Uncut – August 2019

Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and Doves all feature in the new issue of Uncut, in shops from June 13 and available to buy from our online store.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: In this month’s cover story, we dig deep into the making of Springsteen’s new album Western Stars, speaking to some of The Boss’s closest confidants as well as the musicians who helped realise this stunning record. “At this stage in your life, you give up your dreams of immortality,” we learn…

NEW MUSIC CD: Our free 15-track CD features a splendid selection of brand new platters from The Black Keys, The Flaming Lips, Purple Mountains, Lloyd Cole, Mega Bog, 75 Dollar Bill, Allah-Las, Jade Jackson and more.

Plus! Inside the new issue you’ll find…

THE ROLLING STONES: Roll up! Roll up! The inside story of their Rock’n’Roll Circus, when a cavalcade of big-hitting rock stars – Lennon! Clapton! Jethro Tull! – enjoyed a rare moment of cultural harmony amid a cast of fire-eaters, beautiful freaks and a boxing kangaroo…

WOODSTOCK: We revisit the 1969 festival in the company of official photographer Henry Diltz, who shares some of his favourite images of the epochal event – some unseen for years – alongside hair-raising stories of how they pulled it all off, brown acid and all.

BEAK>: To Bristol, to discuss the Wurzels, soup and brilliant music with Geoff Barrow’s electro-rock trio.

BLACK SABBATH: With a new exhibition opening in Birmingham, Tony Iommi basks in hometown glory and sheds some light on his more outré wardrobe choices: “It was a bit of an outrageous time, the ’70s…”

JIMMY CLIFF: The reggae pioneer recalls eventful encounters with Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and Jimi Hendrix.

DOVES: The Manchester trio discuss the making of their skyscraping epic – and unlikely Top 3 hit – “There Goes The Fear”.

BILLY CHILDISH: The ‘Wild’ man of back-to-basics garage rock takes on the tricky task of navigating his own bulging back catalogue.

THE FLAMINGO CLUB: Pete Townshend, Kenney Jones and many others share tales of groovy spirits and rave ups in the fabled swinging London hotspot.

We review new albums by The Flaming Lips, The Raconteurs, Willie Nelson, Trash Kit and more; plus archive releases from Norma Tanega, Brian Eno and Sigur Rós; while Public Enemy and The Strokes are caught live.

Plus there are illuminating new interviews with Rickie Lee Jones, Milton Nascimento and The Raincoats, we bid farewell to The Borderline (with help from R.E.M and others) welcome Mega Bog and ponder a universe without The Beatles

THE NEW UNCUT IS ON SALE FROM THURSDAY, JUNE 13; CLICK HERE TO HAVE A COPY DELIVERED DIRECT TO YOUR DOOR

Send us your questions for Ty Segall

0

It’s about time we had a new Ty Segall album. After all, it’s at least two months since frenzied live effort Deforming Lobes hit the shelves, and he needs to pull his finger out if he wants to match the total of five albums he released in 2018, whether solo, in cahoots with White Fence, or as a member of various bands including Fuzz, Gøggs and The CIA.

First Taste – due out on August 1 via Drag City – continues a rich vein of form for the Californian garage-rock kingpin, picking up where Uncut’s No. 3 album of 2018, Freedom’s Goblin, left off.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

Watch a video for the track “Taste”, in which Segall murders his fellow Freedom Band members, below:

Hopefully he evades the authorities for long enough to answer your questions, for an upcoming Audience With Ty Segall. So what do you want to ask the tireless singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer/scene-leader, the man who’s made more albums over the last decade than you’ve had disappointing pre-packed sandwiches?

Email your questions to us at uncutaudiencewith@ti-media.com by Wednesday June 12 and Ty will answer the best ones in a future issue of Uncut.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Hear Bat For Lashes’ new single, “Kids In The Dark”

0

Natasha Khan AKA Bat For Lashes has announced that her new album Lost Girls will be released by AWAL Recordings on September 6.

Listen to the first single, “Kids In The Dark”, below:

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

As with several previous Bat For Lashes albums, Lost Girls is loosely based around the story of a fictional protagonist/alter-ego, here called Nikki Pink. A press release describes it as “a homage to Los Angeles where the album was recorded, to being a kid in the ’80s”.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Neil Young + Stray Gators – Tuscaloosa

0

Neil Young is an artist who prizes passion over polish, raw power over perfect technique. But there’s something about 1973’s Time Fades Away that has always cut too close to the bone even for him. “I think it’s the worst record I ever made,” he told Dave Ferrin in 1987. Recorded live in America during early ’73 (but made up of entirely new songs), the album should’ve been a triumph for Neil; it came on the heels of the songwriter’s chart-topping blockbuster Harvest.

With “Heart Of Gold” and “Old Man” breezing across the airwaves, Young was suddenly able to fill huge stadiums and arenas on his own, without the help of C, S or N. But the sudden death in November 1972 of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten looms over Time Fades Away (and, of course, the grief-stricken Tonight’s The Night, which was recorded later in ’73) and as a consequence, it seemed as though Young would rather let Time Fades Away just fade away.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

So that’s why Tuscaloosa, the 11th release in the songwriter’s ongoing archival Performance Series, comes as a bit of a surprise. Uncovered by engineer John Hanlon late last year, the rich, crystal-clear recording captures Neil with the Stray Gators down in Alabama early on during the Time Fades Away tour. So impressed was Young with Hanlon’s find that he apparently postponed the release of Odeon-Budokan – a prized Crazy Horse-era live set from 1976 – in favour of this.

It’s certainly a revelatory listen, giving us a fuller picture of what Young was up to onstage at this crucial turning point in his career. It’s a fan-friendly set, with faithful renditions of “Heart Of Gold”, “After The Gold Rush”, “Out On The Weekend” and other favourites complementing the fresher material. And though audience tapes from the tour sometimes show Young in a cranky, confrontational mood, he’s easygoing and wry here, cracking jokes between songs and making light of his newfound commercial success (Neil introduces “Heart Of Gold” as “Burger Of Gold”). Think of Tuscaloosa as Time Fades Away’s kinder, gentler cousin. But don’t worry – it’s still got plenty of bite.

And speaking of bite – Tuscaloosa is a sparkling showcase for the Stray Gators, who appear on all but the first two tracks, solo acoustic numbers. Made up of pedal steel/slide guitar maestro Ben Keith, pianist Jack Nitzsche, drummer Kenny Buttrey and bassist Tim Drummond, the group was one of Young’s subtlest, most sensitive combos, blending session-player expertise with a deliciously stoney looseness.

