|VA — Uncut; The Best of 2017 (15 Nov 2017)|
VA — Uncut; The Best of 2017 (15 Nov 2017)Uncut: the past, present and future of great music.
Location: London, UK
Album release: 15 Nov 2017
Format: CD, Compilation
Record Label: Uncut
Overall additional information
Publisher: Time Inc.
01. Hurray for the Riff Raff — Living in the City 3:20
02. Juana Molina — Cosoco 4:57
03. LCD Soundsystem — Oh Baby 5:48
04. Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society — Sideways Fall (Edit) 5:14
05. The Weather Station — Kept It All To Myself 3:11
06. St Vincent — Masseduction 3:19
07. Ty Segall — Break A Guitar 3:40
08. Joan Shelley — If The Storms Never Came 2:59
09. Father John Misty — When The God Of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell To Pay 4:05
10. Chuck Johnson — Riga Black 6:40
11. Slowdive — Star Roving 5:40
12. Richard Dawson — Weaver 5:58
13. Gas — Narkopop 1 4:52
14. The War On Drugs — Pain 5:30
15. Julie Byrne — Sleepwalker 4:22
★★ Mastered at — Sound Performance
★★ Compiled by — Tom Pinnock
★★ Mastered by — Andrew Thompson
★★ Producer — Mick Meikleham
★★ Cover mount CD included with the January 2018 (“Take 248”) issue of Uncut magazine.
★★ Magazine front cover displays — Free CD!
★★ Catalogue number UNCUT 2018 01 appears on the back of the sleeve. No timings are shown on CD or sleeve.
★★ Released in a printed card sleeve.
■ A somewhat less aggressive take on electronic music than Sleaford Mods, Narkopop and Brian Eno’s Reflections were the key ambient albums of 2017. Wolfgang Vogt’s return to his feted Gas project for the first time in 17 years was not always an easy listen, however, its looming clouds of orchestrated noise often more unnerving than meditative. One to file alongside the Tim Hecker albums feted so passionately by Uncut in recent years. ■
■ If anyone found Segall’s 2016 album, Emotional Mugger, something of a Devo infatuated misstep, the garage rock maven’s second self~titled album was a reassuring retrenchment, of sorts. As with 2012’s Slaughterhouse, the vibe often suggested The Beatles turning up on Sub Pop in the late ‘80s, though an expanded, virtuosic band (including Emmett “Cairo Gang” Kelly and Ryley Walker/Mark Kozelek sideman, Ben Boye) also pushed affairs towards the odd jazz~tinged freakout. ■
■ The uncanny, looping music of Argentine Molina has long been a discreet pleasure for the lucky few who’ve stumbled upon it. Her seventh album, however, found her uprooted from her lush Buenos Aires garden to an Arizona studio, and in the process gathering a little more of the acclaim she’s deserved for years. Imagine a Tropicalia take on Animal Collective at their most electronically adjusted, and you’re close to the distinct and shimmering effect of Halo. ■
JOSHUA ABRAMS & NATURAL INFORMATION SOCIETY
■ A new label dedicated to ambitious music on the jazz/post~rock/global interface, Tak:til this year gave a belated UK release to one of Uncut’s favourite 2016 albums, by 75 Dollar Bill. They were joined by this Chicago ensemble, who drew on the city’s rich tradition of free and inventive music to create trancey, ecstatic pieces anchored by Abrams’ work on the guimbri — a three stringed lute used in gnawa rituals — in lieu of a bass. ■
Not Even Happiness
■ An exceptional year for female singer~songwriters began in January with the release of Byrne’s second album, a document of solo travel — years when she “crossed the country and carried no key” — that eventually brought this unadorned talent back to her childhood home in Buffalo, upstate New York. Like many of her contemporaries in this list, Byrne specialised in a kind of spectral folk music untethered from tradition; comparisons with Angel Olsen, even Joni Mitchell, were keen, and apt. ■
FATHER JOHN MISTY
■ The title, perhaps, was a joke. But as with so much of Josh Tillman’s work, the lines between satire and heartfelt confession were constantly shifting on this third album in his FJM guise. No other 2017 artist proved so divisive, as Tillman’s determined perversities flourished in the mainstream. Still, even the detractors had to admire his craftsmanship, and how his epic barbed narratives could be accommodated as gorgeous piano ballads that recalled peak Elton and Nilsson. ■
■ Shoegazing had become a ridiculed genre at the time of Slowdive’s split in 1995, but two subsequent decades have given this most ethereal of indie subsets a deserved cultural cachet. Like My Bloody Valentine’s mbv in 2013, the Reading band’s reunion album was the perfect articulation of that gauzy aesthetic; so much so, in fact, that the effects~laden washes of sound came together into what might well have been the best work of their entire career. ■
HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF
■ If Alynda Segarra had spent much of her adult life on the run, first as a train~hopping hobo and then as a righteous folk singer in New Orleans, her sixth HFTRR album represented a return to her roots; amidst the Puerto Rican community in New York. Traces of Dylan and The Band still remained, joined now by echoes of Latin music, Patti Smith and (on the showstopping “Pa’lante”) Nina Simone, but the identity behind The Navigator’s politically~charged, vividly~realised song cycle was proudly that of Segarra; a singular talent, finally being given a platform. ■
