Blog Plans for 2021

Throughout the last quarter of 2020, one of the things I kept telling myself was that we just need to get to the next year. And I know I wasn’t the only person who was thinking this way. There’s something about the symbolic change from one year to the next that encourages us to look forward to better things and motivates us to do better in several areas of our lives. Hell, I created a massive list of things I want to do this year, big and small, to improve myself and the way I manage my life. It’s nice and easy and convenient to blame bad luck and the state of the world on an arbitrary grouping of 12 months, but the real causes of all these problems don’t follow a calendar. I mean, we’re not even a whole month into 2021 and it’s already given me a healthy dose of crazy, not just in the current events but in my personal life as well. But, I’m not ready to give up on Continuous Thunder just yet. I’m not entirely sure what it will look like this year, but I will do my best in this post to outline my current plans and intentions for the blog in 2021 as well as take care of some housekeeping from last year.

First off, I want to wrap up a big loose end from 2020. I was trying to go through the decade of the 2010s and go over some of my favorite releases from each year. I believe the last one that I published was for the year 2014. As of right now, I have no intentions of finishing that series. It was already taking far longer than it should have and most people probably stopped caring about “best of the decade” lists by March or April anyway. It just doesn’t make sense to me to extend it into the next year or to have an unfinished series hanging over my head while I’m trying to listen to new music and write new content. I might revisit it if there’s some kind of outcry in the comments begging me to complete the retrospective, but for now it’s ending at 2014.

Somewhat related since I started this back in 2020 is the Monthly Thunder playlists on Spotify. The first update to the playlists in 2021 will not be happening until February at the earliest, and quite possibly not until March. I’m still trying to get back into the swing of listening to the new music that comes out, and my personal life has thrown some unique curveballs that have been affecting that. I have started listening to some new stuff, slowly but surely, but I don’t know if I’ll have gotten through enough to update the playlists by February. There’s also a chance that the structure of the playlists may have to change because of how much I listen to, but we’ll get to that later in the post. The bottom line is, don’t look for playlist updates until February at the earliest.

Moving on to the actual plans for 2021, I should cover my plans for the most important bit of behind-the-scenes work for this blog: listening to new releases. In 2020, I listened to over 1100 new releases. No, that’s not a typo. And I think anyone would agree that that’s an insane amount of music to listen to, whether it’s your job or not, and especially when this is just a hobby and you already have a day job. There’s no doubt in my mind that this was one of the biggest contributing factors to my constant burnout on this project. Every week just brought a pile of new music that would hang over my head for the next month. It wasn’t really possible to enjoy the music or give it the time it needed to write a decent review. Plus, I didn’t have any time to revisit old favorites from my teenage years or even the past few years.

This year, I am going to make a conscious effort to listen to less music. Now, I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do that as I have a bit of FOMO when it comes to new music. That album that you pass on might end up being your new favorite. But that’s a risk I’m going to have to learn to take. Even if I can reduce my listening by a few hundred albums, it will make a significant impact on my workload for this blog and give me a chance to actually listen to the music. Hopefully this will allow me to enjoy this project as the hobby that it was originally intended to be.

As far as a timeline or schedule for publishing new reviews, well… I don’t know. I wish I could tell you, but last year and the past couple months in particular, have just sucked a lot out of me and the blog just wasn’t a priority for the limited resources I had. Unfortunately, that’s still pretty much the case. Things need to even out a bit more before I can think of committing to any sort of publishing schedule. That doesn’t mean I’ll be completely silent. I’ll still be active on social media and I hope to toss you a few scraps here and there, whether they be reviews of some classic albums or a few pieces for Sleeping Village. So keep an eye out for that.

One last piece of housekeeping for this post regards a relatively minor change to how things will work from now on. If you look at the score guide (either in the sidebar or at the bottom of this post, depending on where you’re reading this) you’ll notice that I have changed my scoring system to be out of 10 rather than out of 5. When I started writing scored reviews, I chose to score out of 5 based on starred reviews as I thought they did a better job of conveying the score. However, that only really works if you’re actually using stars, and I wasn’t. Scoring out of 10 is more universal, people will understand more readily if I refer to a score by a single number, and I won’t have to transpose my scores or qualify that they’re out of 5 anymore. It’s a minor thing that I’ve wanted to do for awhile, and a new year seemed like an appropriate time to make the change.

But that should cover everything that I wanted to. Again, I’m sorry that I can’t give you a more solid timeline of when regular publishing will start up again. But I hope the promise of at least some new content is enough to keep you coming back. 2020 was a wild ride, here’s hoping 2021 goes a little more smoothly.


Welcome to the New Continuous Thunder Website: How We Got Here

Welcome to my new music blog website! Some of you might be coming from my old YouTube channel (more on that later), but for those who are new, let me tell you a little about what I want to do with this site.

Music has been a pretty important part of my life for about 20 years. It didn’t matter if I was listening to it, watching it, playing it, or performing it, I tried to keep some of its influence around. I even tried selling music equipment and repairing guitars for awhile, and I have the disassembled guitars in my closet to prove it!

Over those 20 years I’ve developed my own tastes and opinions in music, and some people actually respected those opinions and would turn to me for new music recommendations. Reviews played a big part of that development in my teenage years, not only in having someone articulate why an album was or wasn’t good, but primarily in introducing me to a lot of music that I probably wouldn’t have listened to on my own. The Christian music magazines (I know, I know… that’s a story for another time) and especially websites like Pitchfork greatly improved my critical listening and broadened my musical horizons.

My first attempt at putting out music reviews started in January of this year. I created the Continuous Thunder Facebook page to serve as the home for my written reviews. I wanted to start on an established platform as a bit of a trial in case I found myself not enjoying it. Backing out of a Facebook page would be pretty easy. However, I found the format to be limiting. I felt like I had to keep my reviews too short to accurately express all of my thoughts. But if I shared everything I wanted to, the post would be excessively long and nobody would stop to read it in their Facebook newsfeed.

Even though I kept things short and sweet, I still wasn’t getting the traffic. Even my truncated reviews were apparently too long for the Facebook crowd. This led to the transition to Continuous Thunder version 2.0. I started recording videos for my reviews and simultaneously uploading them to Facebook and YouTube. In the video format, I was able to fit more information into a smaller package, and a thumbnail with my face could attract more attention than a big block of text under an album cover. But the Facebook page still wasn’t getting the attention I wanted. With the YouTube channel getting more traffic, I gradually transitioned exclusively to YouTube and away from Facebook entirely.

Over the following months, I released over 30 videos on YouTube, some getting more views than others. (Who knew Madonna fans were so passionate?) I also gained a couple dozen subscribers. It seemed to be going well, but I underestimated the work required to upload regularly. My output kept reducing down to one video a week, and sometimes I didn’t even make that. The process was beginning to stress me out. I already have a day job and viewed this project as more of a hobby. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe your hobbies should stress you out. Not like this anyway.

The YouTube channel went on indefinite hiatus and I enjoyed my time away a little too much. Any thought of getting back into it just filled me with a sense of dread. That brings us to Continuous Thunder version 3.0. I definitely enjoyed writing my reviews more than recording them, so I thought maybe I could revive Continuous Thunder as a written blog again, only with its own website. This way I don’t have to limit myself because of the format and I don’t have to edit any videos. Also, if I’m totally honest, my written voice is better than my on-screen presence.

So that brings us to the website that you are currently reading this post on. The all new Continuous Thunder. I have a pretty good feeling about this iteration. I think this will be the version that sticks around for awhile.

There will be a couple more introductory posts explaining my reviews and getting all of my previously reviewed material onto the site. After that we’ll get into the swing of reviewing new music.