In a conversation with Byrnie and Rob about a year ago, I set myself a number of new year resolutions. Some were about getting back into shape, however some were about sorting out the fact that my taste in music stopped evolving in about 2002, and I had pretty much stopped discovering and listnening to new bands. Also, I was in a bit of a rut with reading too...tending to read the same authors.
So, the challenges were;
1) A new album every month from a band I had not previously owned. These must be put on music rotation
2) To read works by 4 new authors over the course of the year
I have now completed these...the albums was an enjoyable one, which involved setting aside a bit of time at the beginning of every month, and using various online tools for "also like", a bit of internet radio listening, and sometimes a bit of blind faith. The books was a slightly more challenging one, partly as (once again) once I found something enjoyable I tended to hit the series hard.
- January - Birthday Massacre / Hide and Seek
- February - Dope Stars / Ultrawired
- March - Crystal Castles / (III)
- April - Device / Device
- May - Seether / Disclaimer II
- June - mind.in.a.box / R.E.T.R.O
- July - Billy Talent / Billy Talent II
- August - Blaqk Audio / CexCells
- September - Bring me the Horizon / There is a Hell, Believe me I've been there
- October - Within Temptation / The Silent Force
- November - I:Scintilla / Optics
- December - Blue Stahli / Blue Stahli
There is a strong theme of industrial/goth in there, and a fair chunk of more dance-based stuff as well. Some are borderline cheats (I'd had individual tracks from Seether and Billy Talent, but never albums. Device are (to all intents and purposes) Disturbed. Blaqk Audio are a side-project of AFI's lead singer ("you might remember me from such songs as "The Leaving Song: Part 2")
In terms of long term playability The Birthday Massacre have done very well...I've picked up a couple of other albums by them. Billy Talent is on my exercise playlist, as are many of the other more energetic tracks. Another benefit of dedicating some time to investigating new releases and "sounds like" options is that you can also find albums by bands you already know or like, but happen to have missed the release. This meant I also picked up;
- White Lies / BIG TV
- Celldweller / Wish Upon a Blackstar
- Complete Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
- Metagame - Sam Landstrom
- Lost Fleet series (10 books) - Jack Campbell
- Further:Beyond the Threshold - Chris Roberson
A much more mixed bag here. I approached the Sherlock Holmes work with trepidation, as I've never previously enjoyed "classic" writing, however they are really extremely good...especially the short stories (there are 4 novels, and about 80 short stories). It was very much the trash fiction of it's day, and works very well against the recent more contemporary versions...definitely worth picking up on Kindle (the version I got cost 50p, and was over 20 hours of reading).
Jack Campbell is unashamed action Sci-Fi, and was perfect holiday reading when I was over in France. It doesn't pretend to be overly complex and deep, and delivers on that.
Sam Landstroms "Metagame" actually segues quite well with with Charlie Brookers "How Videogames changed the World", as it imagines a society where all tasks are "gameified", and instead of money an overseeing AI gives points based on performance at tasks you are given (with all tasks being useful, but approached from a gaming perspective". not the highest quality of author, but good concept.
Chris Roberson was...OK. It was an attempt a Space Opera, but not great. Probably wouldn't recommend it, but would instead direct you to Alaistair Roberts for your space opera needs.
All in all a successful project...I've definitely expanded my music tastes, and as a result listen to music a lot more that I was doing a year ago. I've read a literary classic, and also indulged in some enjoyable trash sci-fi. Now I just have to decide what challenges to set myself for next year...