Mark Zip Poop 2014

Buy Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
Sleaford ModsDivide and Exit
No chops, No solos. Only the barest rudiments of “musicality”. And most of all, no space. Just a soundscape filled will life. And the things that make you shake your head, anger you, frustrate you and make you laugh.

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Run The JewelsRTJ2
Back in the mists of PoOP (2007?) I named an El-P solo album to my list. Last year’s and this year’s collaborations with Killer Mike are different. The anger and intensity are raw, but they never feel gratuitous. The lyrics “mean” “things” sure, but they also signify. And to me, this year, they signified the American version of the Sleaford Mods. Anger, bitterness, bravado, disappointment and, perversely, fun. “The only thing that close quicker than the casket is the factory”. (But the beats here are better that the Sleaford Mods)

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La RouxTrouble in Paradise
Elly Jackson dismayed when it was confirmed that she was “going solo”. How would La Roux sound without Ben? And the initial impression of the record was odd. We listened to it several times during the Huge Memorial Day Weekend LP and CD Yardsale. Perhaps not the ideal environment sonically, but a good place to test a record’s ability to break through the distractions of life. At first I wondered what she was trying to do, if I was merely interpolating “retro” into the record. But, no, she’s being serious with the synth-pop ideas. Even though we have heard many bits of this record in the past, after repeated listens, I think we have not heard these sounds in this order before.

Buy Future Islands – Singles New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
Future IslandsSingles
Came for the amazing viral video of the Letterman performance. A performer giving himself completely to the music. Stayed for the unabashed, synth-pop and the fervent, un-ironic, commitment to the songs. Earnestness is a very tricky negotiation, especially in these days of heightened BS detectors. These guys limn that border naturally.

Buy Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
Sturgill SimpsonMetamodern Sounds in Country Music
The clever title, with its allusions to Ray Charles and the age of all-knowingness both, is a nice mis-direction. These are just good depressing songs. I almost said “old-fashioned” songs, but they are not that. They are also very pointedly *not* the current sound of Nashville pop-country. Nothing here feels like those “girl in my truck” songs. Nor those “July sunset on a back woods gravel road with a girl in my truck” songs.

Buy D’Angelo - Black Messiah New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
D’AngeloBlack Messiah
I had actually started compiling this PoOP before I finally heard this record in late December. I had said to myself “Hmm, even fewer “guitar” records for me this year”. The Sturgill Simpson was the only one that leapt to mind (the Toumani Diabaté doesn’t count, that’s koras, not guitars).Then a chance conversation with a friend led to this one. There’s lots of Sly, of course, and Prince, but the funkiness and, of all things, the guitars, combine to make for a levitating listen and a repeatable journey. Should be docked a point or two for fake needle drop and surface noise.

Buy FKA Twigs - LP1 New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
FKA TwigsLP1
In a year when the sloooow-ness seemed to grow and grow, this was the stand-out for me. And the space we started to hear two years ago is exemplified here. Yes, this is certainly an acquired taste. And, yes, if you don’t acquire it, you might be forgiven for thinking it mannered. Or even infuriating. BUT it sounds truly unique to me. In the real sense of the word. Nothing else I heard this year sounds like this. She has taken the “what you don’t play is as important as what you do play” principle to heart. Completely.

Buy Azealia BanksBanks - Broke With Expensive Taste New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon           Rent via iTunes [?]
Azealia BanksBroke With Expensive Taste
Will Azalea Banks end up as one of the great “could-have-beens”? Her career torpedoed by a combination of recording industry horror and personal recalcitrance? That would be a shame, because the melding various strains of off-beat, shape-shifting underground dance music with her baaad attitude makes for an interesting, if uneven, listen. And a lot of hope for the future.

Toumani Diabaté and Sidiki Diabaté Toumani & Sidiki
Paolo ConteSnob
Andy CHeartbeat
Lykke LiI Never Learn – The last three tracks on here are the best break-up aftermath songs of the year.
The New PornographersBrill Bruisers
RustieGreen Light
Mala b2b Loefah (ft. Sgt Pokes)FWD at Plastic People 01.06.2006 – Uploaded by Blackdown, along with his really interesting analysis at
A Sunny Day in GlasgowSea When Absent
Shabazz PalacesLese Majeste
Sharon Van EttenAre We There
Aphex TwinSyro
Cale 13Multi-Viral
Various ArtistsAnnie Mac Presents 2014 – The annual appointment with dance music, uptempo and laid back, continues. Duke Dumont, FKA Twigs, Jamie XX, Hot Natured, Caribou, Sigma, Gorgon City and lots more.

Flying LotusYou’re Dead
I wanted to like this so much more than I do. I guess I still haven’t “grown into” jazz-fusion. People tell me that it will happen. But it hasn’t happened to me yet. Even when it’s dressed up with Low-End Theory cool and really good bass. Funny, ‘cos his first efforts did it for me.

Interstellar (but probably only because I saw it in real celluloid 70mm IMAX)
Snowpiercer (uneven but worth the PPV)

Marc Maron interviews musicians on his WTF podcast.
In the last couple of years Maron has branched out from his comfort zone of comedian guests and started featuring more musicians. He has developed into a really good interviewer, enthusiastic, willing to branch out of an established pattern of questions and follow the conversation, becoming a good listener. As is to be expected, given his age and background, Maron sticks mostly to guitar-based people. His talks with Bob Mould, J Mascis, Chrissie Hynde, Curt Kirkwood, Billy Gibbons and Rosanne Cash are all excellent.

Indonesia Etc. – Exploring the Improbable Nation (Norton US / Granta UK)
Shameless plug for my sister’s book. It’s really good. It’s not just a travelogue, it also takes on themes of corruption, development and whether, how or even if a nation of 14,000+ islands (depending on the tides) might continue to grow its democracy. It’s also available as an enhanced eBook for iPad etc. The enhanced eBook has slidesows, videos, pictures, audio and other multimedia elements which bring the whole project even more alive.

Mark Zip
Woodstock NY

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