(It’s also amazing to catch glimpses of Skrillex manipulating Ableton on his laptop. The speed and deftness the result of thousands and thousands of hours staring into a very different visual representation of music)
Bonus: A Disney version of a similar impulse:
(Parenthetically, this NYT video is also a great illustration of the future of the web. Note that the URL is a regular .html page. But there is no Flash video player here. They’re not embedding anything in a window. Assuming you have a modern browser and you have scripting turned on, it’s adaptive and plays full-screen no matter what device you use.)
Yesterday I was pottering around FYE in Kingston scanning the “New Releases” display and came across the above (click the image to see it blown up). It’s a slim-line CD case with a folded piece of paper in it. There is no disc in the box and no barcode on the card. The front of the card has the (obscured) full title of the album and Earl Sweatshirt’s name on it. The back has a basic tracklist, copyright information and little else.
The actual physical copies of the CD (to which buyers will have first sale rights) will be in stores on April 14th. The list price appears to be $11.99. Amazon has it pre-order for $11.96, Barnes and Noble for $10.92 and it’ll likely be less at your finer local independent record stores.
So why would I “buy” a burned CD with no attendant rights for $14.70 when I can get a real disc with real artwork for less and actually have the right of first sale?
In modern societies, cultural change seems ceaseless. The flux of fashion is especially obvious for popular music. While much has been written about the origin and evolution of pop, most claims about its history are anecdotal rather than scientific in nature. To rectify this we investigate the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Using Music Information Retrieval (MIR) and text-mining tools we analyse the musical properties of ~17,000 recordings that appeared in the charts and demonstrate quantitative trends in their harmonic and timbral properties. We then use these properties to produce an audio-based classification of musical styles and study the evolution of musical diversity and disparity, testing, and rejecting, several classical theories of cultural change. Finally, we investigate whether pop musical evolution has been gradual or punctuated. We show that, although pop music has evolved continuously, it did so with particular rapidity during three stylistic “revolutions” around 1964, 1983 and 1991. We conclude by discussing how our study points the way to a quantitative science of cultural change.
2014 was a pretty rough year for the world. While good music might ordinarily offer a diversion from the bad and the ugly, occasionally a year comes dangerously close to getting its ass kicked. Seasoned as we are after 28 years of committing POOP to paper and post, we persevere and continue (in the face of beheadings, ebola, Boehner’s new band of blowhards, “I can’t breathe,” and climate calamity) to cling to both bad alliterations and silly year-end lists. Or do we? This year only 26 self-important pontificators got their cool cards punched (2 fewer than last year).
Anyway, onto the nuts and bolts. As usual, I’ve used our time-honored tabulation system, using 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).
So without further adoody, the 2014 POOP answer key:
1 – SPOON – They Want My Soul 15½ (appearing on 9 out of 26 lists) 2 – THE WAR ON DRUGS – Lost In the Dream 11½ (7) 3 – BECK – Morning Phase 11½ (6) 4 – ANGEL OLSEN – Burn Your Fire For No Witness 11 (6) 5 – EX HEX – Rips 10 (5) TY SEAGALL – Manipulator 10 (5) 7 – RUN THE JEWELS – RTJ2 9 (5) 8 – TV ON THE RADIO – Seeds 8½ (5) 9 – THE HOLD STEADY – Teeth Dreams 8 (4) THE OLD 97’S – Most Messed Up 7 (4) ST. VINCENT – St. Vincent 7 (4) STURGILL SIMPSON – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music 7 (4) THE BOTH – The Both 7 (4) REAL ESTATE – Atlas (4)
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 1. BECK – Morning Phase: I only own two cd’s by Beck- the two morose folky albums which I guess says a lot about me. That said, this is a beautifully constructed and recorded song cycle.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 2. THE WAR ON DRUGS – Lost in the Dream: This was drugs for the ears. I kept hearing bits and pieces that just wormed their way into my brain. I love the 80s vibe and electronica.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 3. OYSTERBAND – Diamonds on the Water: A long time favorite that consistently puts out the best Celtic folk rock even with the loss of some key members this time around.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 4. THE BOTH – The Both: This turned out better than I expected although the record could have used a little more influence from Leo’s Pharmacists. Aimee is in charge here but Leo does a nice job complimenting her.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 6. SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS – Give The People What They Want: I realize that this was recorded and ready to go right before Jones became ill, but with her return to the stage, this feels like a celebratory lap. Old school r&b as well as Jones are still alive and doing well.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 7. THE RAILS – Fair Warning: Kami Thompson is blessed with her mother’s voice and her partner is very talented. This debut covers a lot of ground from folk to country to pop.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 8. THE MAHONES – The Hunger & The Fight: Last I saw these guys, they were getting yanked off a stage for going over time at a festival nearly 20 years ago- they kill live. Equal parts “Sodomy & the Lash”-era Pogues and Joe Strummer.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 9. LEE BAINS & THE GLORY FIRES – Dereconstructed: This explores a different part of the south from what Cash was singing about. Smart literate lyrics in a very tough rock band.
11. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E ST. BAND – Albany May 13, 2014: The “High Hopes” disc was Bruce treading water but the tour was anything but. With Bruce commercially releasing some of the concerts, this rises above bootleg status. This was a night where the set list went out the window early on and the band simply tried to keep up with the Boss. 12. TRIGGER HIPPY – Trigger Hippy: You have two natural front persons in Greene and Osborne but all you have to do is look at the writing credits which is shared by all 5 members to see how collaborative this effort was. Hopefully, this will be an ongoing band. 13. THOMPSON – Family: I’d like to point out that when the McGarrigle family did this back in the 90s, they actually recorded the album with everybody in the same room. It appears that the Thompsons had problems being on the same continent at the same time. Perhaps issues are still being worked on. Kami and her husband steal the show. 14. THE GLOAMING – The Gloaming A slightly more classical approach to Celtic music than I usually care for but the synergy and interplay of the musicians transcends the limitations of traditional Celtic music to go off to unusual places. 15. THE SEE SEE – Days, Nights & Late Morning Lights: Almost a decade ago, my top Poop pick was the debut album of an English folk rock group, the Eighteenth Day of May. To celebrate their victory, they immediately broke up and disappeared into obscurity. From their ashes comes the See See. Take out the folk and put in psychedelic. Let’s hope this one sticks. 16. U2 – Songs of Innocence: If their worst sin was to give away music for free, then people really need to find something else to bitch about. It would be unfortunate if this controversy obscured the fact that this is actually a pretty good U2 album. 17. BOB MOULD – Beauty & Ruin: It’s not unusual for musicians to write about death and aging as they get older but not many can do it with the ferocity of a guy who used to front Husker Du. 18. ASGEIR TRAUSTI – Dyrd i daudapogn: If Justin Vernon of Bon Iver had gone to Iceland instead of disappearing into the woods of Wisconsin, this is the album that he would have made. And the world would be all the better for it. Rerecorded with English lyrics but the original Icelandic is more interesting. 19. CHRISSIE HYNDE – Stockholm: I’m not sure you can really call this her solo debut. I think that every Pretenders album since Learning to Crawl has essentially been her show. She sounds inspired through most of the album and the songs would be worthy of any Pretenders album. 20. DRIVE BY TRUCKERS – English Oceans: Probably their strongest album since Jason Isbell left the group. They are definitely a tighter band which is apparent in the rockers. 21. BROKEN BELLS – After the Disco: The first album did a very slow burn on me but it kept finding its way into my player. Mercer and Danger Mouse are an interesting combination. 22. THE STRYPES – Snapshot: We’ve reached a curious point in music when simply playing straight r&b rock well lets you stand out from the crowd. Born several decades too late. 23. ST. PAUL & THE BROKEN BONES – Half The City: Tight first rate r&b/soul unit. They get extra credit for having the best new band name last year. 24. THURSTON MOORE – The Best Day: Sounds like I’m not the only one missing Sonic Youth. Good but I miss the mix with Lee Renaldo. 25. MARIANNE FAITHFULL – Give My Love To London: She has some wonderful material to work with here but it’s the voice that captures the center of attention- scarred, proud, expressive with a lot of class.
