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Exclusive CD curated by The National free with the latest issue of Uncut

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The National have exclusively curated a free CD with the new issue of Uncut – which is in shops now and also available to buy online.

The 15 track collection brings together songs by close friends and collaborators. Among them are Sharon Van Etten, Bon Iver, The Breeders, This Is The Kit and Cat Power.

“The National became a big group of collaborators a long time ago,” frontman Matt Berninger tels us. “Carin [wife] has been writing lyrics with The National for 12 years. Kyle [Resnick] and Ben [Lanz] play live with us. There’s Padma Newsome, Thomas Barlett, Lais Hannigan, Justin Vernon, Sharon Van Etten…”

The tracklisting is:

LANZ – ‘Auckland’ [feat. James McAlister]
THIS IS THE KIT – ‘Bashed Out
DEERHUNTER – ‘Plains
THOMAS BARTLETT & NICO MUHLY – ‘Dominic
SHARON VAN ETTEN – ‘Give Out
KHRUANGBIN – ‘Lady And Man
BON IVER – ‘8 (circle)
THE BREEDERS – ‘Walking With A Killer
LISA HANNIGAN – ‘Snow
STILL CORNERS – ‘Submarine
BIG THIEF – ‘UFOF
PADMA NEWSOME – ‘Cloud Theory
MOSES SUMNEY – ‘Don’t Bother Calling
CAT POWER – ‘Horizon
BRYCE DESSNER / SO PERCUSSION – ‘Music For Wood And Strings: Section 1

The issue also includes an exclusive interview with the band where they discuss their ambitious new album, I Am Easy To Find. We travel to the band’s remote HQ in the Hudson Valley to discover a band trying to redefine themselves, 20 years into their career. There are unexpected collaborations, “blurry ideas”, a sympathetic filmmaker, sibling “alchemy” and radical reinvention. “Five guys talking about their problems? I got tired of that long ago,” says Matt Berninger.

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

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Kevin Morby – Oh My God

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

Late in 2016, Kevin Morby released the standalone single “Beautiful Strangers”, an emotional response to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police officers. At one point the usually verbose Morby is almost lost for words, and simply repeats the phrase “Oh my god”. He found audiences responded to this with naked, exhausted despair and so took it for the foundation for his fifth solo album, Oh My God. This draws on the emotional tone of “Beautiful Strangers” – or in the case of “Oh My God” and “OMG Rock N Roll”, references it directly – and then constructs a fuller version around that core idea, one that foregrounds Morby’s vocals and uses different musical texture but otherwise retains his spiralling sense of rhythm and pulsating melody.

Religious references have always been part of Morby’s arsenal, often used as secular shorthand – metaphors or words and phrases that act as punctuation. Oh My God extends this symbolism with numerous references to gods, lords, prayers, souls, angels and locusts, songs titled “No Halo”, “Seven Devils” and “Hail Mary”, and a sense of heaven and hell. The music reinforces the theme, with Morby drawing on gospel and spiritual music, using a harp on the devotional “Piss River” or a distorted guitar on “Seven Devils” that resounds like seven trumpets from the Book Of Revelations. Most frequently he employs a choir, who provide a celestial top coat to “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild”, “Savannah”, “OMG Rock N Roll” and others. Morby isn’t engaging in spiritual discussion as much as using the grammar and vocabulary of church to convey atmosphere. On the glorious drifting love song “Piss River” he even references this lack of godliness: “I tried to pray, but I didn’t know what to say/So I just mumbled some names and hope they are OK”.

Much of Oh My God takes place in the air, above the clouds, towards heaven. While Morby’s two previous albums, Singing Saw and City Music, were distinguished by a sense of place, on Oh My God that’s absent. Instead he’s absorbed by the dislocating sensation of air travel, something that he’s experienced regularly since the breakthrough success of Singing Saw. The opening title track, “Oh My God”, is intended to directly evoke the experience of flight – pre-flight tension, exhilarating climb, levelling out above a carpet of clouds – and subsequent songs reflect that heightened, almost feverish state of mind during flight, as time and place become distorted. That comes together on the ghostly closer, “O Behold”, with Morby singing about “horns from my head, wings from my shoulder” and planes on fire as, serenaded by that heavenly choir, he heads towards oblivion, salvation or maybe just passport and immigration.

During recording sessions, Morby and his regular producer, Sam Cohen, wrestled with the challenge of making Oh My God sound like something other than Singing Saw II and settled on a musical template that’s more stripped back than previous albums. There’s still a lot of instrumentation, but it is more concentrated around single songs – so “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild” uses organ and congas, “Savannah” uses choir and organ, and “No Halo” is 90 per cent hand claps. The guitar, previously a staple of Morby’s work, is downplayed, with the focus switching to Morby’s vocal, whether his customary amplified whisper or an occasional more urgent tone. That makes the infrequent splurge of guitar – whether by Morby on “Hail Mary”, Cohen’s startling Brian May impression on “Congratulations” or Meg Duffy’s wild turn on “Seven Devils” – all the more effective.

As with Singing Saw and City Music, a lot of time and thought has gone into ensuring Oh My God holds together. Lyrical themes are repeated, explored and teased out. The religious/aeronautical concepts are consistent without being overbearing, and the musical and lyrical aspects are beautifully integrated. And if all this sounds a little stultifying, there’s also humour, often in the form of musical jokes. Morby has a habit of introducing an idea or concept in his lyrics that is then echoed by the music – on “Savannah”, for example, he sings, “I let my silence becomes the conversation”, and then follows it with a bar of silence. It’s something he does regularly in a variety of ways, offering a sort of punchline or reward to the listener as well as a curtain-lifting reminder that he is operating within his own narrative framework. It’s yet another detail to admire in the way this conscientious, thoughtful songwriter strives to convey a wider sense of atmosphere as he constructs his latest self-enclosed universe of song.

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

David Bowie – Spying Through A Keyhole/Clareville Grove Demos

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Though the end of his professional life was spectacularly well managed, the start of David Bowie’s career was – as we’ve lately been reminded by the Finding Fame documentary – rather less orderly. Given his continuing run of flop singles, and a misunderstood, poorly timed debut album, David Jones didn’t become David Bowie the moment he changed his name in 1966. So when does the David Bowie we know and love really start?

As early as 1973, his record companies struggled with this same question: trying gamely to reconcile the eyebrowless glam rock of his present with the characterful but variable recordings of his recent past, Deram’s World Of David Bowie (a collection of singles and offcuts) updated its 1970 cover to reflect its maker’s messianic reinvention. Both 1969’s David Bowie and 1970’s The Man Who Sold The World likewise received big-booted, Ziggy-appropriate upgrades. The former was renamed after its hit single, becoming Space Oddity.

Fifty years on from that song’s release in July 1969, this pair of charming 7-inch boxsets underline much the same point, that “Space Oddity” represents the singer’s first major breakthrough. The first box, Spying Through A Keyhole, presents the song both as a fragment and in a developing version performed with guitarist John “Hutch” Hutchinson. The second box, Clareville Grove Demos (named after Bowie’s 1968 address in Kensington, where he lived with Hermione Farthingale at No 22), begins with the feedbacky, near-complete demo version you may have heard on the now-deleted 40th-anniversary edition of the 1969 album. It ends with a morse code SOS, a meaningful plea for help. Who will hear him and come to his aid?

