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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