2017 – The Year In Buying Music

“Going into 2017, I’d like to see a slight paring back of music bought in the upcoming year. Last year I bought a release for every post made in the year [210] and that’s a bit too much stuff. I know for a fact that I can be just as satisfied having spent half the money that I did last year, so let’s see if we can move it in that direction a little. If I look at 2016, there were many months with few titles balanced by months of drowning in music. I’d like to reign in the focus a bit and spend more effort getting the things on my want list in lieu of cheap available thrills.”

– Post-Punk Monk, 1-12-17

So that was where I left off on last year’s music buying roundup. As it stood, this year I spent a healthy 20% less on music, although the amount of music was down by a third. Overall price per “release” [and I count a release as a single DL as much as a boxed set of CDs] was up but about the same percentage, so the costs were higher. This I put down to buying directly from the artist via merch tables, Pledge Music campaigns and the like. Also, it was significant that I missed the annual Harvest Anniversary sale in August. That could have shaved off a full dollar/release costs if it had been a “good one.”

Stats

Total titles purchased: 139 [↓35%]
Total cost: $984.13 [↓20%]
Average cost: $7.13/title [↑22%]

CD: 81
Vinyl: 53
– LP: 10
– 12″: 38
– 7″: 5
DVD: 2
– bundled: 2
Downloads: 5

No 10″ singles this year, but the 12″ single action was up considerably. LPs and 7″ers were fairly anemic and CD totals were less than half of 2016. Ouch. Downloads were on the downside. What does the data look like?

Hmm. The titles/cost points for 2017 are worryingly close together; indicating higher costs per unit. The greater the divergence between them, the happier my wallet is. Of course, most of what I buy is Old Music For Old People® but there were still 16 releases that were of this calendar year, so let’s try to shoehorn them into a list!

 

2017 Album List

  1. King Crimson: Live In Chicago – The kind of live album that could almost be the perfect vector of infection for this band. If this was all you had on a desert island, you would not complain. That I saw the tour when it continued later that year also gave this one incredible power and value. King Crimson is on fire in its current flowering.
  2. Blow Monkeys: The Wild River – The latest Blow Monkeys album was recorded in Dr. Robert’s locale: Andalusia. As a consequence, longtime drummer Tony Kiley was unable to travel, and this was the first Blow Monkeys album where he was not drumming [save for all the drum machines in the past]. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t any good. It was an immediate hit that sounded so rich and warm in its performance and production, that it became instant music comfort food. The second time I played it,  my wife heard it and asked if she could take it to work and import in into her computer.   Yes, it’s one of those “your-wife-asks-to-borrow-it” albums! That good!
  3. OMD: The Punishment Of Luxury – I will get around to reviewing this one day since I started the OMD Rock G.P.A. over three months ago, and we’re only through album five. Suffice to say, it’s a corker.
  4. Sparks: Hippopotamus – Almost Sparks relaxing after nearly two decades of rare, late period growth. It’s as if they re-discovered their core strengths in hitting their full back catalogue for the “Two Hands, One Mouth” tours of a few years ago, and decided to pursue that thread with new material.
  5. John Foxx + The Maths – The Machine – The fourth Maths album was an instrumental opus, not that they hadn’t been hinting in this direction from day one. Benge is all about texture and quality of sound so he’s the logical partner for Foxx in a project inspired by their soundtrack for a play based on E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops.” An endlessly repeatable album, and my wife bought it on DLX metallic Barnbrook LP for me as a birthday present…super nice!
  6. Logan Sky + Steven Jones: Corrupt State – Analog synths and up-to-the-minute post-millennium politics from this 21st century “synth duo” with a posthumous guest appearance by Steve Strange on the excellent title track.
  7. King Crimson: Elements 2017 Tour Box – Brilliant compilation of interconnected pieces and random bits collected from the 50 year history of King Crimson. Disc two collects a full disc worth of “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic” in every on of its component forms! About a third of these boxes are not previous released materials.
  8. Zola Jesus: Okovi – Well reviewed album that made a fair number of year-end lists …and not just mine. Ethereal goth electronics for the 21st century filtered through the sensibilities and experiences of Nika Danilova. It’s as grandiose as it’s also intimate and introspective.
  9. Shriekback: The Elated World – When Shriekback said they would record a song for anyone able to pay £200 for a “bespoke” song crafted just for them, using their title, I was a naysayer. Fortunately, the best fruits of their labors surfaced as this album, giving fans access for a modest price that more than addressed my initial complaints about the project. Eclectic and playful.
  10. Hudson K: Hudson K – Regional synth band went from pop to art rock [usually a preference] with their latest album moving in a vintage Peter Gabriel direction. More, please.
  11. Dreamcar: Dreamcar – What happened to the No Doubt band after what’s-her-face went solo? They formed the best Duran Duran influenced band possible, and released it this year. What else should you expect from dudes raised on KROQ?
  12. David Bowie: Cracked Actor [Live In Los Angeles ’74] – Fascinating vintage Bowie tours were beginning to get milked even before his death. Expect even more when he’s gone. This one is the early “Diamond Dongs” tour before it became the “Philly Dogs” tour after a radical re-working. Similar songs to “David Live” but performed very differently.
  13. Предсмертная Кадриль: Прости [Dying Quadrille: Forgive] – Sophomore album of Ukrainian post-punk band that hit me just right last year. A step up in the energy levels make this one closer to pop from their almost gothic roots.
  14. Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir – Stephin Merritt wrote specifically about his life this time out, revealing just how little his previous songs could be construed as autobiographical. The 10/songs per disc conceit made this more of a chore to listen to than it needed to be.
  15. Brian Eno: Reflection – I actually played this one at work on Saturday, and it was perfect background noise; not even interfering with my conversations, but enhancing the overall vibe. This was the first time I ever played ambient Eno a work and it functioned as promised. Of course, the music was edited from output from Eno’s new generative app of the same name, but I have one of his earlier generative apps [Scape] and that’s enough of that for me.
  16. Ghost Wolves: Texa$ Platinum – Third album of the Austin blues/punk band fronted by Carly Wolf; the unholy fusion of Clare Grogan and Jimmy Page.