Comprising demos from 1968-9, when he had been dropped by Deram, these two sets find Bowie observing greatness through a telescope, but yet actually to touch down on its surface. Spying… in particular shows Bowie almost pointedly earthbound, as was Ray Davies in the same period: relishing the everyday. Davies manqué was one of the modes Bowie employed on his debut, and a bleak “London Boys”-style documentary detail is still the order of the day in the previously unknown songs here.

It’s all about the kitchen for Bowie in 1967-8, and he leaves you in no doubt which is the most important meal of the day. “Mother Grey”, whose son has left home, wonders while wiping a picture frame, “how breakfast will ever be the same”. The Dylanesque “Love All Around” references the kitchen door. The contemporary song “When I’m Five” (not included here, though one hopes it might possibly emerge later, in which Bowie skilfully inhabits the voice of a child) makes narrative capital out of a dropped piece of toast.

Sonically and creatively, these demos reflect their domestic environment, the realm of the historically valuable rather than the mind-blowing. In our Bowie tourism industry everyone’s pretty much agreed on the main attractions, but there are some lesser-praised delights, as here, under-reviewed by TripAdvisor. Twelve-string demos of “London Bye Ta Ta” (adapted later as “Threepenny Pierrot” for Lindsay Kemp’s Pierrot In Turquoise) and “In The Heat Of The Morning” both show how Bowie could locate a strong melody over very weird chords, but it’s not as if you can hear him inching towards his breakthrough. It’s just not there, then suddenly it is.

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If, however, we follow “Space Oddity” down one of its more obvious metaphorical avenues and suggest that it’s about creative escape, there are some signs of life to be spotted in Bowie’s demo universe. In “Threepenny Joe”, the singer and his girl – in a Beatles/Barretty mode – attend a sideshow performance by the titular Joe, only to discover that his performance has some unsettling properties. In the two versions of “Angel Angel Grubby Face” on here, the escape is more literal: from the confines of “Factory Street” to the countryside, a specific “13 miles” away (from 22 Clareville Grove to Beckenham is about 11).

The second version is downbeat, underlining that this is still a Ray Davies kind of tale and that escape is only offered on a day return basis. When the excerpt of “Space Oddity” appears at the end of this side, it really does feel like a giant leap for Bowiekind. It must have felt like a huge relief. Adrift from a label, with other interests on the go, Bowie was in danger of slipping through rock’n’roll’s cracks. A promotional film bankrolled by his manager, Ken Pitt, attempted to package together Bowie’s songs and his interest in mime with (as we discovered on its release two decades later) jaunty and eccentric results. Musically, though, his proposition was unstable. A promising producer, Tony Visconti, was now in his circle, but his performance-art trio Feathers had lately lost one of its members, Bowie’s girlfriend Hermione Farthingale.

Now, with the folk pop of Simon & Garfunkel as his inspiration, he embraced the possibilities of the duo, performing with ex-Buzz, now Feathers man John Hutchinson. Resourceful Bowie fans have heard some fruits of this collaboration before in unofficial guises like ‘The Revox Tape’, ‘Sussex University 11/2/69’, ‘Publisher Demos’ and so on. If all those and the present release all come from the same place, it’s curious that the likes of “Letter To Hermione” and “When I’m Five” aren’t included, but for the moment – with mighty impressive audio restoration by Andy Walter at Abbey Road – we can hear excerpted highlights from that tape.

By now (likely late January–early February 1969), “Space Oddity” is nearly there, the logic problems in the lyrics (“I think my term on Earth is nearly through”? Needs work: not actually on Earth, but in spacecraft!!!) all fixed, and an arrangement pretty well sorted, Hutch playing Ground Control to Bowie’s Major Tom. “Lover To The Dawn” alights on a lovely melody, which will later form the basis of “Cygnet Committee”, Bowie’s sideways look at the counterculture. Here it personifies night and day as on-again, off-again lovers (“Don’t throw your heart at the clouded moon…”).

Bowie and Hutch are beautifully in sync throughout. They can do robust folk-club strutting like the weird and curdled fairy story “Ching A Ling” (retained from the repertoire of Turquoise, a pre-Feathers trio) or “Let Me Sleep Beside You”. Getting more ethereal, they elevate Roger Bunn’s composition “Life Is A Circus” into something beyond its rather corny lyric (“Life is a circus/It’s notta fair/Life is a hard road/When you’re not there…”). Harmonies simply don’t come much closer than those the pair achieve on “An Occasional Dream”, which looks back on a lost love. If it’s about Hermione, then it will have been written when the loss was still raw.

As the pre-publicity advises us, in audio terms these are not the finished work. But in a way that’s a fitting kind of Bowie experience: work in progress by an artist who was himself always in progress. Duly, on a couple of quiet occasions on the Spying… set, it’s possible to discern some faint, sped-up voices in the background on the tape. It’s tempting to think of them as the ghosts of the Laughing Gnome, but they’re simply the traces of other fleeting moments, created and rejected, as Bowie headed inexorably towards his countdown.

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Steve Albini on Page & Plant, Nirvana and how to make a great dill mayonnaise

The new Uncut goes on sale from this Thursday – April 18 – but you can buy a copy online now by clicking here.

With news of a new Shellac release coming, I thought I’d post my Audience With… Steve Albini interview from October 2014. He was lots of fun, as I remember. Went very deep on the mechanics of baseball, if memory serves; but some very good gear on Page & Plant, Nirvana, fighting, Hobnobs and his recipe for dill sauce.

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It’s 10am on a Tuesday morning and Steve Albini has just arrived at the offices of Electrical Audio, the two-studio recording facility in Chicago, Illinois that he founded in 1997. Over the past few decades, Albini has overseen the creation of hundreds of records – among them, legendary albums by the Pixies, Nirvana, Page & Plant, PJ Harvey and the Stooges. Today, however, he politely rebuffs enquiries about his current clients. “I am very discreet, because there are people who will form opinions on bands based on their association with me.”
Of course, Albini is man of many skills, and not all of them lie behind the desk. As singer and guitarist, he has been a mainstay of the American independent scene from his earliest days in Big Black through Rapeman and now Shellac. In fact, this month, Shellac release Dude Incredible, their first album since 2007. Why the long wait? “We mastered it either end of June or beginning of July 2013 and since then we’ve been working on the cover,” he explains. “Trying to get monkeys printed on paper turns out is really difficult. I could totally understand it if we were trying to print wood nymphs on aluminium or something but we’re not. We’re trying to print monkeys on paper. But apparently it’s a new procedure so it’s literally taken that long to get a fucking cover printed. If you see the cover, and you’re familiar with the printing arts, you might understand what some of the technical problems were. But it still seems preposterous that it was so hard. But in the end we’re happy it’s monkeys on paper. We’re fine with it.”
And with that, it’s into to the Uncut mailbag…

What’s your walk-up song?
Kim Deal
I’m going to say “Master Of Sparks” by ZZ Top because the riff in that is unstoppable. The thing that makes baseball much better than other games is because it’s structurally unique. Virtually all other games can be reduced to a pretty simple formula: you’ve got one team in possession of a ball and you’re trying to put that ball in a goal and the other team trying to prevent the movement of that ball or trying to steal the ball to put it in the goal. That’s basically all other team sports and they’re all fucking stupid. I mean, they all run on a fucking clock for a start. There’s a clock, really? That’s a part of your game? Is some kind of bell going to go off and you lose? That seems fucking ridiculous to me. In baseball, the ball doesn’t do anything except control the behaviour of the players; the players do all the scoring. The defence team is in possession of the ball and in control of the ball, that’s the only team where that’s true. It’s got some formal similarities to cricket in that regard but cricket, I feel like there is a crippled quality to it. You’ve only got two bases. But I’m a baseball fan and baseball is clearly the superior game.

