tue 21/10/2014

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused

Kieron Tyler

As tough-going as expected, the eagerly anticipated collaboration between Scott Walker and deconstructed metallers Sunn O))) is 48 minutes of deliberately ugly darkness. On the opening track “Brando”, in his now-familiar strangulated tenor, Walker wails “a beating would do me a world of good.” He’s already punned “whip-poor-will” which was, with crushing inevitability, followed by the sound of an actual bullwhip. All the while, Sunn O))) grind away, producing elongated slabs of unyielding noise...

CD: Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

Lisa-Marie Ferla

In a week packed with releases from music industry veterans including Neil Diamond, Chris De Burgh and Status Quo, it’s actually the new one from Slipknot that’s the most interesting. .5: The Gray Chapter is the mask-wearing Iowan metallers’ first album in six years, and their first since the 2010 death of founding member and bassist Paul Gray from an accidental overdose. As its title suggests, much of this album is a tribute to friend and colleague – and, as the genre suggests, it’s one that...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Madness

Kieron Tyler

 Madness: One Step Beyond - 35th Anniversary EditionLast time One Step Beyond was reissued on CD, for its 30th Anniversary, the album was...

Sandra Nkaké and Jî Drû, Pizza Express Jazz Club...

Matthew Wright

A first live experience of the French-Cameroonian singer Sandra Nkaké leaves many questions unanswered. Once the immediate bewilderment has passed,...

CD: Billy Idol - Kings and Queens of the...

Russ Coffey

Online comments for the preview stream of Kings and Queens of the Underground have been disappointing. So poor, in fact, they could have you checking...

The Buzzcocks, Concorde 2, Brighton

Thomas H Green

Punk pop powerhouse serve it up fast and hot

CD: John Foxx - B-Movie (Ballardian Video Neuronica) + John Foxx & Steve D'Agostino - Evidence of Time Travel

Thomas H Green

A two soundtrack album onslaught from original synth-pop pioneer

Björk: Biophilia Live

Russ Coffey

Visually sumptuous record of Björk's landmark tour

CD: Kiasmos

Kieron Tyler

After soundtracking Broadchurch, Iceland’s Ólafur Arnalds collaborates with Faroese foil

CD: The Ting Tings – Super Critical

Guy Oddy

Salford duo fail to impress with lacklustre third album

CD: Jessie J - Sweet Talker

Thomas H Green

Third album from UK pop sensation is feistier than anticipated

CD: Ex Hex - Rips

Lisa-Marie Ferla

DC power-pop trio deliver 35 minutes of bliss

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Bevis Frond

Kieron Tyler

A landmark one-man psychedelic band’s debut hits the racks again

Caro Emerald, Brighton Centre

Thomas H Green

Dutch swing-style star delivers despite a rather sedate crowd

CD: Indiana – No Romeo

Guy Oddy

A rave pop debut that goes back to the 90s

Bebel Gilberto, Barbican

Peter Culshaw

Nervy Brazilian chanteuse eventually wins the audience round

10 Questions for Musician Jamie Cullum

Peter Quinn

The best-selling jazz artist on following his instinct and being part of the most exciting scene in the world

CD: Tobias Christl - Wildern

Matthew Wright

German jazz singer goes pillaging rock, from Paul Simon to Joy Division

Stacey Kent, Ronnie Scott's - 'sublime miniaturism'

Matthew Wright

Extraordinarily delicate vocal gifts keep the multi-lingual singer the right side of cliché

Robert Wyatt: Different Every Time

Marcus O'Dair

On writing the authorised biography of one of the UK's most respected musicians

CD: Johnny Marr - Playland

Russ Coffey

Ex-Smiths legend back with another likeable curate's egg

CD: Jackson Browne - Standing in the Breach

Adam Sweeting

Political rants and Byrdsian jangle on songwriter's 14th studio album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Oasis

Kieron Tyler

Aural vandalism inflicted on ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Holly Johnson

Thomas H Green

Frankie Goes To Hollywood's frontman on disco, art, the Eighties, HIV, Live Aid, Liverpool and what his maiden aunt made of 'Relax'

The New Arts Desk Radio Show 7

Joe Muggs

The return of our dynamic duo, as ever going beyond global

CD: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Acclaimed London diva returns even stronger

ReVoice! 2014: Welcoming the cream of international jazz singing to London

Matthew Wright

Georgia Mancio's vocal jazz festival celebrates its fifth anniversary with an expanded line-up

RIP Stephen Samuel Gordon aka The Spaceape

Joe Muggs

A sad farewell to the poet laureate of the dubstep generation

CD: Caribou - Our Love

Joe Muggs

Familiar tics, but can the Canadian electronica tinkerer make them fresh?

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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