Like a lot of you, I often turn to music for escape when I’m stressed. I’m less interested in the science of why we do this than I am in the choices we make of what to listen to. Broadly speaking, classical music should offer the most stress release but—even though there are a handful of classical pieces that are very dear to me—I almost never turn to those types of listening experiences to find stress relief. When I need to de-stress, I turn to the albums that I’ve loved the most in my life, my sonic comfort foods. By itself, this isn’t surprising but sometimes this desire for comfort listening in times of stress merges with my near-constant desire to find new music to love and pushes me towards a very small subset of records: albums that I don’t know very well by bands that I love.
Because of my completionist nature, once I find a band that I enjoy, I not only listen to all their new releases but I’ll also comb through their back catalog, familiarizing myself with their history and taking note of which albums and songs I’ll be coming back to with regularity. But sometimes albums get lost in the shuffle or a poor response to an initial listen means that I don’t give a particular record a fair shot at my listening attention. Going back to those albums at a later date offers a unique joy, typically reserved for new releases, that combines the comfort of a well known band with the novelty of unfamiliar songs.
Over the last few weeks, stressed as I, like everyone else, have been, I have been doing quite a lot of this with two previously overlooked albums making a big impression on me. The first is Third Eye Blind’s most recent effort, Screamer, which I damned with faint praise at the time of its release. Screamer may never join Third Eye Blind, Blue and Out of the Vein as transcendent albums in my life but, aside from the travesty of “2X Tigers” which I’ve removed from my digital copy of the album, it’s actually carving out the kind of beloved place in my heart that I didn’t think Third Eye Blind could reach anymore. Second up is Ten Silver Drops, the sophomore release from Secret Machines. Following in the footsteps of Now Here Is Nowhere, an album that I loved mostly because I could be at peace with “First Wave Intact” playing on a continuous loop for roughly two weeks before I’d need to change the track, Ten Silver Drops never did much for me when it was released. But going back to it now, I’m reminded of how wonderfully unique Secret Machines were and I’m realizing that I’ve been a fool for not spending more time with this fascinating bit of space rock over the decade and a half since its release.