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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

How listening to full albums allows for a deeper appreciation of the art

UC Davis students discuss the return of vinyls, CDs and other ways to listen to albums 


By ZOEY MORTAZAVI — features@theaggie.org


As far back as recorded music goes, artists have created their albums with a great deal of care and intention. A calculated effort goes into the order by which the songs are placed, and many albums tell stories according to their chronological order. 

In recent years, physical albums have risen in popularity once again, as listening to vinyl records and CDs has become a resurrected practice. An appreciation for albums seems to reflect an appreciation for the intentions of the artist. This desire to respect the artist’s craft has led many at UC Davis to celebrate this tradition once again. 

“I think we should bring back listening to music by the album because it’s a completely different experience listening to a physical piece of media, like a CD, from beginning to end,” Ritika Ghosh, a first-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, said. 

Ghosh is a part of KDVS 90.3FM, the UC Davis student-run radio station. She explained that the group almost always listens to music by full album, as opposed to shuffling songs on playlists.

“Most albums were meant to be listened to as a group, and when you sit down and take the time to appreciate the album as a whole you unlock this whole new way of thinking about music, not just as individual songs but as groups of songs in an album that all cohesively flow together,” Ghosh said. “At KDVS, we listen to all, if not 99%, physical media — and it’s made me appreciate music so much more in a different way than Spotify [has].”

Digital music offered through streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music has created a playlist-based music culture. Playlists are curated based on different genres, artists or even moods that are meant to create ambience for the listener. Even when people do choose to listen to albums, the convenience of streaming music has encouraged skipping songs. 

Listening to a full album in the correct order is what the artist intended, and it was done that way for a reason,” Jamie Parmenter wrote in an article for VinylChapters. “The artist may have spent hours figuring out the track order, changing and swapping tracks, stressing over little sections and even removing songs because they just didn’t fit into the overall sound. It’s kind of like baking: put some ingredient into the mix in the wrong order, and it could ruin the whole cake.” 

Students at UC Davis report that there is nothing wrong with curating playlists with many different artists and genres, but that listening to full albums has helped them unlock a newfound appreciation for artists they already enjoy. 

There are a few albums that are known for being popularly listened to in their entirety: some of these might include Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” or Radiohead’s “OK Computer.” 

Aside from these examples, there seems to be intention behind the order and cohesiveness of every album. As many Davis students are reporting, it is definitely worth trying to listen to full albums by your favorite artists. If nothing else, listening to albums as opposed to shuffling playlists or songs can help listeners get to know their favorite artists a little bit better. 

“I really enjoy listening to albums because I feel like it lets me connect with an artist on a deeper, more intimate level in a way,” Rowan Cary-Clark, a second-year psychology major, said. “I also have been listening to more concept albums, like Ethel Cain’s ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ or Hozier’s ‘Unreal Unearth.’ I think concept albums show how creative musicians can be and how they can tell a whole story through music — it’s really beautiful. I’ve started collecting CDs for my car, and I think they are a nice way to really understand the creative vision and story behind the music.”

A concept album is defined as “a collection of songs written by a musician or group that is based around a central theme or concept.” These albums are often listened to all the way through because they tell stories chronologically or relate to a main idea.

“My preferred method of listening to music is through albums,” Olivia Doyle, a first-year neurology, physiology and behavior major, said. “I believe that, for the majority of artists, albums are created to tell a story. It takes you through a series of ups and downs in both a lyrical and musical sense. Listening to an album cultivates an experience that’s similar to watching a movie. It gives you a perspective into the artist’s creative thought process as well as an inside look into the artist’s lives.”

Doyle continued by mentioning some of her favorite albums. 

“‘The Miseducation of Ms. Lauryn Hill,’ by Ms. Lauryn Hill, ‘For Lovers, Dreamers, & Me’ by Alice Smith, ‘Case Study 01’ by Daniel Caesar and ‘Frank’ by Amy Winehouse,” Doyle said. “Each album has a unique and specific feel and story that connects you to the artist, as well as sparks my own creativity.”

These Davis students are finding new appreciation and love for music after listening to albums in full. Consider doing a deep dive into one or two of your favorite albums — you might see them in a completely new light and find a greater understanding of their art.


Written by: Zoey Mortazavi — features@theaggie.org




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