Tuscaloosa is further distinguished from Time Fades Away since it features Buttrey – Young replaced him with the harder-hitting Johnny Barbata later in the tour. Whatever his boss’s complaints may have been at the time, Buttrey, one of country rock’s primary rhythmic architects, is terrific here, his in-the-pocket groove giving even the slowest songs an added buoyancy. And he’s certainly capable of thunderous stadium-ready playing; his powerful fills on a fiery “Alabama” (an inevitable, but still bold, choice to play in Tuscaloosa) leave the studio version in the dust.

Ben Keith is also a vital part of Tuscaloosa’s overall success, his liquid lines connecting the Stray Gators’ sound to a classic Nashville heritage, but also giving the band a spaced-out, wide-open flavour at times. Like Buttrey, Young had first hooked up with the multi-instrumentalist during the initial Harvest sessions, and Keith would become a constant companion both live and in the studio until his death in 2010. The chemistry between Young and Keith is already readily apparent at this early stage in the relationship, whether the pair is trading spicy riffs on a rollicking “Lookout Joe” or harmonising raggedly on an electric/electrifying “New Mama” (which would later show up in acoustic guise on Tonight’s The Night).

Although technically they were only in existence for two years – from 1971–1973 – the Stray Gators became a critical part of Young’s story. Young’s first band since the Whitten-era Crazy Horse collapsed, they help Young bridge the gap between the Horse’s early glories and the reflective, expansive music he made on On The Beach and Tonight’s The Night.

Complaints? Well, as is Young’s usual MO, Tuscaloosa is only a sampling of the set Neil and the Stray Gators played on this particular evening. Unlike the Grateful Dead, Springsteen or Dylan, Young remains resistant to releasing complete shows, making it still necessary to seek out murky bootlegs. Nevertheless, Tuscaloosa is an incredibly valuable document of Neil Young in 1973, battling his demons in front of thousands and delivering some of his most deeply felt music.

The record comes hot on the heels of two other mid-’70s archival efforts – Songs For Judy and Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live – and it’s a blessing that Neil is finally letting fans hear this buried treasure from one of his peak periods, rather than moving forward and resolutely defying expectations in his usual way. Can the man’s ultimate lost album, 1975’s Homegrown, be far behind? Maybe – but likely not before the just-announced new Crazy Horse LP lands this autumn.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide: Oasis

Chill out, the goods have arrived!
With Definitely Maybe celebrating its 25th anniversary, we present the deluxe updated edition of the Ultimate Music Guide to Oasis.
This supernova edition includes the band’s most outrageous interviews, new writing on Liam and Noel solo, last words from Liam – and his life in pictures.
In shops from next week and online here now.
Mega!

Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings

0

After the lonely crafting of Blood On The Tracks, Bob Dylan evidently needed company and collaboration. The summer of 1975 found him propping up bars with old cronies in Greenwich Village, making surprise appearances at the clubs where he’d made his name. He was also writing Desire and talking about going back on the road. Tour ’74 with The Band had been an unhappy trip. What he was thinking about now was more like a circus, maybe one of those travelling carnivals he writes about so fondly in Chronicles.

The romantic notion was to turn up somewhere unannounced, play a small club, split for the next gig. He put together a 10-piece band who called themselves Guam, rounded up some old friends – Bobby Neuwirth, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez. Dylan called it The Rolling Thunder Revue and it hit the road on October 30, 1975 at the War Memorial Auditorium in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

The Rolling Thunder back-story became so quickly fabled, the music made on the tour consequently seemed neglected, like a relative locked in an attic, talked about but never visited. It was 2002 before Dylan assented to The Bootleg Series Vol 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue. It was a thrilling album. But its 22 tracks offered barely a hint of the musical booty fans were sure was out there, some of it tantalisingly heard in Renaldo & Clara, the film shot in tandem with the tour.

More of that will presumably appear in Rolling Thunder Revue, A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese, which Scorsese has assembled from the hundreds of hours of film accumulated by Dylan and his crew, to which The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings is billed as a companion piece.

It’s a 14CD boxset, three discs of rehearsals, 10 discs of the five shows professionally recorded in their entirety and a final disc of rarities. The two CDs from SIR Rehearsals in New York find Dylan in what might be described as his element. Which is to say, at the centre of a certain amount of chaos. His approach to rehearsal is at best relaxed, if not entirely whimsical. There’s no obvious instruction, clarification of key, tempo or other apparently frivolous irrelevancies. Dylan seems happy enough to play the first thing that comes into his head – “People Get Ready”, “Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts” – and leave it to the other musicians to somehow find their own way to fit in. The eight tracks on CD 3 were recorded on October 29 at the Seacrest Motel in Massachusetts and are effectively the revue’s final dress rehearsal. Several songs are still looking for arrangements, including “Hurricane”.

The first concerts ran to five hours, Dylan on stage for a little more than an hour. The shows had the same nightly format. Following an opening set by Guam and solo spots from McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Ronee Blakley and Ramblin’ Jack, an unannounced Dylan strolled on stage, singing “When I Paint My Masterpiece”. He usually played the same six or seven tunes, mixing songs from Desire, still unreleased when the tour started, “Tangled Up In Blue”, more rarely “Shelter From The Storm”, and some older big-hitters, revisited in unpredictable ways.

On Tour ’74, he often sounded like a man trying to make himself heard in an air raid. There’s no greater evidence here of the mercurial phrasings of the 1966 world tour, and several times he sounds as if he’s halfway to turning into Joe Strummer, especially on livid versions of “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”. At least he’s absolutely engaged again with his own songs, even if fans struggled to recognise some of his fearless reinventions, something they’d have to get used to in years to come. The version on Disc 13 of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”, for instance, has a completely rewritten lyric and a careening new arrangement. It sounds like a room being ransacked. “Just Like A Woman” becomes increasingly theatrical in these performances. Dylan and Guam put a bomb under the revered “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, transforming it into a barnstorming roadhouse rocker, like something off Morrison Hotel.

After a brief interval, the curtain went up on a startling sight. Dylan and Baez sharing a microphone, as if it were Newport ’63. For all the sense their voices make together, though, Dylan may as well have been duetting with Damo Suzuki. When they actually sound as if they’re singing the same song, there are wonderful moments, not least “I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine” stunningly recast as a cantina ballad. Baez had a solo slot before Dylan returned for increasingly thunderous takes on songs from Desire, including versions of “Sara” as much blackmail notes as love song. The shows always wrapped with Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”, preceded by “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, fabulous in every iteration, each with a bespoke lyric.

