thu 22/06/2017

New Music reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk on Vinyl 29: The Beatles, Kraftwerk, Sikth, ESG, Alice Coltrane and more

Thomas H Green

Reviewed this month with the windows open, in weather hot enough to warp records, this month theartsdesk on Vinyl casts two ears over 34 releases, starting with a striking foray into elegant songwriting and ending with Now That’s What I Call Classic Rock.

CD: Beth Ditto - Fake Sugar

Joe Muggs

Gossip – the trio fronted by Beth Ditto from 1999 until last year – always felt a bit overshadowed by their 2006 breakthrough hit “Standing in the Way of Control”. It's understandable: it still stands up now as a bona fide banger, in original form or the Soulwax remix that soundtracked a million Skins trailers and captured a dayglo period when indie rock and rave culture were “having a bit of a moment” together, and it absolutely deserved its ubiquity.

CD: Django Bates - Saluting Sgt. Pepper

Matthew Wright

Sgt. Pepper is a popular choice for a tribute but also a dangerous one. How to say anything meaningful about a work widely agreed to be the most...

The Best Albums of 2017


Disc of the Day reviews new albums, week in, week out, all year. Below are the albums that our writers gave four or five stars, the ones they think...

Supersonic Festival 2017, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

The Supersonic Festival is Birmingham’s annual gathering of the sonically weird and wonderful pitched at “curious audiences” happy to lend their ears...

CD: Steve Earle & The Dukes - So You Wanna Be An Outlaw

Liz Thomson

Earle's career is as multifaceted as Jennings'

CD: Steve Earle & The Dukes - So You Wanna Be An Outlaw

Liz Thomson

Steve Earle returns to his roots

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lynn Castle

Kieron Tyler

Previously unheard Sixties recordings by goth-tinged singer-songwriter reveal a one-off talent

Guns N' Roses, London Stadium review - venue almost ruins night of glory

Russ Coffey

The Not in This Lifetime reunion tour rolls into town

CD: Lorde - Melodrama

Katie Colombus

The Kiwi songstress's long-awaited second album ticks all the right boxes

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Alison Moyet

Russ Coffey

'Alf' talks mortality, people-watching and not living by other people's rules

theartsdesk Q&A: Nicholas Bullen, founder of Napalm Death

Guy Oddy

The grindcore legend on the 30th anniversary of Napalm Death’s 'Scum', the Supersonic Festival and politics in music

CD: Justin Adams featuring Anneli Drecker - Ribbons

Howard Male

The producer and guitarist’s first solo for 16 years is a journey out of darkness

theartsdesk at the Istanbul Music Festival: East and West in perfect balance

David Nice

From Sufi music magically reimagined to high-quality Mozart from Turkish players

CD: Katy Perry - Witness

Thomas H Green

US superstar's fifth album may be her best

10 Questions for The Radiophonic Workshop's Paddy Kingsland

Barney Harsent

The composer talks synthesizers, 'Doctor Who' and a new project that has a foot in the past

CD: Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' - TajMo

Matthew Wright

Blues veterans asleep on the job

Reissue CDs Weekly: Pop Makossa

Kieron Tyler

Celebration of Cameroon’s ‘Invasive Dance Beat’ is a blast

CD: Goldie - The Journey Man

Joe Muggs

A fully-functioning, highly listenable album

CD: Ride - Weather Diaries

Guy Oddy

Shoegazing trail-blazers return for another spin on the rock’n’roll merry-go-round

CD: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - The Anarchy Arias

Thomas H Green

Dismally conceived operatic revision of punk rock

Vindauga (Wind Eye) featuring Sam Lee, Kings Place

Tim Cumming

Encounters to cherish with Norwegian and Scottish players

CD: London Grammar - Truth Is A Beautiful Thing

Guy Oddy

London Grammar lose their shine with that difficult second album

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Doors

Kieron Tyler

Jim Morrison and Co’s confusing visual legacy suffers from lack of upgrades

CD: Chuck Berry - Chuck

Mark Kidel

Last goodbye from father of teen rock'n'roll

CD: Alt-J - Relaxer

Russ Coffey

Cambridge art-rockers extend their ambitions, but can they maintain their winning formula?

CD: Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want?

Adam Sweeting

He's suffered for his art and now it's your turn

CD: Saint Etienne - Home Counties

Barney Harsent

The trio return with an album of shimmering melancholy and poised pop

CD: Tubular Brass - Tubular Bells

Graham Rickson

Superb brass recreation of a 1970s classic, with added baluphonium

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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