thu 30/10/2014

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Simple Minds - Big Music

Russ Coffey

These days, it's not just those of a certain age who remember Simple Minds early days. Fans and critics alike have been reappraising the group's New Wave phase. The band too. Jim Kerr recently said to one theartsdesk writer "maybe we shouldn't have cashed in". Which sounds like an appealing sentiment until you realise it would have entailed denying the world "Alive and Kicking" and "Waterfront".More pertinently, where you stand on the relative stages of the bands career will dictate what...

CD: The Flaming Lips 2014 - With a Little Help from My Fwends

Kieron Tyler

Choosing the cutesy-pie “Fwends” – as The Flaming Lips have before – for the title rather than "friends" instantly suggests this track-by-track revisit to The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band isn’t going to be entirely reverential. It isn’t. And there’s nothing wrong with that. No music is sacred and reinterpretations can indeed be interesting and fun. Occasionally, they can even be revelatory. In this case, The Residents’ “Beyond the Valley of a Day in the Life” is the...

CD Special: The Basement Tapes Complete

Tim Cumming

Earlier this year, bobdylan.com posted “Full Moon & Empty Arms”, a song associated with Sinatra and the popular music of America before rock'n'...

CD: Taylor Swift - 1989

Lisa-Marie Ferla

There's a "foreword" which accompanies the new Taylor Swift album – because it's not enough for the one-time Nashville starlet gone full New York pop...

Annie Lennox: The Jazz Singer

Peter Culshaw

Annie Lennox is a far more fascinating artist than she’s often given credit for. Perhaps because she has been around for decades (she’s now 59) and...

Fuse ODG, Under the Bridge

Matthew Wright

MOBO-winning Afrobeats artist launches debut album in a blast of festival joy

CD: The Fall - Uurop VIII-XII Places in Sun & Winter, Son

Tim Cumming

The Fall's mixed-bag of live and studio mayhem

Reissue CDs Weekly: Minny Pops, The Pop Group

Kieron Tyler

Post-punk mavericks from Amsterdam and Bristol

CD: Yusuf/Cat Stevens - Tell 'Em I'm Gone

Russ Coffey

This old Cat learns some new tricks

Lady Gaga, O2 Arena, London

Thomas H Green

Adoring Gaga fans rewarded with show of multifaceted brilliance

John Cooper Clarke, Town Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

The alternative Poet Laureate and National Treasure hits the road

10 Questions for Musician Fuse ODG

Matthew Wright

Anglo-Ghanaian rising star of the Afrobeats scene on making a stand for Africa

CD: Black Veil Brides – Black Veil Brides IV

Guy Oddy

A disappointing cliché-fest from the LA hard rockers

Culture Club, Heaven

Matthew Wright

Intriguing taster gig suggests successful reunion is on the way

CD: The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave

Matthew Wright

Scottish indie band's misery is appealingly well-groomed

Nick Mulvey, Komedia, Brighton

Thomas H Green

One of Britain's most potent, original singer-songerwiters sparks bright

CD: Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused

Kieron Tyler

One pair of hands is uppermost in this collaboration

CD: Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Iowan metallers let the masks slip on long-awaited fifth album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Madness

Kieron Tyler

Yet another reappearance of the Nutty Boys’ debut album

Sandra Nkaké and Jî Drû, Pizza Express Jazz Club - "mesmerising, leonine"

Matthew Wright

French-Cameroonian singer lands on the London scene with delirious spectacle

CD: Billy Idol - Kings and Queens of the Underground

Russ Coffey

Less a Rebel Yell, more a middle-aged yawn but still somewhat endearing

The Buzzcocks, Concorde 2, Brighton

Thomas H Green

Punk pop powerhouse serve it up fast and hot

CD: John Foxx - B-Movie (Ballardian Video Neuronica) + John Foxx & Steve D'Agostino - Evidence of Time Travel

Thomas H Green

A two soundtrack album onslaught from original synth-pop pioneer

Björk: Biophilia Live

Russ Coffey

Visually sumptuous record of Björk's landmark tour

CD: Kiasmos

Kieron Tyler

After soundtracking Broadchurch, Iceland’s Ólafur Arnalds collaborates with Faroese foil

CD: The Ting Tings – Super Critical

Guy Oddy

Salford duo fail to impress with lacklustre third album

CD: Jessie J - Sweet Talker

Thomas H Green

Third album from UK pop sensation is feistier than anticipated

CD: Ex Hex - Rips

Lisa-Marie Ferla

DC power-pop trio deliver 35 minutes of bliss

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Bevis Frond

Kieron Tyler

A landmark one-man psychedelic band’s debut hits the racks again

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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