Have you ever been in a fist fight?
Kelley Deal
When I was an adolescent, I was in a couple of actual fights. I really detest violence and its practice. I don’t respect or admire fighting, wrestling, boxing, MMA – things like that. I can appreciate the effort and the conditioning and the tactical elements of it but it still boils down to physically trying to incapacitate another person. Children and animals fight, I don’t think there’s anything to be respected about fighting. I feel like watching fighting as entertainment is fucking barbaric, I don’t care if it’s chickens or dogs or people. Seeing people execute violence on each other as a pastime or as a sport is revolting to me.

Could you remind me of the recipe for the famous Electrical Audio ‘Fluffy Coffee’? We’ve been trying to recreate it and never seem to get it right.
David Gedge
It’s a pretty simple procedure. You have an espresso machine. You grind espresso grade coffee very fine and mix one portafilter worth of espresso coffee with about a quarter teaspoon of finely ground cinnamon. Don’t just sprinkle the cinnamon on the coffee; you have to mix it in with the coffee. If you sprinkle it across the top of the coffee it congeals it into a matte and prevents the water from percolating through the portafilter. Tap that mix down and that’s now prepared to make a shot of cinnamon-infused espresso. Before you make the shot of cinnamon infused espresso, put a tablespoon or more of maple syrup in the bottom of a pint class and half or three quarters fill that pint glass with whole milk. Then, using the steaming wand on your espresso machine, steam that milk and froth it so that it fills the pint glass to the top with foam. You now have a pint glass full of maple syrup infused milk with foam on the top of it. The foam is also infused with maple syrup and that stabilises the foam and makes it tasty like a marshmallow. Now you pull the shot of espresso from the espresso machine that you have charged with your coffee and cinnamon and dump it in one motion into the pint glass filled with foamy, hot milk. That is a traditional hot fluffy coffee. I’m convinced that if I had have come up with the fluffy coffee before we bothered building the studio, I wouldn’t have needed to build it. I’d just have little van of some place that makes these and I’d fucking print money.

Ask Steve what prostaglandins are.
David Yow, The Jesus Lizard
He probably doesn’t mean the actual definition, which he could find on the internet. He wants me to make something up, so I’m going to say that’s the resultant stock made by boiling socks and/or underwear to kill lice and nits.

How many Hobnobs do you eat a day?
Stuart Braithwaite, Mogwai
There was a period where I was making a lot of records in England and I was in the company of English people and Scottish people in particular and I would go through a packet of Hobnobs a day. Hobnobs with hot tea, it might very well be the prefect food. Instead of looking for a thing to sustain mankind on the intergalactic journey to another planet, they just want one food that they can feed generations while the spaceship is travelling to a new home planet. Hobnobs and hot tea, absolutely no questions you could survive on that.

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Who would you like to work with before you die?
Sean Parker, Chester
I’ve been a lifelong fan of Crazy Horse and I admire Neil Young in many ways. But primarily, I appreciate his skills as a guitar player and the way he takes my most uncomfortable thoughts and makes them concrete using pure sound. I think I could do a good job with one of his records. But he’s a very particular guy, he lies to do things in a very particular way and I can’t blame him for it because the results have been spectacular. Lifetime and long-term, he’s got an unbelievable batting average. All of my favourite music has been made by people whose general perspective has been to do it their way with a disregard for the audience and I can only admire that. Neil Young – top of the list and then Willie Nelson, unbelievable musician – always surrounds himself with really interesting players, he puts himself in really awkward situations. I think Dolly Parton is an underrated songwriter and musician and I think it would be great to work on her.

PJ Harvey says you make a great dill sauce. What’s your secret?
Rose, Brighton
She’s probably talking about a dill mayonnaise I was making for a while. There’s no secret, it’s a classic. You emulsify an egg yolk. I use olive oil because I like strongly flavoured mayonnaise but you could use sunflower oil or rapeseed oil if you wanted a more neutral flavour. You emulsify an egg yolk with oil and some acid. I typically use either vinegar or some lemon juice but you could also use something tart or sour to offset the oiliness. A little bit of salt, black pepper, white pepper, Cayenne pepper, something like that to make it a little spicy and then a load of fresh chopped dill. Use just the fronds and chop it as fine as possible. You could also use dill seed if you want a more uniform texture. You could powder the dill seed in a mortar and pestle and then use that. But I can of like that little speckly, yellow, aioli-looking stuff with the green flecks of dill. I think that’s pretty nice. It’s a great universal sauce.

I once saw on eBay a Shellac-branded weight loss/belt massager machine from the 1940s or 1950s. Someone had won it from you in a competition. What qualities does a machine have to have to be worthy of the Shellac brand?
Ivy, London
All the items that were made into Shellac items for that competition, they were all just things that were physically appealing and were simple technologies that we thought had not been appreciated. There was a beauty parlour-sit-down-hair-drying machine. Obviously, they were terribly inefficient but kind of beautiful and outmoded. There was a vacuum tube tester that was aesthetically gorgeous, and it had really beautiful arrangement of controls The exercise belt? The idea behind it was that it would do the moving for you so that you wouldn’t have to exert yourself and exercise. Completely pointless and couldn’t possibly be of any value. But, beautiful and funny to watch. We inserted little golden tickets into a number of our albums – I think it was 10. The tickets were printed by a friend of ours as a sort of certificate and they were called Shellac Dollars. If you got a Shellac Dollar in your record you could return it with your address to receive one of these prizes. We tried to make it so that the prizes were substantial.

Why do you think the guitar belt – as opposed to the strap – hasn’t taken off in popularity?
Tim Bugbee
It is slightly awkward to put the guitar around your waist if you’ve never done it before. I really like the freedom of mobility I have with the guitar bound to me like that. I feel like my arms aren’t encumbered, I haven’t got a weight around my neck. I have a lot to recommend it. A friend of mine, Marissa Paternoster from the punk band Screaming Females in Brunswick, New Jersey, had debilitating neck, back and shoulder pain so she wanted my advice about wearing a guitar around her waist. She found a company making special harnesses for guitars. The only drawback to that is that it requires you to put a strap button on the lower bout of your guitar. That is the bit under where you’re hand goes when you’re shredding and she modified her guitar to have that thing for it and now she’s happy as a clam. So there are other around-the-waist guitar set-ups. The thing that I like about my guitar strap arrangement is that it just uses a conventional guitar strap, you don’t have to have anything special.

The original sleeve for Big Black’s Headache is one of the nastiest record covers ever. What was your reasoning behind that?
Glenn Burke, Appleby
A number of things. Partly as a visual pun. Partly because there aren’t that many images you can look at where you can identify with the image. You instantly imagine how that could happen to you. A major component of Big Black’s aesthetic was this idea that we are all susceptible and vulnerable to dark thoughts or aberrant behaviour. We are all vulnerable to situations beyond our control, you’re not special, you’re not safe and you’re not better than all these other people. You look at a picture of another person and they’re totally traumatised like that and you can’t help but picture yourself or someone you know in that situation and instantly you feel weakened by it. I’m deducing all this after the fact because we certainly didn’t have this conversation when we did it. We just saw the picture and we were like “Wow! We should use that picture!” Everybody in the band was like “Yeah, you’re right that would be perfect.”

