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I’m very Keane

What to do with the new Keane album (regular people)

Think “Ooh, I quite liked their last album / recent single, I’ll buy their new one”. Purchase it on CD, or perhaps just download on iTunes [Other download services are available] and play the album a few times. Like it or dislike it – you absorb it into your musical collection. And you can move along.

What to do with the new Keane album (if you’re Geoff)

I scour the internet weeks ahead of time for pre-released/illegal copies. “Safe” in the knowledge that I know I like them so much that even if I’ve got an illegal copy of it in advance, I’m still going to download it legally and/or buy in on CD when it’s officially released. I’d done that before with the last Hard-Fi album – in fact then I illegally downloaded it, then legally downloaded AND THEN ALSO bought it on CD, because … well, I’m just like that.

YouTube is good for this kind of thing. I play the tracks through in real time, and edit them down and import them into my iTunes ahead of the official release date. I even record a track off of the radio (Sirus) at one point and edit that down too. That takes me back 20 years to when I used to tape the Top 40 charts on a Sunday evening. Some things never change.

I preorder the album on Amazon. There are no music/CD shops that would stock it in Charleston, so the safest way to guarantee getting the CD is to order it online. Keane aren’t that big in the ‘states yet anyway – many people have never heard of them.

I debate over if I should download it from UK iTunes (as the US release date is a couple of days later) as well as the CD that I know you’re getting in the mail shortly.

When the album turns up, Iimport the album into iTunes – but like this:

One – I set the AAC import bitrate to 256 kbps rather than the standard 128 kbsp. This means that it takes up twice as much space on my iPod than it does as normal – and if I did that with all my music it would halve the capacity. So I only do it for specially elected songs and albums. Keane are special.

Two – I manually import the eleven track CD into iTunes track by track in reverse order. Why? Because I like to sort my iTunes by ‘date added’, meaning it puts the most recently added song at the top of my screen and plays down. If I were to drag the album over, or just say “yes please, import” when prompted and let iTunes do its default thing, Track 11 would be the first to play, and Track 1 the last when running down in date order – meaning I’d be listening to the album backwards, and I don’t want that.

I remember buying the Pet Shop Boys album ‘Actually‘ on vinyl back in 1987. In the good old days, bands would release two singles as promotional songs for their new album release. When the album did come out, those singles would be strategically positioned on the album as songs that you know are quite good because you’ve already bought the single’.

So “What have I done to deserve this” (the second single) was Track 2, and “It’s a Sin” was Track 7. How’s that strategically placed? Well people, because this is the good old days of vinyl. where you had to turn the record over after tune number five – the end of side A … ! Meaning that the second song in on each side was one you were already familiar with and comfortable listening to. So you’d probably think “Well I’ll start with the first track, and even if I don’t like it, I know there’s one coming right up which i’ll enjoy”, and then THAT would get you ‘into’ listening to the whole album.

On Perfect Symettry, Track 1 is “Spiralling” – the first single, that was available for download only and got a lot of radio play. Lots of people are hoping that this new edgier sound is a reflection of the whole album. Track 2 “The Lovers are losing” is the next (now!) new single. So it’s easy to listen to the first two tracks before I go track-skipping.

Track skipping? Oh yes – I skip through looking for the ‘Bedshaped’ on this album. Bedshaped as all good Keane fans know, recognise this as the finest song they’ve ever produced (well except for the fact that “Everybody’s Changing” is the finest song IMHO that they’ve ever produced), and when ‘Iron Sea‘ came out, everyone was all like “Ooh, but is there a Bedshaped?” – and there wasn’t. Because instead there was A Bad Dream and Nothing in my way which pissed all over Bedshaped as the finest songs they’d ever written (even marginally better than Everbody’s Changing, I have to confess) and so they became my new ‘must play’ Keane songs.

Then I discover Track 6, “You don’t see me” quite quickly is the stand-out slow number on the album. “That nice song that is typically Keane” I think to myself, and that gets a lot of plays (by which I mean, I play it 13 times in a row). But then I go back to Spiralling, and then Track 2 (the new single – Lovers are losing), Track 5 (the title track, so worth a listen) and Track 6, and I’m sorted. Except that I still can’t get into Track, 4 and a skip that one over most times.

I set my facebook status accordingly (Three times over the next couple of days is my status Keane-influenced)

I can prove this to be true – look over in the right hand column at my LastFM stats right now and you’ll see Keane riding high with many plays.

I flip onto the Wikipedia page about it, just to see what’s been written. In the process I discover this rather amusingly negative review about the album from NME.

Then I start playing along with them on my keyboard to work out what key each song is in (work in progress still, I never claim to be a musical genius).

I do worry though that it only took them just over two years to bring out this new album. Is thre shite-all (as the NME review suggested) after the first track? It doesn’t seem very developed. Part of me wishes that they had worked on it for another 12 months and brought it out later. Nothing else on the album is like “Spiralling” and it would be easy to say I could be disappointed. I can’t see anything as being as anthemic as “Nothing in my way”, and I’m still having trouble with Track 4 – I can’t get into it at all. In the end it actually gets deleted from my iTunes. That’s right deleted. Like a friend-deleter on facebook, I ruthlessly go back and chop songs from my iTunes if I really don’t like them. Albums with 12 tracks? Pah … I know when I’ve imported them, I’ve skipped the 3 songs that I know I don’t like. Ruthless, me.

