fri 24/10/2014

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Lady Gaga, O2 Arena, London

Thomas H Green

Gaga’s relationship with her fanbase, her “Little Monsters”, is quite a thing. I’ve not seen the O2 so permanently on its feet. Large swathes of her capacity crowd are up and dancing right from the opening number. They adore her and are dressed to show it, from middle-aged ladies to gay men to teenage girls to many multitudes of humanity in between.They couldn’t care less that her third album, Artpop, was lackustre compared to its predecessors and her set, which includes most of it, certainly...

John Cooper Clarke, Town Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

John Cooper Clarke has assumed many roles since he came motoring out of Salford in the mid ‘70s, spitting out poetry from a distinctly untraditional view point. There were tales of how you’d never see a nipple in the Daily Express (“This paper’s boring mindless mean, full of pornography, the kind that’s clean”) and marrying a monster from outer space (“We walked out tentacle in hand. You could sense that the Earthlings would not understand”) and then there was hair, sun glasses and tight suit,...

10 Questions for Musician Fuse ODG

Matthew Wright

Anglo-Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG – born Nana Richard Abiona – is a leading exponent of the new Afrobeats movement, which combines Western pop and rap...

CD: Black Veil Brides – Black Veil Brides IV

Guy Oddy

To the uninitiated, Black Veil Brides are five young men who look and sound pretty much like ‘80s hair metal horrors Motley Crűe – but with a hefty...

Culture Club, Heaven

Matthew Wright

In the time that Culture Club have been planning reunions, bands, movements, whole musical eras have come and gone. And still, once every couple of...

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

Caro Emerald, Brighton Centre

Thomas H Green

Dutch swing-style star delivers despite a rather sedate crowd

CD: Indiana – No Romeo

Guy Oddy

A rave pop debut that goes back to the 90s

Bebel Gilberto, Barbican

Peter Culshaw

Nervy Brazilian chanteuse eventually wins the audience round

10 Questions for Musician Jamie Cullum

Peter Quinn

The best-selling jazz artist on following his instinct and being part of the most exciting scene in the world

CD: Tobias Christl - Wildern

Matthew Wright

German jazz singer goes pillaging rock, from Paul Simon to Joy Division

Stacey Kent, Ronnie Scott's - 'sublime miniaturism'

Matthew Wright

Extraordinarily delicate vocal gifts keep the multi-lingual singer the right side of cliché

Robert Wyatt: Different Every Time

Marcus O'Dair

On writing the authorised biography of one of the UK's most respected musicians

CD: Johnny Marr - Playland

Russ Coffey

Ex-Smiths legend back with another likeable curate's egg

CD: Jackson Browne - Standing in the Breach

Adam Sweeting

Political rants and Byrdsian jangle on songwriter's 14th studio album

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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