2015 just might become known as the year to beat when it comes to unbridled stupidity in America. But more alarming than that, I fear that with good ol’ American gumption, the coming election year will no doubt leave it behind in the dust. Recently I learned that the oft paraphrased H.L. Mencken quote, the one about how no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people, actually had an even more apropos follow-up sentence: “Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” But while the American political system as we know it is currently circling the drain, we the POmpous and OPinionated have responded in the best manner we know. While some of those who would be President prattle on in their assholier-than-thou vitriol, 25 POOPsters have found 10 or 25 or so causes for which to campaign, with civil discourse and free of all squirmishes (thanks, Sarah P!). Feel the POOP.
Anyway, onto the nuts and bolts. As usual, I’ve used our time-honored tabulation system, the customary What-The-Hell’s-He-Talking-About methodology. One more time, I’ve given 2 points to each pompoid’s Top 10 choices and 1 point to each title beyond a Top 10 or in the variously designated ‘honorable mention’ categories (up to 25 titles in all; more than 25 means half-points). NEW this year: because there appears to be no rhyme or reason to how people list reissues, each was awarded 1½ points. And before you ask, because I felt like it.
Some curiosities of note:
- No one has EVER dominated these pages so utterly and appeared on more than half of the lists submitted until this year.
- A jazz album has never ranked higher than #5 until this year.
- And this just in: David Bowie’s Blackstar has just been declared the winner of the 2016 POOPlist.
And now without further DISCussion, the 2015 POOP answer key:
1. COURTNEY BARNETT – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit 22 points (appearing on 13 out of 25 lists!)
2. KAMASI WASHINGTON – The Epic 15½ (8)
3. KURT VILE – b’lieve i’m goin’ down 14 (8)
4. BOB DYLAN – The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 13½ (9)
5. FATHER JOHN MISTY – I Love You, Honeybear 13½ (7)
6. WILCO – Star Wars 13 (7)
7. SLEATER-KINNEY – No Cities To Love 11 (8)
8. KENDRICK LAMAR – To Pimp a Butterfly 10½ (6)
9= RYAN ADAMS – 1989 10 (5)
9= SUFJAN STEVENS – Carrie & Lowell 10 (5)
The usual genuflecting to Mark Zip and the magnificently appointed online POOP at www.pooplist.net. Check out links to most of the albums listed on these pages and explore POOPs past going back to 2001.
a.k.a Vladimir Poopin’
Richard Allen – Sayville, NY ||| Ken Beck – Cranford, NJ ||| Duncan Clark – Milton, NY ||| Don Cohen – New York, NY ||| Scott Dell’amore – Poughkeepsie, NY ||| Eric Fine – New York, NY ||| Jim Finnigan – New Hamburg, NY ||| John Greak – Gardiner, NY ||| Ron Hart – Ringwood, NJ ||| Mike Jurkovic – Wallkill, NY ||| Steve Kaplan – Studio City, CA ||| Patrick Kennedy – Brooklyn, NY ||| Bernadette Lange – Kingston, NY ||| John Lefsky – New Paltz, NY ||| Andrew Martin – Eddyville, NY ||| Jim Meyers – Kingston, NY ||| Mike Miller – Cuba, NY ||| Matt Nerney – Grafton, NH ||| Mark Rosen – New Paltz, NY ||| Jeff Schwartz – Green Brook, NJ ||| Andrew Stewart – Rhinebeck, NY ||| John Stewart – Bloomington, NY ||| Bill Still – Kingston, NY ||| Tom Whalen – New Paltz, NY ||| Mark Zip – Woodstock, NY
Large print rock’n’roll section
Top 3 Favorite Albums
Buy New or Used via Amazon Rent via iTunes [?]
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Power in the Blood”
This is the first time I’ve ever bought a new BSM album, including going back to her early 60s records. The point? I didn’t expect to be blown away like I was after initially streaming it on NPR. Buffy’s lyrics remain topical, of course, while her voice is surprisingly as powerful as ever; it soars over the modern beats of three producers (mainly Michael Phillip Wojewoda), creating an unexpected, perfect marriage of styles. The woman is glorious!