Martha Johnson + Mark Gane [M+M] ca. 1986

2017 Reissue List

  1. Martha + The Muffins: The World Is A Ball – I’ve been waiting a long time for this one and it did not disappoint. Vivacious art-pop with a dance chaser from this great New Wave band, long awaited on the shiny silver discs.
  2. Dalek i Love You: Dalek i Love You – This was a straight reissue of a 2007 reissue. Had it been the first time out on CD, it would have been in the #1 spot instead of M+M. Grandly eclectic Post-Punk Pop at its finest. Where had it been all of my life?

Shopping this year was tempered by restraint at year’s end. The October King Crimson show had a big fat merch buy associated with it, which was pretty much the last of the year for me, with nothing bought in November or December. That was enjoyable. I’d like to have more months where I buy nothing next year. Let’s see if I can manage it.

…In with the new ©2016 Andy Smith

Best store of the year was the new Lunchbox Records in Charlotte. Their new location was whole realms more fantastic than their previous, depressingly typical hipster store. That was then. This is now! Better store. Better vibe. Much better browsing. Lighting. Air conditioning. All of these things make me a happy shopper, but when they are capped by a highly desirable selection of music to buy, then that’s best of breed. Charlotte, North Carolina now contains the two best stores in the state:  Repo Record and Lunchbox.

I have just bought some of the first music of 2018 yesterday. I want to keep paring down the amount I spend, but we’ll see how much further I can take it and still thrive. According to the graph, this year was the third most money I’d spent since starting this blog. Less money buying things and more time spent listening to what I already have would be optimal, but there are some long standing B-sides/bonus tracks missing from the Record Cell before I could remaster several albums I’ve been waiting a long time for. Maybe this is the year that I buy those pesky Fingerprintz/Slow Children/Invaders/Dee Harris singles that have mocked me for decades by now. Allowing me to finally finish off long-awaited REVO projects.

– 30 –

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28 Responses to 2017 – The Year In Buying Music

  1. Tim says:

    I bought three new albums this year – Cousteaux, St. Etienne and Paul Weller.
    And then probably 20 re-issues, mopped up all the St Et deluxe sets, grabbed the EBTG ones well at least the ones I could find and the newest PSB Further Listening sets
    Three
    For the whole year.
    Home taping ain’t killing music but the labels are doing a corker of a job.

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    • Tim says:

      p.s.
      Of the three that I bought I can only suggest the Cousteaux one.
      Paul Weller download all the iterations of the ‘She Moves Through the Fair” song.
      Saint Etienne – um, go back and listen to Tiger Bay a few times.

