As a general rule, I must admit to finding most of the stuff that goes by the dubious name of “nu-gaze” pretty lame. If there’s a minor boom in bands who revisit the aesthetics of shoegazing, most of them strike me as being awfully conventional, a particularly insipid kind of indie that revolves around weak vocals, predictable effects and a generally fey take on orthodoxy.


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In the playlist yesterday, I mentioned that James Blackshaw, one of my favourite contemporary guitarists, has a new album out as part of a duo called Brethren Of The Free Spirit. Actually, Blackshaw has two new things in circulation at the moment, and both are excellent.


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A load of new stuff again this week, much of it pretty interesting. The Brethren Of The Free Spirit, incidentally, are a duo featuring the guitarist James Blackshaw, who's received much love here over the past year.


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It’s a strange thing that, as Mark Lanegan becomes more ubiquitous, his own material seems to be scarcer and scarcer. Since Lanegan’s last solo album, the fine “Bubblegum”, came out in 2004, his voice has been everywhere, but his substance has been hard to track down.


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As Latitude 2008 approaches (it's on between July 17 and 20, lest you forget), here's an exceptional chance to help write a play that'll be performed at the festival.


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As a general rule, music doesn’t have that much of a nostalgic function for me. Without sounding too bloodless, I’m only interested in a record if it sounds good to me right now; the fact that it might have soundtracked various epiphanies/crises/whatevers in my life is, by and large, irrelevant. If I were ever to end up, God forbid, on some “Desert Island Discs” thing, I’d maybe choose something from “On The Beach” (a review of Neil's first Manchester show is over at the Reviews Blog, incidentally), even though I might have actually spent 1974 listening to Mud. I’m not ashamed of my musical past, I just don’t like those records any more.


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I have to admit to a certain amount of anxiety tonight. It’s not just the weather, which is, of course, rotten, the wind howling like it’s fit to tear chunks from rooftops from miles around.


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It’s been something like four months since I first mentioned the debut album by Bon Iver, and since then, there have been few records I’ve played as much. In Uncut’s world, I suspect “For Emma, Forever Ago” may turn out to be one of the most significant albums released in the UK in 2008. I certainly hope so, anyway.


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The playlist comes a bit earlier than usual this week, since we've been finishing the next issue today, and I haven't had a chance to write a proper preview. You probably should know, though, that the new Fall album on first listen appears to include, besides the usual murky paranoia, a faintly jazzy song about crows (and possibly "J-Loaded Brown", though we could have misheard that) called "Alton Towers".


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We've just heard from Festival Republic that they'll be announcing the line-up for this year's Latitude on March 19. That's also the day when tickets will go on sale.


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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...