Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Return of the Master

Dylan's new album "Modern Times" wins rave reviews

Bob Dylan's first new release since the birth of the blog should be a day of celebration, right? A better deal online combined with sloth, however, means that my all-but-certain praise of the album (which is pulling a 95 on metacritic right now, making it the best-reviewed album of 2006 and the fifth-best in the site's six years of existence) will have to wait until tomorrow's UPS delivery. (Also noteworthy: Love and Theft is ninth on the metacritic all-time list.)

But the release of what will surely be one of my top ten albums of the year gives me occasion to ponder what has become of my music habit lately. While I've acquired plenty of new rock and pop CDs this year by most standards (20, including Bob's new one), I'm surely falling short of my own normal pace.

There are plenty of reasons for this, I'm sure: Disappointing reviews of artists I've bought before, a backloaded schedule that will see me buy more brand-new CDs in the coming four weeks than I have the past four months, and a newfound patience. For the latter I blame yourmusic.com. Knowing that, if I wait a few months, I can have an album shipped directly to my door for only $6.36, including tax, provides a powerful incentive to be patient. In practice, though, many albums I may have bought on their release date no longer interest me by the time they're available for $6.36 a few months down the road. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debateable, though it and a new, bigger-than-anticipated CD shelf should make for enough storage to last at least a few more years before another expansion is necessary. (If you're interested, I can send you a link--and get another CD for myself!)

But there has been another big change lately in my music listening and buying patterns. Apparently living with another person eventually results in some rubbing off of tastes! In the month or so since we attended a wonderful performance of Mahler 4 and a Schulhoff piano concerto, I've been buying classical CDs (and SACDs) at what must be an alarming rate: 22 discs of music, spread among 15 albums or collections, in a month. Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Mozart, Prokofiev, Schulhoff, Shostakovich, Sibelius--they've all come hurtling through the door (many of them for $6.36 a disc). Instead of turning down rock music in my office, I often find myself cranking up the (presumably less offensive) piano concerto or symphony of the hour. (Mahler mostly stays home.)

So, if you rely at all on my end-of-the-year list to give you a picture of what's worth buying, be warned that I've been less attentive than usual this year. In the meantime, here's Amazon's Best of 2006 So Far list. It's hard to argue with their top pick!

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