Top 10 Albums of the Year: Four Drunk Mates Style (2011-present)

I'm going to presume you read the previous post around this: for the 2011 album comparison things got bigger as we brought our mate Tom Jones (not that Tom Jones, obviously) into the fold, increasing the amount of songs we had to get through and bringing more fun chaos to the proceedings.

2011's podcast, which can be relived on Last.FM journals here, here and here, had some big issues on the recording. I attempted to use a little portable recorder I had but something went wrong and we got nothing at all for the first few songs (maybe as many as six), so we had to restart using alternative technology, which means the whole thing is very compressed and sounds like we're underwater.

I became a bit obsessed with the Last.FM stats and began to construct PHP code that would get me the top 10s for each of us so that I could compare listening with what we actually picked. I also got massively slammed for me choice of Dutch Uncles, although none of us really got off lightly from our choices that year.

For 2012, which you can hear on Last.FM, here, I stepped things up, both in terms of recording and in terms of my computing of the stats. To record I decided to use a little Focusrite four-input box. I ran the feed of the track we were playing into two of the channels and then put up two microphones, spaced to either side of the room to collect our comments. Now I would still be able to edit our speaking out, but I could leave the track running in the background and all the noise would be in sync.

The results were really good and made editing the whole thing a lot easier too. They also helped with 'talking over' issues that four people created: with three of you there's no way to have two conversations going at once, but with four it is an issue. So by spacing the sound out a lot more it made it possible to deal with those moments where there was overlap. We also ran the system in a pretty rigid style, keeping to the track times and trying to move through so that it didn't drag on for hours: 40 tracks is a lot!

Meanwhile I went to town on the PHP stats gathering, creating a whole database backend. The problem with Last.FM is it has multiple examples of the same album and it doesn't necessarily know how many tracks it has nor what year it came out. By filtering its data I was able to provide tables for each of us showing what we'd listened to and, more importantly, normalise it by number of tracks in the album, so that a 20-track album didn't overshadow a 4-track one simply because 10 listens was worth 200 plays vs 40. I'll cover that in another blog post soon.

2011 Album List

Wild Flag
Tim Hecker
Bill Callahan
Dutch Uncles
The Duke Spirit
Foo Fighters
Iron & Wine
Anna Calvi

2012 Album List

Corin Tucker Band
Bryter Layter
Debo Band
John Talabot