All the music on The 1975 Live Recordings is from the first leg of the tour. There was a second in April 1976, dates in the South, poorly attended, although by then Desire was a No 1 album. Dylan played the shows to recoup some of the money he’d poured into Renaldo & Clara. His mood was sour. Songs from Blood On The Tracks replaced the numbers from Desire and his performances were wrathful, apocalyptic. One of them, at Fort Collins, Colorado, on a cold, wet day, was filmed for a TV special. You can only hope the tapes are already on their way to Martin Scorsese.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Ultimate Record Collection – The 1970s Part 1

Continuing Uncut’s Ultimate Record Collection series, this volume explores 1970-1974, a time when the record industry expanded and A LOT of amazing records were made.
Profiling 25 major players in the era and a further 500 other albums of note, this is the ultimate guide to hearing (and buying) the greatest music of the period.
Over 600 albums recommended!
Where do you start? Right here!

Brian Wilson postpones June tour due to mental health issues

0

Brian Wilson has postponed his June US tour due to mental health issues. In a candid letter published on his website, Wilson explains how his latest round of surgery on his back left him feeling “mentally insecure”.

“We’re not sure what is causing it but I do know that it’s not good for me to be on the road right now,” he writes. “I’m going to rest, recover and work with my doctors on this.”

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

Wilson was due to perform alongside fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine in a series of shows billed as Pet Sounds: The Final Performances. Wilson’s letter suggests the performances will be rescheduled, and his tour commitments for August and September currently remain unaffected.

“It is no secret that I have been living with mental illness for many decades,” writes Wilson. “There were times when it was unbearable but with doctors and medications I have been able to live a wonderful, healthy and productive life with support from my family, friends and fans who have helped me through this journey.

“As you may know in the last year or so I’ve had 3 surgeries on my back. The surgeries were successful and I’m physically stronger than I’ve been in a long time. However, after my last surgery I started feeling strange and it’s been pretty scary for awhile. I was not feeling like myself. Mentally insecure is how I’d describe it. We’re not sure what is causing it but I do know that it’s not good for me to be on the road right now so I’m heading back to Los Angeles.

“I had every intention to do these shows and was excited to get back to performing. I’ve been in the studio recording and rehearsing with my band and have been feeling better. But then it crept back and I’ve been struggling with stuff in my head and saying things I don’t mean and I don’t know why. It’s something I’ve never dealt with before and we can’t quite figure it out just yet. I’m going to rest, recover and work with my doctors on this. I’m looking forward to my recovery and seeing everyone later in the year. The music and my fans keep me going and I know this will be something I can AGAIN overcome.”

For help and advice on mental health issues, contact the Samaritans or Mind, the mental health charity.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Dr John dies aged 77

0

Mac Rebennack, aka Dr John, has died aged 77.

In a statement, Rebennack’s family said Dr John died on June 6, “toward the break of day”, following a heart attack.

Born in 1941, Rebennack began playing in local New Orleans bands during the 1950s, later going on to work an A&R job at Ace Records.

As a teenager, he discovered drugs and later became a heroin addict. In 1960, the ring finger of Rebennack’s left hand was blown off in a shooting incident in Jacksonville, Florida and he switched to piano.

Despite his addiction issues, Rebennack moved to Los Angeles in 1964, becoming a respected session player, appearing on records by Aretha Franklin, Cher, Canned Heat, Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair and Frank Zappa among many others.

His 1968 debut album, Gris-Gris, establishing his visionary creative blueprint: a wild mix of R&B, funk and psychedelia generously sprinkled with New Orleans voodoo. The album also introduced Rebennack’s enduring musical personality, Dr. John Creaux the Night Tripper.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

He signed with Atlantic, and in 1972 released Gumbo, featuring his versions of “Iko Iko”, “Let the Good Times Roll” and other New Orleans classics. The following year, he hit his commercial peak, when “Right Place Wrong Time” became a Top 10 in America.

Despite appearing in The Last Waltz, Rebennack’s fortunes declined during the Eighties. At the end of the decade, though, Ringo Starr invited Rebennack to join his inaugural All Starr Band Tour.

Rebennack continued to make music, including Anutha Zone in 1988 and the Dan Auerbach produced Locked Down in 2014. A serial collaborator throughout his career, he guested on albums as diverse as The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street and Spiritualized’s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space and appeared in David Simon’s HBO series, Treme.

Click here to read our Album By Album interview with Dr John

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Pixies announce new album, Beneath The Eyrie

0

Pixies have announced that their new album, Beneath The Eyrie, will be released by BMG/Infectious on September 13.

Listen to the lead single, “On Graveyard Hill”, below:

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!



Beneath The Eyrie
was produced by Tom Dalgety and recorded last December at Dreamland Recordings near Woodstock, NY. The making of the album was documented in a new podcast, helmed by author Tony Fletcher. “It’s A Pixies Podcast” launches on Apple, Spotify and all the usual podcast platforms on June 27.

Pixies will tour Europe throughout September and October, peruse the full list of dates below:

SEPTEMBER
13 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, UK
14 Pavilions, Plymouth, UK
16 O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK
17 O2 Academy, Leeds, UK
18 O2 Apollo, Manchester, UK
20 Alexandra Palace, London, UK
21 O2 Academy, Newcastle, UK
22 O2 Academy, Glasgow, UK
23 Usher Hall, Edinburgh, UK
25 Ulster Hall, Belfast, UK
26 Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
29 Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway
30 Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden

OCTOBER
1 KB Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
3 TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands
4 O13 Poppodium, Tilburg, The Netherlands
5 Columbiahalle, Berlin, Germany
7 Palladium, Cologne, Germany
8 Lucerna Music Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
9 Gasometer, Vienna, Austria
11 Estragon, Bologna, Italy
12 Todays at OGR, Turin, Italy
13 X-Tra, Zurich, Switzerland
15 Tonhalle, Munich, Germany
16 Forest National, Brussels, Belgium
17 Luxexpo, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
19 L’Olympia, Paris, France
20 Le Radiant, Lyon, France
21 Le Liberte, Rennes, France
23 Sant Jordi Club, Barcelona, Spain
24 Riviera, Madrid, Spain
25 Campo Pequeno, Lisbon, Portugal
26 Coliseum, Galicia, Spain

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

The 18th Uncut New Music Playlist Of 2019

Busy weeks – so a little bit of catch-up here. The new Bon tracks are so good I’ve taken the liberty of including them both. Elsewhere, new/old jams from Howlin Rain and Bill Ryder-Jones, more good new music from Sufjan, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sleater-Kinney and King Gizzard. Dive in.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