I neglected to post last year. Life in the way of… whatever. I’ve got kids. They rule and they are completely wonderful distractions. Now, I’m writing this at 6 am on the day that it is due, outside of my home: the only way to get it done proper. Again, whatever.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 1. Run the Jewels – RTJ2
El-P & Killer Mike return with 2 and it is pure triumph. Some critics were concerned with a hip-hop colabo pushing out a second album only a year after their first. Not this guy. That’s probably due to the fact that I’m such a sucker for El-P. His penchant for crafting eerie beats and coupling them with ominous and dystopian lyrics, induces trances. Add to this Killer Mike’s up-tempo, rat-tat-tat, dirty-south, lyrical flow, balance is achieved. And I’m awake through the entire dream. I’ve actively full-body bumped in my car while swallowing every delectable morsel that this album has to offer.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 2. Trap Them – Blissfucker
Not metal normal, this record is merciless. Trap Them takes archetypal metal song structures and hurtle them headlong into the side of a mountain. The cataclysm that results is arresting and, of course, destructive. I truly enjoy watching this band evolve.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 3. D’angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah
D’angelo fell off the face of the Earth for 10+ years. Good! I don’t really care where he went. I’m certain that it is an interesting series of tales, but the bottom line is it doesn’t matter. He left and then came back–with this righteous shit. Beautifully soulful. It gives me chills.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 4. Code Orange – I Am King
I’ve listened to Code Orange since they were Kids (see what I did there? probably not very creative, I know). This record floated around in my computer for a while until I finally got around to listening to it. It floored me. It’s a heavy-handed assault that creates so much with sound. I Am King is pure monster.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 7. Shellac – Dude Incredible
I recently watched the first episode of HBO’s “Sonic Highways.” Steve Albini’s all grown up. Well, that might be a stretch, but it was nice to see that age has toned down his hyper abrasive nature. As for Dude Incredible, no abrasion lost. This is a lovely adventure into the land of unorthodox rock’n’roll.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 8. Ty Segall – Manipulator
I’m new to Ty Segall’s ultra fuzzed out garage rock sound. I kept hearing the name and finally bit into this little gem. Now I’m off to seek out the rest of his rather prolific catalogue.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 9. Bonnie Prince Billy – Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongue
A return to the Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) that I first fell in love with. Majestic and playful, Singer’s is mostly a reworking of songs from Wolfroy Goes To Town (his 2011 release, which was much more somber). Though the darker side of Oldham has always struck a vibrant chord with me, these versions of those songs have been resonating with me in a much stronger way.
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] 10. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
I’ve never truly been into country music. But every once in a while something comes along and makes me forget that the prior sentence has ever been uttered. This is that thing and it is outstanding. It must be the Metamodernness that has me hooked. Anyway, Simpson is legit. Dig it.
Please forgive any grammatical mistakes. Nothing like last minute, eh?
The biggest musical event of my year was The Boston Calling music festival. I’ve avoided festivals for the last 20 years or so and approached this with some trepidation, fearing a sweaty mass of humanity and my hysteria level of claustrophobia. The Replacements though, I had to go. My fears were assuaged immediately upon entering the beautiful and comfortable brick and concrete park smack in the middle of downtown Boston. Neutral Milk Hotel were great but a bit pretentious. As I expected. The Hold Steady had the unenviable task of playing under a searing sun and a heat index of 102. They absolutely killed it mixing new tracks and stand out shout along classics. My brother in law was so impressed he immediately went out and bought their entire catalog. Bleachers were good stupid fun and 21 Pilots put on one of the most energetic sets I’ve ever seen. Lorde was captivating and much better than I expected.
So, onto Sunday. I ignored the band playing on Stage B so I could get set up for The Mats. Grabbed two beers and was stunned to just walk right up to the barricade. Front row center was never so easily attained. When they hit the stage and ripped right into “Favorite Thing” I was overwhelmed by the energy and pure force of the band. It only got better as strangers embraced like old friends and Paul and Tommy seemed to having the time of their lives. I’m not ashamed to say that at some point I cried. Something about redemption and misspent youth and somehow still be around to be awed by the power of music. And sharing that deeply personal event with hundreds of people who know exactly what I mean.
The Music and Books
I didn’t listen to much new music this year but my obsession with buying, selling, and listening to records reached an alarming level of addiction. I fear I’m a full-scale vinyl dork. I’m the new Brooklyn.
• The Hold Steady, Teeth Dreams
• The Pogues Live With Joe Strummer
• James Fearnley, Here Comes Everybody- The Story of The Pogues
• The Hold Steady acoustic in Woodstock.
• Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams
• Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues
• Robert Gordon, Stax and the Soul Explosion (See above, addiction)
• Greil Marcus, The History Of Rock ‘N Roll In Ten Songs
TOP 10 (mostly) associated with great gigs in the Hudson Valley
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1. Liana Gabel’s Rest And Heal reminds me of Alela Diane circa “Pirate’s Gospel” – same introspective tunes and Billie Holiday catch in her voice – but with better vocals, better songs and better production. Since Liana was based in the New Paltz area last year, I had a lotta chances to confirm my good impression of her, including a wonderful Tin Roof session (the next door neighbor got out of her bed and came across the street saying “What is this wonderful sound I hear?”) and a gig at Quinn’s with her friends Thomas Wesley Stern where she opened up with a wonderful bawdy sea shanty [Pirate’s Gospel cross-reference?] and indulged in some bluegrass tap dancing. Props to that guy in Rhino for the tip.
