Mark Rosen Poop 2023

My POOP DISC-CLAIMER (disc-lamer?):
I actually found a good amount of interesting music in 2023 and I didn’t have to pad my list with records that might have only marginally deserved my recognition. But as is the usual case, about half of my picks are rooted, in one way or another, in the past. RetroPOOP, if you will. To mangle the words of Sir Peter of Townshend, I look pretty old but my taste’s backdated, yeah.

Buy   The Replacements – Tim (Let It Bleed Edition) New or Used via Amazon Buy New or Used via Amazon     Rent via iTunes [?]
1. THE REPLACEMENTS – Tim (2023 re-mix, part of the Tim: Let It Bleed box set)
One of the best LP’s of 1985 is now the best LP of 2023 (and arguably one of the best LP’s ever). The new mix boasts new clarity and greater punch, and reveals layers of shimmering guitars, newly decipherable lyrics and a more rocking middle. Shockingly and rockingly revealing.

Buy RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – Folkocracy New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
2. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – Folkocracy
This collection of folk tunes is enlivened by a star-studded cast of duet collaborators who help Rufus take these mostly traditional songs in new, interesting and occasionally surprising directions. Taken as a whole, Rufus actually delivers an album of depth and beauty.

Buy ALLISON RUSSELL – The Returner New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
3. ALLISON RUSSELL – The Returner
Allison Russell’s two albums are so much greater than the sum of their parts. Her first chronicled her redemption after a childhood of abuse (it is, despite my description, an utterly uplifting album). This one describes “the springtime of her present tense,” the return in the title, with her all-female ensemble bringing a soul of its own to the mix. She’s a unique artist whose records have each presented a unique statement, devoid of all the pretentiousness a lesser artist would have fallen into. Positive, full of soul and passion and remarkably musical.

Buy CAT POWER – Sings Bob Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
4. CAT POWER – Sings Bob Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert
Cat Power both faithfully replicates and puts her own stamp on what might be the most famous concert ever. For the acoustic half she manages to give the lyrics a new immediacy, encouraging them to jump right out at you (no small feat for lyrics heard a thousand times). The electric half replaces the confrontational nature of the original material with a gentler note-for-note reading (except “Just Like Tom Thumb Blues” which uses the “Highway 61” arrangement). In the end, it’s the differences she brings to the source material that elevates this record.

Buy OLIVIA RODRIGO – Guts New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
This young phenom writes vignettes as much as she writes songs, inhabiting each one and filling them with layers of angst, wit, rocking arrangements and hooks aplenty. As she navigates leaving her teenage years, she somehow burrows into a part of me I never knew existed–my inner teenage girl.

Buy ROBBIE FULKS – Bluegrass Vacation New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
6. ROBBIE FULKS – Bluegrass Vacation
In a fair world Robbie Fulks would be a household name. In this world though he is only one in my household. Fulks brings his usual smarts and weirdly poetic observations to bluegrass-inspired originals.

Buy THE SALT COLLECTIVE – Life New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
The Salt Collective is a group of three French musicians who supplied often complex instrumental tracks to members of the dB’s, Matthew Sweet, Mitch Easter, Juliana Hatfield and others and then asked them to attach melodies, lyrics and vocals. The results are always clever and sometimes spellbinding, conjuring up the music that used to spring from Mitch Easter’s Drive-In Studio and my home-stereo some years back.

Buy VARIOUS ARTISTS – JEM Records Celebrates Ray Davies New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
8. VARIOUS ARTISTS – JEM Records Celebrates Ray Davies
This is JEM Records’ fourth in their once-a-year tribute series (Townshend, Lennon and Wilson, so far). The 60’s-inspired bands here don’t veer too far out of the driving lane but they do bring some punchy, modern production to their well-chosen songs. JEM Records establishes itself as the Sixties Scene Preservation Society.

Buy DROPKICK MURPHYS – Okemah Rising New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
9. DROPKICK MURPHYS – Okemah Rising
This is the second collection of Dropkick acoustic punk adaptations of Woody Guthrie lyrics. Guthrie, himself, could arguably be described as the first acoustic punk and the results are unsurprisingly terrific.