1.
BON IVER

“Hey, Ma”
(Jagjaguwar)

2.
DJINN

“Djinn And Djuice”
(Rocket)

3.
HOWLIN RAIN

“Goodbye Ruby” [Live]
(Silver Current)

4.
SLEATER-KINNEY

“Hurry On Home”
(Mom + Pop)

5.
PIXIES

“On Graveyard Hill”
(PIAS)

6.
BILL RYDER-JONES

“Don’t Be Scared, I Love You (Yawny Yawn)”
(Domino)

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

7.
SUFJAN STEVENS

“Love Yourself”
(Asthmatic Kitty)

8.
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO

“This Is My Last Day 2”
(Milan)

9.
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD

“Self-Immolate”
(Flightless)

10.
JAI PAUL

“Do You Love Her Now”
(XL)

11.
HACKNEY COLLIERY BAND

“Derashe”
(Veki)

12.
BON IVER

“U (Man Like)”
(Jagjaguwar)

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Watch a trailer for Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story

0

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, Martin Scorsese’s documentary about Dylan’s fabled 1975/6 all-star tour, launches on Netflix and in select cinemas on June 12.

You can now watch the official trailer below:

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

The accompanying box set, Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings, is released on June 7. You can read a review of that in the current issue of Uncut, in shops now or available to buy online by clicking here.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Hear Jesse Malin’s new song “Room 13”, featuring Lucinda Williams

0

Jesse Malin has announced that his new album Sunset Kids will be released on August 30.

It’s produced by Lucinda Williams, who also co-writes and features on the lead-off track “Room 13”. Hear that below:

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

Malin describes “Room 13” as “the heart of the record, about those meditative moments far out of your comfort zone, where you’re forced to reflect on the things that really matter.”

The title of Sunset Kids is a dedication to the people Malin lost during the making of this album, including its very own engineer David Bianco, his lifelong friend and bandmate Todd Youth and his father. Other guests on the album include Joseph Arthur and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.

Jesse Malin tours the UK & Ireland in June, check out the dates below:

June 15 Brighton UK The Haunt
June 16 Manchester, UK Deaf Institute
June 18 Norwich, UK Norwich Arts Centre
June 19 Oxford, UK The Bullingdon
June 20 Glasgow, UK King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
June 21 Dublin, IR Whelans
June 22 Belfast, UK The Limelight 2

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

The 13th Floor Elevators: “We’re raising hell now!”

[From the July 2015 issue of Uncut]

Southeast of the Texas State Capitol Building is a small four-block street called Jinx Ave. Pulling up to a Wedgewood blue frame house, tucked beneath leafy pecan, ash and mesquite trees, down a path of paving stones, you can’t avoid thinking that it’s far too apt an address for the 13th Floor Elevators – a band whose genius was thwarted by a string of near-constant bad luck until they dissolved into acid-rock legend. When they fell, they fell from a high altitude, one that seemed impossible to return to.

Yet here in Clockright Studios, as unlikely as it seems, the Elevators – under the auspices of their leader, Roky Erickson – are preparing for a 50th anniversary reunion show at this year’s Austin PsychFest. A long white outer building opens up to reveal a small economical space, panelled in good wood, with oriental rugs, smartly framed posters, and an inner sanctum that holds vintage analogue equipment as well as more recent state-of-the-art gear. The studio is owned by Jason Richards, a member of Erickson’s recent backup band the Hounds Of The Baskerville. It got its name after the power blew out in the studio for a few days: when it came back on, the analogue clock read exactly the right time.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

Things like that are common occurrences in the Ericksonian universe. Yet everything seems remarkably normal on this warm spring day. Two of the original band members — Erickson and drummer John Ike Walton – sit under a canvas umbrella sipping sweet tea, shielded from the late afternoon Texas sun. They are accompanied by bassist Ronnie Leatherman, who joined the band in June 1966, straight after graduating from high school.

Together, they wait to begin rehearsal. But one of their number is conspicuously absent. Electric jug player Tommy Hall is still in San Francisco, although he’s assured his fellow bandmates he will be in Texas for the show. He later tells me he has sworn off any inebriants before a show – he only smokes medical marijuana these days since his LSD connection dried up back in 2009. And, pressingly, he has to get a new electric jug. It’s been almost five decades since the founding members shared a stage together; or kept in touch with more than the occasional Christmas card. While Walton and Leatherman live within shouting distance from each other near their hometown of Kerrville, Texas, but they haven’t seen Erickson or Hall in more than 45 years.

Dressed in a black T-shirt, with mirrored sunglasses, jeans and black-and-white Vans embellished with racing stripes, Erickson closes his eyes and leans back in a white wrought-iron lawn chair. His scrupulously clean hands and preternaturally white fingers are stretched across the girth of his stomach like a belt. Breathing deeply, but not asleep, he seems to be conserving power. At this stage of life, it appears he’s figured out what is important to him. And taking things easy is one of them.

“Are you ready to go in there and practice?” his son Jegar asks him, inclining his head toward the studio about 15 feet from where his father is sitting. Erickson opens his milky blue eyes and fixes his son with a look, but doesn’t answer. Instead he turns his head to look at his wife. “Are we having steak for dinner?” he asks Dana, whom he first married in 1974, then again in 2008. “If that’s what you want, honey,” she answers, fussing a little with a strand of hair that has escaped her long black braid. Jegar asks his father again. This time he answers: “We might as well get it over with.”

The 13th Floor Elevators are perhaps rock’s most improbable comeback story. Never mind that it was five decades in coming. But Roky Erickson had a further distance to travel back than most. The prodigious amounts of LSD the band used to imbibe before shows had a profound effect on the frontman. When the Elevators performed at San Antonio’s HemisFair in 1968, Erickson began speaking gibberish on stage. The latest in a long string of similar, equally bizarre incidents, it resulted in the singer being taken to a Houston psychiatric hospital, where he was subjected to electroshock therapy. The band dissolved shortly after. Then, in 1978, guitarist Stacy Sutherland was shot by his estranged wife, Bunni, in a domestic dispute in Houston.

In their heyday, 13th Floor Elevators were bona fide rock stars: a little too good-looking for their own good, a little too dangerous-sounding, their hair a little too long, their pants pegged a little too much, their guitarist a little too brooding. Their debut single “You’re Gonna Miss Me” was a dissolute kiss-off to a love gone bad, with lyrics as beseeching as they were menacing. The song climbed halfway up the charts, landing the Elevators on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand twice in 1966. The song still looms large in Elevators’ lore.

