What I'm Doing

by Joseph Sardella

My name is Joseph Sardella. This year, I am taking on a challenge to listen to 1,000 albums. It seems like a lot, but on average it comes out to three or four albums a day. Some days I knock out six or seven, and others I only hit one or two; it evens out. I thought it would be a good challenge to undertake as an aspiring songwriter and hired gun (music slang for getting hired to play your instrument for other artists). As a guitar player, I am always trying to understand my role in a song and band setting on a deeper level. As a songwriter, I am always trying to pay attention to the forms and examples of those who have gone before me. There is no substitute for a good practice routine, but intentional music listening surely can’t hurt me on my journey, right? That’s my thought process on listening to 1,000 albums.

In an effort to actually face each album and address the things I learned from it, I started writing small reviews of each album on my Instagram story. I gave myself some rules when I started this endeavor: I will never rate an album (I don’t want to try to put a subjective value on someone’s vulnerability or creativity, especially when I am currently trying to join their world), and I will never speak negatively of an album, not because I don’t believe in critiquing music, I think critique is helpful and formative, but because I want to try to find at least one positive thing I can learn from each album. I believe each album I listen to will teach me something new. Each artist will have their own strengths and weaknesses and I want to focus on their strengths so I can learn from them what they do well. I will acknowledge what I don’t like about each album and why, but I’ll keep it to myself for my own knowledge. I want to take time discussing and exploring the things I liked and found interesting from each album because I want to learn from as many different sources as possible the skills that I will eventually come to employ in my own songwriting and guitar playing, hopefully sooner than later.

The aspect of this challenge that I have enjoyed the most so far has been discussing different albums or disciplines within music further with people who have direct messaged me separately about the reviews or who have brought them up to me in person. Human connection is one of the most important aspects of creating music in the first place, and conversation is a great way to do that if you aren’t experiencing the music in real time with other people in some capacity, like an album listening party, a show that you attend or play, or a band rehearsal where you are playing the music with other people or writing new music with them. As I start sharing reviews through Hardspeak, feel free to reach out to me to talk more about a piece or musical concept, hit me with a recommendation (no guarantees I will listen to it but I am not gonna pretend like it won’t help me to have a few albums on deck ever so often), or comment on my run-on sentences!