20 votes

Concepts in music you’re easily impressed by?

Whenever I try to find new albums, I find myself skipping through the entire record fairly quickly in order to find out if they’re good enough to warrant a full listen. Sometimes I’ll find an album that sounds impressive to me for very simple reasons, e.g. the sound of the bass guitar or frequent use of a pleasant synth sound. In my case, Oneohtrix Point Never is the perfect example. I enjoy virtually every single kind of sound in his discography, even most of the random sound effects. That’s why I began wondering if I’d overrate his future albums if he kept using the same synths, effects, etc. without actually bringing anything new to the table.

Is there anything similar that will always make you more likely to enjoy an album regardless of many other aspects that contribute to its actual quality?

32 comments

  1. [11]
    balooga
    Link
    A good multi-part vocal harmony can bring me to my knees. In any genre. Examples: The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice Boyz II Men - Can You Stand The Rain Carlo Gesualdo - Moro, Lasso, al Mio...

    A good multi-part vocal harmony can bring me to my knees. In any genre. Examples:

    1. The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice
    2. Boyz II Men - Can You Stand The Rain
    3. Carlo Gesualdo - Moro, Lasso, al Mio Duolo
    4. Proper Sound - Mr. Sandman
    5. Duwende - I Can't Go For That
    6. Julia Westlin - The Sound of Silence

    I'm not even a particularly huge fan of acappella music, but layered voices are incredibly powerful when done right.

    11 votes
    1. moonbathers
      Link Parent
      I'm a sucker for vocal harmonies too. Something about people working together to make something greater than the sum of the parts just warms my heart.

      I'm a sucker for vocal harmonies too. Something about people working together to make something greater than the sum of the parts just warms my heart.

      3 votes
    2. [4]
      blitz
      Link Parent
      I listen to a lot of folk music that has a lot of great harmonies. Allow me to suggest: The High Kings - Oh Maggie The Longest Johns - Bones in the Ocean Great Big Sea - The Chemical Workers' Song...

      I listen to a lot of folk music that has a lot of great harmonies. Allow me to suggest:

      1. The High Kings - Oh Maggie
      2. The Longest Johns - Bones in the Ocean
      3. Great Big Sea - The Chemical Workers' Song
      4. Old Blind Dogs - Rolling Home

      And finally, not folk but definitely deserves a mention:

      1. VoicePlay - Oogie Boogie's Song
      3 votes
      1. [3]
        balooga
        Link Parent
        Some really stirring folk selections there, thanks for the list. Even as a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, nothing could prepare me for that last link either, haha. You got me thinking of...

        Some really stirring folk selections there, thanks for the list. Even as a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, nothing could prepare me for that last link either, haha.

        You got me thinking of some of my favorite harmonizing from the bluegrass world; Bluegrass Cardinals, Lonesome River Band, The Wailin' Jennys, and Mandolin Orange deserve top mentions here.

        2 votes
        1. blitz
          Link Parent
          I like that Wailin' Jennys song! I've heard of them but hadn't really given them a listen. I'll be sure to go through their work. And wow, I'm definitely going to have to go through Mandolin...

          I like that Wailin' Jennys song! I've heard of them but hadn't really given them a listen. I'll be sure to go through their work. And wow, I'm definitely going to have to go through Mandolin Orange as well!

          I think what draws me to this kind of music is exactly the fact that the harmonies seem "real" and not overproduced, like some people are saying in sibling threads.

          2 votes
        2. blitz
          Link Parent
          And since we're on bluegrass now, I'd like to plug my favorite up-and-coming bluegrass artist, Scott Mulvahill.

          And since we're on bluegrass now, I'd like to plug my favorite up-and-coming bluegrass artist, Scott Mulvahill.

          2 votes
    3. [3]
      elcuello
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'm right there with but I'll take it a step further. While I love Beach Boys and the like I have a soft spot perfectly produced vocal harmonies. To the point where (mostly music enthusiasts)...

      I'm right there with but I'll take it a step further. While I love Beach Boys and the like I have a soft spot perfectly produced vocal harmonies. To the point where (mostly music enthusiasts) think it's too much and it loses its "authenticity". Like some of the Glee covers and the more poppy vocal ensembles like Pentatonix and Home Free. I seriously think I suffer from a perfect pitch curse because my whole body explodes when it hits just right.

      Funnily enough 85% of my listening time is spend with metal so whenever I bring the former up in the metal communities all hell brakes loose.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        balooga
        Link Parent
        I'm also a fan of metal and I've never really thought of it in this context before, but can you think of any examples of vocal harmonies in that genre?

        I'm also a fan of metal and I've never really thought of it in this context before, but can you think of any examples of vocal harmonies in that genre?