Were there any bands you really wanted to get on the bill but couldn’t, when you’ve curated various All Tomorrow’s Parties events?
Cheri Dickens, Edinburgh
My biggest disappointment was Bill Withers. We have a backdoor contact for him. We made some enquiries but he just wasn’t interested in performing. There was a documentary on his current life called Still Bill that was made four or five years ago. It’s really enlightening. If I had seen that documentary before approaching him about performing on All Tomorrow’s Parties, I don’t know if I would have approached him. Because it’s clear from this documentary that he’s quite content making music for himself on a very personal scale and he’s not interested in being part of the public eye anymore. I feel like, in a way, being ignorant of that was my fault. It was a big disappointment at the time.

How did Plant and Page approach you to record Walking Into Clarksdale?
Robert Dawes, Chorlton
I literally got a phone call from Robert Plant. It was pretty incredible. You’re talking about people who are responsible for a half-dozen of the best records ever made and who have shaped the idiom of my lifetime and those people called me on the phone to talk about working on their record. I mean there isn’t an English word for how I felt, it was enormously flattering. Going into it, I knew it was kind of an impossible challenge to satisfy their core audience and make a record that they wanted to make. I would do another record with Page and Plant in a heartbeat. They were totally professional with me. It was clear that they were in charge of everything, but it was also clear that they appreciated the effort that everybody was making on their behalf. I was impressed with how collaborative Robert Page and Jimmy Plant were, bearing in mind that there was a previously existing power structure where it was Jimmy Page’s band and Robert was hired to be the singer and in the interim, Robert Plant had gone on to become a very successful solo artist and now should be able to call the shots in a lot of situations. Jimmy Page was differential to him in that regard. A very similar experience for me was when I got to work on a record by The Stooges. I feel very lucky in that I have literally had my wildest dreams come true a couple of times.

Are you still a fan of proto-punkers Third World War?
Philip Delahunte, London
What an incredibly underrated band. They were radical, Communist, they were openly advocating overthrow the crown which is technically treasonous. Really rough, confrontational singing, really skeletal, stripped down music, biting guitar sounds. If their music had got more attention, I would be really surprised if they didn’t get legitimate police attention because of their subject matter. The best thing about Third World War is probably that after they made the first album Third World War, they decided they were going to make another album and they may have decided to make another album for no other reason than to name it Third World War Two and that would’ve been a perfectly valid decision. That is without question, the greatest album title of all time.

How did it feel to revisit In Utero for the 20th anniversary?
Sean McCarthy
At the time, there was a political problem between the band and the label. In the end, the record as it was released was accompanied by a rather unpleasant attempt by the record label to blame me for its failure which is a really bizarre perspective from a record label saying “This is a new record from a hit band. We hope you love it, if you don’t it’s Steve Albini’s fault.” It was an unpleasant six months for me and I almost went broke during that period. So there was a bit of bad taste in my mouth regarding that record when it was released. I tried not to personalise that towards the band, and it was great to reconnect with Krist down the road and realise we were still friendly and cordial and we can still work together. It was gratifying that the people responsible for that reissue were willing to let them go the distance for quality and by that I mean we had the original masters for the original LP sessions and I suggested that we do the vinyl reissue as double twelve inch and that we cut it direct into metal at Abbey Road and they signed off on all of that. I said I was happy to oversee the mastering and they signed off on that as well. So I got to see the production aspect of the reissue version of the original mix through to the very end. That was very satisfying and in the end I don’t know how to make a record better than that.

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Listen to Kurt Vile cover The Rolling Stones

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Kurt Vile has released a cover of the Stones’ “No Expectations“, as well as a new version of “Loading Zones” taken from his 2018 album, Bottle It In.

The two come as part of a duo of new songs for a Spotify Singles session. You can listen to the songs here:

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Vile’s last single, “Timing Is Everything (And I’m Falling Behind)” was released earlier this year (January 25).

Bottle It In featured guest contributions from the likes of Kim Gordon, Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and Cass McCombs.

Vile will be playing a number of UK and European festivals this year including All Points East, Primavera and Glastonbury.

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Doves to reissue first three albums on limited edition coloured vinyl

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Doves reissue their first three albums as numbered limited edition, two-disc, coloured vinyl packages.

Lost Souls, The Last Broadcast and Some Cities will all be released on May 31, 2019 through USM / Virgin EMI.

They will appear as:

Lost Souls – 2 x LP Grey Vinyl, Limited Edition, 180gram
The Last Broadcast – 2 x LP Orange Vinyl, Limited Edition, 180gram
Some Cities – 2 x LP White Vinyl, Limited Edition, 180gram

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Each version with accompanying free download. You can pre-order by clicking here.

The band’s upcoming tour dates are as follows:

Sun 26 May: Bearded Theory Festival, Derbyshire
Fri 7 June: Heaton Park, Manchester (with Noel Gallagher)
Sat 8 June: Galvanizers Yard, Glasgow
Sun 16 June: Malahide Castle, Dublin (with Noel Gallagher)
Tue 16 July: Summer Series at Somerset House, London
Sun 21 July: Tramlines, Hillsborough Park, Sheffield
Fri 26 July: Brighton Racecourse
Sat 27 July: Kendal Calling, Lowther, Cumbria
Sun 28 July: Inner City Live, Perry Park, Birmingham
Fri 23 August: Victorious Festival, Portsmouth

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The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Bill Evans – Evans In England

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On December 1, 1969, the Bill Evans Trio began a month-long season at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. They followed Thelonious Monk, who had been in residence for three weeks with his quartet. That’s how it was in the days when jazz clubs with a capacity of a couple of hundred could host world-famous artists for several weeks at time.

It was a system that allowed groups to take advantage of stable working conditions, developing their music together without the worries involved in packing up and moving on to a new venue every day. The same piano, the same acoustics, even the same hotel and the same food for an extended period: a lot of musicians will tell you that they wish such arrangements were on offer today. After all, jazz might have sounded very different without Evans’ run at the Village Vanguard in 1961, when he, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian took the opportunity to redesign the internal mechanism of the basic piano trio.

LaFaro was dead and Motian had moved on by the time Evans arrived in the last month of the decade at a Soho club where he always felt comfortable. His position in the jazz firmament was well established, after a rise that began in 1959 when Miles Davis hired him to set the mood for Kind Of Blue. His ability to infuse the techniques of modern jazz piano – specifically the drive of the young Horace Silver and the adventurousness of Lennie Tristano – with the harmonic voicings of Chopin and Debussy could be said to have introduced jazz to impressionism.

Now he was accompanied by Eddie Gomez on double bass and Marty Morell on drums; neither would become game-changers in the manner of their predecessors, but they were certainly up to the job. Meanwhile their leader was in the throes of a long-term heroin addiction that shocked some of his associates but never got in the way of his music. Like other jazz musicians of his generation, he was allowing his hair to grow, but his style remained essentially conservative in sound and appearance.

By 1969, as these newly discovered tapes show, his approach had solidified: the trio’s repertoire consisted of a number of carefully arranged standards, from which he extracted the last drop of lyricism while draining away any hint of sentimentality, plus a handful of his own compositions, a few of which sounded like standards as soon as he wrote them, and a sprinkling of originals from other jazz composers. The blues was seldom a part of the trio’s programme, at least in its explicit form.

