fri 22/09/2017

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Horrors - V

Javi Fedrick

The Horrors have always had a penchant for churning out pop-tinged gems, and on V, with help from Adele/Coldplay/Florence and the Machine producer Paul Epworth, they’ve applied their same winning formula to darker music. The album cover, a mishmash of faces, sums up V perfectly – it nods to a huge range of influences, creating something that feels larger and more engaging than all of them on their own.“Hologram” oozes in with monolithic drums and hazy synths, storming its way to the four-...

Neil Sedaka, Royal Albert Hall review - sparkly veteran defies the decades

Liz Thomson

As pretty much everything but a plague of locusts is visited upon this grim old world, an evening in the company of Neil Sedaka is the greatest of pick-me-ups. At the Royal Albert Hall on Monday, as his UK tour drew to a close, the capacity audience clearly felt uplifted, borne aloft on a raft of enduring songs and the evident enjoyment of the man who wrote them.Sixty years ago this year, Sedaka made his first appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and signed a recording contract with...

Mads Mathias, Pizza Express Jazz Club - honeyed...

Matthew Wright

Caressing the microphone, and gazing into the audience with winsome, soulful sincerity, tousled auburn locks glistening in the stage light, Mads...

CD: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Luciferian...

Guy Oddy

Luciferian Towers, the third album since Canadian oddballs Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s 2011 reunion, is an instrumental psychedelic masterpiece...

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 five stars (listed at the top) or four -...

CD: Josh Ritter - Gathering

Liz Thomson

Perfectly paced ninth album demonstrates writer and performer's breadth of talent

Reissue CDs Weekly: Take What You Need - UK Covers of Bob Dylan Songs 1964-69

Kieron Tyler

Enlightening compilation chronicling mixed-bag approach to tackling the songs of Bob

CD: Marc Almond - Shadows and Reflections

Kieron Tyler

Thrilling cover versions set from a vocal stylist with consummate taste

'English music is lumpy if you don't play it well': interview with folk trio Leveret

Tim Cumming

Instrumental trio on old English dances and their new album Inventions

CD: Foo Fighters - Concrete and Gold

Thomas H Green

US rock giants' ninth is polished and gigantic but follows their usual formula

CD: Jabu - Sleep Heavy

Joe Muggs

Bristol's sad, broken soul keys into a new weird R&B

10 Questions for Pianist Søren Bebe

Matthew Wright

Lyrical jazz composer discusses the fulfilment of classical music and the lure of internet success

CD: Prophets Of Rage - Prophets Of Rage

Guy Oddy

Chuck D and his mates kick out the jams

Bridgewater Hall 21st Birthday review - from voice and guitar to four pianos

Robert Beale

Party time in Manchester brings fun, invention and a romp in unusual form

CD: Ringo Starr - Give More Love

Barney Harsent

The former Beatles drummer just about gets by with a lot of help from his friends

Reissue CDs Weekly: FJ McMahon

Kieron Tyler

Post-Vietnam deliberations on 1969’s remarkable ‘Spirit of the Golden Juice’

CD: Cat Stevens/Yusuf - The Laughing Apple

Russ Coffey

The legendary songwriter gives us the album we've been waiting for

The Psychedelic Furs, Concorde 2, Brighton review - classy new wave pop ruined by bad sound

Thomas H Green

Rare gig by well-loved 1980s alt-pop outfit undermined by fudged sonics

CD: Gary Numan - Savage (Songs From a Broken World)

Thomas H Green

The cult star's most darkly enjoyable and lively output in a while

CD: Ariel Pink - Dedicated To Bobby Jameson

Guy Oddy

First solo album since 2014 for the unhinged LA musical magpie

Walter Becker, 1950-2017 - 'we play rock and roll, but we swing when we play'

Adam Sweeting

In this interview from 2008, Steely Dan's co-founder talks about Donald Fagen, touring, jazz and solo albums

CD: Nick Mulvey - Wake Up Now

Thomas H Green

Second stunning album from wide-eyed, thoughtful, spiritually-inclined singer-songwriter

CD: Deerhoof - Mountain Moves

Joe Muggs

Multifaceted art punks get slicker still but continue to sparkle

Reissue CDs Weekly: Ólafur Arnalds

Kieron Tyler

The ‘Broadchurch’-soundtracking Icelander’s first album ‘Eulogy For Evolution’ gets a makeover

CD: Tom Russell - Folk Hotel

Liz Thomson

Heading into his eight decade, the veteran US songwriter remains on top of his game

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Albert Hammond

Russ Coffey

The songwriting supremo talks Justin Bieber, rapping, and his new musical 'The Matterhorn'

CD: Kev Minney - Stories of the Sky

Liz Thomson

Music and astronomy combine in an alluring, original sound world

h.Club 100 Awards: Music - opening up the future

Thomas H Green

This year's shortlist recognises visionaries in the studio and music business

Sue Steward 1946-2017: She came, she saw, she salsa'd


The Arts Desk's adventurous music and photography critic remembered

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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