tue 07/07/2015

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion People

Kieron Tyler

“I’m having too much fun, my arms around the toilet like a long-lost chum, I’m kneeling at the throne…I’m learning what it means to really pray.” Four tracks into Perpetual Motion People, on “Haunted Head”, Ezra Furman paints a picture which must be drawn from real life. If this album screams one thing loudest, it’s that Furman isn’t keeping anything hidden. What’s also more than apparent is the eccentricity of this musical vision. With honking sax, country-tinged confessions, doo-wop and nods...

CD: Xaos - Chaos

Mark Kidel

The Xaos project arises out of a lineage that goes back to the early days of the world music phenomenon, at the start of the 1980s, when Jon Hassell spoke of “Fourth World” sounds, and David Byrne and Brian Eno extended the compositional palette with their groundbreaking transcultural explorations on “My Life with A Bush of Ghosts”. There is a kinship between the exploration of new musical frontiers and the rediscovery of ancient traditions.The album has been lovingly created by two members of...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sex Pistols

Kieron Tyler

Sex Pistols: SpunkFor an album that was never meant to be widely available, what’s become known as Spunk has had a surprising afterlife. The bootleg...

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Richard Thompson

Russ Coffey

On paper, Richard Thompson's career seems every bit as exotic as one of his songs. At the age of 18 he helped found folk-rock pioneers, Fairport...

CD: Alternative TV - Opposing Forces

Thomas H Green

Apart from Simon Reynolds paying tribute in Rip It Up And Start Again, his definitive history of post-punk – notably to the demented experimentalism...

NYCC, NYJO, Southwark Cathedral

David Nice

Best of Britain's young choristers and jazz musicians in fabulous Shakespeare homage

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2015

Caspar Gomez

Later and greater than the rest - Glastonbury, the full adventure


Kieron Tyler

Profoundly depressing scrutiny of the ascent and decline of Amy Winehouse

The Man Who Sold the World, O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Barney Harsent

Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey and friends play the David Bowie classic

CD: Meg Baird - Don't Weigh Down the Light

Barney Harsent

Loss, leaving and new beginnings dominate a beautiful album from the former Espers singer

Robert Glasper: 'When hip hop took over the world'

Matthew Wright

Genre-straddling pianist on his covers project, and how the hip hop home studio denudes music

Freedom: The Art of Improvisation Festival, The Vortex, Dalston

Thomas Rees

The final day of this inaugural free jazz festival proves British improv is in rude health

CD: Trembling Bells – The Sovereign Self

Guy Oddy

Scottish folk rockers revisit the time when hippies were casting off Paisley Pattern in favour of brown corduroy

Taylor Swift, Hyde Park

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Showbiz pizzazz ramped up to the max, but great songs remain pop minx's true forte

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dust on the Nettles

Kieron Tyler

Splendid box set documenting the nexus of British folk and psychedelia

Sacred Imaginations, Kings Place

Peter Culshaw

Ambitious reimagining of early Christian music is a triumph

theartsdesk in Orkney: St Magnus Festival

David Kettle

Wintry weather didn't dampen spirits at midsummer celebration of music and the arts

CD: Satoshi Tomiie - New Day

Joe Muggs

Democratised opulence from veteran Japanese house producer

CD: Robert Glasper – Covered

Matthew Wright

New material gets vintage jazz treatment as Glasper marks ten years at Blue Note

CD: Rickie Lee Jones - The Other Side of Desire

Jasper Rees

The singer-songwriter is no longer blocked, apart from in her sinuses

CD: Richard Thompson - Still

Mark Kidel

Old folk-rocker still going strong

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 6 - Miles Davis, Giant Sand and more

Thomas H Green

Vanguard artists such as CuT and Howling reviewed alongside hardy perennials

CD: Wolf Alice - My Love is Cool

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Plenty to love on hotly-tipped Londoners' debut

Reissue CDs Weekly: Peter Zinovieff

Kieron Tyler

Essential collection of the influential and pioneering electronic musician

CD: Kurt Elling – Passion World

Matthew Wright

Jazz singer's technical mastery under-utilised on lukewarm global songs

Seb Rochford and Co, Brilliant Corners

Thomas Rees

A masterful double play of celebrated Andrew Hill album 'Smokestack'

CD: The Parrots - Weed For The Parrots

Thomas H Green

Spanish garage band prove a refreshing tonic with a chaotic, carefree mini-album

CD: The LaFontaines - Class

Thomas H Green

Debut from rising Scottish rockers aims at big arena rock with mixed results

CD: The Orb – Moonbuilding 2703 AD

Barney Harsent

Alex Patterson and Thomas Fehlmann prove, once again, that space is the place

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

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