        1 vote
        1. elcuello
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Good question. Well, from the top of my head there's of course a lot of harmonies in the more traditional heavy metal and the genres close to that. Orden Ogan for example - the end of this track...

          Good question. Well, from the top of my head there's of course a lot of harmonies in the more traditional heavy metal and the genres close to that. Orden Ogan for example - the end of this track especially. Then there's some Nordic inspired harmonies with Týr from the Faroe Islands. Great band btw.
          Bordering on the ridiculous but catchy as hell there's Van Cantos covers of classic metal songs.
          Finally one of my personal favorites in the folky melodic black metal genre Caladan Brood and as one of the Youtube comments says about this song: "I grew a beard when the ending chorus started."

          These are just some diverse examples and there's plenty more if you start digging.

  2. Akir
    Link
    Honestly, I do the same thing, but I don't know if I would say that's a good way to choose music. I own quite a lot of music that I initially didn't like that much, but after repeated listening I...

    Honestly, I do the same thing, but I don't know if I would say that's a good way to choose music. I own quite a lot of music that I initially didn't like that much, but after repeated listening I learned to love it.

    But to answer your question, the thing I have found is the most reliable indicator of how much I love it is if it's in waltz time. I'm not usually one to count beats when listening to music, so I'll often go back into a great song and be pleasantly surprised to find that it's in waltz time. And to be honest, it doesn't even have to be waltz time; basically anything that's not 4/4 sounds good to me. Take 5 is a Jazz standard for a reason, you know. And if it's a song that changes time signatures mid-way, it's even better.

    Probably one of the more obvious things that I will enjoy in a song is good mastering. And what I mean by that is rather simple; can you clearly hear every part of the song clearly? That's good mastering. Pop music tends to be really bad at this; everything is compressed so that it sounds as loud as possible and all the backing tracks tend to kind of melt together. This also ties heavily into the actual production of the song, since it also relies on good instrument choices. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk is probably the gold standard for both production and mastery, IMHO.

    I also have a weakness for female vocal harmony, plucked or slapped bass, and syncopation.

    6 votes
  3. moocow1452
    Link
    I've been really into Lofi Music for the explicit purposes of both chilling and studying as of late. If kind of gets in your head and gives you the context of being in a working mood as opposed to...

    I've been really into Lofi Music for the explicit purposes of both chilling and studying as of late. If kind of gets in your head and gives you the context of being in a working mood as opposed to just being rudderless and without task. Not a music theory person, but I guess it kind of anchors you to the moment without demanding your attention.

    Of course, if I want to listen to something that demands attention, video game soundtracks are usually my go to, good mix of electronic stuff and more classical instrumentation. VVVVVV, Necrodancer, Binding of Isaac, A Hat in Time. I'm pretty sure my musical critical skill is pretty much, "Does this give me a sugar high?" and if yes, I play it a bunch until it doesn't and then I rotate to something new.

    Lyrics, I'm a fan of when the song is happy and the lyrics are sad, but I'm generally not there for the words unless it's an integral part of the song or the song is building towards a thesis, but otherwise I can take or leave it, I guess.

    6 votes
  4. vivaria
    Link
    I'm a slut for reverb. God... lush, warm, enveloping instrumentals. I want to wrap myself up in an endless blanket of sound. I was briefly in a course called "Sound Recording Techniques" (was for...

    I'm a slut for reverb. God... lush, warm, enveloping instrumentals. I want to wrap myself up in an endless blanket of sound.

    I was briefly in a course called "Sound Recording Techniques" (was for an audio engineering option before I discovered my love of computer vision.) We did an ice-breaker ish class where people played their favorite songs, and we discussed qualities that stood out to us. I played this track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAKg267JgBE

    Most of the responses from the class were REVERB REVERB REVERB. (Fair!)

    5 votes
  5. [3]
    Whom
    Link
    Long, wordy, poetic, academic lyricism. If there's lots of big words that get people calling it "pretentious," I want in. I like people being playful with language :) Also just anything which...

    Long, wordy, poetic, academic lyricism. If there's lots of big words that get people calling it "pretentious," I want in. I like people being playful with language :)

    Also just anything which idolizes old rural Americana. Partially including the genre under that name, but mostly in other kinds of folk and pop music. If it's talking about old gas stations and highways, I'm hooked.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      blitz
      Link Parent
      Hello! Have you heard of Phil Ochs?

      Also just anything which idolizes old rural Americana.

      Hello! Have you heard of Phil Ochs?