Or maybe that thing will happen when the next single is chosen and it will highlight a single that previously seemed bland. This has just happened with Coldplay. “Lost!” has been chosen as the next single from their album, and what previously seemed like a bland filller track on the album, now seems like an interesting song because I’ve heard it on the radio seperately a few times by itself, and not side by side with other Coldplay songs.

But then I remember that I hated ‘Iron Sea’ when it first came out. I got it the same week that I got The Feelings album “Twelve stops and home.” and thought that that was much better. And now? Are you kidding? Somewhere around the six-months-later mark, I realised that the Keane album was a slow-burning grower, far superior, and I never want to hear that damn Feeling album again.

So I eventually got past track 6 last night … when I gave tracks 7 to 10 a play. I’d actually skipped ahead to Track 11 the other day, betting that with a name such as “Love is the end”, it would be a slow piano choon that builds up nicely to a fitting end – and it does, perfectly. But that means the in-between songs were getting missed. Until last night when I eased myself into them by starting with Track 10, playing into 11, and then back to 9, and then back to 8, and so on.

And so I’m almost at the point where I can go out and play the whole album (save for that tricky track 4) from start to finish without skipping. And I’ve made a mental post-it-sticky-note to come back in 6 months time and read this blog post and see if I’m still raving about the album as much as I am now.

Now I’m off to manually update my iTunes play count. Because where I’ve been playing the album on CD in my car, means that a play count isn’t being incremented on my iTunes. So I manually make a note in my head of what tracks I played in my car that day, and play that song in iTunes at home, and click quickly to the end, letting the song finish straight away and adding ‘1’ to the playcount. Repeated more than once of course if I played it more than once in my car.

And people tell me that I have an obesessive personality. I can’t see it myself.

19 responses to “I’m very Keane”

  1. Geoff's cousin says:

    Should I mention I’m seeing Keane this Thursday at Koko in Camden as part of the BBC Electric Proms – or would that make you a tad jealous?

  2. geofftech says:

    Probably best not to mention that, dammit.

  3. Kirk says:

    Isn’t their new album lovely? Not that keen (ha ha) on the last one, but this one is ace.

    I got it in ASDA for £6.78 or something ridiculously cheap. I was going to buy it on iTunes as it’s a “I’m not that bothered” album, but it was cheaper to buy it in plastic form!

  4. Paul Webb says:

    When listening to some track or other in the wireless today I starting thinking about mid/late period Simple Minds.

  5. Richard says:

    It’s normal behaviour as long as you’re taking a broad definition of normal.

  6. parker says:

    “There are no music/CD shops that would stock it in Charleston” —-rubbish. Give us credit where it is deserved. Do you ever go into Monster Music?!?! I fear your response. It is quite a respectable music shop. And you should know that people here DO know who Keane is. I’ve seen them in concert three times, twice in Charleston! (And the last one was a sold out show at the plex–that’s a lot of people). but regardless, congratulations on your hard copy. next up, LP edition!

  7. Kirk says:

    Yes, I was talking to someone from the US the other day and not expecting them to know who Keane were, and they pointed out they were massive on the college circuit.

  8. Julia says:

    I saw Keane in a little private gig with Virgin radio…. just 500 of us in the audience and I was 3 feet from the front. they wer gobsmacked so many people had turned up to see them… very sweet.

    But you didn’t want to know that either did you?

  9. Geoff's cousin says:

    Best not mention the time I bumped into Tom Chaplin at Charing Cross station either….

  10. mum says:

    For those of us not technically minded, would you please explain why you downloaded at 256 kbps. Does it make the songs sound better? Also how do you do the ‘import backwards ‘ thing. I should like to try it. (Send me an email if you don’t want to bore your other readers).

  11. Geoff's cousin says:

    Having bragged about tonight’s gig I now find myself with a spare ticket. Anyone fancy a night out at a Keane gig with a random stranger? Geoff can vouch for me….

  12. geofftech says:

    Audio on a CD is sampled at 1400kbps. (kbps = Kilobits per second). That is for every second of audio that you hear it’s split into 1,400 individual samples.

    with MP3’s, AAC’s and other compress music formats, you can opt to choose the compressed sample rate of the file. everything from about 128kbsp and above ‘just about’ sounds like CD quality (depending on how good your Hi-Fi/music set up is). and how sensitive your ears are.

    i can tell the difference (just) between 128 and 256kbps. and what it means is that for my favourite favourite artists, i sample at the higher rate, because it sounds slightly better/cleaner, even though it’s doble the filesize and thus takes up twice as much space on my iPod/iTunes.

  13. geofftech says:

    Did you get anyone to go with you Phil?

    And no, Julia – i didn’t need to know that either…

  14. G's Mum says:

    Phil, I would have gone if you had asked!

  15. Geoff's cousin says:

    Geoff- Yes I did. Random girl from work. Keane now have one more fan.

    T. – Sorry, would have done, surprised you son didn’t suggest it!

  16. G's Mum says:

    Ok, Phil, next year then, I think I am a fan now after listening to them on iTunes! might get the C.D. on Geoff’s recommendation.

  17. Still. New release or not, nothing but nothing tops Bedshaped, Everybody’s Changing, We Might as Well be Strangers and She Has no Time. Imagine..those were all on ONE CD, amazingly enough!!! (And FYI, I still don’t rate my songs or do smart playlists or anything tricky like that.) 🙂

  18. geofftech says:

    Kris… you need to listen to the second album. “Bedshaped” is good – yes. But “Nothing in my way” is better, and “Bad Dream” is just THE finest Keane song ever written for melody, movement, and dramatical effect. You gotta play ‘iron sea’ some more!!

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