“It’s My Way” (2015 version) and “Power in the Blood”
Buy New or Used via Amazon Rent via iTunes [?]
The Lilac Time: “No Sad Songs”
Stephen Duffy returns with TLT’s first album since 2008 with a gorgeous, bucolic effort, seamlessly captivating from start to finish.
Hear: “Prussian Blue”
Buy New or Used via Amazon Rent via iTunes [?]
Don Henley: “Cass County”
Another unexpected treat, especially since Henley’s solo albums have never done much for me, except for a few songs here and there. For this project, Henley returned to his country Texas roots to fashion an album that could’ve been the soundtrack to “The Last Picture Show”. Poignant and stunning all the way through.
Hear: “Younger Man”
10 More Favorites
Car Seat Headrest: “Teens of Style” ~
Hear: “Something Soon”
The Waterboys: “Modern Blues” ~
Hear: “November Tale”
Rhiannon Giddens: “Tomorrow Is My Time” ~
Hear: “Shake Sugaree”
The Decemberists: “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World” ~
Hear: “Make You Better”
Richard Thompson: “Still” ~
Hear: “All Buttoned Up”
Ryan Adams: “1989” ~
Hear: “Welcome to New York”
Tom Russell: “The Rose of Roscrae” ~
The first true horse opera!
Hear: “Hair Trigger Heart”
Calexico: “Edge of the Sun” ~
Hear: “Falling from the Sky”
Steve Noonan: “I Could Be Anywhere” (EP)
Yes, that Steve Noonan!
Hear: “I Could Be Anywhere”
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Hear: “Wasting Time”
Also spongeworthy: Linda Perhacs, Tom Petty, Don Williams, Ex Hex, Old Crow Medicine Show, Best Coast, The Arcs, My Morning Jacket, Blitzen Trapper
Favorite Songs (not on above albums)
Leon Bridges: River
El Vy: Return to the Moon
The Chills: Pyramid
Daniel Martin Moore: On our Way Home
Kurt Vile: Pretty Pimpin’
Ryley Walker: Primrose Green
Keith Richard: Trouble
Jason Isbell: 24 Frames
Early 2016 Favorites
David Bowie: “Blackstar”
The Cactus Blossoms: “You’re Dreaming”
For fans of the Delmore, Louvin and Everly Brothers!
New Discoveries (To Me):
Steve Tilston: “The Reckoning” 2011
The real Danny Collins, 15 albums in. For fans of Jansch, Thompson, et al.
Toro y Moi
RIP and a tip o’ the brim:
Mario Cuomo, Donna Douglas, Little Jimmy Dickens, Edward Brooke, Rod Taylor, Andrae Crouch, Anita Ekberg, Robert Stone, Tim Drummond, Kim Fowley, Ernie Banks, Joe Franklin, Edgar Froese, Rod McKuen, Don Covay, Bob Simon, Sam Andrew, Gary Owens, Louis Jourdan, Clark Terry, Buddy Emmons, Leonard Nimoy, Minnie Minoso, Anthony Mason, Orrin Keepnews, Albert Maysles, Daevid Allen, Andy Fraser, Samuel Charters, Michael “Walk Away Renee” Brown, Danny Schechter, John Renbourn, Cynthia Lennon, Stan Freberg, Gunter Grass, Percy Sledge, Jack “Louie Louie” Ely, Ben E. King, Guy Carawan, Johnny Gimble, BB King, Bruce Lundvall, Anne Meara, John Nash, Marques Haynes, Bob Belden, Ronnie Gilbert, Ornette Coleman, Christopher Lee, Gunther Schuller, Dick Van Patten, Patrick Macnee, Jean Ritchie, Chris Squire, Phil Austin, Omar Sharif, Roger Rees, Alex Rocca, E.L. Doctorow, Theodore Bikel, Billy Sherrill, Frank Gifford, Julian Bond, Bob Johnston, Oliver Sacks, Wayne Dyer, Wes Craven, Martin Milner, Judy Carne, Jack “Jimmy Olsen” Larson, Yogi, Frankie Ford, Kevin (“Moochie”) Corcoran, Cory Wells, Bill Keith, Allen Toussaint, Alan White, PF Sloan, Robert Loggia, Scott Weiland, Holly Woodlawn, John Trudell, Marjorie Lord, Kurt Masur, Snuff Garrett, George “Meadowlark” Lemon, Robert Spitzer, Wayne Rogers, Natalie Cole