      2 votes
      1. Whom
        Link Parent
        Yes, and I'm a fan! Thanks for the rec though :)

        Yes, and I'm a fan! Thanks for the rec though :)

        2 votes
  6. vegai
    (edited )
    Link
    Here are some things that have impressed me enough to remember from the top of my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGBXA1tBiLw (Liszt's Totentanz for solo piano played and slightly modified...

    Here are some things that have impressed me enough to remember from the top of my head:

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGBXA1tBiLw (Liszt's Totentanz for solo piano played and slightly modified by Valentina Lisitsa) -- the song itself shows incredible dynamism and is one of the few superb classical piano songs that shows no signs of aging, and Valentina pulls it off with skill and nonchalance that I enjoy (7 minute mark for a practical example).
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjNU4RuKqVE (Porcupine Tree's Trains) -- PT's live shows were excellent, and the album versions aren't bad either. I don't go to a lot of rock concerts, but I've seen them 4 times.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF8c3BjFWsw (Geto Boys - Still) -- I'm always impressed when a genre that I don't like manages to surprise positively. I wouldn't have listened to this one at all if it weren't for Office Space, of course :-/ The lyrics have an impressive power to them and the backing tunes are good.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwwIiyFmoxM (Pure Reason Revolution - Twyncyn / Trembling Williows) -- PRR's first album was almost exclusively rather weird poetry (check the lyrics!), which was interesting. The whole album is full of good songs, no fillers at all.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D83cMncj_Ig (Bach's Cello Solo suite) -- Bach is so simple but at best so beautiful.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwhjlNvF-4Q (Muse's Hysteria live at Wembley) -- replacing the typical starting guitar riff with the coolest (but again, rather simple) bass riff. The first time I heard this was a bit of a wow moment.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXmj0Ku3rZU (Nirvana's Scentless Apprentice live) -- the angriest rock song I know. I use this to destroy my ears when I'm in that mood.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYjIlHWBAVo (Nightwish Ghost Love Score live with Jensen) -- the song itself is pretty nice, but Jensen's talent really brings it to a new level. And her ending of the song is amazing.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOM6FVRojBI (Epica's Unchain Utopia live) -- a rather simple symphonic metal song with one of the most energetic climaxes.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEDXfvqGLRE (Faithless's Bring My Family Back) -- this song has lyrics that tells a story like no song I've heard since. "I found it a strain, everywhere I look I see pain / and I cannot escape the feeling, maybe I'm to blame". Still manages to bring tears to my eyes.

    So in general, I enjoy a showing of talent (when it's not done simply to show off), moderately complex progressions and techniques, moderate simplicity, surprises, showing of energy, climaxes and lyrics with deep stories.

    5 votes
  7. [5]
    krg
    Link
    Novel timbres, good grooves and interesting rhythmic choices tend to perk my ears. Yeah, Oneohtrix Never is a treasure trove for this stuff. R Plus Seven, in particular. What a great album. I've...

    Novel timbres, good grooves and interesting rhythmic choices tend to perk my ears.

    Yeah, Oneohtrix Never is a treasure trove for this stuff. R Plus Seven, in particular. What a great album. I've certainly tried to rip some of his steeze.

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      vivaria
      Link Parent
      Ayup. That album is like LSD Dream Emulator in music form. I really like the song He She -- something about the vocal editing is just magical.

      Ayup. That album is like LSD Dream Emulator in music form. I really like the song He She -- something about the vocal editing is just magical.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        krg
        Link Parent
        Okay .. super self-promotion, but check out this thing I did. Particularly tracks 1, 9, and 11. Maybe you'll dig it!

        Okay
        .. super self-promotion, but check out this thing I did. Particularly tracks 1, 9, and 11.

        Maybe you'll dig it!

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          vivaria
          Link Parent
          YARR. Definitely liking this lots. Heck yes, this is going straight on my iPod. Gonna listen to it as I mull around campus this winter. It's snowing and this seems like it might be nice snow music. :)

          YARR. Definitely liking this lots.

          Heck yes, this is going straight on my iPod. Gonna listen to it as I mull around campus this winter. It's snowing and this seems like it might be nice snow music. :)

          2 votes
          1. krg
            Link Parent
            Oralé! it's certainly a weird mixture, but the ordering of tracks was no accident! I appreciate the listen, though, for sure. 🙏🙏🤗

            Oralé! it's certainly a weird mixture, but the ordering of tracks was no accident!

            I appreciate the listen, though, for sure. 🙏🙏🤗

            1 vote
  8. asoftbird
    Link
    Long songs. Where it's okay to repeat a riff a few times, move to the next, on and on. And generally "non-cliché"-riffs as well, not sure how to explain that but it's a big factor in deciding if l...

