fri 06/03/2015

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Kings Place

Heidi Goldsmith

Mari Kvien Brunvoll - Norwegian improviser, singer and composer - enters the Kings Place stage more like a pianist's page-turner than the night's sole performer, and sits cross-legged at her pedals. Dressed in a neutral dark grey, she doesn't seek applause so instead we are left silently watching her adjust a microphone and untie a little red book. Her methodical calm creates a patient audience, intrigued enough to find her subtle actions compelling. Without a word she begins singing a...

CD: Fairport Convention - Myths & Heroes

Katie Colombus

Fairport Convention might have been around for almost 50 years, but they still clearly know how to deliver timeless quality. Their new album, made up of all new tracks (a departure from the previous album By Popular Request which comprised re-recorded oldies-but-goodies) – some written by band member Chris Leslie with guest tracks by folk legend Ralph McTell and multi-faceted Anna Ryder, ties in with a UK tour running until the summer.Myths & Heroes is well put together, a mixture of...

Spectres, The Lexington

Barney Harsent

I first saw Spectres last October at the 10th birthday celebrations for their label, Sonic Cathedral. That night, they struck me as noisy, spiky and...

CD: Jimmy Somerville - Homage

Kieron Tyler

Disco was about the dancefloor: a music that delivered the goods in one-song bursts which made assembled revellers move. The album was not its...

CD: Emily Saunders - Outsiders Insiders

Matthew Wright

Emily Saunders has crafted a reputation for cool, sophisticated songs blending Brazilian themes and rhythms with a clean, precise, almost...

CD: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

Barney Harsent

Noel and his High Flying Birds aim for new heights without straying too near the Sun

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bridget St. John

Kieron Tyler

Wallet-friendly compendium of one of Britain’s great singer-songwriters

Jazz for Labour, Barbican

Thomas Rees

A celebration of diversity and a historic addition to jazz’s political back catalogue

Extract: I've Always Kept a Unicorn: The Biography of Sandy Denny

Mick Houghton

Tables turned as Fairport Convention are auditioned by their new singer

CD: Katzenjammer – Rockland

Guy Oddy

Barn-dance friendly Scandinavians find their own groove

CD: Tuxedo - Tuxedo

Joe Muggs

Shiny-suited funk from the LA-Seattle supergroup

The War on Drugs, O2 Academy Brixton

Barney Harsent

Philadelphia’s finest prove themselves to be more than the sum of their influences

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Brighton Dome

Thomas H Green

Alternative Eighties noise-meisters tour their well-loved debut

CD: Altan - The Widening Gyre

Peter Quinn

Traditional Irish music meets Americana with spectacular results

Weyes Blood, The Old Blue Last

Matthew Wright

Sublime blend of acoustic folk and Goth-flavoured electronica comes to Shoreditch

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Zakary Thaks

Kieron Tyler

The ultimate tribute to Texan teenage garage rock titans

CD: Songhoy Blues - Music in Exile

Mark Kidel

The musical upside of Jihadism in Mali

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain

Thomas H Green

On riots, drugs, drunkenness... and jazz

George Ezra, O2 Academy, Brixton

Russ Coffey

The ubiquitous singer's voice cuts through a poor sound system

Bob Dorough and Friends, Pizza Express Jazz Club

Peter Quinn

An endless parade of inimitable songs from the nonagenarian singer-songwriter

CD: Scorpions - Return to Forever

Russ Coffey

Have the German rockers finally lost their sting?

Rebecca Ferguson, St. James Theatre

Matthew Wright

Scouse Soulstress's hits hit like Mike Tyson, but ''Lady Sings the Blues" misses too

CD: Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

Guy Oddy

The triumphant return of original grunger Tad Doyle

CD: Public Service Broadcasting - The Race for Space

Thomas H Green

London duo make a successful bid for the moon

CD: Charli XCX - Sucker

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Perennial guest star pens some hits of her own

CD: Carter Tutti – Carter Tutti Plays Chris & Cosey

Barney Harsent

Chris & Cosey take it to the stage with souped-up songs that go further than you might expect

Reissue CDs Weekly: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Kieron Tyler

Botched reissue of 'Junk Culture', OMD’s 1984 retreat from the experimental

Steve Strange, 1959-2015

Bruce Dessau

Ghost biographer remembers the New Romantic leader as a creative spirit and true pioneer

CD: Six Organs of Admittance: Hexadic

Kieron Tyler

Power, but without the promised shock of the new on Ben Chasny’s latest outing

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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