Since I wrote about My Morning Jacket’s “Evil Urges” a few weeks back (comparing it unfavourably to the Fleet Foxes debut), I’ve been thinking about the band and the record a lot. Picking up Billboard this morning (not a regular habit, rest assured), I found them staring awkwardly out of the cover. Jim James could barely be spotted in the accompanying feature, overwhelmed by laudatory quotes from a great swathe of on-message, optimum-strategising execs and some head-spinning stats suggesting that, yes, they were set to break into the biggish league in America sometime later in the summer.


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I was writing, not for the first time, about Howlin Rain the other week, and admitted that my preoccupation with the band had a certain stalkerish intensity. As I begin yet another blog about James Blackshaw, a London-based guitarist and so on, it strikes me that my prosletyzing on his behalf might be somehow detrimental to his career: a random google of his name would probably bring up this great weight of waffle from me, so hyperbolic that some might suspect we must be related.


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I’ve been blown away this week by the first album from a New York band called Endless Boogie. The name was vaguely familiar, and reading through the press release it transpires that the band played Slint’s All Tomorrow’s Parties a few years back. There are some earlier singles, I think, which Bubba helpfully linked to here.


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I wandered into the office this morning to hear the new album from Stereolab playing – or at least weirdly and abruptly truncated edits of the songs on the new Stereolab album, which weren’t exactly the best way of getting the measure of “Chemical Chords”. The big discovery this week, though, has been the debut album from the pretty self-explanatory Endless Boogie, which I’ll write about properly in the next few days. There’s also, and I apologise, for this, a “Secret” record in the playlist this week, whose title I’m not allowed to reveal since, “All info on this is being kept under wraps until next week so please don't breathe a word to anyone that you even know a XXXXXX album is coming, let alone have heard it.”


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“NEW HARMONY ON AN AWESOME SCALE,” announces Will Oldham on “Missing One”. Somewhere in the shadows, there’s a singer called Ashley Webber playing a discreet Emmylou to his Gram, the latest harmonious foil chosen to track his tremulous voice. Oldham’s voice is much less wayward than it was on the Palace and early Bonnie “Prince” Billy records, of course, but it’s strange how he’s recently found it useful to match his voice against another: on “The Letting Go”, Dawn McCarthy from Faun Fables; on last year’s overlooked covers set, “Ask Forgiveness”, Meg Baird from Espers.


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To the Vortex at midnight. Considering it’s still only March, I’ve seen some pretty remarkable gigs this year: Portishead, Vampire Weekend and the mighty Raconteurs last week; Peter Walker’s flamenco/raga masterclass; Neil Young soloing endlessly into the full glare of a Klieg light, and so on.


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To the Vortex at midnight. Considering it’s still only May, I’ve seen some pretty remarkable gigs this year: Portishead, Vampire Weekend and the mighty Raconteurs last week; Peter Walker’s flamenco/raga masterclass; Neil Young soloing endlessly into the full glare of a Klieg light, and so on.


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A strange moment of the stars aligning, possibly by accident, towards the end of last week, when the remastered My Bloody Valentine reissues turned up in the Uncut office in the same post as Kevin Shields’ collaboration with Patti Smith, “The Coral Sea”. You wait x amount of years for one dreamrock charabanc to arrive, then three arrive, and so on. . .


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It begins looking more or less, as Jack White has argued ad nauseam, like a democracy. White, Brendan Benson and Little Jack Lawrence are clustered around Patrick Keeler’s drum riser, smartly waistcoated, backs to the audience, flexing their metaphorical rock muscles. They’re playing the title track from “Consolers Of The Lonely”, and the way the song switches back and forth between White and Benson, the way their vocals are tracked by harmonies from Lawrence and Mark Watrous, the new keyboards and fiddle player, the power-packed tightness of it all is overwhelming.


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It begins looking more or less, as Jack White has argued ad nauseam, like a democracy. White, Brendan Benson and Little Jack Lawrence are clustered around Patrick Keeler’s drum riser, smartly waistcoated, backs to the audience, flexing their metaphorical rock muscles. They’re playing the title track from “Consolers Of The Lonely”, and the way the song switches back and forth between White and Benson, the way their vocals are tracked by harmonies from Lawrence and Mark Watrous, the new keyboards and fiddle player, the power-packed tightness of it all is overwhelming.


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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...