Buy ROLLING STONES – Hackney Diamonds New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
10. ROLLING STONES – Hackney Diamonds
“Tried and True Formula” might have been a more apt title but when the formula still works, hey, why not stick to it. This made me go back and listen to those forgettable 90’s albums, which turn out to be slightly less forgettable than I remembered. And that 81 year old lead singer, whatever his name is, has no business sounding like he did all those years ago. Lady Gaga adding her Merry Clayton imitation is a nice touch too.

11. SON VOLT – The Songs of Doug Sahm
Son Volt delves into what I consider to be Sir Doug’s glory years, reminding me just how timeless Sahm’s music has always been. For a longtime Sir Doug fan like me, this hits a sweet spot.
12. DUANE BETTS – Wild & Precious Life
Young Duane Betts channels both his namesakes and makes the best “Allman Brothers” album in fifty years.
13. NORAH JONES – Playing Along
A Record Store Day release featuring intimate, stripped-down duets from Norah’s 2023 podcasts, utilizing a pretty wide array of singing partners and a good number of twists and surprises along the way. I added 10 more podcast duets with the assistance of that YouTube thing so I call my copy the “Expanded Edition.”
14. TEDDY THOMPSON – My Love of Country
JENNI MULDAUR & TEDDY THOMPSON – Once More: Jenni Muldaur and Teddy Thompson Sing the Great Country Duets
Teddy has a sweet, soulful voice (obviously inherited from his mother) and he and his singing partner offer up a tutorial on sweet and soulful country songs from the 60’s and 70’s, country music’s golden age in my book. There’s certainly no reinventing the wheel here but their performances do highlight some songs that have aged rather well. Both of these records were released within two months of each other.
15. JUNIPER – She Steals Candy
Juniper Shelley’s first album at age 16 was a playful jaunt through the high school cafeteria and the suburban cul-de-sac. On her second, the subject matter and the boys have gotten two years older but she has lost none of her playfulness, this time finding inspiration in her family’s well-curated record collection. Juniper is definitely NOT Olivia Rodrigo and this is one of her best qualities since it’s quite refreshing to know that Juniper and Olivia can exist side-by-side on my list.
16. VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Endless Coloured Ways: The Songs of Nick Drake
These are fully-fleshed, modern re-imaginings of Nick Drake’s music by some knowns and some unknowns, going in almost as many directions as there are contributors and all uniquely capturing the dark mystery of Drake’s entire catalog.
The Old Crow Medicine Show goes from jubilant to forlorn and back again for forty straight minutes. I get the impression that they (although not their bank accounts) are trying to get past their dreadful “Wagon Wheel,” and this collection makes that easy to do. I could do without the song about cockfighting, for sure.
18. GRAHAM PARKER & THE GOLDTOPS – Last Chance to Learn the Twist
His voice is a bit more gravelly than the last time I paid attention to him but the former ‘angry young man’ of the Rumour-era years has given way to angry old man stuff, still infused with lyrical cleverness and even bits of humor (but not enough to call this Graham Parker & the Humour). Like many artists of his certain age, he includes a song like “Last Stretch of the Road,” his paean to, uh, moving on.
19. VAN MORRISON – Moving On Skiffle
Van takes a brief timeout from COVID-denying and anti-Semitism to pay tribute to the UK skiffle craze of the mid-1950’s, an era where there were no pandemics and apparently no Jews. I take great comfort in knowing that I ‘downstole’ this record and avoided putting even a single penny in his pocket. Van, your voice is still amazingly supple and you’ve put out quite a nice record, you piece of shit.
20. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90 – Live at the Hollywood Bowl
This concert (and the accompanying video) is as close as nonagenarian Willie will ever get to reading his own obituaries, as a parade of his juniors lavish him with praise and perform his catalog. The number and breadth of these luminaries should come as no surprise as there may be no greater American icon still walking amongst us.

Forever Rovin’ for a Pair of Brown Eyes: Shane and Sinead