wed 23/04/2014

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Pixies - Indie Cindy

Guy Oddy

 “What Goes On”, opening track of Pixies first album since 1991’s Trompe Le Monde, proves a suitably thrilling beginning for a set that has been much anticipated by fans who may have been concerned that Black Francis’ crew were happy as a heritage act. The chugger-chugger rhythm combines with plenty of volume and feedback and suggests a band that isn’t just going through the motions. This should cause massed sighs of relief to those who haven’t heard these songs over the three EPs and a...

CD: Iggy Azalea - The New Classic

Lisa-Marie Ferla

She may only be 23, but Iggy Azalea got off to a good start with those of us a good decade older last month when the video accompanying her single “Fancy” - an homage to 90s teen comedy Clueless  - debuted online. Nostalgia sells, of course: any idiot with access to the nightwear department at Primark, where right now pyjamas featuring Alicia Silverstone and the rest share shelf space with My Little Pony, could tell you that. But fans of the film will know that its imagery, if not its...

The Men They Couldn't Hang, Shepherd's...

Jasper Rees

From the balcony overlooking the mosh pit you get a good idea of how long a band has been going. Last night at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, The Men...

CD: Olga Bell – Krai

Kieron Tyler

Krai – Край – is employed in Russia to label tracts of land separating regions or marking borders. These liminal places each have their own name,...

Reissue CDs Weekly: John Tavener

Kieron Tyler

 John Tavener: The Protecting VeilIn its tribute to John Tavener which followed his death last November, theartsdesk acknowledged the...

CD: Faze Action - Body of One

Thomas H Green

Underground disco brothers return showcasing characteristic musical smarts

Christy Moore, Royal Festival Hall

Jasper Rees

All-inclusive atmospherics from the undiminished Celtic minstrel

CD: King Of The Mountains - Zoetrope

Joe Muggs

Voluptuous clouds in a genre with no name

CD: Kelis - Food

Thomas H Green

Full-flavoured sixth album from one of pop's most intriguing women

10 Questions for Drummer Billy Cobham

Matthew Wright

Fusion pioneer on creativity, drummer-bandleaders and the triple effect of a hotter climate

CD: Wallis Bird - Architect

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Irish songbird embraces the unexpected on genre-bending fourth album

Ivo Neame Quintet, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

Urbane and rhythmically virtuosic performance of pianist's own witty, engrossing compositions

Reissue CDs Weekly: Vee-Jay Records

Kieron Tyler

Massive 269-track tribute to the great Chicago independent label

CD: Led Bib - The People in your Neighbourhood

Guy Oddy

Mercury-nominated jazzers return with plenty of new sounds

theartsdesk Q&A: Eels' frontman Mr E

Russ Coffey

Enigmatic alt-rocker discusses fun, fitness, parallel worlds, beards, and much else

CD: Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love

Russ Coffey

The pretty boy from Paisley ventures into new territory

CD: Wrangler - LA Spark

Thomas H Green

Electronic underground supergroup deliver science fiction sounds

theartsdesk in Oslo: The Tape to Zero Festival

Kieron Tyler

Boundaries between musical genres get a seeing to in Norway

CD: Phronesis - Life to Everything

Peter Quinn

Another transporting live album captures the trio at its most joyously direct

Spring Quartet, Barbican

Matthew Wright

Multi-generational jazz supergroup plays likeable set of expansive, freewheeling tunes

Listed: Hauschka's Abandoned Cities


Experimental musician describes the abandoned cities that inspired his elegiac new album

CD: EMA - The Future's Void

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Uncompromising songwriter takes on Big Data on an uncomfortably brilliant album

Evan Parker: 70th-Birthday Celebration, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

Master of improvisation celebrated a lifetime's spontaneity in glorious, creative exhibition

Interview: Karol Conka - a shiny new rap star from Brazil

Peter Culshaw

Music and politics with Brazil's newest star, who opened the La Linea Festival with a bang

theartsdesk in Estonia: Freedom and Music Thrive in the Shadow of Putin’s Russia

Kieron Tyler

Tallinn Music Week unites Pussy Riot and neighbouring Baltic states to confirm the power of song

Reissue CDs Weekly: Gram Parsons

Kieron Tyler

The early days of America’s great musical visionary

CD: SOHN - Tremors

Aimee Cliff

4AD's new signee makes nuanced pop music that takes its sweet time

Celebrating Jon Lord, Royal Albert Hall

Russ Coffey

An all-star line-up gathers to remember the many sides of Deep Purple's keyboardist

The New Arts Desk Radio Show 3

Joe Muggs

The past, present and future of cross-cultural intermingling

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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