tue 12/12/2017

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Gaspard Royant - Wishing You a Merry Christmas

Kieron Tyler

French stylist Gaspard Royant has recorded at London’s garage-rock-central studio Toe Rag and been produced by Edwyn Collins. Both fit a worldview which encompasses collaborating with Eli Paperboy Reed, who crops up here on “Christmas Time Again”, a cover of Reuben Anderson’s wonderful, soulful 1966 ska single. Drawing a line between garage rock, Sixties urban R&B and soul with dashes of blues and nods to Lee Hazlewood, Royant is a Gallic cousin to Richard Hawley. Unsurprisingly, his first...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Pentangle

Kieron Tyler

A nineteen-minute adaptation of “Jack Orion” took up the whole of Side Two of Cruel Sister, Pentangle’s fourth album. It's the highlight of the smart but blandly titled 115-track box set The Albums 1968–1972. Up to this point in 1970, British folk rock had not spawned anything comparable to the epic “Jack Orion”.

CD: Cheap Trick - Christmas Christmas

Guy Oddy

It’s been a busy year for veteran power poppers Cheap Trick. Christmas Christmas is their second album in six months, after June’s We’re All Alright...

Robert Plant, Royal Albert Hall review - the...

Ralph Moore

“Back in the Sixties, before I was born…” Robert Plant has always been as amusing a raconteur as he is a deft weaver of different musical styles, and...

CD: Tom Chaplin – Twelve Tales of Christmas

Barney Harsent

It’s easy to be cynical about Christmas pop albums. This is, of course, because so many of them are awful, hastily cobbled together collections of...

CD: Sia - Everyday Is Christmas

Thomas H Green

Well-made and enjoyable hokum from a giant of contemporary pop

CD: Christmas with Elvis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Liz Thomson

The ghost of Presley past

theartsdesk on Vinyl 34: Trent Reznor, Shpongle, Roni Size, Willie Nelson and more

Thomas H Green

The widest-ranging record reviews on this or any other planet

Tom Russell, 100 Club review - tales from a time-honoured troubadour

Liz Thomson

Bridging the great divide

CD: Alexander Armstrong - In a Winter Light

Russ Coffey

Mr Pimms O'Clock invites us in for some festive cheer

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Rolling Stones

Kieron Tyler

Aural makeover diminishes ‘On Air’, a significant collection of Jagger and Co’s Sixties BBC sessions

CD: Erlend Apneseth Trio - Åra

Kieron Tyler

Terrific recontextualisation of Norway’s Hardanger Fiddle

CD: Godflesh - Post Self

Guy Oddy

Industrial metal-heads’ eighth bring new sounds to their sonic Armageddon

CD: U2 - Songs of Experience

Barney Harsent

The Irish rockers return, but this time you'll have to pay to play…

CD: Kaukolampi - 1

Kieron Tyler

Heady first solo album from Finnish musical mainstay

CD: Scanner - Fibolae

Thomas H Green

Elegiac work from an electronic explorer who's been quiet for almost a decade

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Jam

Kieron Tyler

Warts-and-all box set dedicated to Rick Buckler, Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller’s 1977

CD: Björk - Utopia

Katie Colombus

Nature and classicism collide in a profoundly forward-thinking compendium of hope

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Nick Mulvey

Thomas H Green

The singer-songwriter opens up about ayahuasca, Ram Dass, the Standing Rock protests, the nature of death, and much more

Jools Holland and José Feliciano, Royal Albert Hall review - giving the audience what they expect

Sebastian Scotney

The live show stays close to the spirit of a 25-year TV phenomenon

CD: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Visitor

Liz Thomson

Neil Young plays his Trump card

CD: Martin Hayes Quartet - The Blue Room

Tim Cumming

Irish tunes revel in new chamber music settings

CD: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built The Moon

Russ Coffey

The ex-Oasis man spreads his wings

CD: Dark They Were And Golden Eyed - Design Your Dreams

Joe Muggs

Underground polymath Trevor Jackson pushes his self-releasing to preposterous levels

Reissue CDs Weekly: Phil Seymour

Kieron Tyler

Illuminating yet frustrating best-of dedicated to the ‘Prince of Power Pop’

