Ken Beck Poop 2016

Go Fuck Yourself 2016
Beck PoOp

What a hellaciously bad year this has been. That is one thing we Poopsters have in agreement. I mean, I don’t expect to see anyone writing about some self-released Kid Rock or Nuge album here, right? Clearly for political reasons (he who shall not be named) but also for finding new music to honestly give a shit about, I’m down to 8 titles. One of which is simply a deluxe 3CD version of an album that has been out in various forms since the 80s and the other a 5CD various artists collection doing the Jerry & Co proud. So much let me down this year. Radiohead continues to churn out thoroughly unremarkable material. While it was a huge loss with Bowie heading off to Mars, after enough time to mourn and reflect, Blackstar (withstanding “Dollar Days” as an exceptional piece) was just ok. I really wanted to love Schmilco, but after many many MANY listens, it was only marginally better than Star Wars, which isn’t saying much at all. I may regret not listing Car Seat Headrest’s “Teens of Denial”. I mean, I’m happy that a band as great as GBV helped spawn these Midwestern hipsters, but as of this writing it just didn’t float my boat. So without further ado, let’s get on with the shoe.

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William Tyler – Modern Country (Merge)
Not a word spoken, but this album spoke in volumes to me all year long. First came upon this exquisite picker when he was in Lambchop’s band as an opener for Yo La Tengo at Maxwells on one of those cherished Hanukkah shows. I’d love to see him join or be joined by Wilco.

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Band of Horses – Why Are You OK (Interscope)
I’ve wanted to love these guys for years and have always given their albums a chance. Finally they have hooked me with this Jason Lytle produced and grandiose affair.

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Ray LaMontagne – Ouroboros (RCA)
Speaking of well-produced albums that finally made me “get it” was this sixth album by Ray LaMontagne. Producer Jim James should have saved some of this inspiration for his solo album.

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Morgan Delt – Phase Zero (Sub Pop)
Now this is the album Tame Impala should have released last year! Dreamy psychedelia for the ADHD set.

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Big Star – Complete Third (Omnivore)
People, this is how an archival dig should be done. The disc sequence illustrating the evolution of this lost masterpiece reveals that all that studio time wasn’t nearly as chaotic as we’d been led to believe. And some incredibly tasty covers of “Don’t Worry Baby” and “I’m So Tired” on disc one add the cherry on top to this sumptuous ice cream sundae.

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Various Artists – Day of the Dead (4AD)
So many gems in this 5-disc, 59 track undertaking, created and curated by brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. Personal faves include: The War on Drugs take on “Touch of Grey”; the TV on the Radio/Lee Renaldo cover of “Playing in the Band”; Kurt Vile w/ J Mascis’ “Box of Rain”; Grizzly Bear/The National supergroup’s take on “Terrapin Station”; Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s “Shakedown Street”; Real Estate’s “Here Comes Sunshine”; and Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s stunning take on “If I Had the World To Give”.

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Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate (Polydor)
Kiwanuka’s followup to 2012’s “Home Again” isn’t the “What’s Going On” I had hoped it would be. But it is ambitious and well meaning without veering towards a blatant copy-cataclysmic farce. “Black Man in a White World” couldn’t have come at a more poignant time in this country. If only Kiwanuka and Kamasi’s people could get them together for a writing and recording session, that truly would be a sonic delight.

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Starling Electric – Electric Company (
Eight years in the making and well worth the wait (and weight). 16 tracks of power-pop, baroque-pop, bedroom/lofi-pop, GBV-pop, and Rundgren-pop bliss.

Westworld (HBO)
If I’m being totally upfront and honest (which is a credo of all Poopsters, right?!), I never saw the original 1973 film starring Yul Brenner and Richard Benjamin. Fortunately that is not a prerequisite for watching the HBO series of the same name. An endlessly entertaining and thought-provoking show that even had me watching clips on YouTube in order to fully decipher what the hell is going on.

-Ken Beck

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