fri 20/07/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Gary Numan, Assembly Hall, Worthing review - hot and hammering

Thomas H Green

Arriving back onstage for an encore a broadly smiling Gary Numan bathes in roared football chants of “Numan! Numan!”. He tells us it’s just over 40 years since he released his first single, “That’s Too Bad”, but that he and his tight four-piece band are going to make a “bad attempt” at playing it. He’s wrong. It’s one of the best-delivered songs of the night, sounding Seventies punky to the delight of the crowd, many of whom clearly recall the era.

CD: Pram - Across the Meridian

Thomas H Green

Birmingham outfit Pram achieved profile amongst alt-music connoisseurs shortly after the millennium. They’d been going for over a decade but their weird-masked presentation and spooked, abject music suddenly struck a chord.

theartsdesk at Cornbury: Pixie Lott, Amy...

Katie Colombus

Cornbury Festival holds a very special place in my heart. When the babies were young, we realised that if we were going to be up all night without...

CD: Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway – ...

Ellie Porter

System of a Down guitarist and vocalist Daron Malakian isn’t going to let a little thing like his band going on an extended hiatus get in the way of...

theartsdesk on Vinyl 41: Kali Uchis, Orange...

Thomas H Green

Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street. To vinyl. Only theartsdesk on Vinyl doesn’t just cover music for dancing, it covers...

CD: Juniore - Magnifique

Kieron Tyler

Glistening, archetype-aware second album from Parisian pop stylists

Keaton Henson on creating 'Six Lethargies'

Keaton Henson

The singer-songwriter ponders the interconnection between music and human emotion

Paul Simon, BST Hyde Park review - still sprightly after 76 years

Sebastian Scotney

Powerful and wide-ranging performance from one of the all-time songwriting greats

Preoccupations, The Haunt, Brighton review - energetic set struggles to win over audience

Javi Fedrick

Four-man post-punk machine try to whip up a storm in reluctant seaside venue

CD: Drake - Scorpion

Matthew Wright

Rap star's 25-track epic: streaming triumph or editing disaster?

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kamal Keila

Kieron Tyler

With ‘Muslims and Christians’, Sudan attempts to unite Africa through music

CD: Cowboy Junkies – All That Reckoning

Ellie Porter

The band returns with a woozy, occasionally shining album

'Stepping right out of my comfort zone': James Gilchrist on mixing Debussy with jazz

James Gilchrist

The tenor writes about working on Eddie Parker's boundary-crossing project

Mavis Staples, Union Chapel review - grand gospel dame still doin' it at 79

Ellie Porter

Engaging birthday party gig for the civil rights activist and rhythm & blues perennial

CD: Lotic - Power

Joe Muggs

Texan Berliner making music of extraordinary power, modernity and radical pleasure

CD: Rick Astley - Beautiful Life

Thomas H Green

Can our reviewer admit their true feelings for the latest from the squeaky-clean Eighties pop star?

Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Steve Winwood, BST Hyde Park review - the Clapton faithful in their droves

Sebastian Scotney

65,000 fans see three rock heroes

CD: Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose

Owen Richards

Crisp and inventive production shine through a musical odyssey

Reissue CDs Weekly: Manfred Mann

Kieron Tyler

‘The Albums ‘64 –‘67’: the first four HMV LPs from the jazz-pop-R&B stylists in a box

CD: Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch - Époques

Kieron Tyler

Jarring juxtapositions on minimalist pianist-composer’s second album

CD: Laurel Halo - Raw Silk Uncut Wood

Joe Muggs

A small but perfectly formed example of the state of the ambient art

CD: Big Narstie - BDL Bipolar

Matthew Wright

Upcoming entertainment star with a colourful variety album

Best Albums of 2018


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

CD: Years & Years - Palo Santo

Thomas H Green

Second album from 2015's breakthrough pop stars shows no sign of quality slippage

theartsdesk in Essaouira: Festival of Gnawa - 21st-century trance masters

Tim Cumming

Previewing Moroccan trance music coming to London and Womad this summer

CD: The Alarm - Equals

Russ Coffey

Hand-on-heart Eighties rockers return with their distinctive brand of anthemic rock

Reissue CDs Weekly: Zuider Zee

Kieron Tyler

‘Zeenith’, a winning collection of the Seventies cult band’s previously unreleased recordings

CD: DevilDriver - Outlaws 'Til the End Vol 1

Thomas H Green

Full pelt metal blitzkrieg on a bunch of country classics

theartsdesk in Orkney: St Magnus Festival 2018 - choral music to the fore

David Kettle

No visiting orchestra, but Orkney's annual cultural celebration felt as rich as ever

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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