“My” best records for 2019 – and some other thoughts

Oh well, the older I get the faster years seem to pass by. I think this is natural. And a while ago I read a very good and reasonable explanation for this. But I can’t complain actually. Life is not boring at all – and I learn something new almost every day. As you know, one of the main reasons for this blog is to share parts of my learning experience with you, the good, the bad – and the patches πŸ™‚

But there’s a life apart from Oracle (at least sometimes). And as some of you may know, music plays a really big role in my life. I’m not able to play any instrument. As a student, a close friend showed me some chords on the acoustic guitar. And when we got together a week or so later for cooking, I had forgotten everything.

"My" best records for 2019 - and some other thoughts

Hence, music for me means: Listening. In concerts if possible. And whenever possible on good old vinyl. I don’t use any of the streaming services. Compressed music hurts my brain when I really sit down and “listen”. Of course, I listen to compressed files, too, when I work-out or travel. But when I’m at home I really enjoy to relax and listen to some fine records. And when I find a used vinyl record store somewhere in the world, I’ll have to go into it, dig, listen, chat – and often buy something.

Japan is the “worst” for me as there are so many good used record stores. I usually bring an extra carry-on suitcase – and I calculate exactly how much I can spend as I don’t want to violate German customs rules for bringing goods back into the country. When I checked my shelf for 2019 records, I realized: I didn’t buy a single CD. I bought a bunch of SACDs from a US label – and I bought a lot of records. But not many “from” 2019. Instead I bought cool stuff from Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Rush, Jethro Tull, Dream Theater, Keith Jarrett, Pearl Jam, Queen and many more. And you guess it already from the names, not many have been originally released in 2019. It’s a bit hard to create a list. But here it is: “My” best records for 2019 – and some other thoughts

“My” best records for 2019 …

Actually I like these “best of …” lists quite a bit. Or not. When I checked the best records list for 2019 from a popular well known German news magazine, I was surprised that I don’t know many of the names. There was Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. ButΒ  none of “my” best albums was there. Simply because most publications follow a strict style code. Heavy Metal doesn’t fit into the mags’ lists. And of course, Jazz doesn’t fit either. The same happened when I read the German Rolling Stone’s magazines 2019 list. And I’m 100% sure, the same will happen to you when you see my list below. It may not match your taste. But maybe you will listen to one of the samples πŸ™‚ and enjoy it.

2019 Records

It was very hard to choose. But my no.1 record for 2019 is a German record.

  1. Atlantean Kodex – The Course of Empire"My" best records for 2019 - and some other thoughts
    I’m not even sure if you could get this record in the US or in Asia. I know Atlantean Kodex for many years. The band is from Vilseck in Bavaria not far from the Czech border somewhere in the woods πŸ˜‰ They play Epic Metal influenced by bands such as Bathory and Manowar. I bought the album the day it got released. And I did listen to it many times since its release. For me it’s the record I enjoyed the most in 2019. And I still do in 2020.If you are curious, you may listen to it πŸ˜‰
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  2. Dream Theater – Distance Over Time"My" best records for 2019 - and some other thoughtsI confess, I’m a die-hard fan of Dream Theater. From the early days to now – I like all periods a lot. And it often just blows me away what these guys are doing. Epic songs, usually not fitting in any radio program. But in February I’ll be lucky and see them live for the first time when they come to Munich.Before the record got released, the band published a “promo” clip of the first song of the upcoming record, Untethered Angel – and I was thrilled immediately. Since then, I had to give the record a spin at least a few times per week – and I still enjoy it a lot.If you want to dig into this awesome record, start with Barstool Warrior:
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  3. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum"My" best records for 2019 - and some other thoughts
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    Opeth from Sweden started as a growling metal band many many years ago. And maybe it’s the only band where I enjoy growling at least a bit. But since many years, Mikael Γ…kerfeldt does not growl anymore on recordings. And the music has become even more complex. I enjoyed Opeth’s past albums a lot, Heritage, Pale Companion and Sorceress. In Cauda Venenum is not a record I felt in love with during the first spins. It took me a bit to get really into it. But with every listen I liked it more. But often such records stay in my all-time favorite list the longest whereas it happened that records I liked a lot from the beginning get boring years later. And Opeth clearly morphed into a progressive hard rock band.
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Well, the fact that all three records are more or less heavier tunes is not intentionally. I like Bruce Springsteen’s Western Star album also – but I wouldn’t count it under the top three. It contains some awesome songs such as the title track Western Stars or Stones, but also some songs I don’t like so much. Still a great album.

Other awesome records in 2019 …

There were some other cool records I enjoyed a lot in 2019. I was lucky to get a copy of Pearl Jam’s Live at Easy Street at Record Store Day 2019 in Austin, TX (pretty cool city by the way)!

And I bought Steven Wilson’s remix of Jethro Tull’s Heavy Horses – the vinyl version blows me away. It comes with a super huge and well edited booklet somebody in my age can still read and enjoy without using a magnifying glass.

Mavis Staples’ We Get By is fantastic as well, music-wise and sonically too – if just the pressing quality would keep up with the music.

I was lucky to get one of the rare repress copies of (ex Chilli Peppers) guitarist John Frusciante’s The Empyrean – awesome record, but not initially released in 2019.

Just by the way, I didn’t buy the 2019 remastered Abbey Road as I have an awesome sounding Japanese press I like a lot.

For me, 2019 was a pretty good music year.

… and some other thoughts …

Finally, 2019 was also a scary year. I usually stay out of political discussions on anti-social networks. And as you know, I don’t comment about politics neither on the blog nor on twitter. But what I wish for 2020 is that people would start talking to each other again, and start listening too.

Have a great start into 2020 – and listen to some great music!

–Mike

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