In a world where Spotify algorithms are finding ever more devious ways to enter our consciousness it seems almost old-fashioned having an actual human recommend you some music.
U2’s ill-fated attempt to load their new album automatically on the world’s iPods now seems almost quaint. Spotify added Drake tracks to hundreds of their playlists upon the release of his new album, and according to a recent report by Arwa Mahdawi in The Guardian, Spotify is capable of assessing your mental health according to what music you listen to. This data can then be used to market to you.
Depressed people being targeted by marketeers because they are more likely to buy things to cheer themselves up sounds deeply sinister.
There is still nothing like a personal recommendation, whether a friend asks you to join them at a gig, sends or lends you a CD or a link to a playlist, song or album. A friend enthusiastically buying you a copy of a favourite album is one of life’s great joys even if, after listening to the damn thing ten times, you don’t quite share their enthusiasm.
Then there are books and magazines that tell you about musicians and their albums. All the product of someone listening to something and spreading the word.
On Twitter @Perlalaloca runs a Mixtape Project, which – because this is Twitter – is called #themixtapeproject where people put together a virtual mixtape on Spotify. Every week a new Twitter user compiles the tunes, which is a great thing – imagine having someone different do that for you every week!
Perhaps sadly for the listening public, this week it’s my turn.
I bring you RnB from Sugar Pie DeSanto and Maurice and Mac, moving to gospel tinged indie from Soulsavers, brand new indie folk from Sweet Billy Pilgrim, classic Beatles-tinged Brazilian sounds from Milton Nascimento, another brand new song from Spiritualized’s new album, moving to Desert Rock from Josh Homme mentor Masters of Reality, punk from Idles, a blues cover of The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows from Junior Parker, classic soul from Roberta Flack, lyrically similar themes from classic Hall & Oates, then Paul Weller tries to capture that sixties sound. We get right up to date with Swedish indie from The Amazing, indie-Prog from Field Music, classic rock from BOC and Beach Boys, another great Beatles cover from Doris Troy, a Dylan cover from Solomon Burke, indie boogie from Ty Segall and a classic tune from Andrew Gold I recently heard on a Sainsbury’s compilation.
The main thing linking the majority of these records together is that I either have or will be writing about them on the blog.
There’s the story of Sugar Pie DeSanto here, the Maurice and Mac track here, a review of the Sweet Billy Pilgrim album here, and – well check out the links above if any of the tracks tickle your fancy.
But the other theme in the mixtape is these tunes all came to my attention from a human being telling me about them. A friend sent me a Sweet Billy Pilgrim CD many years ago. Another friend took me to a Spiritualized gig, I heard the Ty Segall track on an end of year best-of CD. I heard the Roberta Flack track in a record shop and asked the proprietor what it was. I actually Shazamed The Amazing when I heard them in another record shop. I read about Milton Nascimento in the book 1001 Albums To Hear Before You Die, about Masters of Reality in a magazine, the Junior Parker track was on another music blog, and, well, you get the idea. I’m not immune to an algorithm, but it’s surely better when a friend places a record in your hands and tells you to listen to it because they think you will like it.
So enjoy the playlist, you can find it here:
And remember, when you listen to these recommendations, there’s no hidden agenda, I’m not sitting here with a spreadsheet or a clever algorithm trying to sell you anti-depressants.
Or am I?
Now we’ll take a short break after this brief word from our sponsor….