Inspired by Ed Sommers post on 2011 Musics, here is my summary of new (to me) music in 2011.
I got 30 new albums in 2011, 22 were digital downloads (direct from iTunes store), and 8 were actual physical CD’s. (I’m not counting CDs burned for me by friends, only CDs I paid money for). All of the physical CDs were uploaded immediately to my iTunes library, and about half of the digital albums were burned to physical CDs (so I can play them at home for all to enjoy). The truth is, I love the listening convenience of digital music, but am clearly not ready to make a wholesale transition to all-digital. One thing that is stopping me is storage — I haven’t yet invested in iCloud or any other cloud-based storage solution — and I don’t have a device with enough memory (other than laptop and back-up hard drive) to hold all my music. The other thing stopping me is an old CD player at home, with no input for an iPod or iPhone — so if I want to listen to music through my half-decent speakers at home, I need actual CDs. These are probably not the only reasons I have not gone all digital though, since my book consumption patterns reveal the same indecisive mix of print and digital. Clearly I have some lingering emotional attachment to physical CDs and physical books. I’m OK with that.
My top 10 CDs, in order based on number of plays, for 2011 are:
- Crosby, Stills and Nash: Greatest Hits
At some point in 2011, I realized I did not have enough CSN in my collection. In less than 5 minutes, iTunes took care of that. I love that digital music means I can get old music easily and quickly. I still keep a running list of old music I want/need, and enjoy hunting through used CD stores for gems; but sometimes you need some CSN right away!
- The Decemberists: The King is Dead
This is one of the physical CDs, and was a birthday present.It is an excellent collection of tunes, and will make you forget the horribleness of their 2009 The Hazards of Love.
- Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues
Another CD I own in physical form — picked this up at a Best Buy because I had a store credit. I love the Allman Brothers Band, so took a chance on this without reading any reviews. This CD is flat out AWESOME. Buy it now! Check out I Can’t be Satisfied.
- Andrew Duhon & the Lonesome Crows: Dreaming When you leave
While in New Orleans for ALA in June, I heard Andrew Duhon live — he just happened to be playing on the night I decided to go listen to music on Frenchmen Street. I loved his sound, so downloaded 2 of his CDs as soon as I got home. Really good singer/songwriter stuff, with a sorta folksy flavor, and some pretty good harmonica on some of the tunes (I’m a sucker for harmonica). Here he is playing Crosstown Southern Blues (my personal favorite)
- Lucinda Williams: Blessed
I love Lucinda, and will buy everything she puts out. This CD does not disappoint. The title cut is a personal favorite, and I love the accompanying videos on her youtube channel.
- Pete Yorn: Music for the Morning After
I “discovered” Pete Yorn through Pandora – can’t remember what station I created that led me to Pete, but probably The Jayhawks, or Ryan Adams, or maybe Golden Smog.
- Andrew Duhon: Songs I wrote before I knew you
See story for #4 above for example of how live music is supposed to work.
- Traveling Wilburys: Volume 3
I don’t remember how I decided to buy this; but I added Volume 1 to my collection this Christmas. There is no Volume 2.
- Big Head Todd & the Monsters: Sister Sweetly
I distinctly remember buying this one based on responses to my request for new (to me) music recommendations on Facebook. I specifically asked for something in the bluesy rock – rocking blues spectrum, and this definitely hit the spot. Again – title cut is especially good.
- Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues
I was on a bit of a Steve Earle kick for awhile, and someone (I think on Facebook) suggested I give this CD by his son a shot. I love the simple alt-country, bluesy sound of this CD. Christchurch Woman is a favorite. Am still not sure whether Steve and Justin beat out Bob and Jakob (Dylan) as best father-son musicians ever, so I’ll just keep listening to all 4 of them.
Clearly, social media play a big role in alerting me to new music and old music that I want in my collection. In fact, I complained on Facebook that none of my “friends” had ever mentioned Pete Yorn’s music, leaving me to discover him by chance on Pandora.
Some concluding advice:
- Buy Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues, and play it immediately and often.
- If you don’t have any Lucinda Williams in your collection, get Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. It is the closest thing I have ever heard to a perfect album – music, lyrics, Lucinda’s amazingly distinct voice. Trust me on this.
- If you want to support a very good young musician, and you like Bon Iver or early Ryan Adams, give Andrew Duhon a try.
- If you like learning about new (to you) music, share the music you like with your social networks, and ask for recommendations. Things like Spotify that show me what a friend is listening to are OK, but I get more out of actual comments, mini-reviews, etc. I much prefer a “Mike thinks AC/DC is a great way to jumpstart the budget proposal process” over a “Mike is listening to Back in Black on Spotify”.