How does a questing psychedelic guitarist transform themselves into a classic singer-songwriter? By compromising, in many cases. Steve Gunn, however, is managing the transition with uncanny elegance. Maybe you've already heard the latest album from this languidly prolific Brooklyn guitarist: it's called "Way Out Weather", and it's just out on the Paradise Of Bachelors label.


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Listening dominated by The Necks this week, and a couple of sets I bought from them at the show on Monday night (Read my review of The Necks live at Café Oto here…). But as you'll see, some significant action elsewhere on the playlist. Play ball!

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1 Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes (Bittorrent!)


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As is the brutal way with deadlines on monthly magazines, yesterday afternoon I had to send out a request to all of Uncut's writers for their albums of the year lists, so that we can start the long and meticulous process of compiling a Best Of 2014 chart.


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I hadn't planned to write about the Necks show last night: plenty of other things to do; a review of Frazey Ford's album ready to publish; a sense that, after my previous reviews of The Necks, I didn't have much else to say.


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A bit frustrating this week, since I can't really talk about a couple of the most significant musical arrivals here, due to record label embargoes and so forth. Sorry, as ever, about the teasing: I'll reveal more as soon as I can.


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In June 1977, Allan Jones of the Melody Maker took a familiar route to the offices of Stiff Records in West London. His appointment, that day, was with a notably irascible young singer-songwriter from Hounslow. In the course of a frequently startling interview, the man who had chosen to call himself Elvis Costello railed against pretty much everything he could think of, beginning a sequence of encounters that would be among the sharpest and most volatile to appear in the music press over the next few years.


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Instant albums do not, as a rule, encourage reflection. There is surprise, sometimes indignation, a social media flame war, a lot of static about delivery systems. Once the 38 minutes of, say, Thom Yorke's "Tomorrow's Modern Boxes" have passed, it can all suddenly be over. What happens next?


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No point in messing about this week: scroll down to hear new music from, among others, Neil Young, Cool Ghouls, Bryan Ferry, Frazey Ford, Kendrick Lamar, Joan Shelley and the extremely promising D.D. Dumbo, plus a couple of amazing full gigs from Hiss Golden Messenger and a Purling Hiss/Spacin' supersession, both courtesy of the invaluable www.nyctaper.com.


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A month, perhaps, of surprises. On the rather intimidating new Scott Walker and Sunn O))) album, there appears to be a joke about Michael Flatley's testicles. Somewhere in the elevated aesthetics of Kate Bush's Before The Dawn, there's an equally dubious comedy routine that hinges on the punchline, "HP and mayo, it's the badger's nadgers." And then, just as we were finishing the new issue of Uncut (out today in the UK, as you may have seen), a U2 album suddenly materialised in iTunes, a bullish play to reassert them as the biggest pop group in the world.


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Weird serendipities aplenty this week: versions of "O, Death" on two albums I downloaded one after another, by Mike & Cara Gangloff and Bessie Jones; dovetailing into Sea Island overlap between Jones and Loscil. It makes for a nice blurring between time and genre with, say, the Gangloffs using esoteric strategies to achieve a similar kind of transcendence that Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers reach through more orthodox, albeit uncommonly raw, Gospel routes in these Lomax recordings from the early '60s.


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Editor's Letter

The 43rd Uncut Playlist Of 2014


Very taken with Africa Express' version of "In C", by Terry Riley, this week. I have a few takes on the piece (50 years old this month, incidentally), the latest being one by Portishead's Adrian Utley from a couple of years back, though I still probably default to what I think is the original...