sun 02/08/2015

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Cocteau Twins

Kieron Tyler

Cocteau Twins: The Pink Opaque, Tiny Dynamine/Echoes in a Shallow BayThe current fad for all things vinyl is of course, in general, a good thing. It has also meant that a column with CD in its header has, inevitably, broadened its scope. There might be careless major-label abominations like the Marvin Gaye box set reviewed in a recent Reissue CDs Weekly, but there are also gems like the enhanced-sound Mission of Burma albums covered last week.But what to make of new vinyl-only editions of...

CD: Jill Scott - Woman

Joe Muggs

Jill Scott albums should, in theory, be a bit of a chore. Everything about them, this one included, is like listening to a life coach: positive affirmations, exhortations to self-care, expressions of gratitude to the universe, homely snippets of advice... It's all so wholesome you almost feel as if it should be printed in a curly script over tranquil beach scenes and shared on your more uncomplicated school friends' Facebook feeds. Almost.In fact, Scott pulls off the miraculous, and makes all...

CD: Julio Bashmore - Knockin' Boots

Thomas H Green

“Julio Bashmore” is actually the nom-de-dancefloor of Bristolian DJ-producer Matt Walker who’s been slowly building a rep over the last five years....

Prom 16: Late Night with Radio 1, Pete Tong

Matthew Wright

After years of pussyfooting around pop, hoping the Pet Shop Boys will write something in a passable classical idiom, the Proms has embraced the most...

CD: Richard Fairhurst & John Taylor – Duets

Matthew Wright

With the sad news of John Taylor’s sudden death at the age of 72 following a heart attack during a performance at the Saveurs Festival (France)...

WOMAD 2015, Charlton Park

Peter Culshaw

World Music Fest gets muddy but Senegalese and systems folk group shine

WOMAD 2, Charlton Park

Mark Kidel

Surfing across the global bandwidths at the top world music festival

CD: 10.000 Russos - 10.000 Russos

Guy Oddy

A muscular psychedelic debut from Portugal that heads straight for the dance-floor

Tom Jones / The Shires, Greenwich Music Time Festival

Matthew Wright

Welsh star's songs show their age, country pop duo's their youth in spirited alfresco show

Peter Perrett, The Garage

Thomas H Green

The Only Ones frontman pops up for a rare and riveting performance

CD: Vetiver – Complete Strangers

Kieron Tyler

Torpid sixth album from former freak-folker Andy Cabic

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tennessee Ernie Ford

Kieron Tyler

Lavish box set puts a new twist on the great American songbook

Irakere, Ronnie Scott's

Thomas Rees

The legendary Cuban ensemble’s 40th anniversary celebration doesn’t quite take off

CD: The Maccabees - Marks to Prove It

Lisa-Marie Ferla

The difficult fourth album from London indie stalwarts

Listed: Songs of Summer


From seaside nostalgia to a consumerist jihadi paradise, we list the sounds of summer

CD: Joss Stone – Water For Your Soul

Matthew Wright

Devon soul singer learns reggae for her seventh album, to surprising effect

CD: Iron and Wine/ Ben Bridwell - Sing Into My Mouth

Russ Coffey

Odd-couple alt-country collaborators create a thing of understated beauty

theartsdesk at Latitude Festival 2015

Phoebe Michaelides

theartsdesk's 17-year-old correspondent hits Latitude

CD: Owl & Mouse - Departures

Thomas H Green

Australian sibling band hit home with a set for the broken-hearted

Jessie J, Somerset House

Matthew Wright

Glossy sound and endearing chatter the perfect accompaniment to an alfresco G&T

CD: Lautari - Vol 67, 2014 Live

Tim Cumming

Avant-folk riches from the heart of rural Poland

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mission of Burma

Kieron Tyler

America’s post-punk greats get a sterling sonic overhaul

CD: Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free

Lisa-Marie Ferla

How to follow up a masterpiece by Americana's finest songwriter

CD: Tame Impala - Currents

Barney Harsent

Kevin Parker's anticipated album aims for the stars, but stumbles soon after launch

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 7 - Northern Soul, The Fall and more

Thomas H Green

From techno to indie to Everything Everything, the month's best assessed

CD: Sleaford Mods - Key Markets

Guy Oddy

East Midlands duo take a fiery stand against Austerity Britain

CD: The Chemical Brothers - Born in the Echoes

Thomas H Green

Eighth album from dance music perennials rejects notions they're on the wane

CD: Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf

Kieron Tyler

Misty, mostly Welsh-language anti-totalitarian concept album

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Love Affair

Kieron Tyler

Mod-inclined soul-pop from the band who disastrously admitted to not playing on their own singles

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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