“It is a really great pop song,” explains Patti Smith Band guitarist Lenny Kaye, who included it on his 1972 compilation, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968. “That song was the centerpiece of Nuggets. It’s got great hooky chords to start and it’s got that weird middle break with that kind of echo sound from Tommy Hall’s electric jug. I don’t think it has ever been used before or since. And those screams. They may be the best white screams. They’re on a par with Screaming Jay Hawkins.”

Kaye is not the only connoisseur to venerate either “You’re Going To Miss Me” or the Elevators themselves. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons – whose Houston psych group Moving Sidewalks were contemporaries of the Elevators – confirms the band’s pioneering sensibilities. “Roky and the 13th Floor Elevators were creating something otherworldly,” he explains. “Sound in a scene that had no previous incarnation. Psychedelia!”

The Elevators were brought together by Tommy Hall, a proto-hippie shaman, acid visionary and Texas musician. His plan was to hook up Erickson, then lead singer with The Spades, with another Texas band, the Lingsmen – whose line-up included guitarist Sutherland, drummer Walton, and bassist Benny Thurman. In Erickson, Hall found a voice for his acid revelations. While for his part, Erickson – a former child actor – had already written two songs by the time he was 15: “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and “We Sell Soul”. Founding bassist Benny Thurman explains the origins of the Elevators’ name in suitably Spinal Tappish terms: “Everyone else had only gone to 12. The music was so new that we called it the 13th floor.”

In the sleevenotes accompanying their 1966 debut, The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators, the band advocated the use of LSD as a gateway to a higher state of consciousness. According to Billy Gibbons, they were “creating the vision of being able to go to an undiscovered space. Texas got bigger!”

“No rock band before or since ever delved as deeply into the idea of human consciousness being something that could be expanded into the higher evolution of the species,” says longtime supporter Bill Bentley, who co-ordinated the 1990 Erickson tribute album, Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye. “Tommy Hall worked in the world of psychedelics as a tool to help the progress of humanity. His song lyrics reflected what he learned while under the influence of LSD in a way that turned the band’s best songs, like ‘Slip Inside This House’ and ‘Postures (Leave Your Body Behind)’ into sonic sacraments for their acolytes.”

Almost from the first, Hall insisted that the band members ingest LSD before every show and “play the acid.” At first none of the members balked, embracing the spiritual, mind-expanding properties of the drug, but later there were dark rumblings that if they refused, Hall would sneak the substance into their drinks prior to shows. “The only way I could deal with it was pretend to take it and only take a quarter or half a tab at most instead of the whole,” explains bassist Ronnie Leatherman. Still slender as a boy, with graying hair, a baseball cap and a purple shirt, he has spent the past four decades working for a jewelry company. A perfect amethyst in his left ear will attest to the fact that he knows his gems. “If it was good, I might take some more later, but I really didn’t very often. Tommy was just real insistent, and I was young and wanting to experiment, of course. But we weren’t taking LSD to get blasted. It was spiritual. Stacy was very spiritual. He was a firm believer in God. I don’t have anything against Tommy. He could take all he wanted to. I just didn’t want to. But I don’t regret it a bit. And John Ike took it, but he just didn’t like it. And now he definitely doesn’t, and I wouldn’t ever again, that’s for sure.”

At 72, in his oversized white cowboy hat, Dockers, and striped shirt, John Ike Walton looks more like the manager of a neighborhood hardware store than a rock musician. When pressed, he admits he is reluctant to discuss the Elevators, preferring to save his memories for a book. “I’m tired of giving everything away. But for the record, I want to say, I did not take the LSD,” he huffs, contradicting much of what he has said in interviews over the years. Surprisingly, Erickson is more sanguine about his experiences with LSD. “I never really had a bad acid trip,” he confirms rather matter-of-factly. Admitting to more than 300 psychic excursions, he says, “You have to watch out for the way you view things and think it right. If you respected it, you would have a good trip; if you didn’t, you’d have a bad one.”

Unfortunately, the Elevators‘ existence proved to be a bad trip for the Texas establishment. The band were busted in a televised raid; although most of the charges were subsequently dropped, Hall and Sutherland struggled to find gigs in Texas under the terms of their parole. In 1969, meanwhile, Erickson was busted by the Austin police. In an attempt to avoid a prison sentence, he pled insanity and was sentenced to the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Austin. There, he was subjected to Thorazine treatments and electroshock therapy. He wrote a book of poetry and befriended a fellow convict, Jimmy Wolcott, an Elevators fan who had murdered his family while high on glue. Critically, Erickson also continued to write songs, forming a band called The Missing Links with his fellow inmates. “I would write these songs on my guitar,” he explains today, as he continues to recline in his lawn chair. “I was writing songs constantly there. I had them stored away in a box.”

++++++

There have been previous attempts to reunite the 13th Floor Elevators stretching back to 1972, when Erickson was finally discharged from Rusk. Did he miss the band?

“Yeah, sometimes I did.”

Did he ever think about putting it back together again?

“Yeah, I thought about it,” he allows. “They wanted us to do a get together of the Elevators when I came back. To regroup the band. It didn’t really work out.”

It’s not clear whether Erickson is entirely concerned with his band’s its 50th anniversary. Does he think their music still holds up today?

“They haven’t played in a long time, but the albums are still out there,” he says a little peevishly, with an odd choice of pronoun, which may prove revealing. “When I was in Philadelphia [actually Pittsburgh, living with his younger brother Sumner after leaving Rusk] I’d listen to the Elevators a little and they’re very exciting. I enjoyed listening to the words. They were talking about metaphysical stuff and things like leaving your body. But I think that’s a hard thing to do.”

So does it feel different being a member of the 13th Floor Elevators in 2015 than it did in 1965?

“Oh, I feel like I have it more down. See, you study, you know certain things,” he says mysteriously. “Things you didn’t know before. I’m studying trying to mingle fiction with existentialism, psychology. That sort of thing. You keep going and you get to where you can identify with what people are trying to teach you.”

Still, there are uncertainties and changes. Tommy Hall is no longer calling the shots from his hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, where he lives on government assistance (and the “thousand a year or so” he claims to earn from Elevators royalties) and watches German television programs all day. More important, there are no drugs any more, save blood-pressure medicine for these 60-somethings. The band have also needed to find a suitable replacement for Sutherland, whose reverb-drenched guitar work was as critical to the band’s sound as Erickson’s unnerving scream and Hall’s electric-jug sorcery. In fact, it’s taking two guitarists: Fred Mitchim and Eli Southard. Southard, who had been playing in the Hounds Of The Baskerville since 2012, observes that Sutherland’s role in the band was crucial, and that the other guys “looked to him for all the cues.