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Melody Maker had sent one of its older writers, Laurie Henshaw, to review the opening night, and he had not found it much to his taste. “More sensate than emotive,” was how he described Evans’ approach. “He bends intently over the keyboard pulling close clusters of chords, weaving complex harmonic patterns than can surely be most totally appreciated by the musically literate.”

Even then it was hard to agree, and of course it would be impossible now: there is nothing forbidding about a single bar of the music heard in this recording. (But then the same writer’s review of Monk three weeks earlier – “His relentless unpredictable hammering reminds one of a schizophrenic piano teacher on some strange jazz trip” – prompted one of his MM colleagues to remark that he had just set jazz criticism back 50 years.)

Henshaw also noted that, on the night he attended, one table of punters had to be shushed by their neighbours at regular intervals. That was not unusual at Scott’s, which had become a destination for expense-account businessmen who had no intention of letting the music get in the way of their banter. Such interruptions are entirely absent here, although a police siren can just be heard behind the exposed intro to “Re: Person I Knew”.

The tapes, apparently dating from the last week of the season, were made by a fan with a seat at a front table, using a high-quality portable machine and single microphone, without the knowledge of the musicians or the club; eventually they found their way into the collection of a friend of Evans, who decided, almost 40 years after the pianist’s death, that they should be heard. The sound quality of the instruments is bright and clean, and the balance is better than one would expect from a club recording of the time. It’s rather poignant to hear Scott himself coming on the microphone at the end of a short but exquisite reading of “Goodbye”, the Gordon Jenkins ballad, to encourage applause for the musicians.

By this time Evans’ music had lost the freshness of the original trio; despite their youthful enthusiasm and technical brilliance, Gomez and Morell were providing a certain type of blueprinted accompaniment rather than engaging in a fully participatory creative conversation. But when you hear the pianist uncoil the short preface to “Stella By Starlight”, set the scene for “So What” with a spray of upper-register notes like drops of ice-water, reconfigure a snatch of the melody to lead into “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life”, or spin the most refined blues phrases over “Our Love Is Here To Stay”, reservations tend to evaporate.

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The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Shellac announce new Peel Sessions album

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Shellac have announced details of a new double album featuring two previously unreleased sessions for John Peel.

Titled The End Of Radio, Pitchfork reports that the album is released on June 14 via Touch & Go. The sessions were recorded at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios in 1994 and 2004.

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The tracklisting for The End Of Radio is:

Spoke
Canada
Crow
Disgrace
Ghosts
The End of Radio
Canada
Paco
Steady As She Goes
Billiard Player Song
Dog And Pony Show
Il Porno Star

Shellac’s last album, Dude Incredible, was released in 2014. Last year, Steve Albini won $105,629 and a gold bracelet at the 2018 World Series Of Poker in Las Vegas, after seeing off 310 other players at Seven Card Stud.

“I am ecstatic that a player as mediocre as me can outlast all of these better players and end up with a bracelet,” said Albini. “There’s still hope for everybody!”

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The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Police log books from The Beatles’ first American visit go on display

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Police log books for officers who protected The Beatles on their first visit to America have been unveiled.

The records list the names of the officers who guarded the band in New York as they prepared to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 and their show at Carnegie Hall.

At the latter, the logs state that there was an incident where an officer was “knocked off balance” and injured outside the Plaza Hotel while “attempting to restrain the surging crowd”.

NYPD officer Patrick Cassidy, who discovered the logs while searching in police records, told the BBC: “The Ed Sullivan Theatre is in the confines of my precinct, so one day in 2013, I went into the storage area that holds these books.

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“After 50 years, they clean out and destroy them, so I looked up February ’64 and found the book, which would have been destroyed the following year.”

The Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which marked their US TV debut, was watched by a then record 73 million people at the time.

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The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Joanna Newsom extends String/Keys Incident tour

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Joanna Newsom has added more dates to her String/Keys Incident tour.

The tour will feature “rare and intimate performances by Joanna alone: solo voice, harp and piano.” The tour, which begins in Philadelphia in September, runs through until October, where it ends in Milwaukee. As yet, she has not announced any European dates.

It will be the first time Newsom has toured in three years, suggesting that a follow-up to 2015’s Divers album is imminent.

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Pitchfork reports that the new dates are additional shows in each of the cities she’s visiting.

September
6 Philadelphia Kimmel Center
7 Philadelphia Kimmel Center
9 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
10 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
11 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
12 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
13 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
14 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
15 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio

October
7 Chicago Thalia Hall
8 Chicago Thalia Hall
9 Chicago Thalia Hall
10 Chicago Thalia Hall
12 Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Center
13 Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Center

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Uncut – June 2019

Pink Floyd, Scott Walker, The National and Bob Dylan all feature in the new issue of Uncut, in shops from April 18 and available to buy from our online store.

The Floyd are on the cover, and inside, Nick Mason and others tell the full story of the group’s extraordinary transitional years, from the departure of Syd Barrett right up to the stellar Meddle.

Along the way there are German hippies, an inflatable octopus, “emotional chaos” and a band firing at their experimental creative peak. “We just thought, ‘What can we do next?'” says Mason. “‘Oh, that might be interesting…'”

Uncut heads to upstate New York to meet The National and hear all about their new album, I Am Easy To Find. “Five guys talking about their problems?” says singer Matt Berninger. “I got tired of that long ago.”

The issue also includes an exclusive free CD curated by The National, featuring 15 excellent tracks from their closest collaborators and favourite musicians.

We pay tribute to Scott Walker, the reluctant pop star who became a singular, uncompromising visionary, and those who worked with him remember the man and the artist: “There are hard lessons for any artist to learn from the way he worked and lived his life. It was total commitment.”

Forty-seven years late, Aretha Franklin‘s stunning Amazing Grace film finally hits cinema screens, and we talk to those involved to discover just how it was created.

Primal Scream, meanwhile, recall the recording of their “Dixie-Narco” EP in Memphis, and discuss raccoon attacks, free tattoos and exactly which member caused a scandal at Graceland…

Elsewhere in the issue, Peter Perrett answers your questions in our An Audience With piece, while Dylan Carlson of Earth reveals eight of his favourite records.

Uncut also investigates Bob Dylan‘s Rolling Thunder Revue, unearthing tall tales from the insiders on doppelgangers, Beat poets and mystery shamens.

Cate Le Bon takes us through her stunning work album by album, while we look at the mysteries and contradictions of JJ Cale, the songwriter who inspired so many yet shunned the spotlight.

Our Instant Karma front section includes The Seeds, Maxine Peake as Nico, and Dinosaur Jr‘s Camp Fuzz rock school, and introduces Sunwatchers.

In our expansive reviews section, we take a look at new albums from Mac DeMarco, Mavis Staples, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, Morrissey and Vampire Weekend, and archival releases from Popol Vuh, Judy Collins, Venom, Pete Seeger and Johann Johannsson; we catch live gigs from Roy Harper and Africa Express, and TV, films and DVDs including Dragged Across Concrete and Vox Lux.

The new Uncut is out on April 18.

Inside the new Uncut: Pink Floyd, Scott Walker, Bob Dylan and our free 15-track CD curated by The National!

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The new Uncut is in shops – and you can buy a copy online now by clicking here.

If I was looking for a thread that somehow connected all the artists featured in this new issue, it would be the quest for transformation. For Scott Walker – whose life is celebrated at length by Graeme Thomson – it was a career-long quest to evolve and challenge himself and his audience as he followed his path away from the mainstream and flourished entirely on his own terms. For our cover stars, it is the fertile transitional period when The Pink Floyd became Pink Floyd. Tom Pinnock discovers a band reconfiguring themselves and their creative aesthetic following the departure of Syd Barrett – via a run of bold, experimental records that are, I think, among their best.

