Quickly today, as there’s an issue to be flung together, but a plug in passing for our latest Ultimate Music Guide, on sale today and dedicated to Lou Reed. More on that later.


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Sometimes, with Bill Callahan, the focus on his records is so unwaveringly on his lyrics, it is tempting to treat them as recited poetry rather than actual music. On an old Smog record like “The Doctor Came At Dawn”, say, the music seems barely there; just a little shading to point up the melodic undertow of a baritone that often wanders closer to speech than song.


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When you’re in the business of writing about/codifying/making up a musical scene, it always helps if you can locate its nexus. Reading the small print on record sleeves, a good few of the American musicians negotiating the space between roots music and avant-garde jamming these past few years - part of what used to be called free folk, for a while - all turn out to have recorded at Black Dirt Studios in upstate New York.


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After last week’s Best Albums Of 2014 roundup/provocation, here’s the first proper playlist of the year; with, as you’ll see, a few auspicious new arrivals.


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Sometime last autumn, maybe, an EP called “Artorius Revisited” by Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band was quietly released in limited quantities. Last time he surfaced around 2006/2007, in a quixotic, thwarted and mostly transcendent musical career that now stretches back some three decades, Head and his longest-lasting configuration, Shack, were signed to Noel Gallagher’s Sour Mash label. It didn’t last.


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Third Man Records has announced the release of all the singles from The White Stripes’ ‘Elephant’, together in a vinyl boxset.


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Happy new year, everyone. Since we’re into 2014 now, and (perhaps more pertinently) since all of our 2013 charts generated so much traffic to www.uncut.co.uk last month, I thought it’d be useful/cynical to post a Best Of 2014 (Thus Far) list.


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So this, I think, might be a new thing: not so much a live recreation of a classic album, but a live recreation of the sessions which resulted in a classic album. A show predicated not just on evocative songs recorded 25-odd years ago, but on a nostalgia for outtakes that – up until a month or so ago, at least – most of the crowd in the Hammersmith Apollo tonight had never even heard.


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The last playlist of 2013, I think, and – as you’ll see – a bunch of faithful retainers slipping back in with 2014 releases. Not sure I can believe I’m ending the year with an embedded video of Tears For Fears covering Animal Collective, but there you go.


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We have about 24 hours to finish the next issue, and not much longer to complete another Uncut Ultimate Music Guide due in January, so no preamble this week: lots to hear and anticipate below. (Thanks, though, for all your feedback on my Best Of 2013 list; much appreciated, as ever).


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Newsletter


Editor's Letter

The 46th (And Last) Playlist Of 2014


Sorry I didn't manage to post a playlist last week; a combination of germs, deadlines and various other professional/seasonal distractions meant that I ran out of time.

Here, though, is our last office list of 2014, with lots of strong new entries. A few highlights...