Just a quick post to say I'm back, looking forward to writing up a bunch of end-of-year music lists in the coming weeks. Thought I'd lavish a bit of praise on the gadget that has changed the way we vacation. The iPod. You know what it is, you know how it works. The last time I took a significant vacation was nearly three years ago, and at that time, I probably hauled roughly 50 CDs and a discman with me to stay partially entertained. Throw in a Game Boy Advance, my laptop, and several magazines and books... well, let's just say it wasn't terribly portable.
This time around, on my longest vacation to date, I had all my entertainment needs in my messenger bag. Most importantly, I had my 60GB iPod video, packed with over 7500 songs. I listened to nearly 500 unique songs, many of them several times over. Over the last couple months, I'd listened to a lot of the same ol' stuff at home (mostly from this year), but I definitely listened to a wider selection of tunes on the trip, including several random playlists that exposed me to artists I may have downloaded but not listened to.
I downloaded Maria Taylor's "11:11" in the days before leaving, having been interested in it when released over the summer. I ended up listening to it at least seven times and just fell in love with it. I haven't been as big into female singers over the last few years (perhaps as a backlash to my intense love of Garbage in middle/high school?), but her voice is so fragile and terribly heartbreaking. Imagine a cross between Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley and you're not too far off. I'll definitely be purchasing this album next week.
Other albums I listened to several times: Sufjan Stevens' "Illinois," which I've had for months, but only recently started getting into. It's likely to make my end-of-year list at this point. I listened to a fair bit of Jack's Mannequin, though I'm finally starting to distance myself from it a bit. The fact that I had so much other music to listen to at my command really changed some of my perspectives. I came home and made some changes to my iTunes format (removed the playcount listing) and modified some playlists. While it's fine to get sucked into an album for a while, the recent discovery and increased interest in some artists tells me that I need to vary my regular listening a bit, and not wait so long to check some albums out.
I listened to the new Strokes album a couple of times... it's a solid release, though it's not as immediately appealing as Room on Fire, my favorite of their first two. Could definitely grow on me, though. Jenny Lewis' (of Rilo Kiley) solo album is set to release next month... can't say I'm really digging it that much, honestly. It has much more of a country influence than the last Rilo Kiley record, and I doubt it'll end up doing much for me. I definitely spent some time listening to the John Mayer Trio record, which is such a cool record. As I said in a previous post, it was definitely unexpected, but it's shaping up to be one of my favorites this year. Wait and see...
One last note... I used my PSP for a total of about two hours on the trip, which is a shame considering the games and accessories I'd picked up for it. I'd snagged Virtua Tennis and The Hustle, as well as an external battery pack. Virtua Tennis is a fine tennis game, but I just had no interest in it. The Hustle is a terrible billiards game, and not nearly worth the $20 I gambled on it. I ended up picking up Infected while I was there, expecting to play it on the plane back home... it's a solid shooter, but I only played for about half an hour. I didn't even use half of a charge of the PSP's main battery, so the external one proved useless. Felt like a waste of money. Despite these things, I plan on holding onto my PSP with hopes that some more interesting games will release in the coming months.
Expect end-of-year music opinions in the next few posts.