For The National, meanwhile, it is the manner in which they conduct themselves, as they continue to move from celebrated cult favourites to serious mainstream contenders. And then there is Bob Dylan – that guy again! – for whom, you could argue, his entire career has been one long act of perpetual transmogrification. Here, Peter Watts speaks to many of the key musicians who joined the Rolling Thunder Revue – another typical career-swerve for Dylan, who in the wake of Blood On The Tracks was at a point where he could pack out arenas but chose, instead, a more spirited and picaresque option.

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Then there is JJ Cale, a man who in many ways resisted transformation – he liked what he did and he did what he liked – but nonetheless his quietly radical way of going about his business proved to be transformative to others – not least the likes of Eric Clapton, as Graeme Thomson learns.

By now, you’ll have hopefully noticed that this month’s CD has been curated exclusively for us by The National. The National have long been at the centre of a unique musical nexus, and our 15-track ‘friends and family’ CD explicitly reinforces those far-reaching creative relationships. You can hear music from Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten, This Is The Kit, Deerhunter, Lisa Hannigan, Thomas Bartlett & Nico Mulhy, Big Thief, Cat Power, The Breeders among many others.

There’s a ton more in the issue, of course – Primal Scream, Cate Le Bon, Mac DeMarco, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Dinosaur Jr… As ever, we hope you’ll find plenty that’s to your liking.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Hear new Beck single, “Saw Lightning”

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Beck has released a new single, “Saw Lighting“.

The track – taken from his forthcoming album, Hyperspace – is written and produced by Beck and Pharrell Williams. An accompanying video, directed by Grammy Award-winning filmmaker Hiro Murai, is part of a Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Pro campaign.

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The credits for the song are:

Drums, Keyboards and Mumbles performed by Pharrell Williams
Vocals, Slide Guitar, Piano and Harmonica performed by Beck Hansen

Beck has already had a busy start to the year, releasing “Tarantula” from Music Inspired by Roma, “Super Cool” (featuring Robyn & The Lonely Island) from The LEGO Movie 2, and most recently his appearance on Cage The Elephant’s “Night Running“.

Hyperspace will be Beck’s 14th album, following 2017’s Colors.

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The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

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‘‘Show me where it hurts,” Natalie Mering whispers at the end of “A Lot’s Gonna Change”, the opening track on Weyes Blood’s gigantic fourth LP. An extraordinary exercise in baroque postmodernism, Titanic Rising repurposes familiar elements – the ’70s radio pop of Wings and Abba, the Brit art rock of Fripp and Eno, the well-thumbed pages of the American Songbook – to tell a thoroughly modern story of what happens when everything you grew up believing in goes bad. Needless to say, it hurts all over.

The front cover of her first release for Sub Pop captures the 30-year-old in a drowned approximation of a childhood bedroom, a welcoming, comforting space where something has clearly gone terribly, terribly wrong. Macro disguised as micro, on the surface Titanic Rising is a record about romantic disappointment, the struggle to find a true connection; sink further, and it’s also a meditation on damaged reality, poisoned dreams and finding hope. The Judee Sill of the Netflix age, Mering sums up her quest on the transcendental “Something To Believe”, catching the peak of a Demis Roussos-sized crescendo with a plea to discover “something bigger and louder than the voices in me”. Spoiler alert: she almost does.

Mering’s path to these lush musical uplands has been an unusual one. Born in California, she was raised in Pennsylvania in a born-again Christian family, with an unusual past. Her father, Sumner, made a slightly racy rock LP for Elektra in 1980 before moving away from the dark side (her mother, Pamela, and older brother Zak – aka Raw Thrills – are both recording artists too). As Mering grew up, she lost her faith, filling the gap left by God – and crappy mid-2000s pop – with freak folk and extreme noise as she immersed herself in Philadelphia’s underground scene. She was playing vaguely acoustic music as Weyes Bluhd (name bowdlerised from Flannery O’Connor’s 1952 novel) when she was still a teenager, as well as dabbling with power electronics. In an age where running away to join the circus was no longer an option, it was an impressive statement of independence.

She later linked up with Portland noise-hounds Jackie-O Motherfucker, and ended up putting out CD-Rs of her own experimental songs, which eventually morphed into a low-budget debut LP in 2011 and – after a spell working with lo-fi superstar Ariel Pink – a series of increasingly sophisticated, imploded folk records for Mexican Summer. Her most recent, 2016’s Front Row Seat To Earth, was terrific. Titanic Rising, though, is something else; tightly structured, lavishly orchestrated, brilliantly realised.

It begins back in that bedroom. Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” live from Davy Jones’ locker, “A Lot’s Gonna Change” finds Mering longing to “go back to a time when I was just a girl, when I had the world gently wrapped around me, and no good thing could be taken away”. What follows is a gentle, sad message to her younger self, simultaneously encouraging her to aim high and warning her that the years ahead might just be a bit of a disappointment. “You’ll learn to get by”, she purrs; not exactly a ringing endorsement of tomorrow’s world.

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Generation Y, though, have had it worse than most, childhoods moulded by CGI, Photoshop and Auto-Tune preparing them woefully for an adult life of insecure employment, Brexit, dick pics, Donald Trump and global warming. On “Andromeda” – its backing track seemingly derived from a chewed-up cassingle of Coolio’s 1995 hit “Gangster’s Paradise” – Mering characterises her quest for true love in a #MEFIRST world as an intergalactic impossibility: settle for a cold corner of someone else’s reality or give up.

It’s a theme she returns to on the cheerily desperate “Everyday”. A piece of Mamas And Papas whimsy that transforms into a rocket-powered refraction of The Chiffons’ “Sweet Talkin’ Guy”, Mering’s portrait of modern dating makes no secret of her slightly shameful yearning for a partner (“I’m so scared of being alone/It’s true, it’s true”). However, she finds that anxiety jamming her radar as she tries to find her “keeper”. Everyone, she senses, is putting on the same brave face, and to make matters worse, a man she talks to at a party reckons that monogamy is a thing of the past too. With the zeitgeist continually moving, how can anyone hope to get it right? “Heart cannot see”, Mering sings, hitting an ecstatic high in the song’s rhapsodic finale. “My love is blind”.

Faced with the treacherous terrain of human interaction, Mering yearns for the kinds of certainties that her childhood religion once offered. On the subtly gigantic “Something To Believe”, she does her best Judy Garland (or at least the Rufus Wainwright version of Judy Garland) as she surveys the spiritual vacuum that a loveless and godless world has bequeathed her. “When fire leaves a girl too burned to try”, she sings, half-crushed, but it was not God alone that set Mering up for a fall.

On the moody “Movies”, she drifts into reverie as she remembers the films that mapped out what she once felt the future might be like (The Wizard Of Oz and Titanic were among her favourites, she tells Uncut). “The meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen,” she gasps, five-star fiction having made real life look like box-office poison. “I wanna be in my own movie.”
Unfortunately, she is not the only one who does. A moody slab of AM synth-pop haunted by the ghost of King Crimson, “Mirror Forever” is a portrait of a toxic relationship, Mering describing being overwhelmed in a folie à deux. Her gloomy trudge is interrupted by a moment of clarity. “Oh baby, take a look in the mirror”, she repeats, a plea to her demonic partner to dare to see themselves as they truly are.

