tue 20/03/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Tim Maia tribute, The Jazz Café review - the Brazilian wild soul legend revival continues

Peter Culshaw

The packed crowd at the Jazz Café was fired up by a sizzling samba soul band led by Kita Steuer on bass and vocals, singing along to a production line of hits, complete with dynamic brass section and superior permission. All songs by a singular Brazilian artist, Tim Maia, who died 20 years ago and whose music was being celebrated.

CD: The Vaccines - Combat Sports

Thomas H Green

Three years ago The Vaccines’ last album, English Graffiti, received a mixed response. It appeared to be a stab at moving sideways from the previous two, at proving they were more than just a guitar band in the classic indie mould, that they could also be studio-produced into the realms of polished pop. It was an experiment they’re now, perhaps, less sure about. In any case, The Vaccines 2018 is a different band. Drummer Pete Robinson has left, to be replaced by Yoann Intonti of fellow London...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Cocteau Twins

Kieron Tyler

This column last encountered Cocteau Twins in 2015 when the compilation The Pink Opaque and the Tiny Dynamine/Echoes in a Shallow Bay album, which...

CD: Bon Voyage Organization - Jungle? Quelle...

Kieron Tyler

Although its opening minute suggests one of Can’s Ethnological Forgery Series tracks, Jungle? Quelle Jungle? quickly sets its stall with gentle...

CD: Don McLean - Botanical Gardens

Liz Thomson

Oh dear. After a bumpy couple of years which included an all-too-public arrest for domestic violence to which he pleaded guilty, Don McLean is...

CD: Alexandra Burke - The Truth Is

Katie Colombus

Predictable power ballad pop from a former X-Factor star

10 Questions for Musician Malcolm Middleton

Thomas H Green

The Scottish songwriter talks music, books, musicals, Brighton and much else

Diana Jones, The Lexington review - at the crossroads of folk and country

Liz Thomson

From Tennessee via New York, the singer-songwriter with a voice to break your heart

CD: Kim Wilde - Here Come the Aliens

Thomas H Green

The Eighties star blasts back to planet pop on a space capsule of polished frothiness

Brit Floyd, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - the old ones are the best

Guy Oddy

The lighting rig’s the real star in this high-end tribute act

CD: The Gloaming - Live at The NHC

Tim Cumming

Masters of musical mesmerism hit their peak

Reissue CDs Weekly: Robert Kirby

Kieron Tyler

Conscientious collection dedicated to the musical arranger usually associated with Nick Drake

CD: in analysis - mothers

Russ Coffey

An album of real-life stories celebrates Mother's Day

CD: Seun Kuti - Black Times

Howard Male

The song remains the same because the problems haven’t gone away...

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, Roundhouse - hits and misses

Matthew Wright

Retro covers show is inconsistently thrilling

CD: Erasure - World Beyond

Joe Muggs

The perennial pop duo's latest album re-arranged for chamber ensemble

CD: Ministry - AmeriKKKant

Guy Oddy

Al Jourgensen’s anti-love letter to Donald J Trump

CD: Myles Kennedy - Year of the Tiger

Russ Coffey

The rocker from Spokane pens a good old-fashioned concept album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Zoot Money's Big Roll Band

Kieron Tyler

'Big Time Operator' gives the Sixties club-soul staples the complete box-set treatment

CD: Tracey Thorn - Record

Thomas H Green

Thorn's pin-sharp lyrics enrich nine songs of vibrant electronic pop

CD: David Byrne - American Utopia

Howard Male

Byrne’s first solo album in 14 years is a muscular and quirky return to form

Anna von Hausswolff: 'Forget about space and time, it's eternal and mysterious' - interview

Kieron Tyler

The Swedish singer-songwriter on her new album 'Dead Magic'

CD: Gwenno - Le Kov

Barney Harsent

An assured and impressive album that celebrates difference within a common landscape

Best Albums of 2018


theartsdesk's music critics pick their favourites of the year so far

CD: The Breeders - All Nerve

Joe Muggs

Kim and Kelly Deal - plus reconciled bandmates - prove gloriously unaffected by time

theartsdesk on Vinyl 37: Cocteau Twins, Stranger Things OST, Watain, Ryuichi Sakamoto and more

Thomas H Green

The widest-ranging record reviews in this galaxy

CD: Stephen Stills and Judy Collins - Everybody Knows

Liz Thomson

Stephen ♥ Judy = great music

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Voyager Golden Record

Kieron Tyler

A chance to hear what was intended for extra-terrestrials in the Voyager space probes

CD: Niklas Paschburg - Oceanic

Joe Muggs

Peaceful neo-classical won't scare the horses, but who wants scared horses?

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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