CD: Mavis Staples - If All I Was Was Black

Liz Thomson

At 78, the queen of R&B marches on

Depeche Mode, Manchester Arena review - synth-pop gurus raise the spirits of thousands

Javi Fedrick

Eighties icons storm through a set that’s equal parts prettiness, darkness and pomp

Robert Glasper, Barbican review - emotional fellowship and creative interconnections

Peter Quinn

The Grammy winner and guests cast a warm glow over jazz fest

CD: Paloma Faith - The Architect

Thomas H Green

More orchestral OTT drama from Britain's queen of theatrical pop

Footnote: a brief history of new music in Britain

New music has swung fruitfully between US and UK influences for half a century. The British charts began in 1952, initially populated by crooners and light jazz. American rock'n'roll livened things up, followed by British imitators such as Lonnie Donegan and Cliff Richard. However, it wasn't until The Beatles combined rock'n'roll's energy with folk melodies and Motown sweetness that British pop found a modern identity outside light entertainment. The Rolling Stones, amping up US blues, weren't far behind, with The Who and The Kinks also adding a unique Englishness. In the mid-Sixties the drugs hit - LSD sent pop looking for meaning. Pastoral psychedelia bloomed. Such utopianism couldn't last and prog rock alongside Led Zeppelin's steroid riffing defined the early Seventies. Those who wanted it less blokey turned to glam, from T Rex to androgynous alien David Bowie.

sex_pistolsA sea change arrived with punk and its totemic band, The Sex Pistols, a reaction to pop's blandness and much else. Punk encouraged inventiveness and imagination on the cheap but, while reggae made inroads, the most notable beneficiary was synth pop, The Human League et al. This, when combined with glam styling, produced the New Romantic scene and bands such as Duran Duran sold multi-millions and conquered the US.

By the mid-Eighties, despite U2's rise, the British charts were sterile until acid house/ rave culture kicked the doors down for electronica, launching acts such as the Chemical Brothers. The media, however, latched onto indie bands with big tunes and bigger mouths, notably Oasis and Blur – Britpop was born.

By the millennium, both scenes had fizzled, replaced by level-headed pop-rockers who abhorred ostentation in favour of homogenous emotionality. Coldplay were the biggest. Big news, however, lurked in underground UK hip hop where artists adapted styles such as grime, dubstep and drum & bass into new pop forms, creating breakout stars Dizzee Rascal and, more recently, Tinie Tempah. The Arts Desk's wide-ranging new music critics bring you overnight reviews of every kind of music, from pop to unusual world sounds, daily reviews of new releases and downloads, and unique in-depth interviews with celebrated musicians and DJs, plus the quickest ticket booking links. Our writers include Peter Culshaw, Joe Muggs, Howard Male, Thomas H Green, Graeme Thomson, Kieron Tyler, Russ Coffey, Bruce Dessau, David Cheal & Peter Quinn

Close Footnote

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

The Prince of Nothingwood review - come for the man, stay fo...

In the most unlikely of places, there is one of the world’s most prolific...

Chineke! Ensemble, RNCM, Manchester review - musical advocac...

The Chineke! Orchestra has won golden opinions for its ground-breaking work and musical achievement, and Manchester caught up to the extent of a...

DVD: A Journey Through French Cinema

Bertrand Tavernier’s trip through French cinema...

Bolshoi's controversial Nureyev ballet opens – to ovati...

Nureyev, the most notorious new production at the ...

Salonen conducts Sibelius, RFH/Oramo conducts Salonen, Barbi...

After Sakari Oramo's dazzling Sibelius rattlebag with the...

Cell Mates, Hampstead Theatre review - intriguing yet opaque

The play that famously got away when one of its stars (quite literally) jumped ship is back. In 1995, Stephen Fry abandoned the...

From Life, Royal Academy review - perplexingly aimless

Dedicated to a foundation stone of western artistic training, this exhibition attempts a celebratory note as the...

Blue Planet II, BBC One review - just how fragile?

The eel is dying. Its body flits through a series of complicated knots which become increasingly grotesque torques. Immersed in a pool of brine —...