“I really love the records,” he adds. “I wanted to sound as close to the record as I can get but still throw down a genuine-like vibrant performance. I can’t learn all those solos verbatim, mainly because he was just vamping out a lot of it anyway, and it’d kinda go against the spirit of it to just learn what he played that one time verbatim.”

While Southard is talking, Erickson gets up and walks into the air-conditioned studio. The band members — new and old — join him inside, taking their places around their instruments. Erickson settles himself in a chair in the centre of the room, while Walton squeezes in behind his drum kit which is pushed into the far corner. There is an awkward silence while they attempt to get the mics working properly. Jegar Erickson swoops in and swiftly resolves the problem. He removes a roll of black tape out of his pocket, pulls off a piece and puts it over a stray wire in front of his father and then steps back. Without hesitation the band start playing as one – as if they’d been doing this every day for the last 50 years, in fact – “Splash 1”, from their debut album. The song is one of their rare ballads. Southward begins proceedings picking out the song’s minimalist guitar lines before the rest of the band join in. Then Erickson starts singing; he co-wrote the song with Hall’s former wife Clementine, about what happened when the two of them met: “The neon from your eyes is splashing into mine / It’s so familiar in a way I can’t define. If anything, Erickson’s voice is more refined than it was those five decades ago, sounding a bit like the Airplane’s Marty Balin with a bit more tremor, a little more ache. His timing is impeccable, his pitch superb; the rest of the band are impressively tight.

They move quickly on to “(I’ve Got) Levitation,” an out-and-out rocker written by Hall and Sutherland. This version, which barely stretches beyond the two minute mark, is dirty garage rock at its best, as Erickson narrows his odd-shaped eyes and punctuates the song’s breaks with an appropriate “All right” that bring to mind a young Jagger. As soon as it starts, it stops. The silence in the studio is suddenly broken by the piercing scream that kicks off “You’re Gonna Miss Me”. What’s truly odd is that Erickson’s face doesn’t change expression at all when he emits the scream, almost as if it doesn’t come from him. In this version, Erickson comes in behind the beat; it seems slower, more sure-footed, yet more of a lament than the original version. After it closes, Walton takes off his big Texan 10-gallon hat and wipes his brow before they start in on “Roller Coaster”. Based on Hall’s recitation of the acid experience, the song on record is compressed and anxious but today it picks up steam as they play it. There is a palpable sense of tension dissipating when it finishes.

++++++

When Roky Erickson left Rusk Hospital in 1972, it was claimed he had forgotten all the words to the Elevators songs – but he could remember every single Dylan lyric. Six years ago, Erickson admitted to Uncut that was true. Evidently, things have changed in the intervening years. Jegar has assiduously printed off lyric sheets for the songs the band practice during rehearsal, and Erickson hasn’t needed to consult a single one, instead reeling off the words as if he’d written them only yesterday. In a break during the rehearsals, Southard explains that for quite some time, Erickson would regularly perform only two Elevators songs – “Splash 1” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me” during Hounds Of The Baskerville shows. But Southard noticed a change of attitude over the last couple of years.

“We started incorporating a lot of the Elevators tunes into the set, because Roky was really into it,” he reveals “We didn’t really expect that. I don’t know because I wasn’t around, but as I understand it he wasn’t really into playing those tunes with previous bands, for whatever reason. So when we just kind of pitched the idea, ‘Rok, would you want to try playing “Levitation” sometime, or “Fire Engine”? He was, “Well, yeah, I love those songs.’”

Back in Clockright Studios, Walton whoops, “We’re raising hell now!” Erickson nods in agreement. “Yup. It sounds good,” he adds. “Let’s do ‘Reverb’ next.” The song – actually titled “Reverberation” – was a co-write between Hall, Erickson and Sutherland. Thankfully, the lyric “You start to fight against the night that screams inside your mind/When something black, it answers back and grabs you from behind” no longer has the sway over them it once did. “Take it easy with that one,” reminds Erickson, then he says, “Was that four or five?” It transpires that this is code: asking about the time usually signifies that Erickson has had enough. “Want to take a break, Roky?” asks Jegar, who never calls his father “Dad”.

“Nope,” comes the reply. “We can do one more.”

After a little adjustment to his chair, Erickson is ready to go again, tapping his foot even though no music is currently being played. The band ease into “Tried To Hide”, a song Sutherland wrote about burying joints in the sandy beach. Erickson emits soft, approving “Yeahs” during the song. Three minutes later they’re done, which seems to thrill Erickson. “It was good today,” he enthuses. “Nice and easy. That big old cup of hot tea helped.” Although I didn’t see him have one. Yet for all his gnomic aspects, Erickson is clearly the band’s driving force. According to Jason Richards, the studio owner, “Roky is a workhorse. The more we put him to work and the more he sings every day, you’ll watch the rest of us get weary and tired, [but] Roky’s a machine. He just keeps going.”

Southard adds, “He’s got his own set of quirks. It’s not easy to learn them. He always likes to say, ‘Well, you guys are taking it easy on me.’ Which is his way of saying, ‘Please don’t make me play too many songs,’ or ‘Hey, I’m tired.’ I also think he wants it to be cool with everybody. Probably in the past he’s had a lot of contentious relationships with his bandmates. So he’s just like, ‘Let’s all just take it easy.’ He speaks his own kind of weird language, but he’s a lot sharper than I thought he was going to be. He’s really on point most of the time, and he can be the anchor on tour sometimes because he’ll be like, no, no, let’s all calm down. Or when things get tense he’ll make a joke.”

The key, according to Jegar, is not to be careful around him and “have straight conversations with him. He’s very deliberate in what he chooses to say and the messages he wants to put across. But he’s comfortable in his skin and he doesn’t have to overcompensate, so I just found [it’s best to be] really direct and always 100 percent honest, never misleading, because he knows if you’re not telling the full truth. He’s probably at a point where it’s like. ‘If you want to talk to me that way, I’ll respond back to you that way.’”

What’s the best way to communicate with Erickson Snr, then? Jegar considers his answer. “He doesn’t like pussyfoot conversations.” He says eventually. “He wants to be talked to like a dude. That’s what he likes about getting out with the band, now that he knows the band. It’s like, ‘Hey, Rok, how you doing?’ And game on. He likes getting out of the house and hanging out with his brothers and playing some music.”

And, of course, he likes steak.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Pavement are reforming again

0

Pavement have announced that they are reforming for the second time to play Primavera Sound festivals in Barcelona and Porto in 2020.

