sun 24/05/2015

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Carleen Anderson: A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Nick Hasted

Carleen Anderson’s range of vocal scales and styles is matchless in contemporary pop. Where she aims those enviable resources is the only issue anyone could have with her, a matter of taste she’ll eventually make irrelevant tonight with a flood of gospel-jazz exhilaration.Anderson’s impeccable lineage – Bobby Byrd’s step-daughter, James Brown’s god-daughter – and period of Acid Jazz stardom after moving from Texas to Britain in the Nineties is less relevant than her ongoing studies in the vocal...

CD: Pokey LaFarge - Something in the Water

Lydia Perrysmith

At gigs by Irish blues-rockers The Strypes or Dutch swing fanatic Cara Emerald, what’s shocking is how old and staid their audience often is. Mums and dads – even grannies and granddads – turn out to hear younger voices express dynamic rehashes of their own generation’s music.Pokey LaFarge is, arguably, even more retro yet he draws a wider audience, establishing a youthful fanbase for his folk-Americana revivalism. Supported along the way by that doyen of rockin’ roots music, Jack White,...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Damned

Kieron Tyler

The Damned: Go! 45At the end of 1979, Britain’s first three 1976-born punk bands were in very different situations. The Sex Pistols had imploded in...

Mark Knopfler, O2 Arena

Russ Coffey

For many, Mark Knopfler will forever evoke a golden age of Eighties' soft rock. His headband might have been easy to mock but his blistering, finger-...

10 Questions for Musician Pokey LaFarge

Lydia Perrysmith

Pokey LaFarge (b. 1983) is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and American history enthusiast. Based in St Louis, Missouri, but frequently...

theartsdesk Radio Show 9


Listen to the hottest new transcontinental music

CD: The Vaccines - English Graffiti

Barney Harsent

A change of direction sees the indie rockers headed for the charts, but at what cost?

Benjamin Clementine, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Thomas H Green

One man, one woman, on piano and cello, wow Brighton into silence

Cat's Eyes live score for The Duke of Burgundy, Brighton Dome

Bella Todd

Horrors frontman's side project soundtrack Peter Strickland's S&M masterpiece

The Joey Arias Experience, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Matthew Wright

Iconic New York cabaret singer is witty, tender, and very rude

Flavia Coelho, Rich Mix

Peter Culshaw

Brazil's latest big-haired export knocks it out of the park live

CD: Róisín Murphy - Hairless Toys

Thomas H Green

Eagerly anticipated latest from a singer who abhors the obvious

CD: Brandon Flowers - The Desired Effect

Russ Coffey

It's big, it's brash but how does it compare to the day job?

CD: Sophie Hunger – Supermoon

Kieron Tyler

A moody, intimate contemplation from the Swiss singer-songwriter

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Thea Gilmore

Lisa-Marie Ferla

On looking forwards, not back; and why 'female singer/songwriter' is not a genre

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bobby Womack

Kieron Tyler

A musical identity crisis on the first five solo albums from the late soul-blues perennial

CD: Paul Weller – Saturns Pattern

Guy Oddy

Weller serves up some fine summery tunes with a hefty dash of psychedelia

CD: Hot Chip - Why Make Sense?

Barney Harsent

The band's sixth album has some good moments, but lacks consistency

Kate Tempest, George the Poet, Brighton Corn Exchange

Caspar Gomez

An evening of spoken word with music undermined by dodgy sonic clarity

BB King: 'I play the way I'm feeling'

Elaine Lipworth

Recalling an encounter with the great blues guitarist who inspired Jagger, Clapton and Bono

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 5

Thomas H Green

This month's vital vinyl reviewed

CD: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - The Traveling Kind

Thomas H Green

Satisfying second album from two imperishable country stars

Lambert & Stamp

Kieron Tyler

Doc on the managers who steered The Who to world-wide success could be tighter

CD: Thea Gilmore - Ghosts and Graffiti

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Only one eye on the past in new collection from England's finest songwriter

GoGo Penguin, Corn Exchange, Brighton

Nick Hasted

From Manchester, on Blue Note - British jazz's new stars continue to soar

CD: Todd Rundgren, Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and Emil Nikolaisen – Runddans

Guy Oddy

A warm breeze of ambient electronica that takes in dance beats, distorted vocals and proggy textures

Super Furry Animals, O2 Brixton Academy

Barney Harsent

The most inventive band in pop pick up where they left off for an emotional return

theartsdesk in Aarhus: SPOT Festival 2015

Kieron Tyler

Overpowering intensity, mystery and seduction at Denmark’s prime showcase for Scandinavia’s music

CD: The Fall - Sub-Lingual Tablet

Tim Cumming

Another fine disc to slip under the tongue

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

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 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 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

Carmen, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Fresh revival with strong cast and dynamic conducting from Jakub Hrůša

Kozhukhin, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican

Kaleidoscope of fascinating scores circa 1925 crowns superlative Nielsen an...

Carleen Anderson: A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan, Theatre Royal,...

Honouring a jazz icon in sometimes challenging, sometimes thrilling style

theartsdesk in Dresden: Fire and Ice

The restored German honeypot looks beyond its musical borders

CD: Pokey LaFarge - Something in the Water

The Americana roots phenomenon digs enjoyably into his Midwestern roots

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Damned

Admirably succinct entry point into first five years of Brit-punk pioneers

Mark Knopfler, O2 Arena

Prolific musical craftsman gives a tantalising reminder of his former self

10 Questions for Musician Pokey LaFarge

American roots music's freshest face talks dancing, touring and '...

theartsdesk Radio Show 9

Listen to the hottest new transcontinental music

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Shostakovich, Henrik Schwarz

Baroque delights, controversial cantatas and contemporary dance music