What I'm Listening To: Jose Gonzalez, Sufjan Stevens, and Other Sad Songs

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This is Jose Gonzalez, who is a downer (in a good way).
For the past few months, I've been attempting to perfect my Pandora Radio station. If you're not a regular Pandora user, here's a quick definition, via my good friends at Wikipedia: "Pandora is an automated music recommendation and Internet radio service created by the Music Genome Project. Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Users provide feedback on approval or disapproval of individual songs, which Pandora takes into account for future selections."

Initially, my goal was to create "The Saddest Radio Station Alive," and it started out with just one artist: Elliott Smith. (What can I say? I love sad bastard music.) This didn't offer me much variety and, unexpectedly, led Pandora to select mostly songs by the Beatles. I like the Beatles well enough, but I don't find them particularly sad, so I decided to push this theme as far I could. Then I added the Mountain Goats (really, really sad), then Cat Power (sometimes sad), Bon Iver (verging on hopeless), Fionn Regan (sad but beautiful), and St. Vincent (haunting but not that sad).

This experiment has--quite effectively--made me realize that I actually enjoyed some bands and artists I had paid much attention to before or that I had dismissed outright. After the jump are two examples.

Jose Gonzalez: How had I never heard this guy before? He's Swedish, gently plucks his guitar, and he's a total downer. It's right up my alley. On the other hand, I'm glad his songs are only intermittently played on Pandora, because after a while his music sounds like something played during a super dramatic scene on One Tree Hill, which is not a good thing.

Sufjan Stevens: I know, you can revoke my membership in the Indie Rock Fan Club for saying this, but I've never really listened to Sufjan Stevens before. Clearly, a huge mistake on my part.

Any body else out there ever discovered an artist through Pandora?

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