A Tweet from the band’s official account stated that these would be the band’s “only two worldwide shows in 2020”.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

Pavement previously reformed for a global tour in 2010 to coincide with the release of their best-of compilation Quarantine The Past.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Hear two new Bon Iver songs, “Hey, Ma” and “U (Man Like)”

0

Following last night’s headline show at All Points East, Bon Iver have released two new songs.

Hear “Hey, Ma” and “U (Man Like)” below:

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

Both tracks are credited to several writers alongside Bon Iver mainman Justin Vernon, including regular collaborators Brad Cook and BJ Burton. “U (Man Like)” features contributions from, among others, Bruce Hornsby, Moses Sumney, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Brooklyn Youth Chorus with Bryce Dessner. Read more about the various musicians involved here.

Says Vernon, “This project began with a single person, but throughout the last 11 years, the identity of Bon Iver has bloomed and can only be defined by the faces in the ever growing family we are.”

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Roky Erickson dies aged 71

0

Roky Erickson has died aged 71.

Variety reports that the 13th Floor Elevators’ bandleader died on Friday, May 31, in Austin.

Erickson’s death was confirmed by his brother Mikel to Bill Bentley, the Texan-born journalist and former publicist who produced the all-star 1990 Erickson tribute album, Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye.

Born Roger Kynard Erickson in Austin, Roky formed his first band, the Spades, after dropping out of high school in 1965. Later in the same year, he formed the 13th Floor Elevators along with electric jug player Tommy Hall and guitarist Stacy Sutherland.

Taken from their 1966 debut album The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators, the band’s single “You’re Gonna Miss Me” became a regional hit.

“It is a really great pop song,” Lenny Kaye, who included the song on his legendary garage rock compilation, Nuggets, told Uncut. “That song was the centerpiece of Nuggets. It’s got great hooky chords to start and it’s got that weird middle break with that kind of echo sound from Tommy Hall’s electric jug. I don’t think it has ever been used before or since. And those screams. They may be the best white screams. They’re on a par with Screaming Jay Hawkins.”

The Elevators went on to release three more albums: Easter Everywhere (1967), Live (1968) and Bull Of The Woods (1969).

After the Elevators broke up, Erickson played in a series of other bands throughout the ’70s. After a fallow Eighties, Roky enjoyed renewed attention in 1990, with the release of Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye, which featured covers by R.E.M., Primal Scream, Julian Cope and The Jesus And Mary Chain.

In 1995, Roky released All That May Do My Rhyme, and he published Openers II, a collection of his lyrics. A 2005 documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me shone a spotlight on his personal struggles.

In his later years, he toured regularly, backed by such acts as the Black Angels, and collaborated with Mogwai on their 2008 track, “Devil Rides”.

In 2010, he released the album True Love Cast Out All Evil, which featured Okkervil River as his backing band.

Erickson finally reunited with the 13th Floor Elevators in 2015 and headlined Levitation, the Austin psych-rock festival that had been named after one of their songs.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Mavis Staples – We Get By

0

‘Change’ is not a theme one expects from an artist approaching her 80th birthday. More usual would be a reprise of old glories or some Johnny Cash-style meditations on death. Mavis Staples is not so easy to predict, however. 2016’s Living On A High Note deliberately requisitioned songs that had a joyous, upbeat feel. The three recent albums she made with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy – an unexpected pairing for sure – ranged wide in both their choice of material, from Randy Newman to George Clinton by way of gospel standards, and in their musical treatment. 2017’s If All I Was Was Black, for example, often sounded like “Family Affair”-era Sly Stone.

On We Get By, Staples rings the changes again, this time working with Californian bluesman Ben Harper on a set that ranges from funky to subdued. It’s a sparser affair than the Tweedy-produced trio, adding only backing voices to a bass/drums/guitar lineup in which Harper’s searching playing provides the principal, sometimes sole counterpoint to Mavis’s earthy, heartfelt vocals, their power remarkably 
intact in her advancing years.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

Staples and Harper have worked together before as one of the pairings on Living On A High Note. Born 30 years apart, they share a history of political activism. Mavis’s advocacy stretches back to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, when her father, a close friend of Martin Luther King, lent the Staple Singers to the movement’s soundtrack. Her commitment has never wavered. Harper has been similarly relentless since he arrived in 1994 with Welcome To The Cruel World, an album whose standout, “Like A King”, paid tribute to both Martin Luther King and Rodney King as martyrs to the Civil Rights cause.

At first it seems that this will be an album of protest songs. “Change”, the opener and lead single, is funky blues with a John Lee Hooker groove and a snappy vocal that’s custom cut to become an anthem for today’s troubled times. “One’s the number, blue’s the colour, now’s the time/We gonna change around here,” snaps Mavis to a background of gospel voices, while Harper throws in a dirty solo. We may be hearing a lot of more of it in the next two years.

After that, however, the tone of the record begins to soften and take on a more soulful hue. The defiance of “Anytime” is set to a riff that could be from Stax-era Staples, adorned with some off-kilter guitar work. “We Get By” is slower still, a testimony to the stoicism of people who have little but survive on “love and faith” and sung like a lovelorn B-side on an old soul single.

That imaginary single might have “Sometime” on its A-side. Its lyric – “Everybody got to change sometime/Cry sometime/Pray sometime” – is a thread that has run through blues and gospel traditions for the last century, and gets an infectious treatment here, with Harper laying down a rolling, reverberating groove much in the manner of the late Pop Staples, while hand claps and gospel hollers help drive things along.

There are more personal pieces here. “Hard To Leave” is a love song addressed to a lifelong companion, comparing the passage of time to a warm summer breeze, and detailing the intimacy of “softly reaching for your touch in my sleep”. More stringent is “Chance On Me”, calling on a stone-hearted lover to open up and embrace possibility, delivered with an anguish that’s matched by Harper’s stinging solo. The same forlorn mood haunts “Never Needed Anyone”, an achingly intimate piece that verges on despair.

