As ever at this time of year, I’ve spent more hours than are necessarily healthy these past few weeks fumbling with a spreadsheet in order to rank the Uncut writers’ Albums Of The Year. The results of this year’s poll can be found in our new issue, which is out in the UK on Thursday, though subscribers should see their copies in the next day or so, with a prevailing wind.
Forty-four contributors voted this time round, for 421 different new releases and 191 reissues. That’s a lot of good records, and it’s heartening to see the range and quality of new music still being made in our world; rock, once again, is not exactly the spent force the naysayers claim it to be. It’s been fun, too, to discover a few albums which had previously eluded me these past 12 months, like Chuck Johnson’s “Balsams”, a set of ambient meditations for pedal-steel guitar that helped us through a few hairy moments in the production process this month.
I’m not going to reveal much about the chart here, or the results of our polls for best archive releases and best movies. But if there’s one striking fact about our completed 2017 chart of new releases, it’s that half of the Top 30 albums were made by women. Three of the Top Ten figure prominently in these pages – Hurray For The Riff Raff, St Vincent and The Weather Station – alongside Mavis Staples (discussing the making of The Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There”), and the mastermind behind our Album Of The Month, Björk.
What else? Stephen Deusner takes a long and deep trip into the world of Bruce Springsteen, and learns the sobering news that, “At this stage in your life, you give up your dreams of immortality.” Jaan Uhelszki goes back up Laurel Canyon to look back on a momentous year with Father John Misty, and hears some tantalising bits of his next album (he also sends me “a special hello”, which is sweet). LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy reveals some valuable parenting tips – how not to remove a baby’s arm with a “machete on a hinge” seems key.
There’s a farewell salute to Fats Domino, a sneak preview of the new Nico movie, an amazing My Life In Music with Richard Dawson (his recommendation of Eliane Radigue’s “Songs Of Milarepa” has been a huge discovery for me), the great Joshua Abrams, plus reviews of Wilco, Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Noel Gallagher, Jim James, Hans Chew and dozens more. Oh, and our free CD corrals 15 of the year’s best tracks and features Hurray For The Riff Raff, Juana Molina, LCD Soundsystem, Josh Abrams & Natural Information Society, The Weather Station, St Vincent, Ty Segall, Joan Shelley, Father John Misty, Chuck Johnson, Slowdive, Richard Dawson, Gas, The War On Drugs and Julie Byrne. Not sure we’ve ever put out a stronger CD, in all honesty.
Let us know your thoughts, once you’ve had a look at the issue. We’re especially keen to hear about your personal favourites of the year, so drop us a line at email@example.com – I’m sure we’ve probably missed something…