wed 25/05/2016

New Music reviews, news & interviews

The Burning Hell, Oslo

Kieron Tyler

“We’ve been visiting libraries on this tour and it’s a lot of fun learning people still read.” The words of The Burning Hell’s main man Mathias Kom before launching into “Give Up” stress he and his band are not typical rock‘n’rollers. “Give Up” itself is the rollicking song-story of a call-centre worker who goes to a library, finds inspiration in Herman Melville and then meets a mysterious woman who rings in. She gives him a poster of a kitten captioned “Never Give Up”. In the song’s pay off,...

CD: Malcolm Middleton - Summer of '13

Thomas H Green

There’s been wave after wave of successful acoustic singer-songwriters this century, whimpering so-and-sos from David Gray onwards, through Damien Rice, Newton Faulkner, James Blunt, Ed Sheeran, and on and on and on. Every year sees a new heap of them dumped on the public like bowls of flea eggs. Meanwhile, and here’s the real point, one of the genre’s giants remains relatively unheard. Malcolm Middleton’s dourly humorous, existential albums are studded with gems of heartache, wry gloom and...

Brighton Festival: Haçienda Classical, The Dome

Thomas H Green

Of all the nostalgia-fests, of all the retro events, those that involve rave culture have the wildest sense of glee. The atmosphere in the Dome...

10 Questions for Musician Martin Fry

Adam Sweeting

It was in the long-ago year of 1982 that Martin Fry and ABC released The Lexicon of Love, a feast of addictively lush pop-soul swathed in Anne Dudley...

CD: Death In Vegas – Transmission

Guy Oddy

Transmission fades in with “Metal Box”, a droning minimalist soundscape that evolves with a steadily building pulse that is brooding, cinematic and a...

theartsdesk radio show 14

Peter Culshaw

The latest eclectic global radio show starring Trinidadian legend Calypso Rose

Reissue CDs Weekly: Manic Street Preachers

Kieron Tyler

Snazzy but fans-only 20th-anniversary reissue of ‘Everything Must Go’

CD: Beth Orton – Kidsticks

Matthew Wright

Restless experimentalist creates sublimely novel electro-acoustic blend

Brighton Festival: Laurie Anderson - Slideshow, Brighton Dome

Nick Hasted

The great performance-artist riffs superbly on stories, space and home

Brighton Festival: Laurie Anderson – Song Conversation, Brighton Dome

Heidi Goldsmith

Festival curator delivers her personal mix of contemplative electronica

CD: Harleighblu - Futurespective

Thomas H Green

Nottingham singer's second collection tilts at the cusp of greatness

CD: Bob Dylan - Fallen Angels

Mark Kidel

Dylan does Sinatra songs again

CD: Kate Jackson - British Road Movies

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Long Blondes frontwoman's long-awaited return

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bernard Herrmann

Kieron Tyler

A bells-and-whistles edition of the Quentin Tarantino-approved soundtrack to ‘Twisted Nerve’

CD: Eric Clapton - I Still Do

Russ Coffey

What does the legendary blues merchant still have left to say?

10 Questions for Musician Tinchy Stryder

Thomas H Green

One of grime's original break-out pop stars talks tattoos, Keith Lemon, vinyl and Glastonbury

CD: Richard Ashcroft – These People

Guy Oddy

Ex-Verve frontman throws everything but the kitchen sink into his fourth solo album

CD: Kygo - Cloud Nine

Thomas H Green

Dance music becomes ever more feeble in the hands of the misguided

Brighton Festival: Laurie Anderson's Concert for Dogs, Open Air Theatre

David Flack

Would this affable avant-garde experiment be canine chaos?

2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

Peter Quinn

Freesheets to free jazz celebrated at the House of Commons

CD: Karl Blau - Introducing Karl Blau

Kieron Tyler

Terrifically stylish tribute to country’s union with soul music

Album Special: Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

Caspar Gomez

Our resident frothing Radiohead-phobe is forced to attend their new album

Lush, The Roundhouse

Joe Muggs

A whole lot of memories get washed up by the reformed band's sea of guitars

CD: James Blake - The Colour in Anything / Skepta - Konnichiwa

Joe Muggs

From north London to the world in two very different styles

Brighton Festival: Tindersticks, Brighton Dome

Bella Todd

Masters of melancholy fulfil their cinematic leanings with this poetic "cine-concert"

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Associates

Kieron Tyler

Essential new editions celebrate Billy MacKenzie and Alan Rankine’s unique collaboration

CD: Corinne Bailey Rae - The Heart Speaks in Whispers

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Soul star channels happiness into luxurious new album

Donovan, London Palladium

Adam Sweeting

Pixie-like troubadour celebrates his 70th birthday

CD: Meghan Trainor - Thank You

Thomas H Green

Second album from "All About That Bass" hit-maker moves things up a notch

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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