thu 18/01/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Tune-Yards - I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life

Howard Male

Growing up with the music of David Bowie is probably not the best grounding for being a music critic because it raises expectations unreasonably high for every other adventurous musician one happens upon. When I first heard Merrill Garbus’s (aka the main creative force behind Tune-Yards) intense bordering on hysterical music eight or so years ago, I actually had to get up from my desk and pace the room.

CD: First Aid Kit - Ruins

Katie Colombus

With the tragic passing of Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan, I've been thinking a lot about the importance of the soundtrack to youth. I spent days wailing along to "Ode to My Family", raging out to "Zombie" or bouncing around the local indie disco with friends to "Linger". They are moments that now seem frozen in that time, that were reflected in the quirks, uniqueness, newness and message of the Cranberries' sound.

CD: Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons - The Age...

Thomas H Green

Many hard rock aficionados say that Motörhead’s greatest work was all with the “classic” line-up of Lemmy, drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Butterfly Child

Kieron Tyler

The critic Simon Reynolds characterised Butterfly Child’s debut album Onomatopoeia as the sound of “vitrified everglades in J.G. Ballard’s The...

CD: The Limiñanas - Shadow People

Guy Oddy

The Limiñanas are considered something of a musical jewel across the Channel but, like many fine mainland European bands before them, have been...

CD: La Féline - Triomphe

Kieron Tyler

A too-methodical approach weakens the impact of classy French pop album

Joseph Houston, St John's Smith Square review - masterful MC in the theatre of piano

Helen Wallace

The young Berlin-based pianist shines in a night of vertiginously virtuosic play

CD: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Wrong Creatures

Barney Harsent

A solid return with one or two surprises

CD: Xylouris White - Mother

Joe Muggs

The simple magic of two maestros interlocking their styles continues to intensify

Reissue CDs Weekly: To the Outside of Everything

Kieron Tyler

British post-punk gets the box set treatment

CD: The Go! Team - Semicircle

Javi Fedrick

A triumphant fifth album from Brighton mavericks

theartsdesk Q&A: Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant

Peter Quinn

The US jazz singer talks Bessie Smith, visual art, obsessive listening habits and more

CD: Corrosion of Conformity - No Cross No Crown

Thomas H Green

Southern US heavy rockers come back with all cylinders firing

CD: Mari Kalkun - Ilmamõtsan

Kieron Tyler

Exquisite third album from the Estonian folk-based singer-songwriter

Albums of the Year 2017: Cécile McLorin Salvant - Dreams and Daggers

Peter Quinn

Brilliant 2CD set lifts the lid on the US vocalist's fertile imagination

CD: Radar Men from the Moon - Subversive III: De Spelende Mens

Guy Oddy

Dutch art punks drop the guitars for an electronica-powered dystopian adventure

Albums of the Year 2017: Jin Cromanyon - 逆襲のスポンジ

Barney Harsent

In a strong year, a newcomer punched well above his weight

Reissue CD of the Year: Lal & Mike Waterson

Kieron Tyler

The singer-songwriter masterpiece ‘Bright Phoebus’ finally gets the treatment it deserves

Albums of the Year 2017: Robert Plant - Carry Fire

Adam Sweeting

Percy Plant continues to plough his own fantastical furrow

Albums of the Year 2017: Daymé Arocena - Cubafonia

Matthew Wright

Sumptuous survey of Cuban song wears its learning lightly

Albums of the Year 2017: Ryuichi Sakamoto - async

Joe Muggs

40+ years into his career, Sakamoto is as in love with sound as he's ever been

Albums of the Year 2017: Jim Jones & the Righteous Mind - Super Natural

Guy Oddy

Explosive rock’n’roll from Jones and his new combo tops the musical year

Albums of the Year 2017: Offa Rex - Queen of Hearts

Tim Cumming

Offa Rex: jewel in the crown of the year's folk releases

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Beatles

Kieron Tyler

‘Happy Christmas Beatle People!’: finally, a legal reissue of The Fabs’ seasonal fan club records

Albums of the Year 2017: Yusuf/Cat Stevens - The Laughing Apple

Russ Coffey

The spiritual songsmith rode back on the Peace Train

Albums of the Year 2017: Bob Dylan - Trouble No More

Mark Kidel

A year of passion defined in many different ways

Blu-ray: The Complete Monterey Pop Festival

Thomas H Green

The film that defined pop festivals evermore

Albums of the Year 2017: Susanne Sundfør - Music For People in Trouble

Kieron Tyler

Norwegian chart-topper attains her apotheosis

Albums of the Year 2017: Rising Appalachia - Alive

Katie Colombus

Prozac for the soul

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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