thu 03/09/2015

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Libertines - Anthems For Doomed Youth

Guy Oddy

As someone who has always been completely indifferent to the retro New Wave stylings of The Libertines, I can’t say that I greeted the news of their reformation with anything more than a shrug of the shoulders. Sure, they had released a few toe-tappers around the turn of the century, but to view Pete Doherty and Carl Barât’s mob as culturally significant for their music seemed absurd. I was, therefore, somewhat surprised to experience all my prior prejudices go up in smoke on hearing Anthems...

10 Questions for Musician John Lydon

Thomas H Green

John Lydon (b. 1956) is the singer and creative engine of Public Image Ltd. He was previously the frontman of the Sex Pistols. The latter group broke up in January 1978 when he was 21 but their brief career continues to cast a giant shadow over popular music, defining punk rock. Lydon, however, went on to form the musically more intriguing Public Image Ltd, releasing era-defining albums such their eponymous debut and, perhaps the ultimate album of the post-punk era, Metal Box. He went on to...

Heartless Bastards, Borderline

Russ Coffey

Some consider Heartless Bastards to be the best band you’ve probably never heard of – albeit blighted by an awful name. Others say the Texas-...

CD: Nicolas Godin - Contrepoint

Kieron Tyler

According to the press release for Contrepoint, “AIR have not split up.” Nicolas Godin, one half of the French duo, goes on to say: “We weren’t...

CD: Micachu & The Shapes - Good Sad Happy Bad

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Bands that stand out live often disappoint on record: it can be difficult to capture the energy, the ferociousness, the vitality that makes a group...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Isley Brothers

Kieron Tyler

The American soul great’s late-Sixties to mid-Eighties captured on a hefty, in-depth snapshot

CD: Public Image Ltd - What the World Needs Now...

Graham Fuller

PiL builds up a head of steam with its second comeback record

CD: The Naturals - On the Way (To the Laughing Light of Plenty)

Barney Harsent

An exercise in musical archaeology unearths a modern classic

CD: Owiny Sigoma Band - Nyanza

Matthew Wright

Anglo-Kenyan collaboration proves captivating

theartsdesk at Green Man 2015

Barney Harsent

A wild time was had by all until rain stopped play…

CD: Hills - Frid

Guy Oddy

Psychedelic Swedes lay down some mind-blowing pagan ritual music

CD: Beach House – Depression Cherry

Kieron Tyler

Exquisite enervation on Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s fifth album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Julian Cope

Kieron Tyler

The energised first two solo albums from the wilful former Teardrop Explodes frontman

CD: Trappist Afterland – Afterlander

Barney Harsent

A beautiful collection of new songs that comes dressed up in old clothes

CD: Motörhead – Bad Magic

Guy Oddy

A solid 22nd album from Lemmy’s veteran rockers

CD: Loose Tubes - Arriving

Peter Quinn

A magisterial, skip-proof collection that delivers a powerful emotional jolt

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 14

Kieron Tyler

Edgy Icelanders, an atmospheric Swede, an instantly memorable Norwegian and much more

CD: Natalie Imbruglia - Male

Russ Coffey

Former pop pixie goes 'mature and sophisticated' - how does it suit?

theartsdesk in New York: Folk City

Markie Robson-Scott

Bringing it all back home: NYC as a folk-music hub in the Fifties and Sixties

Reissue CDs Weekly: Stax Soul Sensations

Kieron Tyler

Soul devotee Ian Levine compiles his picks of the Memphis label

CD: Blancmange - Nil By Mouth

Caspar Gomez

Unexpected instrumental interlude from low-profile 1980s electro-pop act

Hot August Night: The Beatles at Shea Stadium

James Woodall

Fifty years ago today, The Beatles played their largest-ever concert

CD: Public Enemy – Man Plans God Laughs

Barney Harsent

Hip Hop's grand masters produce their best in almost a decade

theartsdesk at Wilderness Festival 2015

Matthew Wright

The Waitrose of festivals offers the best of most things, just this side of self-parody

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 8 - Björk, Joy Division and more

Thomas H Green

From Nashville garage punk to Dutch techno, the plastic that matters

CD: The Strypes – Little Victories

Guy Oddy

Irish garage blues firebrands lose their way on album number two

CD: Iris DeMent - The Trackless Woods

Mark Kidel

Russian poetry Southern country style

theartsdesk at Forgotten Fields 2015

Thomas H Green

New festival has much to sort out if it's to have a future

CD: Slime - Company

Kieron Tyler

Atmospheric, soul-tinged, Fourth-World electronica from Hackney-based Will Archer

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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