1. Kamasi Washington : The Epic
2. Ryan Adams : 1989 and Live At Carnegie Hall
3. Lightning Bolt : Fantasy Empire
4. The Orb : Moonbuilding 2703AD
5. Godspeed You! Black Emperor : ‘Asunder, Sweet & Other Distress
6. Sunn O))) : Kannon
7. Father John Misty : I Love You, Honeybear
8. Deerhunter : Fading Frontier
9. Jamie XX : In Colour
10. Courtney Barnett : Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
11. Kurt Vile : B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down
12. Deafheaven : New Bermuda
13. Yo La Tengo : Stuff Like That There
14. Los Lobos : Gates of Gold
15. Panda Bear : Meets The Grim Reaper
16. Bob Dylan : Shadows In The Night
Bob Dylan : The Bootleg Series : Vol. 12 : The Cutting Edge
Last Minute “favorite” releases of 2015. I am old, and spent most of 2016 listening to Taylor Swift’s “1989” – that is until Ryan Adams released his version of “1989”. Life is good. Anyway, in no particular order, a list of records I enjoyed over the last 12 months.
1. The Juliana Hatfield Three – “Whatever, My Love”
2. Craig Finn – “Faith In The Future”
3. Sleater Kinney – “No Cities To Love”
4. Beirut – “No, No, No”
5. Wilco – “Star Wars”
6. Kurt Vile – “b’lieve i’m goin down”
7. Mikal Cronin – “MC III”
8. Ryan Adams – “1989”
9. El Vy – “Return To The Moon”
10. Swervedriver – “I Wasn’t Born To Lose You”
The Replacements w/ Superchunk – Festival Pier, Philadephia
Mikal Cronin – Bearsville Theater
Craig Finn – Bearsville Theater
My apathy is immeasurable. Lost part of my vision and a good part of my heart (the latter is more of a metaphysical thingy) and had no desire to search for new music with the same vigor as previous years. I’m sure there was plenty of great whatever out there, but I could barely give a poop. Poop. See what I did there?
Here’s some stuff I liked:
THE BEVIS FROND – Example 22
STICK IN THE WHEEL – From Here
GIANT SAND – Heartbreak Pass
YO LA TENGO – Stuff Like That There
KURT VILE – blieve I’m goin (deep) down…
THE EX – At Bimhuis
THE MUFFS – Whoop Dee Doo
THE POP GROUP – Citizen Zombie
THEE OH SEES – Mutilator Defeated At Last
That’s all I got for new stuff. Some great reissues:
SUN CITY GIRLS – Torch Of The Mystics
VA – Ork Records: New York, New York
JEAN PAUL SARTRE EXPERIENCE – I Like Rain
CHRIS KNOX – Seizure
JULIAN COPE – World Shut Your Mouth/Fried
JACKSON C FRANK – The Complete Recordings
PERE UBU – Elitism For The People
DIARY OF A TEENAGER
QUEEN OF EARTH
END OF THE TOUR
HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT
CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
Probably more. I find myself listening to older stuff, this year.
NINA NASTASIA – The Blackened Air
KELLY HOGAN – Because It Feels Good
NEKO CASE -Blacklisted
By the way, I hear vinyls are back They sound warmer.
