Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: lili haydn

What a difficult list to compile. Especially since, glancing down at my iTunes running, there are 33,773 songs in my library. According to iTunes, it will take me more than 100 days of continuous listening (with no sleep, now I realize) to listen to them all. It’s rather extensive, and it’s the sort of collection that makes my taste in music suspect at best, beginning as it does with A-Ha (because any collection without “Take On Me” is incomplete) and ending (before it reaches songs without proper ID3 tags and lumps them all) with “Skin Up Pin Up” by 808 State/Mansun from Spawn: The Album (iTunes is the first organization system I’ve seen that puts numbers after letters, rather than before; if it did, the first songs would be by 1 Giant Leap or 12 Rounds). In between those few, there’s everything from Rick Astley, Belinda Carlisle, and Bon Jovi to all of Clapton, the Beatles, and Sinatra.

So it’s pretty expansive.

But expansive as it is, I tend to stick to some favorites. Lately it’s been a lot of Wolfmother (and Jet; what is it about Australia that inspires such great rock music from its bands?), Vanessa Mae, and, as always, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. Also, Adam Lambert and Matt Wertz.

So there’s a lot. But I winnowed. I winnowed after I kept reading other lists that fawned over, like, Radiohead and such. I mean, has Radiohead ever managed to be as good as Pablo, Honey? They’re like Pearl Jam and Matchbox Twenty, with fantastic debut CDs but output that has gotten subsequently less terrific with each title. For me, anyway. Your listening may vary. Also, dear Rolling Stone: The Strokes and Wilco in number 2 and number 3 spots, respectively. No offense, but seriously? No wonder people debate the continued relevance of the magazine. I mean, how safe.

Why not stretch a bit? Why not reach for some choices few people would expect? Then again, this from a guy who doesn’t really enjoy any of those three bands. I know lots of reviewers fell over themselves to heap a lot of praise on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but there wasn’t a single song on it that made me want to listen to the CD again. I get the impression it’s all just, like, hey, everyone else likes it, so we should, too, but to cite one of the artists who earned a spot on my list by way of a great CD, “You don’t know what love is, you just do as you’re told.”

So, suspect taste noted, shall we? My top ten albums of the last ten years, in order:

Continue reading

When I got my loan disbursement this time around, I took care of all my education-related bills and such, and had a bit left over. Which was a nice relief after having been waiting to receive on so many accounts, and I decided to celebrate. To indulge, in fact, in two things I’d been wanting for a while.

The first was a new pair of headphones. Several years ago, after hearing very positive things about them, I invested in a pair of Grado SR80s. Grado is known among audiophiles as having totally premium cans of the sort that can often run into the thousands of dollars for a single pair of their most high-end product. The SR80s are not; they’re just a step above entry level, but I loved them. They sounded so good. Listening to my music really was different when I used them, as opposed the the earbuds I had been using.

And then they broke. They served well for several years, but the wire frayed and the right-side can sputtered, and I could have fixed them, probably, but it might have cost nearly as much as new cans, anyway. Besides the fact that I had bought a pair of Sennheiser earbuds to use with my iPod, and they were sufficient even if they weren’t quite as spectacular.

I’ve been wanting a pair of headphones since then, though, and so I bought a pair last week. I did some quite extensive shopping around, and noticed some spectacular deals around Christmas, including one particular pair of earbuds that normally retail for $500 but had been discounted by 50%. I admit I almost took that plunge, but I had already decided I wanted real cans again. Big, open, circumnaural cans to go over my head. I mean, mind you, I’m no more an audiophile than I might be an oenophile, but I like my music nearly as much as I like my wine (I prefer the term “lush”), and after having owned those Grados . . . I missed them. They had sounded so good. One thing about them, though, is that Grados are kind of retro in terms of design and really aren’t the most comfortable headphones in the world.

Given that I like my Sennheiser earbuds, I thought I’d give their headphones a shot. They have several series, but I stumbled upon their HD595 model. Nice design. Velvet ear cushions. Good, dynamic driving for all types of music. I consistently read people remark on their versatility. And their price was just about at the most I was willing to spend.

They came today. And ZOMG. Seriously.

Usually, higher-end cans need what audiophiles call “burn-in time.” Apparently, whatever in the cans works needs a while to equalize, or something. Most times, you hear that you want to play some music through them for, like, 24 hours straight before you really listen to them, as they reach some balance in their sound. I’ve heard some people open the package, hook them up, and then put them in a drawer for a week.

Readers of this blog, however, are probably well aware of my admittedly limited patience. Knowing me, does putting them in a drawer sound like something I’d be able to do?

Of course not. Come on, a brief tour of my music collection.

Continue reading