thu 28/08/2014

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Simian Mobile Disco - Whorl

Thomas H Green

For their fourth album Simian Mobile Disco - AKA London producers James Ford and Jas Shaw – have taken electronica to the Joshua Tree. The area in the South Californian desert where Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg and Gram Parsons bathed their minds in LSD inspiration in 1969 (and where the latter died of a heroin overdose four years later) has long been a place of pilgrimage for musicians looking to widen their perceptions, from U2 to the Arctic Monkeys. Simian Mobile Disco actually went to...

CD: Andy Milne & Dapp Theory - Forward In All Directions

Matthew Wright

Andy Milne cut his teeth in the 1990s playing with the influential saxophonist and musical theorist Steve Coleman, whose structurally experimental improvised music was so strongly opposed to any kind of commercial influence he became virtually an underground artist. Fortunately for the listener, Milne has absorbed Coleman’s restlessly broad horizons and determination to forge something new, alongside a willingness to charm, intrigue and beguile.Though Dapp Theory was formed in 1998, this is...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Popcorn Girls

Kieron Tyler

Various Artists: Popcorn GirlsAlthough the sole single by troubled American televison and film star Tuesday Weld seems an unlikely dance floor filler...

CD: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

Lisa-Marie Ferla

When you listen to J Mascis’ solo work – 2011’s Several Shades of Why in particular, and now this follow-up – it’s hard to imagine him doing anything...

CD: Basement Jaxx - Junto

Katherine McLaughlin

It’s been five years since British duo Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe released their last studio album after deciding to take a few years out in a...

CD: Roni Size - Take Kontrol

Thomas H Green

Drum & bass don returns with an album whose quality improves as it progresses

CD: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

Guy Oddy

Muscular blues-rock debut from Brighton duo

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wire

Kieron Tyler

A still-challenging artefact from art-punk provocateurs

CD: James Yorkston - The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society

Joe Muggs

A soft delivery and deceptively conversational tone hide a powerful writer

theartsdesk in Helsinki: Flow Festival 2014

Kieron Tyler

Manic Street Preachers, Janelle Monáe and a past that’s always present at Finland’s memorable urban festival

CD: Anja McCloskey - Quincy Who Waits

Russ Coffey

One of the year’s prettiest albums from the quirky German-American

Neutral Milk Hotel, Forum

Jasper Rees

Long-lost indie prophets pop up to reward the faithful

CD: Mirel Wagner - When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Sparse compositions from Finnish songwriter's haunted pen

Sinéad O'Connor, Roundhouse

Tim Cumming

Songs from the new album hold their own against the back catalogue

theartsdesk at Wilderness Festival

Katie Colombus

A multi-sensory experience, celebrating wild behaviour outdoors as much as the arts

Morton Valence - Left

Thomas H Green

A banquet of exquisitely related misery from undersung London outfit

10 Questions for singer Laura Mvula

Russ Coffey

The critic's darling talks Birmingham, fame, books and why she's re-recorded her debut album

CD: Cats on Trees – Cats on Trees

Kieron Tyler

Anodyne French best-sellers attempt to export their success

Reissue CDs Weekly: Front Line – Sounds of Reality

Kieron Tyler

Exhumation of Richard Branson’s John Lydon-assisted Seventies reggae label

CD: The Gaslight Anthem - Get Hurt

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Blue-collar rockers channel heartbreak on fifth album

CD: Benjamin Taubkin - Al Qantara - The Bridge

Peter Culshaw

Unlikely fusion of Brazil and Morocco is surprisingly delicious

CD: Jerry Léonide - The Key

Matthew Wright

Mauritian pianist's debut release impresses with a cosmopolitan group of tunes

CD: Sinéad O'Connor - I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss

Guy Oddy

Somewhat middle-of-the-road offering from the Irish singer-songwriter

CD: FKA Twigs - LP1

Joe Muggs

Highly mannered high-tech R&B from the young Brit, but can it touch the soul too?

Reissue CDs Weekly: Hadda Brooks

Kieron Tyler

The Queen of the boogie still casts her spell

CD: Angus & Julia Stone - Angus & Julia Stone

Matthew Wright

Aussie siblings’ folk-rock is finely crafted but lacks emotional ballast

The New Arts Desk Radio Show 6

Joe Muggs

Peter and Joe bring you indie, electronica and sonnets from around the world and beyond

CD: Trans Am - Volume X

Guy Oddy

Post-rock types thrill with an eclectic mix on their tenth outing

CD: Eric Clapton & Friends - The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale

Jasper Rees

Tom Petty, Willie Nelson and Mark Knopfler summoned to salute the late guitar hero

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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