Best CDs of 2016 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 8

Violent Femmes!

Fun alt-rock crossover trivia: the cover art to this comeback is by Barenaked Ladies keyboardist Kevin Hearn.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year, marvel that I’m still buying new music at all, reaffirm my disinterest in digital, and boast how I’m one of eleven people nationwide still buying CDs. I don’t buy a lot of them, though. I rarely connect with the Top 40 acts that get all the social media attention. My favorite bands tend to be old and denied promotional push from their labels, assuming they still have a contract. I’m open to hearing new bands, but my styles of choice are narrowing over the years and I’m a lot less enamored nowadays of bratty whippersnappers who overestimate their own wisdom. Fortunately my finicky criteria don’t eliminate all musical acts. Yet.

Right this way for the countdown!

Best CDs of 2014, According to an Old Guy Who Bought Ten

Sonic Highways!

The Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways was far from my favorite album, but its eight-city metropolitan hodgepodge was definitely my favorite album cover.

It’s that time of year again! Even though my musical tastes don’t match anyone geographically near me, aren’t becoming any more stylish as I age, sometimes don’t fit well with my faith, and are increasingly leaning toward a uniform power-pop pageant, I do still like owning physical albums with all-new songs recorded and sequenced by the artists. I prefer CDs while driving because I can pop them in and out of the player with sufficient dexterity and without crashing, because local commercial radio enjoys being terrible, and because, last time I checked, the pre-installed satellite radio won’t accept monthly payments. And any digital music I accumulate tends to sit on my hard drive ignored and/or forgotten

(For more about that segment, I refer you to my thoughts on U2’s free Songs of Innocence, as previously discussed.)

The following list, then, comprises every CD I acquired in 2014 that was also released in 2014. Back-catalog materials are forbidden from inclusion, though for what it’s worth Mike Doughty’s 2011 album Yes and Also Yes deserved to be bought much sooner.

Right this way for lots of, well, white-guy rock!

Best CDs of 2012, According to an OId Guy Who Bought Seven

Whether on or off the Internet, I very rarely discuss music. I was a typical top-40 fan as a child, but segued to “alternative music” circa 1989 thanks to the late-night lineups of Post-Modern MTV and 120 Minutes that kept me company over homework into the wee hours every evening. I’ve followed musical acts of varying degrees of talent and volume ever since. I don’t consider myself finicky, but I’m not interested in 99% of the bands that receive mainstream coverage nowadays. I rarely discover new bands because local radio is a joke and I haven’t felt compelled to subscribe to satellite radio yet. You can bet the aging process hasn’t exactly broadened my vistas. As for the disparate gulf between my lifelong musical tastes and my present-day spiritual mindset, that’s a subject for another essay altogether.

I have the hardest time keeping track of when the musicians I still follow finally release new albums, but in 2012 I stumbled across six such occasions, and on another occasion tried one (1) relatively new act with pleasing results. I also bought one reissue, relegated to a separate category of its own. The following list scratches the surface of my purchasing preferences and may or may not provide any insight into me at all.

And just so we’re clear, I really did buy all seven albums on CD. My disdain for collecting digital music is also a subject for another essay altogether.

On with the countdown:

7. Joey Ramone, “…Ya Know?”. If I’m understanding the candid liner notes correctly, the Ramones frontman’s first album since his death in 2004 was constructed from vocal recordings acrimoniously wrested through litigious means from the hands of frequent Ramones collaborator Daniel Rey. The bulk of the posthumous backup-band work is by Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh, late-’80s Ramones producer Ed Stasium, and assorted studio musicians, though a few familiar names also contributed — mid-’80s bandmate Richie Ramone; Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick; Steven Van Zandt; Dennis Diken from the Smithereens; and Joan Jett, though her part is reduced to backing vocals on “21st Century Girl” rather than a true duet. It’s nice to hear one last Joey collection, though the assemblage of various artists creates a sterile, corporate-bar-band sound too diluted to approximate the vintage Ramones buzzsaw sound. (Sample track: “Rock ‘n Roll is the Answer“.)

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