fri 22/02/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Joshua Redman Still Dreaming, Barbican review - world-class quartet

Sebastian Scotney

Joshua Redman's Still Dreaming Quartet is a project surrounded by an abundance of facts, context and backstories. Jazz folk really like that stuff. If fans can’t get enough of all the interconnections and the minutiae, the truth is that a concert stands or falls by what actually happens in the moment, whether it actually works or doesn't.

CD: John Mayall - Nobody Told Me

Mark Kidel

John Mayall is not just the dean of British blues fans, but he has done as much for the genre as anyone else around, from his early promotion of stars such as Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor through to his continuing devotion to the purest form of the genre.

Lau, Cheese & Grain, Frome review - the...

Mark Kidel

Back in 2017, The Foo Fighters did a surprise pre-Glastonbury gig at Frome’s Cheese & Grain, a rather soulless shed near the equally soulless...

CD: Susanna & The Brotherhood of Our Lady -...

Kieron Tyler

Lyrics such as “are we hunting for life among misery, Satan have pity on my long distress” and “we’re on a ship of fools, sails laughing and singing...

Yes is More: Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop...

Owen Richards

Compared to Scotland, Welsh independence has yet to hit the mainstream. The idea has been mostly supported by the Welsh-speaking population, with...

CD: Du Blonde - Lung Bread for Daddy

Guy Oddy

Beth Jeans Houghton gets some rotten relationships out of her system

Reissue CDs Weekly: Manchester - A City United In Music

Kieron Tyler

Thought-provoking compendium dedicated to the northern musical powerhouse

CD: Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water

Katie Colombus

One strong song, but elsewhere the sound doesn't seem to have evolved

CD: Chaka Khan - Hello Happiness

Guy Oddy

The Queen of Funk gets down with her latest comeback

Brighton Festival 2019 launches with Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Thomas H Green

The south-coast's arts extravaganza reveals its 2019 line-up

theartsdesk on Vinyl 47: The Beta Band, Ry Cooder, The Cardigans, Sgt. Pepper goes jazz and more

Thomas H Green

The most wide-ranging monthly record reviews on Planet Earth

CD: Ladytron - Ladytron

Thomas H Green

Sterling and noisy comeback from Brit electro-pop dons

CD: Ariana Grande - thank u, next

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Princess of pop bares her soul on hastily-dropped breakup album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kankyō Ongaku

Kieron Tyler

Delightful and illuminating dive into Japanese ambient, environmental and new age music

CD: LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions

Barney Harsent

James Murphy's post-punk disco outfit breathe new life into old favourites

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician, writer and performance artist Cosey Fanni Tutti

Guy Oddy

The “Wrecker of Civilisation” on artistic independence, magick and motherhood

CD: Kel Assouf - Black Tenere

Mark Kidel

Saharan fire burns but a little too relentlessly

The Delines, Jazz Cafe review - small-town sadness with a whisky in hand

Markie Robson-Scott

The Delines on tour with their second album: brilliant musicianship and songs like short-story gems

CD: Leyla McCalla - The Capitalist Blues

Howard Male

A fully engaging third album that could have been too diverse for its own good

theartsdesk Q&A: Robert MacFarlane's Spell Songs

Tim Cumming

The nature writer discusses a stage version of The Lost Words, featuring musicians including Julie Fowlis and Seckou Keita

CD: Mercury Rev - Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited

Kieron Tyler

Tribute to a Sixties masterpiece evokes the band's own classic album ‘Deserter's Songs’

CD: Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center

Jo Southerd

Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s new band doesn’t disappoint

Reissue CDs Weekly: Rainbow Ffolly

Kieron Tyler

Box set hung around the whimsical British Sixties pop gem ‘Sallies Fforth’

CD: Cass McCombs - Tip of the Sphere

Russ Coffey

The cranky Californian is back with his best album yet

CD: Ian Brown - Ripples

Guy Oddy

King Monkey makes a fine return to the fray

Imagining Ireland, Barbican review - celebrating the Irish in England

Tim Cumming

Folk greats and leading writers cast Irish eyes on life in England

CD: The Specials - Encore

Thomas H Green

Neither awful, nor amazing, the ska icons' long-awaited comeback has its moments

The Dandy Warhols, O2 Institute, Birmingham review - a silver jubilee jaunt with plenty of new tunes

Guy Oddy

Portland’s finest celebrate their 25th anniversary but forget to turn up the volume

CD: MONO - Nowhere Now Here

Guy Oddy

Post-rock veterans ring the changes on their 10th album - but only marginal ones

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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