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2. JD Samson & MEN – Labor – I was the only person over 22 (way over) at their gig at The Mug at Vassar – updating LeTigre’s sound for the dubstep age, but still plenty catchy danceable agit-prop. “Labor” (and 2011’s “Talk About Body”) will please any riot-grrl fans out there.
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5. Harold Budd’s Jane 12-21 was my fave ambient release last year. Lotta good ambient reissues and archive recording too, including Jon Hassell’s “City: Works of Fiction” (with a bonus concert from the Wintergarden that I was at), Eno’s extremely minimal “Neroli” with the unreleased New Space Music, and Kompakt’s “Pop Ambient 2014”, and Oliver Coates’s “Toward the Blessed Islands” (saw him at a Tin Roof Session).
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6. On-U Sound was pretty quiet this year – buncha new stuff promised for early 2015 – so Asian Dub Foundation’s The Signal and The Noise (Japanese-only, from late 2013) was my fave this year – most of their other stuff was remakes/remodels of older stuff. “For the Love of Money”, a covers album from Tackhead, was laid-back, and all the better for it. Adrian Sherwood’s DJ set at Francois Kervorkian’s Deep Space included a lotta promising stuff.
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7. Eviyan Live – caught Iva Bittova live several times this year – including at Quinn’s, and at Hudson’s Opera House – the gigs with Evan Ziporyn and Gian Riley were cerebral and playful jazz / avant-garde classical fusion.
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8. Michael Hurley’s Northeast tour this year included a sharp gig at Hudson’s Half Moon bar with Tara Jane O’Neil. Late 2013’s Land of Lo-Fi was typical Snock-isms, and his anti-Monsanto protest compilation Doc GMO included his song Bad Monsanto which has a catchy melody so he better be careful that Monsanto’s ad agency doesn’t steal it from him and put other lyrics in place. The Hurley fanzine Blue Navigator issue #11 was an elaborately packaged extravaganza with a CD of Hurley & pals rarities.
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9. V.A.: Star Twerk – great dance comp. with Major Lazer, Diplo, MIA, the usual suspects – just annoying enough
JIM FINNIGAN’S 2014 POOP 11-22
11. Neneh Cherry – Blank Project Deluxe
12. Ed Palermo Big Band with Rob Paparozzi – Electric Butter (great gigs at The Falcon)
13. Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress /& / Simon Felice – Strangers (great gigs at the Dutchess County Fair and at Liberty Public House afterwards)
14. Imarhan Timbuktu – Akal Warled (and a great gig at BSP)
15. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Give the People What They Want
16. Glitterbeats: Dub & Versions 1 – various
17. Swans – To Be Kind
18. Holly Cook – Twice
19. Simi Stone – s/t (great gigs at Spiegeltent, The Falcon, and backing Simone Felice and Elizabeth Mitchell)
20. Jeffrey Lewis & the Jrams – s/t (and a great gig at BSP)
21. Peter Stampfel & The Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Banjo Squadron – Better Than Expected (low-key banjo instrumentals interrupted by occasional Fugs-ish rants)
22. It’s a Wonderful Life – A Journey into Sound compiled for MOJO by Siouxsie Sioux
23. Gary Clail – Nail it to the Mast: He NEEDS On-U Sound
24. LaRoux – Trouble in Paradise: She NEEDS Major Lazer
Brian Eno – The Drop reissue
1. Captain Beefheart – Sun Zoom Spark 1970 to 1972 – quel improved sound
2. Pop Group – Curiosities (We Are Time & Cabinet of Curiosities) – quel improved sound
3. Jon Hassell – City: Works of Fiction (including Live at Wintergarden 1989)
4. Brian Eno – Neroli (including New Space Music)
5. Smoke Dawson – Fiddle
6. Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball Deluxe
7. K. Leimer – A Period of Review 1975-1983
8. Residue of The Residents 2LP
Ah Has Spoken!
Pharrell Williams - Happy
Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
Jack White - Lazaretto
Lee Perry & Subatomic Sound System -
Black Ark Vampires
Aretha Franklin - Rolling in the Deep
Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
FKA Twigs - Two Weeks / Pendulum
Linda Perhacs - River of God
Michael Hurley - Bad Monsanto
Gig of the year was a transcendent set from Gamelan Dharma Swara in the middle of the dancefloor at Basilica Soundscape, like being teletransported to a temple in Bali, plus some fantastic guitar wizardry from Michael Chapman (and he was even better playing a full set at the Spotty Dog a month later), poetry from Gerard Malanga and a “progressive” Butoh performance (the latter two at Bunnybrains’ pop-up gallery inside Basilica).