■ It’s testimony to her singleminded vision that Annie Clark’s journey, from indie guitar shredder on the Polyphonic Spree/Sufjan scene to international artpop superstar, has seemed so logical. Her fifth album was a full~force sensory assault, a seemingly arch fantasia of high~concept sound that positioned her as this decade’s most plausible new Bowie. Just beneath the brilliant surface, though, was Clark’s most personal work; a reflection on lost love that gave an already multi~dimensional work even greater layers of import and meaning. ■
■ Newcastle~On~Tyne’s Dawson is a genuine maverick; an avant~garde denizen, schooled in Captain Beefheart and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who now makes highly individual but communally rousing folk music, of a kind. Peasant was his best and most accessible album yet — remarkable, perhaps, given it being a study of various medieval archetypes and myths; Herald”, “Ogre”, “Prostitute” etc. A magic realist bard essaying his own, surreal Canterbury Tales. ■
■ Jeff Tweedy released his own spare, acoustic set in 2017 (Together At Last), but it was another one that he produced in Wilco’s Chicago Loft that became one of the year’s best. Shelley, from Louisville, was blessed with a voice of clarity and emotional maturity (think Linda Thompson), fine guitar skills, an adept sparring partner (Nathan Salsburg, also on acoustic) and a songwriting style that was graceful, unfussy and profoundly moving. Her fourth, and best, album. ■
THE WEATHER STATION
The Weather Station
PARADISE OF BACHELORS
■ Not unlike Joan Shelley, Toronto’s Tamara Lindeman deftly moved her career as The Weather Station into a new phase this year, with an emphatically self~titled fourth album (Nathan Salsburg contributed again, fleetingly). Lindeman, though, artfully transcended her folk background, rocking out a little without ever losing intimacy and focus, or detracting from the precision and valence of the exceptional poetry with which she stocked her songs. ■
THE WAR ON DRUGS
A Deeper Understanding
■ An agonisingly close call for Adam Granduciel, who just missed becoming the third artist (after Dylan and The Flaming Lips) to score two Uncut Albums Of The Year. ■ Granduciel and co’s sequel to Lost In The Dream further refined their formula, meticulously layering the motorik rhythms, antique synths and imperishable signifiers of heartland rock into a hugely rewarding whole. Granduciel gave the impression that he had almost worried his major label to death; A Deeper Understanding made explicit how all the effort was, in the end, entirely worthwhile. ■
■ When LCD Soundsystem’s second album, Sound Of Silver, was anointed as Uncut Album Of The Year a decade ago, the accompanying citation concluded, “An essential record for anyone with a great record collection, a faintly messy past, and a desire to grow old, if not quite gracefully, then at least with the strength to laugh at their own flaws.” Ten years on, and ten years older, much of this still seems salient to James Murphy and his remarkable band. But in the interim, LCD Soundsystem became mainstream stars, ostentatiously retired at Madison Square Garden, and then reformed — many thought cynically — for a lucrative summer or two on the festival circuit. Another masterpiece was not widely assumed to be on the cards.
■ American Dream, though, turned out to be precisely that. It found Murphy fully invested with the business of being middle~aged, even witness to the deaths of heroes who became associates; Bowie, who tapped Murphy to produce Black Star, was memorialised on the closing “Black Screen”. “We’re hitting a very difficult age for the people that invented the music that means the most to me,” Murphy told Uncut. “And they’re not being replaced.” There was still humour on American Dream, and a reluctance to give up the partying — and the snarking (cf “Tonite”, “Emotional Haircut”, “Other Voices”). But it was also a denser, heavier album: haunted by mortality; augmenting the usual shameless nods to Bowie and Talking Heads with gothic allusions to The Cure and Joy Division. There was, too, retribution, in the shape of a staggering and vicious exorcism of an old friendship, “How Do You Sleep?”
■ And above it all, it felt as if LCD Soundsystem were asserting themselves self~confidently as an authentically great band, one whose mastery of the rock and dance canon meant that they weren’t just studying their heroes, they were also learning from their own early albums. “The old guys are frightened and frightening to behold,” Murphy declaimed in “Call The Police”. In 2017, in many ways, it seemed as if they had the last laugh. ■
Uncut: the past, present and future of great music.
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|VA — Uncut; The Best of 2017 (15 Nov 2017)|