January 2012

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Fifteen tracks from Uncut’s Albums of the Year, including Wilco, Gillian Welch, Fleet Foxes, Ry Cooder, Josh T Pearson, Low, White Denim and Metronomy

This month, we announce the winner of the 2011 Uncut Music Award, now in its fourth year. Previously, it hasn’t been the case that one album has looked a certain winner going into the final judging sessions; these have, in every instance so far in the award’s brief history, been hotbeds of argument and counter-argument, long rounds of debate and consideration. This year, however, one album looked like it would run away with the prize, showing a clean pair of heels, as they say, to the competition. If you’d have asked me in advance of the final session, I’d have predicted the shortest get-together of the judges yet, everyone packing up to go almost as soon as they’d got their coats off.

In the event, there was a late flurry of support for two other albums on the shortlist. Both were widely admired, one of them being suddenly talked about in especially glowing terms. The foregone conclusion that had seemed to be looming was thrown into doubt. Could we be in for a bit of a shock, a surprise upsetting of the odds? In the end, this wasn’t how things played out. Whatever the many and various merits of its competition, the judges were in emphatic agreement on the album they thought most deserved this year’s award, and a decision was reached without undue argument or rancour… There’s a full report and pictures of the 2011 Uncut Music Award in this month’s magazine and a chance to read the judges’ deliberations online.

This being the issue in which we bid farewell to 2011, we also present our annual review of the past 12 months, which as usual includes our Top 50 Albums Of The Year, as well as the best reissues, films, DVDs and books, as voted by the Uncut staff and contributors. For the record, as it were, my own Top 10 albums were The Strange Boys’ Live Music,The War On Drugs’ Slave Ambient, Josh T Pearson’s Last Of The Country Gentleman,

Gillian Welch’s The Harrow & The Harvest, Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues, Paul Simon’s So Beautiful Or So What, Jonathan Wilson’s Gentle Spirit, Tom Waits’ Bad As Me, The Decemberists’ The King Is Dead and Kurt Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo. Honourable mentions should go, also, to albums by Okkervil River, Dave Alvin, AA Bondy, PJ Harvey, Bon Iver, Richmond Fontaine, EMA, The Felice Brothers, Dawes, White Denim, Drive-By Truckers, Low, Ryan Adams, Anna Calvi and Ry Cooder. As ever, let me know at the usual address what you make of our Top 50 and what your own favourite albums of the year were.

Finally, you may want to take advantage of a handsome seasonal offer and take out a subscription to Uncut. To save up to 43% on a subscription to Uncut this Christmas, pay just £7.99 by quarterly Direct Debit and never miss an issue. Please visit www.magazinesdirect.com/i2gl or phone 0844 848 0848 and quote code BGL1.