Music I listened to – March 2023


Here’s what I’ve been listening to this past month.

Rating system

I’m going to try out a simple rating system:

I expect that most music I write about in this series will fall in the 3/5 to 4/5 range.


This month, I bought these eight CDs from Amoeba Music for a total of $29.08. This is the first batch of CDs in my music collection. Since this is the first batch, I was mostly going for the low-hanging fruit of “dirt-cheap CDs that I know I’ll like.”

Bookends (1968) – Simon & Garfunkel

$3. I bought this because I had one of their previous albums, Sounds of Silence, on vinyl and I really loved that one. I looked this one up on Wikipedia before I bought it and saw that it’s generally regarded as one of their best albums.

Clearly this was originally released on vinyl, because there’s a “Side A” with a very distinct theme and a “Side B” which is more fun assorted tracks. The CD looks like a mini record. Some of the songs (especially on Side A) are reflective and really pretty, somewhat melancholic. Autumnal. I appreciate how the songs flow into each other. Side B is more of a mixed bag, had some odder quirky songs and some that really ripped.

I didn’t love all the songs equally, but I liked it as a whole, and I can see why it’s so acclaimed. For the songs that I liked a bit less, I think it was often because some of the lyrics and melodies feel a bit strange or awkward to me. But I think that might be partly because the album is speaking to a time period and context I wasn’t around for and don’t fully understand.

Standout tracks: Old Friends, Bookends Theme, Mrs. Robinson, A Hazy Shade of Winter (a banger).


Come Away With Me (2002) – Norah Jones

$5. I really adore the singles from this album “Don’t Know Why” and “Come Away With Me.” But I’d never really listened to the rest of the album. I kept seeing copies of this CD floating around Amoeba for $7, and was on the fence about buying, and then I saw this particular copy in the clearance section for $5 and grabbed it.

This is such a pleasant, gorgeous, relaxing album. I like her gentle vocals and the mix of folk/acoustic/jazz influences. Her voice is soft and smooth, a little smoky, and mixes wonderfully with the slide guitars and piano and various other instrumentation.

I was surprised reading through the CD booklet how many people contributed to the album. I guess I assume that a Norah Jones album is mostly by Norah Jones, but actually many of the songs were written by the guitarists on the album. I bet this is the case for a lot of music, but it’s not something I would have learned from Spotify.


Manners (2009) – Passion Pit

$5. I’ve been listening to a ton of Passion Pit these past few months, so they were on my mind as an artist I wanted in my collection. This is their debut album, though I hope to add their other albums to my collection in the future.

I remember when a friend first sent me a Passion Pit song (back in middle school), I thought it sounded like nothing I’d heard before. Back then I’d mostly been listening to soft rock, like Coldplay and The Fray, so the wall of electronic instrumentation was totally wild to me. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but then I kept coming back over the years.


Diana Ross and the Supremes (Compact Command Performances 20 Greatest Hits) (1971)

$5. I rediscovered Motown music last year (inspired by the original song “Our Love” from the Arcane soundtrack…). I think a lot of these songs played on KOST 103.5, which was always on the radio in the car growing up, so I know them well. They’re an infallible pick-me-up around the house or in the car.

I bought this compilation because it had many songs for a low price, but now I think maybe it has too many songs, and a more pared-down compilation might have been more digestible. I haven’t listened through this whole CD yet because it’s so long. But it’ll be great to throw on sometimes.


Transatlanticism (2003) – Death Cab for Cutie

$3. This one is a classic. Maybe a perfect album. I love all the songs. 5/5.

Plans (2005) – Death Cab for Cutie

$3. This album had the difficult job of following up on Transatlanticism. I think it’s not quite as close to my heart, but it’s still an album I love a lot. There aren’t really any skips on this album, I think all the songs are great. 4/5.

Luck of the Draw (1991) – Bonnie Raitt

$1, total steal. I love her ballad “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” which actually I first heard as a cover by Bon Iver (it’s incredible, but nowadays only findable on YouTube). That song is on this album, and I was curious what her other songs were like.

I assumed the rest of the album would be similarly gentle and downbeat as “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” but actually it’s really upbeat and fun to listen to! It’s actually a really nice mix of country/blues/rock. I would love to listen to this while on a big American road trip, venturing out across vast landscapes.

The physical CD packaging is really nice—instead of a normal plastic jewel case it’s a paper/cardboard foldout with lots of images and a nice matte texture.


One Bedroom (2003) – The Sea and Cake

$2. I had never heard of this before, and bought this purely because I liked the graphic design of the cover. I tried to listen through the whole thing, but gave up. I thought it was pleasant, but slow and boring if you’re actively listening to it. I think it might be nice as background music.



I’m still keeping Spotify around since it’s so cheap (I’m only paying $3.75 as part of the family plan). Some stuff I listened to on Spotify:

1000 gecs (2019) – 100 gecs

The first time I heard 100 gecs, it was in my friend and housemate Mitchell’s car on the way to go see Everything Everywhere All At Once. Much in the way that that (amazing) movie pushed the envelope of Hollywood by trying new, slightly wild, decidedly chaotic things, I think this album does something similar in the pop music world.

Adjectives: Unhinged, deranged, chaotic. Wikipedia says it defined a new genre, “hyperpop.” It veers wildly from “this bumps” to “absolute banger” to “near-unlistenable”. The vocal distortion and electronic glitter sound futuristic, transhuman to me. It’s undeniably catchy and I keep coming back for another listen.

Standout tracks: money machine, stupid horse, xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx, ringtone, gec 2 Ü


10,000 gecs (2023) – 100 gecs

I didn’t like this album as much. I think it was too difficult to listen to for me, maybe too much metal influence? Just not my taste, I guess. 2/5.

Clothes, Friends, Photos EP (2011) – Peter and Kerry

I’ve been listening to this one a lot the past couple days. I sometimes mix this up with Simon & Garfunkel (to my ear, this sounds very 60s), so I was surprised to find that it’s actually from 2011. Just six tracks long but all of them feel thoughtfully crafted and all of them stick with me.

I love the lyrics. They feel really honest and human. Consider this, from “Crash and Burn”:

Some don’t mind waking up in strange places

I like the feeling of my bed

Every corner, dip, creak, tells a story that I’m familiar with

And I find solace and comfort in that