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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There are some things you never expect to see. Take, for example, a live performance of “Parallelograms”; a song of uncanny atmospheres and dynamics, recorded in 1970 by a dental hygienist with only a fleeting involvement with the music business.


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OK, I’ve managed to remember 143 albums that came out this year and that I liked. As in previous years, I didn’t see much point in hacking my list down to a Top 100, or Top 50, or whatever. While it’d be a stretch to claim every one is an imperishable classic, I do feel broadly confident recommending them all.


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Newsletter


Editor's Letter

Reviewed: Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo, August 27, 2014


There is a song on "Aerial", Kate Bush's eighth and possibly best album, called "Bertie". "Here comes the sunshine," it begins, "Here comes that son of mine/Here comes the everything/Here's a song and a song for him." Nine years later, here, perhaps is a show for him: an unexpected comeback; a...