In a word… wow! 2015 was the year where my music to cost ratio exploded. The price of old title physical music [the kind I like] seems to be flatlining. I have bought large quantities of music this year, and many were titles that were on my want list, for pocket change. That was a helpful trend, because the price of postage for music bought by mail order [where most of the titles I want reach me] is showing no signs of decreasing. It’s already been several times the cost of the music and not trending downward.
Trips to different cities have yielded huge amounts of inexpensive used material, though my own city remains several years behind the curve, in keeping with the quite high cost of living in Asheville. Typical used prices for 30+ year old music on CD elsewhere is in the $2-4 average cost while $7-8 is still common locally for all but the most unwanted titles. Harvest Records annual anniversary sale was modest in the CD department for the second year running, but vinyl exploded this year for the first time ever with tons of 12″ singles I was glad to purchase at rock bottom prices.
A trip to Beautiful World Records in Philadelphia was inconclusive as they did not stock their music on site, leaving me to mail order a ton of CDs and 12″ vinyl when I got home from my trip to Pennsylvania. But, their shipping costs are the best in the world. Any amount of vinyl for $5.00. Any amount of CDs for $3.50! Do you copy that? A trip to buy records with my friend Ron Kane in Charlotte revealed the best record store in the state, Repo Record. I can hardly wait to visit Charlotte again with a decent amount of cash in my pocket next time. So the sales were amazing [details to follow]. What releases caught my ear this year?
2015 Album List
Just nine albums released this year were purchased and here’s how I rank them.
- FFS: FFS – This was even better than I thought that it was going to be, and my expectation was way up there. I wisely bought a Franz Ferdinand album [their debut] before buying this so I’d have a context in which to appreciate it. Wise move!
- Visage: Demons To Diamonds – It was neck and neck with the FFS album for the top spot, and considering that Steve Strange died while it was being recorded speaks to its unique strengths in the Visage canon. More than anything, this album reflected the fact that Visage had come back in 2013 as a band. These songs sounded built to play, which was a sad irony as this could not be possible.
- Visage: Darkness To Diamond – While I lamented the lack of world-conquering Visage singles from “Demons To Diamonds,” the minds at Visage HQ shocked me by dropping this remix album as recompense just weeks after the album was released – at least from their webstore. It gets a wide release on Bowie’s birthday [this Friday].
- Ghost Harmonic: Codex – John Foxx and Benge teamed up with classical violinist Diana Yukawa for this impressive feat of organic electronics and improvisation. I certainly hope that there are a few more of these projects in the pike.
- John Foxx: London Overgrown – John Foxx surfaced solo with this ambient album delving into his penchant for biological chaos running roughshod over civilization.
- Todd Rundgren/Emil Nikolaisen/Hans-Peter Lindstrom: Runddans – In a shock move, Todd Rundgren released a collaborative album with a pair of Norwegians who approached the icon like an equal. The result was a dubbed-out kosmich trip like Rundgren hadn’t done in over 30 years.
- Laurie Anderson: Heart Of A Dog – This soundtrack to the new Laurie Anderson film is exactly that. If you took a recorder into the theatre when the movie was playing and recorded it as audio, you would have this. It is the full soundtrack to the feature, and the downside was that a few sequences simply don’t work without the visual accompaniment the film provided.
- The Rezillos: Zero – I am ashamed. I bought this first Rezillos album in 36 years… on vinyl. And that puppy is still sealed. I have yet to buy the all-critical CD for actual listening to. Lame, I know. It’s probably top 3 stuff if I actually heard it!
- Duran Duran: Paper Gods – And yet even an unheard Rezillos album had to be better than the new Duran Duran album. Suffice to say, I was not terribly interested in what Double Duran were putting down this time. That I heard it at the same time as their previous, frankly stunning album from 2012, only made it sound even worse in comparison.
Total titles purchased: 161
Total cost: $645.04
Average cost: $4.00/title
– LP: 12
– 12″: 42
– 7″: 22
– bundled: 1
Here’s the data on a graph.
Wow! The gulf between the number of titles and cost has grown enormously. The wider the gap on those endpoints, the more efficient my spending is. The amount and caliber of the music this last year was very “comfortable.” there is such a thing as too much music to process, and the 2015 haul felt about right. A new release every 2.2 days. That I can do this for under $700 frankly astounds me. It’s a cold fact of life that physical product is way cheaper than downloads, so that boat has sailed. Just two downloads this year, and one of them was a freebie from ZE Records. I don’t see this trend reversing anytime soon. I don’t know why anyone would pay more than the cost of a CD for a DL.
Speaking of “dead media,” the DVD format seems to have really bitten the dust with only a single bundled DVD coming into the collection this year. That’s fine with me. I have bought DVDs [at great cost, often enough] that only get a single viewing years later, if ever. That’s time spent better listening to music! Particularly when there were so many cool 7″ singles flowing into the Record Cell this year, thanks to Time Traveler in Akron.
2015 finally saw me acting on deficiencies that have plagued me for several years. I bought a cakebox of MAM-A archival media to make CDs with for the first time since 2012, And I bought a 4TH RAID, since my hard drive [and external aux drive] were maxxed out for almost two years now. With the new 4TB RAID sitting in my Record Cell, I now have copious amounts of hard drive space to record all of this vinyl for listening to. Now, all I need is the time to simply play this stuff!
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