Mavis has always walked an ambiguous line between the sacred and the secular, her records often managing to inhabit both worlds simultaneously. So it is with “Stronger”, where the “Nothing is stronger than my love for you” chorus might equally be addressed to a lover or to Jesus; take your choice. There isn’t much ambiguity about “Heavy On My Mind” or “One More Change”. The former is almost a farewell – “We tried so hard to slow this world down/But now my love is in the ground.” Delivered spoken as much as sung and backed only by Harper’s spare guitar, it’s a deep, affecting piece. The “One More Change” of the album’s final track isn’t specified as death but it’s implied. Unsurprisingly, it’s a harrowing piece, with Mavis hoarse and tormented; but soaked in gospel influences as it is, it’s also transcendent, which is the gift that Mavis Staples has been bringing since she was a 1950s teenager singing “Uncloudy Day” with her family.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Mac DeMarco – Here Comes The Cowboy

Every artist contains a multitude of selves, a good many of which may not be on speaking terms with each other a lot of the time. Efforts must nevertheless be made to maintain some kind of coherent identity – after all, there may be no worse sin in the age of Instagram than having an inconsistent brand.

Yet there are some people who feel quite comfortable about being one of Kris Kristofferson’s walkin’ contradictions. As both a craftsman of growing sophistication and a dude who’s always ready to be his own punchline, Mac DeMarco could be modern music’s most bewildering and endearing example.

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

There are moments on the Canadian’s fourth album of such grace, simplicity and sweetness, they could only be created by a singer and songwriter of the utmost sensitivity and maturity, one who’s able to look deep down into the murkiest crevices of his heart and find the most direct means of expressing what he found. On Here Comes The Cowboy, the most affecting results of this continual process of excavation include “K”, an achingly sincere addition to DeMarco’s exquisite canon of ballads for his girlfriend, and “Skyless Moon”, one of several more darkly hued songs that suggest that when it comes to his taste in early-’70s troubadours, the 28-year-old may now have less of an affinity for James Taylor’s casual ease and more for Nick Drake’s stark desolation.

Such songs add further nuance and texture to the more melancholy sensibility that strongly emerged on 2017’s This Old Dog. DeMarco demonstrating a new power and depth in his writing, songs like “Dreams Of Yesterday” and “Moonlight On The River” saw him explore the confusing welter of emotions he felt upon seeing his estranged father on what appeared to be his deathbed. (The singer admitted to feeling even more confused when his dad’s health rebounded.)

If Here Comes The Cowboy contained nothing but these moments, it could’ve easily earned DeMarco the respect he’s due from the doubters who view him as a fun-loving, beer-swilling goofball who’ll do whatever it takes to keep an audience entertained (and do it minus his pants). Of course, that other Mac came to this party, too. He even brought his gong.

As heard in “Choo Choo” – 
an irresistibly daft, cod-funky mid-album exercise in comic relief that also gives DeMarco the opportunity to do a steam-whistle impersonation – the telltale reverberations of the golden king of percussion instruments are another indication that he’s not so eager to leave childish things behind. He’d rather have an outlet for his cheeky, occasionally juvenile sense of humour, which is also discernible in the new album’s abundance of cowboy kitsch. The opening track entails him repeating the album’s name in a corny drawl – elsewhere, he sings of “pretty cattle”, hopping trains and a sweetheart who’s unsure whether to stay down on the farm. While DeMarco’s abiding love of shtick may frustrate the admirers who recognise his capabilities, Here Comes The Cowboy is the strongest evidence yet that his many selves can coexist in a surprisingly harmonious manner.

Indeed, it shows a growing courage on his part to let those contradictions be so plain to the ear. That’s down to the spare, relatively unadorned style DeMarco chose for the mostly subdued songs he recorded in January in his Los Angeles home studio with the help of his touring sound engineer Joe Santarpia. (Drugdealer’s Shags Chamberlain and Alec Meen of DeMarco’s live band provided further assistance.) Whereas DeMarco lent a smeary, smudgy quality to the sounds on his 2014 breakthrough Salad Days by multi-tracking his vocals and using varispeed tape effects and other tactics, he’s largely content to leave well enough alone here. The layers upon layers of synthesisers that made This Old Dog standouts like “On The Level” so shimmering and sumptuous have also been reduced to more modest levels.

All that marks a dramatic shift for a musician whose early releases were steeped in a particular late-’00s strain of lo-fi maximalism, when DeMarco antecedents like Ariel Pink slathered everything they touched in reverb and anything else they could use to simulate the sound of a chewed-up cassette tape. Instead, on songs like lead-off single “Nobody”, DeMarco leaves ample space between the few elements he uses besides his forlorn vocals: a loping beat, a few plucked guitar notes, a burbling synth that struggles to stay in tune.

The new album’s bare-bones production aesthetic may not be hugely surprising to listeners familiar with last year’s Old Dog Demos and the other collections of early-draft recordings that DeMarco has released as stopgaps between his albums proper. But there’s nothing rough or tentative about the performances here. For one thing, his singing has never been more expressive. On “Preoccupied” and “Heart To Heart”, he shifts back and forth from a lazy murmur to a sultrier croon with a new-found finesse. The spare setting also gives new prominence to the emotional vulnerability that he’d previously preferred to obscure, as well as the thornier feelings that he used to only hint at or hide inside wisecracks.

Longings for home fill many of the songs, as befits the wandering-cowboy motif. Out on the range, our hero contends with a deepening darkness. On “Nobody”, he calls himself “another creature who’s lost its vision”. The good cheer in the ragtag-singalong “Baby Bye Bye” belies the bitter edge in the lyrics: “Another night you don’t sleep at all/You lay awake waiting for her call/But it never comes and it never will”. An equally fraught successor to This Old Dog’s poignant “Moonlight On The River”, “Skyless Moon” charts a loss of hope and time spent too carelessly. “No-one wants you singing along,” DeMarco sings before making a high lonesome sound of his own.

Since the mood sometimes threatens to grow too heavy, listeners may feel supremely grateful for digressions that might’ve seemed self-indulgent if they weren’t so crucial for the balance of elements and emotions here. In other words, Here Comes The Cowboy needs the big lovey-dovey burst of “K” just as much as it needs the nutty levity of “Choo Choo”. Another dose of loping, whacked-out funk, “The Cattleman’s Prayer” provides the silliest of codas. “Yee-haw!” cries DeMarco before unleashing a series of cackles and 
a closing, “Get along, li’l doggie!” It’s a fitting final flourish for an artist who’s unafraid to seem ridiculous if it gets him to where he wants to go. The result is an album that’s braver, weirder and richer than most of his more sensible and brand-conscious peers could ever manage.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

Watch a video for Bruce Springsteen’s new song, “Tucson Train”

0

Bruce Springsteen has released a video for “Tucson Train”, the latest song to be taken from his new album Western Stars, due out June 14.

Watch it below:

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

The video was directed by Thom Zimny, who also helmed the Springsteen On Broadway Netflix special and The Ties That Bind documentary on the making of The River. The video features many of the musicians who appear on Western Stars.

The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.