“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  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.”
Total titles purchased: 139 [↓35%]
Total cost: $984.13 [↓20%]
Average cost: $7.13/title [↑22%]
– LP: 10
– 12″: 38
– 7″: 5
– bundled: 2
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
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
2017 Reissue List
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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