“The first word in ‘listen’ is LIST” (Paul Morley)
We travel the spaceways from planet to planet. Over and over again. For me, not much new in the way of recording artists this year, but I do like to revisit old friends, especially when they come up with good new CDs or “Vinyls” or USB devices. Oh, I do list quite a few recordings here from musicians that are “new” to me, but for the most part these artists entered my radar space due to connections with old favorites – Adrian Sherwood, Peter Stampfel, or Hudson Valley stalwarts Simone Felice, Kate Pierson, or Wreckless Eric, or they came to my attention via a great gig here in the Hudson Valley. And there were quite a few great gigs this year. My favorite development this year was Adrian Sherwood’s return to form, as far as the quality and quantity of his productions and releases. Nice things from the Dub Syndicate, Roots Manuva, Asian Dub Foundation, Congo Natty, Columbia’s Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, and Japan’s delightfully monotonous Nisennenmondai, not forgetting On-U related acts like The Pop Group and Little Annie (advance copy of her May 2016 album). Only disappointment was the series of remastered reissues – sorry, not as good as the original pressings. Also special mention to Baltimore’s Natural Velvet featuring guitarist Kim Wingle-Donut Te, the daughter of a friend of mine – Throwing Muses fans will hear something familiar – for best packaging of the year: their “She Is Me” album comes as a lipstick-shaped USB drive: the models shown above are playing chess with some of the inventory.
My favorite gigs this year BY FAR were by Niger’s Tal National at the Half Moon in Hudson. Unbelievably intense, rhythmic, and fun. I saw them at a couple of jazz clubs as well – The Falcon in Marlboro and the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, but those gigs were quite subdued in comparison with the Half Moon gigs. My other favorite gig was also in Hudson: Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings at TSL Hudson: a hilarious trip down 1920’s memory lane – very much in the vein of the early Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (but with less testosterone). Special props also go to the Big Sky Ensemble for their series of gigs at the Rail Trail Cafe in Rosendale (when are they ever gonna release a CD so I can listen to them at home?). Another wonderful show was by the Pasatono Orquesta at Bard’s Summerscape celebrating Carlos Chavez – imagine the Penguin Cafe Orchestra playing an all-Mexican repertoire. And a long list of other great gigs: Peter Stampfel with either Jeffrey Lewis, or the Ether Frolic Mob, or even the WEEKS WORKS modern dance recital, and Gamelan Giri Mekar for OUR (ahem) wonderful performance at Gary Kvistad’s Drumboogie Festival (apres nous, le deluge), and Gamelan Banyu Wali at Skidmore, Gamelan Dharma Swara at Le Poisson Rouge. Also gotta mention wonderful shows from George Clinton, Kate Pierson, Pirate’s Canoe Club, Michael Hurley, Gary Lucas & Sarah Stiles’s FLEISCHEREI, Thomas Wesley Stern, Sandaraa at BSP, Ed Palermo’s Big Band at The Falcon, NEXUS and Elizabeth Mitchell at Maverick, Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones, Mariachi Flor De Toloache, Los Thujones at a Tin Roof session, Little Annie, Baby Gramps at the Summer HOOT, Peter Gerety at the Conklin Street Music Festival in New Hamburg, Cobu Taiko Drum Company at Drumboogie, Arto Lindsay at 2nd Ward Foundation, Bernard Fowler at Daryl’s Place, Laetitia Sadier and Deradoorian at BSP, Liana Gabel, Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts at BSP, Natural Velvet at the Cake Shop, Snehasish Mozumder at Quinn’s, Mamalama at Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New Hamburg(the venue is a show in itself), and Corey Glover’s Soul Project – an amazing series of soul music celebrations at The Falcon.The actual LIST itself
1. “Have Moicy 2 – The Hoodoo Bash” – by Peter Stampfel, Jeffrey Lewis, Baby Gramps, Eli Smith, Robin Remaily et al
: loosey-goosey old timey music – as far from commercial bluegrass as possible, ragged by right, many voices make work easy – good fun all around
2. The Pop Group
“Citizen Zombie” + the “Version Galore EP” – thick metallic funk that should have been backing Mark Stewart’s paranoiac megaphone vocals back in the late ’70’s (IMHO). And a tribute to Let’s Make A Deal
3. Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts
“Manhattan” – nice mix of the (usual) hyper and/or funny mini-novels, some quiet ruminations, and a hilarious New Yawk Yiddish take on Edgar Allen Poe
4. Adrian Sherwood & Pinch
“Late Night Endless” – sparse dark beats layered with (probably) the entire On-U samples library – sounding familiar yet very new
5. Roots Manuva
“Bleeds” – more mature songs – soulful vocals and raps – over On-U & Four Tet beats
6. Asian Dub Foundation
“More Signal More Noise” – On-U remixes and instrumental versions (not really “dub”) of 2013 album, like The Pop Group album above but with Indian rappers and mad flautists instead of a man shouting into a megaphone
7. Congo Natty
“Jungle Revolution In Dub” – On-U dub version of great 2013 jungle album
8. The Dub Syndicate
“Hard Food” – Style Scott’s last recordings – sunny On-U dub sounds – I like the accompanying remix album “Dub Is All I Got – Remix Clash” even better
“No Cities to Love” – apparently two members of Wild Flag used to be in another band. Sounds just as good. The riot grrrl entry on the list this year
10. Belle & Sebastian
“Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance” – sounds like “Donovan sings Petula Clark’s Greatest Hits” Top collection of chunes.
