Welcome to another installment of the weirdest most eclectic iTunes catalog you know! It felt like kind of a slow year for music purchasing as we went a few months without buying anything new... and then December rolled around and there was some iTunes gift card spending and we ended up with exactly the same amount of new albums added as in 2015. Pictured left to right:
Harry Connick, Jr. Eleven
Gary Clark Jr. Blak and Blu
Taylor Swift Speak Now
Vance Joy Dream Your Life Away
The Wood Brothers Paradise
Ray LaMontagne Supernova
Megan Trainor Title
The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Lumineers Cleopatra
Grieg: Piano Works Håkon Austbø
Mandolin Orange Quiet Little Room
The Avett Brothers True Sadness
Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016
Rhiannon Giddens Tomorrow Is My Turn
A Tribe Called Quest We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your Service
The Record Company Give It Back To You
Kings of Leon WALLS
Shovels and Rope Little Seeds
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (A Little Something More From)
Pentatonix That's Christmas To Me
Blackberry Smoke Like An Arrow
Drive-By Truckers American Band
Various Artists A Very Special Christmas
Trombone Shorty Backatown
+ I think I officially own every single Harry Connick, Jr. album ever released now. I don't know why I didn't have this one, recorded when he was actually 11 years old (it's pretty amazing!) but now I do.
+ Gary Clark Jr. is a little bit blues, a little bit rock, a little bit R&B, a little bit soul. It's a solid album.
+ Taylor and Bridget are still going strong. This was a Christmas 2015 iTunes gift card purchase. Bridget was TICKED when she learned recently that she missed Taylor at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2009.
+ It took me a while to decide I actually liked Vance Joy enough to look into purchasing his album—but once the switch flipped, I really like him.
+ The Wood Brothers are up there in my top 25 bands. Matt is not 100% sold on them but whatever. He can't be trusted, he bought Neil Diamond's Greatest Hits last year.
+ Supernova is not going to be my favorite Ray LaMontagne album of all time, though I feel like I need to keep working on it. It is awfully hard to beat his earlier stuff.
+ You can't put Meghan Trainor back into the bottle once you let her out. Even though I've tried. (Also a Bridget Christmas 2015 iTunes gift card purchase)
+ Gracie went with some classic Beatles with her iTunes gift card last year—you can't really go wrong with the Beatles!
+ I just love the title song from Cleopatra. It's a really well-written song.
+ OK, OK, it's true: I bought Grieg and Beyonce on the same day. HA. 2016 was the year I went on a Grieg kick in my own piano playing. Once again the point is proven that classical music is the best value for your music-buying money, because there are A LOT of songs on this album. And oh, Beyonce... Lemonade is a masterpiece. If you haven't watched the visual album of the same name, put your children to bed and watch it. Then read all about it—approximately 20 billion essays were written after its release, each more interesting than the last. It might not be your thing, but it's still brilliant. It is not kid friendly. It probably squeaks in as my #1 album of the year. She is not the Beyonce that she once was, is all I can say.
+ Matt loves Mandolin Orange. They're one of the bands he might follow around post-Air Force when he's a beekeeper with a foot-long beard.
+ The Avett Brothers album was released on our anniversary (thanks a lot for that title, Avett Brothers!) and it's a departure in some ways from previous albums but still excellent as usual. Definitely in my top 3 for 2016.
+ Jack White can do no wrong, and this collection of acoustic songs covers a lot of territory.
+ Rhiannon Giddens is 1/3 of Carolina Chocolate Drops, a group I adore—she can sing. Her solo album is a little more wide-ranging in style.
+ I am a longtime fan of A Tribe Called Quest and it was fun to see this pop up after a long absence on the music scene. I like most of it very much, and a little of it not that much at all.
+ We have a second radio station to listen to these days—still love Morning Music on Wyoming Public Radio, but a new station came into existence during our three year absence from the Front Range: The Colorado Sound. They have introduced us to a lot of good stuff and The Record Company is one of those bands.