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Tim – Ulp! “Tiger Bay” is the Saint Etienne album I own that I listen to the least frequently! I prefer “Foxbase Alpha,” “So Tough,” and “Good Humour.” Quite frankly, I had no idea that Saint Etienne had released an album this year!

        It’s been 25+ years since I bought a Paul Weller solo album… that’s not likely to happen again. Jam or nothing for me, I guess. As for “She Walks Through The Fair,” it’s not a song I’d ever want to hear since it was the folk song melody plundered by Simple Minds as the basis of their absolute nadir, “Belfast Child.”

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – That’s crazy! Are you telling me that I bought 5x the amount of 2017 music as you did? I’m slipping! On the other hand, you are giving me stiff competition on the reissues. I am definitely slacking there.

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      • Tim says:

        I sit slightly corrected, I had checked out the folder where files are sorted by release year and didn’t look at the VA/Soundtrack file so add three, a Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs compilation and two Twin Peaks soundtracks that go along with the revival this year.
        Six new cd’s and a bunch of reissues, not a ”normal” year for me, either, however it is rapidly becoming a new norm.

        Tiger Bay is awesome, revisit it! Otherwise I agree completely with you on the vintage for better St Etienne listening.

        You never did post about household reaction to that Nick Cave “Boatman’s Call” that you picked up this year. And a Basia concert in your acquisitions? The London New York Warsaw deluxe has a lot on it but then again a lot of what constitutes that what is an instrumental version of the parent album. I had that concert you bought and sold it years ago, I’m real picky about the Basia stuff.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – I’m not picky about Basia. She’s a big part of the NWOBJP for me. I had not bought a Basia disc in decades, but I never had that one and for a dollar at the library… You just do it.

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  2. Echorich says:

    TBM album is one of my top 5 for this year, Michael Head + The Red Elastic Band and Ride garner my co #1.
    The Saint Etienne album is a difficult listen. Some fantastic track and some head scratchers.
    I was very hasty in my run down of top albums of 2017 and somehow left out OMD…It would be an easy equal with Sparks. It also makes me feel that for all the looking back at Dazzle Ships that McCluskey and Humphreys have done over the years, Dazzle Ships was an experiment that succeeded and was well ahead of its time. English Electric and The Punishment Of Luxury owe a great deal to what went on in their burnt out minds of 1983. TPOL has some influence from Junk Culture as well as I listen to it more and more. It is a bright, shiny OMD thing.
    It might be my familiarity with the music or just how early in the year it was released but I spent most of this year thinking JF+M – The Machine was a 2016 release when it most certainly wasn’t. Seeing the play and hearing the music in the forum it was written for was one of the highlights of 2017 and of the Millennium for me.
    Predsmertnaya Kadril make beautiful dark music. influences of Joy Division, Magazine, The Sound right through their album.
    Might I suggest checking out fellow Kiev dark Post Punkers On The Wane which also have a presence on Bandcamp. There is an energetic music scene going on in Kiev. Seems like wherever authoritarianism and schism exist, there will be music to reflect and resist.

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  3. vmug says:

    My Delicious Library records (which are not complete) show 45 commercial CD purchases in 2017, including any given as gifts (including one from Ron). A small number (4) were CDs created by performer friends; a couple were audio dramas, but most of them were musical albums or EPs. There were some Xmas-present-to-myself CDs from the John Foxx store, some items recommended by the Monk (like the Dalek I Love You reissue), and (since I’m a member of some fan club or something) a couple of CDs related to the band They Might Be Giants. Even though I do subscribe to a streaming service (Apple Music) so I don’t “have” to buy CDs anymore (for a while), I still do, and still enjoy it.

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  4. SimonH says:

    I’m too ashamed to say how many CDs I bought in 2017:). Let’s just say it was a lot! For me it was a great year for music, that includes new albums, reissues, second hand discoveries and gigs. I attended maybe 34 – 35 gigs, which is the highest number for quite a few years.
    Yes, I should buy less stuff just for space and time reasons, but in the end I’d rather have a bounty than a drought….

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      SimonH – Don’t be shy. What number is “a lot?” I consider “a lot” to be anything over one release every two days, but technically, it’s buying more than you have time to listen to. That was a lot of gigs. Last year felt crowded with 22 for myself. More than one a week in the “high season” seems like at lot at my age, but in the 90s 2-3 a week were the norm.

