Best CDs of 2020 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 5

Five new CDs I bought in 2020.

Per tradition, my annual personal tiny album chart.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year as one of six people nationwide who still prefers compact discs to digital. I don’t splurge too much because it’s increasingly tougher for new music to catch my ear as I grow older and more finicky, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. That usually means missing out on what the majority loves, thus further dragging me down the long plummet into total irrelevance. Story of my life.

Even in 2020, though, I tried my best to keep abreast of the latest in album-sized tune collections and found a handful of artists and labels releasing new distractions and rays of hope amid the pandemic. It took until September before I finally spent a dime on new music, but the feeling was one of relief that at least one aspect of life had found a way to proceed as normal, or a close approximation under duress.

The following list, then, comprises all the CDs that I acquired last year that were 2020 releases. None were bad, but we’re not into 5-way ties here on MCC, so somebody has to give. Curiously, the longest one clocks in at 42 minutes; the shortest barely saunters past the half-hour mark. I’ve never been one to complain about getting the most bang for my buck out of every CD, so I can deal with it. Part of me is pretty okay with bloated 70-minute albums being a thing of the past if it means we’re hearing more finesse than filler.

On with the countdown!

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Bill & Ted Face the Music” End Credits

Bill & Ted 3!

“Most bodacious ladies and gentlemen, we beg you, please do not ask us to play ‘YMCA’.”

Of all the films to be released in theaters after March 2020, I’ve regretted missing none of them more than I’ve been regretting missing Bill & Ted Face the Music, the long-awaited reunion of Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as good-natured rockin’ goofballs Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted “Theodore” Logan. The first two films were hilarious delights back in their day and, while I was prepared to live the rest of my life without a trilogy realized, years of negotiations with skeptical studios finally came together courtesy of original writers/creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, along with director Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest). Thus did their dream come true in the worst possible year of this millennium.

From August onward I kept doggedly checking On Demand prices every weekend but was reluctant to pull the trigger on a $15-$20 home viewing experience. Fans of pay-per-view sports may be accustomed to that or far worse, but for that price, if I have to play it on my own inferior equipment, then I insist on physical custody. I was willing to go as high as maybe eight bucks, but they kept holding out on me. This past Tuesday The Powers That Be relented and BTFM finally materialized at Redbox. And for a most non-non-non-heinous price well under eight bucks.

*air-guitar riff*

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Best CDs of 2019 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 4

2019 compact discs!

Biggest trends of 2019 in album covers in my outlier dimension: no names, no faces, and lots of black.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year as one of six people nationwide who still prefers compact discs to digital. I don’t splurge too much because it’s increasingly tougher for new music to catch my ear as I grow older and more finicky, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. That usually means missing out on what the majority loves, thus further dragging me down the long plummet into total irrelevance.

I’m also not among the trendier listeners collecting vinyl…yet. One of my most underrated achievements in 2019 was acquiring my first new record player in over twenty years. I haven’t rushed out to stock up on new LPs yet because, honestly, I have a large stack of oldies and accumulated oddities I’d rather go through first before I go overboard. We’ll see where the future takes me. For now, it’s CDs all the way.

Well…not counting the two cassettes I bought this year. Talk about unexpected. Alas, both are disqualified from inclusion here because neither was a 2019 release.

The following list, then, comprises all the CDs — and only the CDs — that I acquired last year that were 2019 releases. None were bad, but we’re not into 4-way ties here on MCC, so somebody has to give. On with the countdown:

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“Bohemian Rhapsody”: No Escape From Reality

Bohemian Rhapsody!

Spot all the deeply meaningful moments with mirrors and win prizes!

Off the top of my head, here’s a quick ranking of the Best Picture winners and nominees directed by alleged sexual villains that I’ve watched to date:

  1. The Pianist
  2. Platoon
  3. Chinatown
  4. Born on the Fourth of July
  5. JFK
  6. Annie Hall
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody
  8. Midnight in Paris

…there could be more I’ve forgotten, or whose allegations are off my radar. I know there’re a few I’ve yet to see, such as Hannah and Her Sisters. Hollywood’s moral turpitude is nigh impossible to reconcile with single-minded pursuits such as my annual Oscar Quest, in which I watch every new Best Picture nominee no matter what, come what may, even if I have opinions and regrets about it in advance.

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Best CDs of 2018 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 6

2018 cds!

Pretty sure that paltry number still puts me in the upper 10% of American physical media shoppers.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year as one of seven people nationwide who still prefers compact discs to digital. I’d probably also count myself among the trendier listeners still collecting vinyl if my last record player hadn’t given up the ghost about twenty years ago. I don’t splurge too much because it’s increasingly tougher for new music to catch my ear as I grow older and more finicky, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. That usually means missing out on what the majority loves, thus further dragging me down the long plummet into total irrelevance.