It’s a big ask. The lush “Wild Times” – Roxy Music’s “Avalon” playing on the deck of the Lusitania – is a maddening jumble of scraps, the physical and the metaphysical. However, Mering stumbles on the words she was looking for halfway through: “Everyone’s broken now and no one knows just how we could have all gotten so far from truth”.

In such circumstances, anyone sensible would abandon hope. However, for all the faith Mering has lost, she has not given up her belief in humanity’s ability to self-right. “Picture Me Better” is the final meaningful act on Titanic Rising (“Nearer To Thee”, like the title track, is a little instrumental blur). A deliciously nebulous soft-shoe shuffle – does that title translate as “understand me more clearly” or “imagine me fixed”? – it finds Mering recalling a relationship that’s already looking better for being over. Her voice is sonorous but sweet throughout Titanic Rising, like Nico on an up day, but she excels herself as she picks out her closing message to the cosmos: “Waiting for the call from beyond, waiting for something with meaning to come through soon.”

God, aliens and Steven Spielberg may not be racing to her rescue, but Titanic Rising is beyond pleading for intervention. For the waterlogged and the infantilised, the answer is as old as The Who’s Tommy: smash the mirror – get free. Despite all painful evidence to the contrary, Mering seems adamant that happiness remains only a small leap of the imagination away. In an imperfect, crumbling universe, Titanic Rising emerges as a subtle but irresistible call to action. Rise up, rise up.

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The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Neil Young announces new book, To Feel The Music

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Neil Young has a new book coming out. To Feel The Music: A Songwriter’s Mission to Save High-Quality Audio will be published in the UK on September 26, 2019 by BenBella Books.

The book is co-written by Phil Baker, a technology journalist and author, reports Thrasher’s Wheat. According to the publishers, To Feel The Music “is the true story of Neil’s quest to bring high-quality audio back to music lovers.

You can read more about Young in this month’s Uncut – where we celebrate 50 years of Young’s creative partnership with Crazy Horse.

“Neil’s efforts to bring quality audio to his fans garnered media attention when his Kickstarter campaign for his Pono player—a revolutionary music player that would combine the highest quality possible with the portability, simplicity and affordability modern listeners crave—became the third-most successful Kickstarter campaign in the website’s history. It had raised more than $6M in pledges in 40 days. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response, Neil still had a long road ahead, and his Pono music player would not have the commercial success he’d imagined. But he remained committed to his mission, and faced with the rise of streaming services that used even lower quality audio, he was determined to rise to the challenge.

“But this is also a business story of what’s involved in starting a company from scratch as well as developing, manufacturing and marketing the product. It takes the reader through the ups and downs and difficulties in turning an idea into a reality. Reminiscent of the classic ‘Soul Of A New Machine’, the book explains the formation and workings of a small team of engineers trying to build a product to literally save music.

“An eye-opening read for all fans of Neil Young, fans of great music, as well as readers interesting in going behind the scenes of a startup company and the product development process, To Feel the Music has an inspiring story at its heart: One determined artist with a groundbreaking vision and the absolute refusal to give up, despite setbacks, naysayers, and skeptics.”

The book is available to pre-order from Amazon by clicking here. The book is published in the US on September 10.

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To Feel The Music: A Songwriter’s Mission to Save High-Quality Audio is Young’s third book, after Waging Heavy Peace in 2012 and Special Deluxe in 2014.

Young recently announced he was going back in the studio with Crazy Horse, to record their first album in seven years.

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The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Bob Dylan surprises staff at Dublin record shop

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Bob Dylan has sent the signed copy of his 1997 album Time Out Of Mind to a Dublin branch of Tower Records.

The store, based on Dawson St in the city, received the unexpected gift just ahead of Record Store Day, reports RTE, the Irish broadcaster.

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The album arrived on Friday, April 12 and was signed, “To Tower Records Dublin, thanks for still selling records! – Bob Dylan.”

Dylan is currently on tour in Europe. He is scheduled to play two shows at Vienna‘s Konzerthaus on April 16 and 17, then on through Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark before he co-headlines with Neil Young at London’s Hyde Park on July 12 and Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park on July 14. Dylan’s full set of upcoming tour dates can be found here.

You can read more about Bob Dylan in the next issue of Uncut – more details to be revealed tomorrow, April 16.

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Watch Bruce Springsteen’s surprise performance at New York benefit

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Bruce Springsteen made his first live performance of 2019 on Saturday, April 13.

This surprise appearance took place at the annual Kristen Ann Carr Fund benefit which took place at New York’s Tribeca Grill, reports Variety.

Springsteen performed with photographer Danny Clinch and his Tangiers Blues Band. They played “Rockin’ Pneumonia And Boogie Woogie Flu” and “Down The Road Apiece”.

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The event, A Night To Remember, raises money and awareness in the charity’s fight against sarcoma. It was named after the late daughter of Springsteen’s co-manager Barbara Carr. You can find out more about the charity by clicking here.

The show marked Springsteen’s first public performance since Springsteen On Broadway finished its run on December 15. You can read our interview with Springsteen’s co-manager Jon Landau and director Thom Zimny about the Broadway show here.

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The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

New Order – Movement: The 
Definitive Edition

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We weren’t pop and we weren’t art, we were just… lucky.” So claimed drummer Stephen Morris recently, in one of 
a series of YouTube “Transmissions” from New Order teasing this expanded reissue of their debut. He was referring to the band’s eventual landing the right way up – convincing, if imperfect, bridging album in their hands – after months of tumbling in pained darkness and confusion following Ian Curtis’s death. Somehow, Morris, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook had come through it and, with the later addition of Gillian Gilbert, wrangled a whole new group identity. Not only that, they could see a future, even if its shape was indistinct.

Movement’s recording process was famously difficult: band members’ grief aside, the eccentric working methods and obnoxious behaviour of producer Martin Hannett have created a mythos layered with worn narratives that increase in potency with every passing year. But it’s no less crucial a backstory for that. Nearly 40 years on, Movement compels as a document of the metamorphosis from Joy Division minus the singer to something else, captured in reel time. This boxset – more particularly the original album, plus an 18-track disc of previously unreleased material – chronicles that journey in a way 2008’s modest collector’s edition could not, its marketing as the “definitive edition” sounding a faint note of relief in its finality. By now, that corner of the New Order vault must be well and truly cleaned out.

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That Joy Division’s ghost stalks Movement is hardly surprising, given that New Order had written more than half a dozen new songs just two months after Curtis’s death, one of them (“Dreams Never End”) reportedly hours after his wake: it’s present in the monochrome palette, austere instrumental and vocal lines and the vast, echoing spaces. But the way many of the songs are configured – via heavy use of drum machines, sequencers and synths – is significantly different. So, while “Truth” is as sombre as anything off Closer, strung out along a hypnotic bassline, with a bleakly disassociated vocal and featuring the mournful parp of a melodica, the somewhat messy “Senses” builds to a death-disco frenzy via an opening salvo of electronic hiss and clattering, underpinned by a furiously rolling drum pattern. And the heavily percussive “ICB”, strafed by processed ricochets, whistles and whip cracks, makes for a differently abstract drama.

