Harkive diary 2013


The Harkive project wants to find out how and why people listen to music – and how the devices, technologies, formats, services and time available combine to create a personal listening experience. To do this, Harkive asked music fans to document their listening habits on 9 July 2013 and publish the results via blogs, photos, tweets and so on. Harkive plan to analyse the results and repeat the event each year to map how listening habits change over time. This is my listening diary.



I rarely listen to CDs at home though I still do when driving. Most of the time I listen to compilation CDs from magazines. Much as I love (and often rely) on last.fm and Spotify for new artist recommendations, I still like CDs curated by people who know particular a scene inside out. For my morning commute today, it’s the The Blues Magazine issue 7 CD (standout tracks in bold):

  1. 16 Tons of Love – Z-Star
  2. Somebody Else – JJ Grey & Mofro
  3. Rainbow Bridge – Mike Zito & The Wheel
  4. Get You Off – Stephen Petit Dale
  5. Alley Cat – Marcus Bonfanti
  6. Low Down and Dirty – Walter Trout & His Band
  7. Catch Me On The Fly – The Graveltones
  8. 32-400 – Poplar Jake
  9. Some Other Man Instead – Spin Doctors
  10. Devil’s Got A Hold On Me – Danny Bryant
  11. Oh Yer – Long John Laundry
  12. I Got Sound – Fireroad
  13. Thunderhead – Austin Young & No Difference
  14. Lookin’ Back Movin’ On – Steve Summers Band
  15. Josey – Pearl Handled Revolver

I make a mental note of the tracks I like so I can look up the artists online later today.


Lunchtime. I’m looking up artists which caught my ear during this morning’s drive, starting with Z-Star. Listened to The Hours via an embedded SoundCloud player in Z-Star’s website:

Next I watch JJ Grey & Mofro’s 99 Shades of Crazy and subscribe to their YouTube channel:

Now on to Fireroad’s I Got Sound:

I then click around other videos and channels suggested by YouTube, not looking for anything in particular, and stumble on Dog Scratched Ear by Henry’s Funeral Shoe – a band I’ve never heard of and now like.


The UK is experiencing a heatwave so I leave the office and go for a walk in the green University campus, iPhone headphones donned.

Westwood campus

Westwood Campus, The University of Warwick

I found a nice quiet spot in the sun and watched Midnight Barcelona, a time-lapse video by Pau García Laita set to the instrumental song Starscapes by The American Dollar:


Back in the office. I work with words (writing, editing or making sense of lots of content) and often use headphones and music (streamed via Spotify) to concentrate. However, I can’t write or research productively while listening to music with lyrics. The music needs to be ambient. So, I switch on a Spotify playlist called Background music you can ignore while you work. Today, I listen to Orbital, Underworld, Mozart, Future Sound of London, Lee Scratch Perry, The Orb and Sigur Rós.

I’ve listened to this playlist on random too much and get bored with it quickly so switch to Sigur Rós’ album Valtari. Too much Sigur Rós makes me wistful and weepy though (not ideal in an open plan office!) so I stop listening after one full album and go looking for something else.

The recently updated Discover screen in Spotify recommends artists you might like based on your listening history. The recommendation algorithm isn’t accurate so you do get some comic recommendations, like this pair:

Spotify Discover recommendations

She & Him’s ‘Volume 3’, Cream’s ‘Ghetto Famous’

Twee-indie pixies She & Him bear no resemblance musically or artistically to Texas blues singer/guitarist ace Gary Clarke Jr. but I like this random recommendation and listen to Volume 3 anyway. It’s nice and is apt for a quiet, sunny afternoon.


The drive home from work is always a battle through two congested Midlands motorways and a busy Birmingham high street so I need to be alert. This means a soundtrack in the car that’s more upbeat and rockier than today’s previous sounds. I connect my iPhone via bluetooth to the in-car Ford Audio (app/facility?) and hit shuffle. Track list:

  1. Ain’t Nothing But A House Party – The Showstoppers
  2. Harry, Turn The Music Up – Otis Taylor
  3. Hells Bells – AC/DC
  4. Hands On Your Stomach – Otis Taylor
  5. Hard To Handle – The Black Crowes
  6. Somebody To Love – Jefferson Airplane
  7. Back in Black by AC/DC

It seems odd that two artists appear twice from a shuffled 16 GB music library so I guess there are some other factors at work here.


Drive to my friend Alistair’s house to restring guitars and do some songwriting. I want to hear Fireroad’s I Got Sound up loud again after hearing it for the first time this morning so I put The Blues Magazine CD back on in the car.

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