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      • Tim says:

        Late 90’s…..six a week, easily. 2-3 new albums 2-3 singles 2-3 old things found used. Did this for a few years. Reformed in 2003, hardly buy anything any more, I’m pretty much set for the rest of my days.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – I can’t say that’s not healthy, though I am not doing the same.

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          • Tim says:

            2018 purchases already? What compelled you to splurge $35 on that Duran Duran singles box? It IS a very nice set……but I figured that you had all that already, Is a DD BSOG in the works?

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            • postpunkmonk says:

              Tim – Ron Kane sent me the 2nd singles box years ago. He probably picked it up at the Capitol Records swap meet for chump change. I always wanted the [superior] 1st box, but there was always other things to get when it could be had for $12 on Amazon. Eventually, it rose in price to a high two figures and I left it at that until a $35 copy showed up in my Discogs feed. PayPal had income from some recent sales and the 2009 3xCD remaster of the ‘81-‘85 singles might have been how I would have preferred to have the music for convenience’s sake, but that 2009 edition was brickwalled, and I already had the 15 disc sister set, so I bit. No real DD BSOG in planning though the idea is always on the periphery. I could probably do one through ‘95 if it calms to that.

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              • Tim says:

                I made my deluxified take on them last year, something I put off for a long while and finally tackled.

                I know you have an aversion to fan made mixes but back in the days of file lockers there were some that are pretty much essential to have, especially one that someone did in tackling “The Re-flex(-flex-flex-flex-flex-flex.)”

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  5. SimonH says:

    Gigs on work nights are tough the older you get…! I don’t know how I coped in the 90s with lots of gigs plus the band I was in then’s own gigs.
    Yes it’s at least 1 every two days on average throughout the year, like I say this is boosted by cheap charity shop stuff. Finding the time to listen and appreciate everything is a problem, I guess I can catch up when CDs finally die out:) UK cd sales were down 12% last year so the end must be nigh!
    In all honesty though I do like a lot of music!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      SimonH – Down 12% in the UK? Disturbing news. It may be down to Japan in the end producing the niche CDs for the entire world. I can’t say that all of the obscure re-issues they alone seemed to have made for the last 30+ years were not strictly made with an eye towards the export market!

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  6. SimonH says:

    I do think it could come to that! Expensive times ahead, unless like Tim I decide I’ve got enough to last the rest of my life, I guess it will happen!

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    • Tim says:

      I bought a Marc Almond cd that I never heard of over my lunch break today, looks like classic covers which is right up my alley. I am already ahead of my average for last year!

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Tim – With three purchases in the first week of the year, I am trending high as well. Usually nothing much happens in January-February. Why, I can’t say.

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        • Tim says:

          I’m on a Marc Almond kick, haven’t been on one of those since about 1995 and gee there’s a bunch of albums that I missed in the meanwhile. I may be matching last years take this year on used Marc Almond cd’s alone.

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          • SimonH says:

            The box set from 18 months back is amazing…

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            • postpunkmonk says:

              SimonH – Wow. The last Marc Almond tear I went on was the “Treasure Box” about 16 years ago. Why, I cannot say, because I hold Almond in fairly high esteem. The EMI years were amazing to me.

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              • Tim says:

                I’m feeling the same way The last ones that I bought were the Treasure Box and Absinthe albums back to back and really enjoyed them both. Since then it’s been a smattering of ala carte Amazon MP3 purchases and I am learning that there has been some really robust stuff done by him in the last 20 years. I’ve been brown bagging it to work all week so I have more money to spend on cd’s – haven’t been able to say that in a long time.

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  7. SimonH says:

    The newer box is huge in scope. Great choice of tracks from across his long career, plus massive round up of raritiies, good sound and packaging as well.

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  8. SimonH says:

    Just read that there’s a nine cd, one DVD Soft Cell box on the way this year with lots of unreleased stuff…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      SimonH – Hmm. I think my Soft Cell collection is sufficient: “Non Stop Erotic Cabaret,” “Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing,” “The Art Of Falling Apart,” “Cruelty Without Beauty [2xCD],” and the 3xCD “12” Mixes On CD.” Though my copy of “Falling Apart” is badly bronzed. I would like to get “This Last Night In Sodom” to hear, though. Never got around to it.

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  9. SimonH says:

    It’s raw stuff, in mono (I think) I like it. I won’t be able to resist the box set…:).

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