    Long songs. Where it's okay to repeat a riff a few times, move to the next, on and on. And generally "non-cliché"-riffs as well, not sure how to explain that but it's a big factor in deciding if l like a band or not. (more like: does it sound generic or original?)

    Also, knowing when to take a break or to stop. One of my favorite bands is Moonsorrow, a Finnish folk/blackened prog metal band. Long stretches of guitars, nearly no lead guitar, melancholic mood.

    Sometimes they fade out to forest/bird sounds, or an acoustic part. The part where they get back on track is usually one of the strongest feeling parts of their songs, probably just due to the contrast of quiet-loud.

    A good example:
    https://youtu.be/rkIRp_zCL3I

    From 7:30 to about 8:05.

    Oh and finally, good quality. l've found that Moonsorrow is one of very few metal bands with good production and mixing. On vinyl there's just so much depth to it. Frequencies you can't hear but only feel through the floor/objects around you. Good production always is a huge factor in whether l like things or not.

    4 votes
  9. weystrom
    (edited )
    Link
    Interesting, but cohesive time signatures. Obvious example - "Money" by Pink Floyd in 7/4 (well, some of it), I'm also a sucker for a nice groove, that also keeps your attention. That's a problem...

    Interesting, but cohesive time signatures. Obvious example - "Money" by Pink Floyd in 7/4 (well, some of it), I'm also a sucker for a nice groove, that also keeps your attention.

    That's a problem for me with listening to music at work, I can just drop everything and focus on the music instead. Now I listen to "easy" 4/4 electronic music at work with a nice pulse, just to keep going.

    4 votes
  10. rogue_cricket
    (edited )
    Link
    A few things are easy wins for me for sure. Interesting chord progressions or key shifts. Two random and entirely dissimilar examples of this are Love On Top and Do You Realize??. Songs that build...

    A few things are easy wins for me for sure.

    1. Interesting chord progressions or key shifts. Two random and entirely dissimilar examples of this are Love On Top and Do You Realize??.
    2. Songs that build intensity and/or complexity through the entire track, like White Rabbit, Silk, and American Pie (and actually hey Love On Top is here again lol). I'm especially fond of the kind of increasing messiness and chaos that culminates in sounding like the band is actively falling down the stairs, but I'm having trouble coming up with an example.
    3. Complete opposite end of the spectrum, pared-down and simple songs which feature vocals very prominently. Saint Bernard is currently stuck in my head.
    4. Angry woman with piano.
    4 votes
  11. [3]
    cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    For me it's high pitched/falsetto male vocals. I often get the frisson tingles when hearing a male singer using a high vocal register in a song, and it just seems to make me more likely to enjoy a...

    For me it's high pitched/falsetto male vocals. I often get the frisson tingles when hearing a male singer using a high vocal register in a song, and it just seems to make me more likely to enjoy a piece of music overall too. Apparently I am far from being alone in that though. :P

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      Oooh, male falsetto. One half angel, one half devil. That's one thing that I find is really, really hit or miss. There's a lot of music from the 60s and 70s that annoy me because of falsetto. It's...

      Oooh, male falsetto. One half angel, one half devil.

      That's one thing that I find is really, really hit or miss. There's a lot of music from the 60s and 70s that annoy me because of falsetto. It's good in most Queen songs, but it's torture in most Disco. It's also the reason why I'm still not entirely sure if I enjoy listening to Mika's voice.

      2 votes
      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I definitely agree there. And it think it's pretty telling that Queen is my favorite band of all time, but I fucking loathe most Disco. ;)

        That's one thing that I find is really, really hit or miss. ... It's good in most Queen songs, but it's torture in most Disco.

        Yeah, I definitely agree there. And it think it's pretty telling that Queen is my favorite band of all time, but I fucking loathe most Disco. ;)

  12. cardigan
    Link
    Long running time; repetition; low volume. Kevin Drumm's album Imperial Horizon is a good example of those qualities.

    Long running time; repetition; low volume.

    Kevin Drumm's album Imperial Horizon is a good example of those qualities.

    2 votes
  13. Neyvermore
    Link
    I really like Heilung because of the stark contrast between the harsh throat singing and the singeress' voice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1BsKIP4uYM My favourite songs are In Maidjan,...

    I really like Heilung because of the stark contrast between the harsh throat singing and the singeress' voice.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1BsKIP4uYM
    My favourite songs are In Maidjan, Krigsgaldr, Alfadhirhaiti. You can find them here if you wanna try. It's pretty disturbing at first but when you stop expecting "melody" as in regular music, you start to enjoy it. It's mostly bones, steel and voice.
    (also, visually, they're probably the most beautiful band/set I've ever seen)

    2 votes