AND THE REST>>>
11. Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto “Dub de Gaita Volumes II & III”
12. Tal National “Zoy Zoy”
13. Funkadelic “first ya gotta Shake The Gate”
14. Laurie Anderson “Heart of a Dog”
15. Mamadou Kelly “Djamila” Malian music from Clermont
15.5 Leila Gobi “Leila” Northern Malian music from Clermont
16. John Luther Adams “The Wind in High Places” and “Become Ocean”
16.5 William Basinski “Cascade” and “The Deluge”
17. Natural Velvet “She Is Me”
18. Simone Felice “From the Violent Banks of the Kaaterskill”
19. Kate Pierson “Guitars and Microphones”
20. Wreckless Eric “amERICa”
21. Africa Express Presents “Terry Riley’s In C Mali”
22. Nisennenmondai “#N/A”
23. Gary Lucas / Peter Hammill “OtherWorld”
24. King Midas Sound & Fennesz “Edition 1”
25. Wire “Wire”
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
99. Roochie Toochie and The Ragtime Shepherd Kings “Recordings on Honest-to-Godness Wax Cylinder” –
great concert, album suffers because it sounds like – like – it was recorded on wax cylinders
1. “Instrumentals – Soul-Style” History of Soul compilation that is the party-starter collection of the year
2. “Ork Records: New York, New York” The Birth of Power-Pop – Great fun – Excellent book too
3..”Sherwood at the Controls, Volume 1: 1979-1984″ On-U early years
4. “Trevor Jackson Presents On.U Sound >> Science Fiction Dancehall Classics >>” – good DJ selection
5. Bob Dylan “The Bootleg Series Vol.12 – The Best of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966”
6. “Dust on the Nettles” – enlightening Brit-folk collection, mega obscurities (to me)
7. Sun Ra and his Arkestra presented by Gilles Peterson “To Those of Earth…and Other Worlds”
8. “Change The Beat” MOJO freebee cover compilation of “Madonna’s New York”
Ah Has Spoken!
I’m going through one of those phases again … music in 2015 just seemed to pale in comparison to the past. I’ve been feeling this malaise for some time now, but usually there are some albums that elevate this slow, seemingly inevitable, decline in the quality of music to an acceptable level. Even releases by some of my favorite stand-bys this year seemed less than inspired. And what passes for the best of the year in the music rags? Oh, well, I guess that’s what the POOP is for.
On the home front, the kids are getting bigger and time just seems to be slipping away. They’ve been thrilled by the addition of three (yes, three) pug puppies into our home! In the meanwhile, my wife keeps it all in perspective by telling me it’s time to start thinking about the garden again.Tops of the Pops
1. Jose Gonzalez ~ Vestiges & Claws
: Nothing unexpected, but beautiful all the same.
2. Sufjan Stevens ~ Carrie & Lowell
: You can feel the loss, the void, and the delicate balance of mortality in this music. You can also feel hope and grace.
