mon 28/07/2014

New Music reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk at the Port Eliot Festival

Mark Hudson

Remember when festivals were only about what they were ostensibly about? When, say, Reading offered nothing beyond hard rock bar disgusting toilets, overpriced hamburgers and the prospect of a punch-up. When literary festivals dealt only in, well, literature. Nowadays, the average music festival offers all the amenities of a small city, not just music, but shopping, comedy, ballet and every form of spiritual and bodily therapy. But even in these times of festival as free-form lifestyle...

CD: Andy Bell – Torsten the Bareback Saint

Kieron Tyler

“A theatrical pop song-cycle of musical postcards from the hotspots of memory from a semi-immortal polysexual sensualist’s life” is how the fourth solo album from Erasure's Andy Bell describes itself. The story and album begin with “Freshly Buggered”, where Torsten, born 1906, arrives at school to tell all that he is gay. “He had found a love so real, so pure” declare the lyrics.The extraordinary Torsten the Bareback Saint can't fail to provoke, raise a smile and carry anyone along with its...

theartsdesk in the Faroes: Disco and Dried Fish

Kieron Tyler

“Tonight, in the Faroe Islands, we’re going to find the greatest dancer.” It’s not an exhortation which often rings out. It could even be a first...

Loudon Wainwright III: Haven't Got the Blues...

Jasper Rees

Loudon Wainwright III is the closest the Americana tradition gets to a stand-up comedian. It’s there in the punctilious insistence on his place in...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Troubadours - Folk and the...

Kieron Tyler

Various Artists: Troubadours - Folk and the Roots of American Music Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4This is one of the most important reissues of the...

CD: Neon Jungle - Welcome to the Jungle

Thomas H Green

Jovially irrelevant tweeny-bop banger debut from flash-in-the-pan popsters

CD: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Hypnotic Eye

Guy Oddy

American institution returns to the Seventies - again

CD: Black Top - # One

Peter Quinn

A powerful, genre-defying debut album from the shape-shifting ensemble

theartsdesk at Latitude: Lily Allen/Haim

Katie Colombus

Kid-friendly festival has an audience as eclectic as the line-up

theartsdesk at Latitude: Damon Albarn/Booker T Jones

Matthew Wright

Booker T Jones' set of Sixties hits wows the crowd - but is Damon Albarn's new solo material a touch too subtle to headline?

CD: Fink - Hard Believer

Matthew Wright

Fink's latest is a mixed bag of the inspired and aerated

CD: Richard Thompson - Acoustic Classics

Tim Cumming

Thompson goes solo for a deft career retrospective

Reissue CDs Weekly: Ruthann Friedman

Kieron Tyler

Belated recognition for a unique singer-songwriter

CD: King Creosote - From Scotland with Love

Russ Coffey

More top-drawer nostalgia from the prolific Scotsman

CD: Jungle - Jungle

Thomas H Green

Rising London electronic duo don't quite match their hype

CD: La Roux - Trouble in Paradise

Joe Muggs

Elly Jackson has matured musically in her absence: but is that for the best?

CD: Preservation Hall Jazz Band - That's It!

Matthew Wright

Vivid and wide-ranging tribute to New Orleans musical traditions

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lewis

Kieron Tyler

A ground-breaking lost classic resurfaces

CD: Emma Tricca – Relic

Kieron Tyler

An album that aches with a spiritual yearning by this singular artist

theartsdesk Q&A: DJ Gilles Peterson

Matthew Wright

Taste-making DJ and broadcaster on jazz, how to stay relevant, and John Peel's legacy

CD: Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls

Russ Coffey

Are the veteran Brum-rockers ripe for re-appraisal?

CD: Morrissey - World Peace Is None Of Your Business

Guy Oddy

British institution and one-time indie icon returns to form

CD: Honeyblood - Honeyblood

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Promising debut from Glasgow duo packed with sugar and venom

CD: Anushka - Broken Circuit

Joe Muggs

Can the new wave of dance music support a real songwriting partnership?

10 Questions for Bassist Marcus Miller

Tim Cumming

Marcus Miller talks musical and cultural origins and the philosophy of fusion

CD: Sia Tolno - African Woman

Peter Culshaw

Africa's big soul voice turns back the clock and reworks Afro-beat

Reissue CDs Weekly: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Kieron Tyler

Warts-and-all document of the fantastic four’s mammoth stadium tour of 1974

CD: Jon Allen - Deep River

Russ Coffey

An accomplished piece from the hard-working journeyman

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Barbican

Matthew Wright

Wynton Marsalis' technical brilliance and tonal lustre are beginning to seem historically isolated

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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