Two tracks are at the opposite end of the mood spectrum. Opener “Dreams Never End” uses that instantly identifiable, six-string bass riff, clarion guitar peals and a galloping beat to suggest the exhilaration of roaring across a wide-open space charged with promise, with lyrics (“No looking back now, we’re pushing through”) it’s tempting to read as a future-positive declaration, while goth-disco closer “Denial” struggles to contain its frantic rhythmic crosscurrents and is a merry jig in comparison with the sepulchral “The Him”. It’s this push/pull between introverted, post-punk severity and the kind of confident, electronic pulsing so central to “Everything’s Gone Green” 
(the game-changer informed by the band’s contact with NY club culture, written towards the end of the sessions, but left off the album) that characterises Movement.

Morris has described the record as “just a snapshot 
of a few months of our lives”. In which case, the demos, rehearsal recordings and alternative mixes collected on this boxset’s companion disc are like annotations to that snapshot, pointing to New Order’s shifting intent and exploratory process during a uniquely transformative period. The demos are especially significant: one set recorded by the then trio in early September of 1980 at Cabaret Voltaire’s Western Works studio in Sheffield and heavily bootlegged down the decades, but officially released here for the first time; the other recorded at Rochdale’s Cargo Studios in late November and unreleased.

The five WW tracks document all three musicians testing their vocals, since no-one wanted to step into Curtis’s shoes: Morris is entirely creditable on “Truth” and (non-album track) “Ceremony”, while Hook sings “Everything’s Gone Green” and Sumner “Homage”, a peculiar, punk-Floyd number with deranged hi-hats that was dumped and never revived. Skronky, Slits-ish jam “Are You Ready For This”, meanwhile, features Stephen Mallinder and New Order manager Rob Gretton on vocals. Highlights of the Cargo tracks – all recorded live, with little or no overdubbing – are an appealingly scrappy take on “Mesh” (the B-side of “Everything…”), a leaner and more determined “Procession” and “Doubts Even Here”, 
a five-minute instrumental shorn of the final version’s cacophonous outro.

“Bonus” discs in boxsets too often feature random studio sweepings of interest only to completists, but Movement’s is as entertaining as it is instructive, allowing voyeuristic earwigging from behind the soundproofed door. All New Order members may have had to make their peace with this fresh exposure as they did with the original album, and three of them might be doing it again soon; in June, Unknown Pleasures turns 
40. If dreams never end, then neither does reevaluation.

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Shana Cleveland – Night Of The Worm Moon

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Even more than most cities, Los Angeles has a split personality. Across its vast sprawl, reality meets fantasy, strange ideas filter into the mainstream, and wild success battles broken dreams.

This photocopy of paradise has long been ripe for exploration by artists from Raymond Chandler to David Lynch, and now singer-songwriter Shana Cleveland has drawn on her peculiar experiences of LA for her second solo album. Across Night Of The Worm Moon’s 10 hushed, hypnotic tracks, the guitarist sings of a friend’s creative burn-out on the West Coast, of a mysterious light in the sky, of a place where creatures swarm into the trees and sing “for you”, and where a silent house becomes a sign of impending horror.

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Crucially, Cleveland was not born a Californian: she grew up in Michigan, the daughter of blues musicians, but found herself in Seattle a decade ago, forming surf-rock quartet La Luz. The group then moved to LA, recording Weirdo Shrine with Ty Segall, and Cleveland became fascinated by some of the local beliefs. “To me it seems like a place that encourages that sort of mysticism and open-mindedness,” she tells Uncut.

Night Of The Worm Moon isn’t her first album on her own – Oh Man, Cover The Ground was recorded in 2011 and released in 2015 – but it sees her return to solo work following Weirdo Shrine and La Luz’s Dan Auerbach-produced Floating Features (2018). Things have changed: rather than the stoned Fahey and Basho figures of her debut, there’s a hot, dusty feel to these songs, with parched synths and Olie Eshleman’s cosmic pedal steel. A stronger psychedelic vein runs through the album, too, with Cleveland picking out woozy, unexpected chords that echo Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin”. If this is desert music, it’s less a blissful peyote trip and more a hike gone wrong, with thirst and fatigue bringing on the strangest visions.

Sometimes what seems at first fantastical can be real, though: “The Fireball” finds Cleveland recalling seeing a giant comet streaking through the air, but “no-one around was looking up at the same time”. More sinister is the title track, which sounds as if it was inspired by a nightmare (à la La Luz’s “The Creature”) but was in fact brought on by the sight of a strange man hanging around outside Cleveland’s house for days on end. “I was at home alone a lot,” she says, “and my imagination just got the better of me.”

The tumbleweed lilt of “Face Of The Sun” pays tribute to an acquaintance who left the Midwest for musical success on the West Coast, only to be chewed up by the industry. “A New Song” is similarly bittersweet, a tale of domestic bliss undercut by drunken synths and the line, delivered as if from the depths of sleep, “You broke a vow we didn’t talk about, but I found out.”

Elsewhere, Cleveland delves deeper into the subconscious, with the opening “Don’t Let Me Sleep” recounting a dream where the guitarist saw her late grandmother at the side of the stage, “waiting to tell me she loves me so”. Similarly, the gorgeous “In Another Realm” can be read as a message to a loved one who’s far away, but as the song progresses, reality is muddied: is the barrier between them actually between life and death? “In another realm… I know that you won’t let me go,” she sings. “Invisible When The Sun Leaves” has a similar duality – its opening verse seems to describe cicadas, singing unseen, but the patterns Cleveland strikes in open G minor tuning suggest something much darker is on the way.

Instrumental music is clearly important to Cleveland (the album’s title is a nod to Sun Ra’s The Night Of The Purple Moon, after all), and so the flighty “Castle Milk” and the bluesier “Solar Creep” find her picking over jazzy drums and double bass. Indeed, much of Night Of The Worm Moon has a meditative, unhurried quality that’s more typically found in instrumental records such as Alice Coltrane’s Journey In Satchidananda or Brian Eno’s Another Green World. Worm Moon might be the nocturnal flipside to these, in both its content and Cleveland’s sleepy delivery, and after some deep immersion its charms fully unfold into a beautifully hazy whole.

Like all huge cities, LA can prove exhausting to live in, and “Invisible When The Sun Leaves” contains a hint of that in the haiku-like “Little house out/By some water”, as if Cleveland is seeking a respite from the sprawl. She’s escaped now, having moved up to “the middle of nowhere” in northern California’s Gold Country; but her LA experiences, dreams and nightmares all, have crystallised into this miniature masterpiece.

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

The 14th Uncut New Music Playlist Of 2019

I realise two Playlists in one week might seem a bit much – but there’s such a weight of good new music coming out right now it would remiss not to try and bring some of it together in one place. More news about one of these bands next week, by the way…

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1.
TAME IMPALA

“Borderline”
(Fiction)

2.
PANDA BEAR

“Buoys”
(Domino)

3.
CRUMB

“Nina”
(Crumb)

4.
BLACK PEACHES

“Lemonade”
(Hanging Moon)

5.
MEGA BOG

“Diary Of A Rose”
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

6.
LAURENCE PIKE

“Drum Chant”
(Leaf)

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7.
THE RACONTEURS

“Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)”
(XL)

8.
NICK LOWE

“Trombone”
(Yep Roc)

9.
ROSE CITY BAND

“Rip City”
(Audiam)

10.
JAKE XERXES FUSSELL

“The River Of St Johns”
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

11.
THE DREAM SYNDICATE

“Black Light”
(Anti-)

12.
THE NATIONAL

“Light Years”
(4AD)

Subscribe to Uncut and make huge savings on the cover price – find out by clicking here!

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.