new release then it was from a band I had already heard of. Now I’m throwing darts at a board of unheard things and wherever it lands I listen to on a specific day. Sounds aimless as well but I’ve blocked out the time to enjoy my metaphorical dart throw and it has made my love for music grow exponentially.