Cutting To The Chase With “Uncut”
Uncut came along as a more postmodern younger brother to Mojo‘s starry-eyed ’60s fetishism, so it makes sense that its album of the year honors go not to Fleet Foxes, which places second, but an album whose sonic coordinates date a little later: Portishead’s Third. Of course, the mag’s already awarded a “best album” prize (decided by a panel of mag folk and biz insiders) to Seattle’s scruff-folk darlings. But since 2002 or so, Uncut has flown the Americana flag even harder than its competing Britmags, so this victory is at least a little surprising, even if the list proper isn’t: The Top 5 is as concentrated an ur-template for lists to come as any.
THE GOOD: Portishead–good choice. And hey, I like the Vampire Weekend and the DBT and the Hold Steady, sometimes a lot. THE BAD: It’s odd. Like most people I’ve been reading on this topic, I’ve felt 2008 to be pretty lackluster overall–until I go back and consolidate the stuff I’ve enjoyed, which is a pretty large amount. But if I wanted to attach a grand overarching narrative to the year, I’d feel pretty bad if it was the one suggested by this Uncut list. So much of it is stuff I’m basically indifferent to: TVOTR, Nick Cave, Goldfrapp, Weller, Hot Chip, MMJ, even that Malkmus record I never listen to. I’m not mad at these acts, but there’s not a tremendous amount of impulsive pleasure to be had from this list. It’s very boys-and-their-statements. I have a lot of room for that, lord knows, but it’s also harder to hear it as something new, and while I realize that as a nostalgia-driven mag Uncut doesn’t need to be about anything new, I wish their selections had a little more give to them. As it is, they feel in aggregate like polished woodcuts rather than living, breathing things. THE WHAAAA?: Does Paul Weller (No. 10) have incriminating photos of most of the British rock press? Just wondering. And isn’t it kind of universal that Goldfrapp’s album (No. 17) was a giant disappointment? Oh wait, I forgot, this is the one where she started dressing all freak-folk, isn’t it? Grrrreat.
1. Third – Portishead 2. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes 3. Dear Science – TV On The Radio 4. For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver 5. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend 6. The Seldom Seen Kid – Elbow 7. Stainless Style – Neon Neon 8. Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 9. Only By The Night – Kings Of Leon 10 22 Dreams – Paul Weller 11. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark – Drive-by Truckers 12. Stay Positive – The Hold Steady 13. Litany of Echoes – James Blackshaw 14. Harps and Angels – Randy Newman 15. Made In The Dark – Hot Chip 16. Limbo, Panto – Wild Beasts 17. Seventh Tree – Goldfrapp 18. Real Emotional Trash – Stephen Malkmus 19. Rook – Shearwater 20. Evil Urges – My Morning Jacket