Mark Zip Poop 2016

Buy ANOHNI - Hoplessness New or Used via Amazon
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ANOHNI – Hoplessness
I wasn’t really a fan of Anthony and the Johnsons. Perhaps too ornate and overwrought? This, however, is by turns haunting, evocative and unsettling. It feels like it’s down to the production of Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, but there’s more here.

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Solange – A Seat at the Table
This was the grower for the year for me. As fine a representation of “grown folks music” as today’s R&B has. But also as “contemporary” in musical elements and lyrical concerns. Even the interludes aren’t as annoying as usual.
Buy The Avalanches, Wildflower New or Used via Amazon
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Avalanches – Wildflower
If you can get past the few (really) annoying novelty items, the rest is the same-but-different melange that they gave us on their debut 16 years ago. They waited 16 years for this one and it’s a pleasant surprise.

Buy Swet Shop Boys - Cashmere New or Used via Amazon
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Swet Shop Boys – Cashmere
The elevator pitch for the record might seem to be made for a feature on NPR’s “All Songs Considered”, but you can forgive that when you hear the combination of humor and pointed politics. It also happens to contain some of the best (only?) songs about the horrors of the modern airport security theatre.

Buy Kano - Made in the Manor New or Used via Amazon
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Kano – Made in the Manor
Grime continues its spotty and years-long rise in the UK and KAno makes a welcome return. This might be about a neighbourhood that barely exists any more, but the sense of place is palpable.

Buy Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth New or Used via Amazon
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Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Not as obviously “country” as his other two (he can afford to hire the Dap Kings now), and he’s rewarded with an album of the year Grammy nomination, for whatever that’s worth. It’s mostly a letter written to his young son. A fine counterpoint to the Nick Cave record. No country radio play, of course.

Buy VA – Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics New or Used via Amazon
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VA – Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics
Two discs of East Africa’s finest. Put together by John Armstrong, a DJ whom I’ve had the pleasure to hear play on a couple of occasions. He knows the music better than almost anyone, the story goes that Stern’s got access to thousands of tapes and that he whittled them down to must-hear tracks and thence down to these 27. Not a dud in the bunch.

Buy Robbie Fulks – Upland Stories New or Used via Amazon
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Robbie Fulks – Upland Stories
“America is a Hard Religion”, indeed. Albini’s typically spare production just gets out of the way, giving the songs space. The hired guns inhabit them and produce a sound by turns baleful and warm. Another pleasant Grammy nominee.

Buy Billy Bragg & Joe Henry - Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad New or Used via Amazon
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Billy Bragg & Joe Henry – Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad
I like the conceit, travel the country and record train and other songs along the way. The live, immediate, atmosphere of the recordings gives new life to songs which might otherwise feel played out. Bonus was seeing them do a bunch of these songs live at Levon’s in Woodstock. Thanks to my friend, and sometime PoOPster, Tim for hooking it up.

Buy VA – Annie Mac Presents 2016 New or Used via Amazon
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VA – Annie Mac Presents 2016
The long-running series continues with, as usual, 2 CDs of tracks representing various dance genres. The selection combines remixes of pop hits with stuff bubbling up from the underground. I hate to use the word “curation”, but, like Sterns’ East Africa comp above, that’s the key word here. I sometimes wonder if there are commercial aspects beyond the obvious (might there be pay for play?), but usually I’m just bopping around.

Buy Roisin Murphy – Take Her Up to Monto New or Used via Amazon
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Roisin Murphy – Take Her Up to Monto
My favourite headphone record of the year. Odd, engaging electronics and treated vocals. Marred by a couple of too-long tracks.

Buy Skeleton Tree - Nick Cave New or Used via Amazon
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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
Loss, inconsolable grief and a (perhaps inaccurate?) rock myth is born.

Also:
Skepta – Konnichiwa
Parquet Courts – Human Performance
James Blake – The Colour in Anything
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it from Here…
case/lang/viers – case/lang/viers
Blood Orange – Freetown Sound

Movies:
Moonlight
Kubo and the Two Strings
Arrival
Hell or High Water

TV:
Fleabag
Mr. Robot
The Night Of
Atlanta
Veep
Black Mirror
The Americans
Better Call Saul
Westworld
Insecure
South Park
The Tunnel
Broad City
Last Week Tonight with Samantha Bee

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