Music albums: are they still worth listening to?

Every Thursday, Jon Siddall of CBC Music plays On the coast for talk about musichis thoughts on the latest trends in the music world.

This week, Siddal discussed a controversial issue in the age of music streaming and iTunes: full albums.

Why listen to them more when new technology allows you to listen to as many or as few tracks from an album as you want?

“I like to do that too, it’s fun being your own DJ,” Siddall says of the “post-album world.” “But sometimes I just need to listen to full albums. It’s so worth it.”

In a chat with guest host Gloria Macarenko, Siddall explained why listening to full albums is always worth it and why it’s so difficult to make a good album.

Sitting around and doing nothing but listening to that music seems like a rare pastime these days.

I say. But it’s really no different than curling up with a book. It’s not easy to find time for that anymore!

But it’s so nice and relaxing to find that time to read or listen to music. So while you’re on vacation next week, you’re going to listen to some albums. What are you going to listen to?

by Joni Mitchell Court and Spark, for one – a classic album. I know the album very well, but I just feel like I need to see it again. Each song tells a compelling story. The music is full of fantastic melodies, chord progressions and arrangements that always keep your ears perked up.

If you’ve ever been to a party where you felt like you weren’t comfortable and yet were mesmerized by the cast of characters present – this song perfectly captures that feeling.

What a beautiful understanding of human nature. I feel so drawn to his world with songs like that.

What makes a good album? Lots of albums have a few good songs, but very often you don’t feel like you have to listen to the whole album.

Well, it mostly comes down to that – the quality of all the songs on an album. It sounds trite to say it, but writing great pop songs is incredibly difficult.

There are a number of people who write a great song in their lifetime. There’s a smaller number of people who, over an entire career, write several great songs, and then there’s a very elite group that writes a number of great albums.

We’re talking about the Beatles, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder and U2 to name a few.

Yes. And I would include Joni Mitchell in that crowd. And there are others as well of course. But what makes a successful music album isn’t even a large collection of songs – it’s how those songs work together.

On a great album, each song is like a chapter in a book. And at the beginning of each song, it feels so good. It’s like no other song would ever feel so natural at that moment.

Do you have another record in mind to listen to during your vacation?

It’s very satisfying to revisit a classic album like Joni Mitchell’s. But it’s also a lot of fun to discover a new album. There’s a new band that recently caught my eye thanks to the CBC Music editorial team. The group is called Oh Wonder. It’s a duo from London, England.

They will release their first album in September, but if you go to their website, you can listen to all the songs for free and try them out.

Do you think this English duo, Oh Wonder, has a great debut album?

I don’t know if it’s a great album, but it’s pretty good. And some albums are better suited to certain moods.

This album strikes me as a good choice for listening on the beach or in a cabin, or in the house when the windows are open and a warm summer breeze is blowing. And you have time to listen and relax.

What’s your opinion on the full album? Do you listen to them? Are they a waste of time? Have your say in the comments section, message us on Facebook or tweet @CBCVancouver to let us know where you stand!

This interview has been condensed and edited. To listen to the full interview, click on the audio titled: Why Aren’t We Listening to Full Albums These Days?

George L. Hernandez