Wilco, Pretenders, Sparklehorse, Jaimie Branch, PG Six and more: welcome to this month’s free Uncut CD

Your guide to the month's best new music

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All copies of the October issue of Uncut magazine come with a free, 12-track CD – Now Playing – that showcases the wealth of great new music on offer this month, from returning heroes such as Wilco, the Handsome Family and the Pretenders to PG Six, Jaimie Branch and Luluc. The full albums are all covered in our reviews section and many of them include Q&As with the artists shedding light on the recording, their creative process and, in one case, staying in the house where Neil Young wrote After The Gold Rush. There’s rock, weird folk, country, jazz, electronics and more – best to just stick the CD on and immerse yourself.


Here, then, is your guide to Now Playing

1 The Handsome Family
Two Black Shoes

Brett and Rennie Sparks’ new record, Hollow, their 11th LP and first since 2016’s Unseen, is another excellent staging post on the journey of this most reliably gothic duo. The tempo is slow, the guitars glitter, strange things are happening in the background and the tale is dark – business as usual, then, in the best way.

2 Pretenders
A Love

Chrissie Hynde is on fine form on Relentless, perhaps the best Pretenders album for a few decades or so. She’s taking stock, looking back at the past and regrets and mistakes, but still with a fire raging inside. It’s no surprise that she’s worked with Johnny Marr – most recently at this year’s Glastonbury – as “A Love” glimmers with a Smiths-y college-rock jangle. The lead review is on page 22.


3 Wilco

Cousin is Wilco’s ‘art-pop’ album side-lined by last year’s rootsier Cruel Country, but it’s well worth the wait. Cate Le Bon produces and brings a dry, crisp experimentalism to these 10 songs, at once classic and adventurous, as shown by “Evicted”’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot chug. The album is reviewed on page 24.

4 Luluc
The Sky

Brooklyn-based Australians Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett have crafted another fantastic record of dreamy, restrained folk-pop with Diamonds – comparisons with Low are inevitable, but they do neither outfit a disservice. Check out “The Sky”’s beguiling drift while you read our chat with the band on page 31.

5 Devendra Banhart

The second track on this month’s CD produced by Cate Le Bon, “Twin” is a welcome introduction to Banhart’s new album, Flying Wig, his first in four years. Carrying on his move away from mystical folk begun with 2016’s Ape In Pink Marble, the Banhart of today croons over synth drones, drum machines and chorused electric guitars. It suits him. Check out our conversation with DB on page 25.

6 Teenage Fanclub
Tired Of Being Alone

Two years on from Endless Arcade – their shortest time away since the ’90s – the Fannies are back with the 10-track Nothing Lasts Forever. We know what to expect by now, and the group don’t deviate from their signature style, but that doesn’t make their work any less potent, as this Raymond McGinley track shows.

7 Slowdive
Skin In The Game

Everything Is Alive is our Album Of The Month, a triumphant return for this group who were forgotten and derided in the ’90s as grunge and Britpop conquered the land. Today they’re big around the world, beloved by a new generation, and they’re facing the future with electronic, Cure-esque gems such as this. Check out the four-page review and Q&A on page 18.

8 PG Six
I Don’t Want To Be Free

Patrick Gubler has been making music as PG Six for a while now, but Murmurs & Whispers is his first to concentrate so deeply on the Celtic harp. There’s a folk influence, of course, but as is Gubler’s métier, there’s much more going on here. When “I Don’t Want To Be Free” blossoms into jazz saxophone and field recordings of the ocean, that’s undeniable.

9 Jaimie Branch
Bolinko Bass

A modern jazz master, Branch passed away last year aged just 39. Now her final album, Fly Or Die Fly Or Die Fly Or Die ((World War)), is coming out, and it’s a fitting farewell. More traditional, acoustic and groove-based than the work of some of her contemporaries, it also shines a light on Branch’s rapidly developing voice and compositions. Read more on page 30.

10 Sparklehorse
Listening To The Higsons

This cover of Robyn Hitchcock’s 1981 track appears on Bird Machine, a posthumous record which Mark Linkous was working on when he died in 2010. Thanks to his copious notes and tape archive, his brother and sister-in-law have been able to complete the set, and it’s our Archive Album Of The Month on page 38.

11 Buddy & Julie Miller
Don’t Make Her Cry

A co-write with a certain Bob Dylan, this is a highlight of the Millers’ latest album, In The Throes, a stately, deep slice of country-folk. “What’s done in the dark comes to the light,” sings Buddy Miller, “so stay out of the shadows and do what’s right.” It’s our Americana Album Of The Month on page 28.

12 Allison Russell
Stay Right Here

Russell is known for her folky Americana, as on 2021 debut Outside Child, but she has broad horizons and a healthy disregard for genre. For this track from her new album The Returner – the title a reference to Joni Mitchell’s second act – she pours her defiance and passion into a soulful disco groove punctuated by flashes of strings. It’s reviewed on page 27.



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