Back from the dead


It has been 623 days since I last blogged on Astral Penguins. By way of a brief explanation, things got very crazy around Easter of last year professionally and personally, and time was no longer my friend. I had to stop doing a lot of things I enjoyed; listening to new music and blogging were both victims.


New music has always been an addiction. I love hearing a new artist for the first time and getting to know them through their work. I love seeing them develop and – hopefully – achieve the success that their work merits. I’ve been following new music with a religious fervour since I was fourteen, and few things in life give me greater pleasure than sifting through hours of music.


Not long ago I read a book about Radio 1 in the 1990s and one of the anecdotes was about John Peel, a man I considered a hero and someone who – along with Zane Lowe, my parents and my friends – was really responsible for expanding my musical horizons. The book detailed how Peel used to listen to dozens of tapes of new music in his car, and he ‘filed’ the good ones by throwing them down in front of the passenger seat, and the shit ones got tossed on the back seat. Every few days he’d come out with a bag and collect them all up.


I don’t have John Peel’s skill for judging new music, but I hope I share that same passion. We may no longer have cassettes, but I have playlists and an Excel spreadsheet to keep me on track. I keep searching for what I consider to be the perfect song.


From April onwards last year, I listened to very little new music. It was the first time in my adult life where I was without its company, and it really didn’t feel right. In January I decided I needed to get back into the game, so I fired up Spotify and Excel and fell back into the habit that I love.


My Spotify wrapped tells me I’ve listened to 6,097 different songs this year, or 40,086 minutes, or 668 hours, or 28 days. Which is quite a lot. My Excel spreadsheet tells me that of the 6,097 songs, 4,317 of them were new singles (I assume the rest were a combination of EPs, old and new albums and old songs I dipped back into). You can draw your own conclusions about the strength of my social life at this point…


Which leads me to here, and to now. You see, I’ve really missed blogging. I miss trying to describe how a song makes me feel, or writing about an artist I’ve just discovered. I’ve thought for a long time about if it is worth it, and I think it is. So Astral Penguins returns.


In the next few days I’ll be posting my top 50 tracks of the year, which I’m excited to share. I’ll also be disagreeing with the vast majority of the end-of-year best album lists (the 1975 album was absolute dross, don’t believe the NME hype) with a few selections of my own.


There’s another thing I’m hoping to do over the Christmas period as well. A few weeks ago, my dad asked me what 10 albums had most influenced my music taste. He’d been asked the same question as one of those stupid things that parents post on Facebook, but it’s a question that has lingered since then, and I have a provisional list that I’d like to flesh out. But there’s a decent chance I’ll be drunk and/or too full to write anything over Christmas, so I’m not promising I’ll actually get it done.


Anyway, that’s enough for now. Here’s to the resurrection of Astral Penguins.


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