John Mulvey

Bruce Palmer, Elliott Smith, Bill Fay



I got a message the other day from Erin Palmer, encouraging me to go and see Jandek at South By Southwest. Unfortunately, I've had to cancel my trip to Texas, so if anyone sees the Jandek show, please let us know. Erin, it transpires, is the daughter of Bruce Palmer, the giant bassist who drove down to LA with Neil Young in his hearse and went on to join Buffalo Springfield.


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Allan Jones

'There's a lone soldier on the cross, smoke pouring out of a boxcar door. . .'



I am risen, Lazarus-like, from a couple of weeks in flu-ravaged purgatory, a desperate condition accompanied by much attendant chest-rattling coughing and colourful spluttering. So apologies for my recent absence here. What passes for normal service will hopefully resume next week, with a return to the daily blogs as advertised at the top of this page.


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John Mulvey

South By Southwest Bound



As I mentioned yesterday, Wild Mercury Sound is taking a holiday in Texas next week. The pile of new albums will have to wait a while; I've got fine things by Rufus Wainwright, Battles, The 1990s and Alberta Cross here that I haven't had time to write about yet. Next week, though, I'll be filing slightly frantic daily reports from the South By Southwest festival in Austin, as I try and see a good dozen or so newish bands a day. I've just been having a quick look through the list of artists playing, and I really want to check all these out, for a start.


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John Mulvey

Elliott Smith's New Moon



I'm just getting my head around the new Elliott Smith compilation, and there's a lot to take in. "New Moon" features 24 songs stretched over two CDs, dating from the mid '90s. Ostensibly, I guess they're demos; mostly Smith plus acoustic guitar recorded without fuss at a variety of basements in the Portland area. But the clarity and quality is obviously stronger. Like everything Smith released in his lifetime, these are stealthy, insidious songs that are worth living with.


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John Mulvey

The Artist Formerly Known As Smog



Perhaps he's been inspired by the way his other half, Joanna Newsom, goes about her work. Perhaps he's up to some clever contract shenanigans. Whatever the real reason, it's pretty easy to read high creative significance into Bill Callahan's decision to drop the Smog brand and release this fine new album, "Woke On A Whaleheart", under his real name.


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John Mulvey

Wilco, Boris, Tuesday



I've been thinking some more about that new Wilco album, not least in response to a post from someone called Andrew. "It appears every thinking American songwriter," he writes "has been listening to Midlake's "The Trials Of Van Occupanther" and decided that America and Fleetwood Mac circa "Rumours" and "Tusk" are the way forward."


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John Mulvey

Sky Blue Sky



Jeff Tweedy has always been a perverse bugger. When Wilco became the toast of the Americana classes, Tweedy did everything in his considerable power to disassociate himself from the scene. He made the two greatest albums of his career, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "A Ghost Is Born", and saw his band hailed as so adventurous as to be virtually avant-garde. Clearly, though, being stereotyped as a radical is starting to get on his nerves.


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Allan Jones

TEN YEARS AGO THIS WEEK



HAPPENINGS TEN YEARS TIME AGO

March 5 to 11, 1997

The Notorious B.I.G. is shot dead as he sits in a car outside the Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles. Police confirm they are investigating links between the killing and the slaying of Tupac Shakur in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas six months earlier, fuelling tabloid stories of a feud between the East Coast and West Coast rap communities. Biggie's demise comes just days after Death Row Records president Marion 'Suge' Knight receives a nine-year sentence for parole violations.


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John Mulvey

Cassadaga



You know, up until a couple of weeks ago, I never thought I'd want to play a Bright Eyes record ever again. Their early records had sounded naive, passionate and interesting. But Conor Oberst's default schtick soon lost it's charm for me, closer resembling a kind of whingeing verbal diarrhoea. I know he was still pretty young - he's only about 27 now - but his pretensions still seemed rooted in adolescence, like a clever 16-year-old trying to cram all the ideas, images and words he knows into one song.


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TEN YEARS AGO THIS WEEK



HAPPENINGS TEN YEARS TIME AGO

February 26 to March 4, 1997

On the eve of the release of their album Pop, U2 announce details of their forthcoming PopMart tour, from a makeshift stage in the lingerie section of a K-Mart department store in downtown Manhattan. "We believe in trash, we believe in kitsch," The Edge tells reporters. "That's what we're all about at the moment."


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Editor's Letter

Inside the new Uncut...


On the morning of July 29, 1966 Bob Dylan became distracted while out riding his Triumph motorbike. Writing about the incident later in Chronicles Volume 1, Dylan rather gnomically recalled, “I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered.” Of course,...