The following list, then, comprises every CD I acquired in 2018 that was also released in 2018. On with the countdown in all its lack of diversity, from the kinda-not-for-me to the unexpectedly inspirational.

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Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Dissonance & Dissent: Ska Night at the Vogue

Mighty Mighty Bosstones!

Never, ever let them forget your band’s name.

Dateline: August 21, 2018 — Tuesday night I found myself once again ignoring my social awkwardness issues and venturing out solo to the Vogue, Indianapolis’ number one nightclub for hosting bands that were in heavy rotation on my CD player throughout the ’90s. My wife Anne and I share a lot of important commonalities, but one of our smaller Venn diagrams is “musical preferences”. Nearly everyone I know with similar tastes lives in other states. Therefore I can either attend concerts alone, attend only when Anne wants to (not impossible but rare), make new friends to attend concerts with, or never experience live music again. Once every 1-2 years, I let option A win.

This year’s reason for me to leave the house and touch a dance floor: the Mighty Mighty Bosstones! If you don’t know the name offhand, your best chance of hearing them was the 1997 single “The Impression That I Get“, which achieved modest airplay beyond the usual alt-rock channels. They were among the first and few ska bands I listened to back in the day, still have four of their first five albums, but had lost track of them and countless other bands over the past 10-15 years. It was great to get reacquainted and find out they’re still recording and touring.

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My Life in Concerts, Part 3 of 3: Classical Geeks

Ewoks at Conseco!

That time Conseco Fieldhouse hosted grotesque samples of Ewok taxidermy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Over the past few days, live performances have been on my mind for a couple of reasons I’ll get to at the end of this miniseries — to wit: my life at concerts over the past 25 years, mostly but not entirely rock-based, including a smattering of stand-up comedy and a pair of classical orchestras in more recent times. That number of years might sound impressive if I were a 30-year-old roadie and if the results were novella-length. As a 45-year-old introvert, I’m surprised they add up to as much as they do.

The next two concerts in my timeline shared quite a few traits. Both were at the same venue in downtown Indianapolis. My wife and son accompanied me for a change. Both featured large orchestras, multimedia displays, and original scores from entertainment media.

One of these presentations differed from all the other shows in this miniseries in a very noticeable way: we took photos!

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My Life in Concerts, Part 2 of 3: They Might Be Giants & Friends

2005-07-13 TMBG

They might be giants! They might be giants! They might be big! They might be lies! They might be big, big, fake, fake lies!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Over the past few days, live performances have been on my mind for a couple of reasons I’ll get to at the end of this miniseries — to wit: my life at concerts over the past 25 years, mostly but not entirely rock-based, including a smattering of stand-up comedy and a pair of classical orchestras in more recent times. That number of years might sound impressive if I were a 30-year-old roadie and if the results were novella-length. As a 45-year-old introvert, I’m surprised they add up to as much as they do.

On with the chronological countdown!

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My Life at Concerts, Part 1 of 3: The First Four Shows

1992-07-22 GNR+Metallica!

You never forget your first, even if you walked out in disgust before it was over.

In my youth I was never the kind of music fan who attended a lot of concerts, frequented local scenes, had the money for tickets to arenas or stadiums, or had friends who invited me along to any of the above. My rock intake chiefly came via radio or physical media, very little in the way of firsthand experiences with a professional band standing and/or jumping around in front of me. As the years rolled on, isolated opportunities popped up here and there that got me out of the house and in the presence of live jamming. Eventually I learned the joys of an energetic crowd, an imperfect performance, and blessedly temporary tinnitus. It didn’t take long to learn that in-person rock acts were a vastly different experience from the three years I spent in junior high band playing bass clarinet.

I’ve been meaning for some time to compile those nights into a single chronological list for my own handy reference and sharing and whatnot. Over the past few days this has been on my mind for a couple of reasons I’ll get to at the end of this miniseries — to wit: my life at concerts over the past 25 years, mostly but not entirely rock-based, including a smattering of stand-up comedy and a pair of classical orchestras in more recent times. That number of years might sound impressive if I were a 30-year-old roadie and if the results were novella-length. As a 45-year-old introvert, I’m surprised they add up to as much as they do.

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Best CDs of 2017 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 8

Weezer and Japandroids!

One drawback to tangible recordings: they damage more easily. One of these arrived from Amazon pre-fractured; the other got knocked around a little in my car. But that lived-in look is part of the charm, too.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year as one of eight people nationwide who still prefers physical media to digital. I don’t splurge too much because new music tugs at my ear less and less as I grow older and stodgier, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. Sometimes that means missing out on what the majority loves, even when it’s acts I’ve liked in the past. Exhibits A and B: the latest samples I caught from both Lorde and Taylor Swift left me underwhelmed and got left unsold on the few shelves still carrying CDs on our side of town.

The following list, then, comprises every CD I acquired in 2017 that was also released in 2017. On with the countdown in all its lack of diversity, from the least okay to the mostly splendid:

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