+ For years Matt and I have gone back and forth on whether or not we like Kings of Leon enough to actually buy an album. 2016 was finally the year in which we made our first Kings of Leon purchase.
+ Rounding out my top 3 of 2016... Jain. Oh, I love this album. I saw a video linked on a blog and watched it, and then watched a bunch more, then immediately purchased it and listened to is about 23 times in a row (not even kidding). Best of all, Bridget loves it too. She was sorely in need of an American pop intervention. Jain is French, but with an African and Middle Eastern upbringing. Excellent.
+ Shovels & Rope has earned "old standby" status for me. They are solid every single time.
+ Not sure how I missed the little EP from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats until a few weeks ago...
+ Gracie and Bridget are both on a huge Pentatonix kick. HUGE. They spent their iTunes cards on two full albums (there is hope!) recently, and have been playing it nonstop ever since.
+ I decided to replace my 1987 cassette of A Very Special Christmas with the digital version this year. I know this album forwards and backwards and upside down.
+ Blackberry Smoke: this just appeared. I haven't listened to it yet... Matt is the Blackberry Smoke fan. They perfomed at The Outlaw when we lived here before, but we didn't go—and now they're probably too big to come to The Outlaw.
+ Drive-By Truckers just appeared too, though I bought this one for Matt to find. (We both very much like Drive-By Truckers.) It's not as much fun to give people music for Christmas in the post-CD age, but I tried.
+ Can you believe this is the first Adele we've ever bought?
+ Finally, Trombone Shorty gets to join the full-album club! Gracie bought a single song last year and decided she wanted the whole thing (double hope in raising future album buyers!). He is opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers at Pepsi Center in March; Gracie would LOVE to see him but I'm not so sure about taking a 12 year old to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. Heh.
In addition to full albums, a small number of singles found their way to us this year: most hilariously, Macklemore's Downtown which I bought for $1 so Matt could have a new cassette tape to listen to in the Subaru, hee hee. Who releases tapes? Macklemore, that's who. It was also the year of Pitbull (HAHAHA) because Gracie chose his Bon, Bon as her floor music this year. We had to buy it to submit it to the company that mixed it for her. Interestingly, it traces all the way back through its many renditions as a sampled song to a 1956 Italian language song called Tu Vuò Fà L'Americano. Maddie chose a song called Bom Bom by Sam and the Womp for her floor routine—it was not planned, all this Bon Bon Bom Bom business. Taylor Swift popped up in single form a few times, and I bought a White Stripes single from 2000 that doesn't appear on anything else we own titled Lord, Send Me An Angel.
This was also the year of the Shazam. I Shazammed over two hundred songs this year on my phone (!!) and Matt Shazammed a little over sixty on his. I Shazammed songs for many reasons: because I couldn't remember who sang something due to old age, because I wanted to know the album name, because it was super-catchy and I wanted to remember it later, because it was something the adorable little old man on the UNM public radio station played on his Tuesday night show in Albuquerque and I knew for a fact I would never hear it again anywhere else so I had to figure out what it was before I lost my chance forever, because I had fallen off my chair at our former and beloved New Mexico orthodontist's office, simultaneously mortified and quietly laughing to the point of tears to hear something like 2 Live Crew playing on his otherwise wholesome Sirrius XM station while no one else in the office seemed to notice besides me and Maddie. In fact, I can attribute all seven gangsta rap and early 1990s hip hop Shazams in 2016 to his office. Hee. I saved my list of Shazams so I can start to figure out any patterns (i.e. I need to check this Margaret Glaspy person out, because apparently she caught my ear four different times in 2016).
In case you're wondering: we have no plans to subscribe to Apple Music, Spotify, or any other streaming service. More than ever, we want to own our share in the music we love for as long as we're able. Our 2008 iPod Classic continues to hold it all (knock on wood) and we care for it like the rare and precious outdated piece of technology that it is, because once it's gone, we'll be lost. But for now, we're happily listening to both new and old favorites every day like the modern Luddites we are.