Runner-up was the unbelievable bass sounds at Kode9‘s gig at EMPAC at RPI. Also: Doveman’s Tribute to Lou Reed at Spiegeltent with a live performance of The Murder Mystery and a great set from Little Annie. Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild at Jacob Burns Film Center – The Feelies jumped off the screen and did a live concert. A great dub session with New Zion Trio with fantastic percussion from Cyro Baptista at a Tin Roof Session – so hot the police came to shut it down!
Also: County Players Spamalot in Wappingers / Wreckless Eric at BSP and The Schoemer Formation at Half Moon / Tammy Faye Starlite as Nico at WFMU / Battlefield Band at Town Crier / A Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols at Vassar Chapel / Baby Gramps at BSP / Esopus Puppet Suite with Arm of the Sea Theater / Inner Spaces at Widow Jane Mine / The Pete Seeger Memorial at the Bardavon
Buy New or Used via AmazonRent via iTunes [?] Sean Rowe: Madman ~ Rowe’s name has been kicking around the margins of my mind the last few years, but this is the first album, his fourth, that’s really grabbed my attention. As a fan of gravel baritones like Tom Waits, Brad Roberts and Bill Callahan, Rowe’s voice makes my liver quiver. Terrific tough and tender indie album, probably my favorite of 2014. Wished I’d seen him at the Colony Café a few months ago. Listen to: Madman and Desiree
Lucinda Williams: Down Where The Spirit Meets the Bone ~ My favorite since Car Wheels. Can the Queen of Loss actually be content with life? Listen to: Protection Jesse Winchester: A Reasonable Amount of Trouble ~ Classic Jesse understated humor for this, his last album and album title. My heart aches, just a terrible loss. For over 40 years, he’s been one of my favorite singer-songwriters – I’ll miss his gentle, sweet humor, his luminous melodies and even his silly rhumba dancing onstage. One of my cherished memories is to have interviewed him on his second date in the US after repatriation, at The Salt in Newport in 1977. A gentle soul. Listen to: the entire album Don Williams: Reflections ~ The Gentle Giant returns with his second album in two years after semi-retirement and it’s an Americana beauty. No originals here but his covers of lesser known Townes, Guy Clark and Jesse Winchester and others’ songs, sung in his soft baritone with spare production, make them all sound like he penned them. Listen to: Stronger Back
Also spongeworthy: Linda Perhacs, Tom Petty, Don Williams, Ex Hex, Old Crow Medicine Show
Black Keys: Gotta Get Away
Temples: Shelter Song
Courtney Barnett: Avant Gardener
The Both: Milwaukee
Lykke Li: Never Gonna Love Again
Don Williams: Stronger Back
David Gray: Snow in Vegas
The New Pornographers: Dancehall Domine
Leonard Cohen: Almost Like the Blues
U2: Every Breaking Wave
Ex Hex: Radio On
Doug Seegers: Down By The River
One Direction: Night Changes
Perfume Genius: Queen
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Get On Up
Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Words and Pictures
Phil Everly, Saul Zaentz, Jerry Coleman, Ariel Sharon, Claudio Abbado, Pete Seeger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Maximillian Schell, Thoedore Millon, Shirley Temple, Sid Caesar, Ralph Waite, Harold Ramis, Paco de Lucia, Alain Resnais, Paul Colby, David Brenner, Sheila MacCrae, Scott Asheton, Eddie (The Old Philosopher ) Lawrence, Mickey Rooney, Jesse Winchester, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ruben Hurricane Carter, Bob Hoskins, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Maya Angelou, Dave Herman, Don Zimmer, Ruby Dee, Kasey Kasem, Tony Gwynne, Ultra Violet, Gerry Goffin, Horace Silver, Eli Wallach, Howard Baker, Bobby Womack, Teeny Hodges, Paul Mazursky, Tommy Ramone, Charlie Haden, Lorin Maazel, Johnny Winter, Elaine Stritch, James Garner, Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, Don Pardo, Glen Cornick, Joan Rivers, Bob Crewe, Joe Sample, Christopher Hogwood, Paul Revere, Jan Hooks, Ben Bradlee, Oscar de la Renta, Jack Bruce, Jimmy Ruffin, Mike Nichols, Bobby Keys, Ian McLagen, PD James, Joe Cocker, Edward Hermann
Mark Zip´01´02´03´04´05´06´07´08´09´10´11´12´13´14PoOP Alumni Includes links to occasional PoOPsters who posted only before 2008
PoOPlist - POmpous and Opinionated Persons – Being the collected musings on music and pop culture of a few wizened observers ready to bloviate…