3. Ryley Walker ~ Primrose Green
: A definite throwback to Astral Weeks, Pentangle, and John Martyn. Not bad for a young’un from the mid West.
4. Deerhunter ~ Fading Frontier
: A kinder, gentler Deerhunter for 2015.
5. Blur ~ The Magic Whip
: A brief but triumphant return … Albarn is on a roll.
6. Haiku Salut ~ Etch & Etch Deep
: Playful and driving instrumentals from three English lasses. For those who like music akin to Fredrik, Mum, and Tortoise.
7. Richard Thompson ~ Still (Deluxe)
: This release has received more acclaim because of the producer than the artist. Not as good as Electric
, but still better than most music this year. Bonus disc is definitely worth the extra bucks.
8. The Acorn ~ Vieux Loup
: A different but still beautiful Acorn. Elegant and reserved … sounds like Everything But the Girl, without the girl.
9. Meg Baird ~ Don’t Weigh Down the Light
: Baird majestically follows her own advice.
10. Jim O’Rourke ~ Simple Songs
: Not so simple, really.
11. Flying Saucer Attack ~ Instrumentals 2015
: Soaring soundscapes.
12. Bing & Ruth ~ City Lake
: A little darker than Tomorrow was the Golden Age but still a glorious rumination on ambiance and drone.
13. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma ~ A Year with 13 Moons
: Dirty and distorted ambiance with moments of bliss. Or blissful ambiance disrupted by moments of distortion and hiss.
14. The Unthanks ~ Mount the Air
: Stately and austere music contrasting with the grit, wit, and whim of traditional English lyrics and themes.
15. The Twilight Sad ~ Oran Mor Sessions
: Acoustic versions from Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
. A worth while diversion.
The single and video of David Bowie’s Blackstar … just brilliant and then heartbreaking.
Other Notable News
Adem ~ Seconds are Acorns: a little too close to Coldplay, but still catchy.
William Basinski ~ the Cascade: haunting, but could use greater variation.
Belle & Sebastian ~ Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance: at the discotheque.
James Blackshaw ~ Summoning Suns: with vocals (some unnecessary).
Elephant Micah ~ Where in Our Woods: RIYL Bonnie “Prince” Billy.
Godspeed! You Black Emperor ~ Asunder, Sweet and Other Distresses: noisy.
Great Lake Swimmers ~ A Forest of Arms: NPR ready, as expected.
Steve Gunn & the Black Twig Pickers ~ Seasonal Hire: backporch whiskey time.
Lubomyr Melnyk ~ Rivers & Streams: apt title, rushing and flowing piano.
My Morning Jacket ~ the Waterfall: not quite to their usual standard.
Promised Land Sound ~ For Use & Delight: RIYL Dylan, the Dead, the Byrds, the Band.
Alasdair Roberts ~ S/T: workmanlike, not as joyous or as loose as usual.
Joan Shelley ~ Over and Even: not as enveloping as Electric Ursa.
Slug ~ Ripe: in the absence of Field Music, this companion will do.
Villagers ~ Darling Arithmetic: not as daring as Awayland.
Yabby You, Dylan, the Dead, the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison and Springsteen all had worthy archival material released …
Not Enough Time
I still haven’t had time (or money) to hear everything I wanted … so I’ll try to catch up on Dylan, Steve Earle, Los Lobos, Max Richter, Sir Richard Bishop, Yo la Tengo and more …
I don’t usually talk about television too much, but there were several interesting series on this year. I probably shouldn’t spend so much time in front of the box, but I think we’re going to get rid of the cable this year, so I’m getting it in sooner rather than later.
•Detectorists: Really dry writing, but with completely endearing characters.
•Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Great production and casting of this historical fantasy.
•The Leftovers: What happens when the unexplained happens.
•The Last Alaskans: Good reality programming. Actually seems like real people dealing with survival and solitude in the Alaskan wilderness. Thoughtful.
Ornette Coleman, B.B. King, Ben E. King, Allen Toussaint, Lemmy, Chris Squire …
and I’m still having a hard time contemplating a world without David Bowie.