mon 16/12/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2019: Angie McMahon - Salt

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Appearing on NPR Music’s legendary Tiny Desk Concert series back in autumn, Taylor Swift talked about how, in interviews over the years, she’d been asked a thousand variations on “what would you write about if you ever get happy?” “Would I not be able to do my favourite thing in the world anymore?” she mused.

theartsdesk on Vinyl 55: Peaky Blinders, Graham Coxon, 2 Tone, Redrago, Gary Numan, The Clash and more

Thomas H Green

Britain is unpleasant to look at right now, ugly and foolish, so why not lock down with some tuneage. Below is the best plastic that’s hit theartsdesk on Vinyl over the last month, all genres, all the time. Watch out for the forthcoming Christmas Special where we’ll endeavour to find the seasonal good cheer we’re not currently feeling.VINYL OF THE MONTHKimyan Low Yonda (Blue Mar Ten Music)

Outer Limits, Studio 9294 review - quickfire sets...

India Lewis

Whatever your office Christmas party was like, I can (almost) guarantee that it wasn’t as much fun as Fire Records’. Running from five to midnight in...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jim Sullivan

Kieron Tyler

Hugh Hefner established Playboy Records in 1972 as an arm of his male-targeted business empire. Amongst the singles issued in its first year were...

CD: Harry Styles - Fine Line

Owen Richards

Not all One Direction solo albums are created equally, and after Liam Payne's public ostracization for LP1, all eyes are on Harry Styles. His self-...

Albums of the Year 2019: Imperial Wax - Gastwerk Saboteurs

Guy Oddy

Ex-Fall guys top the year with vicious rockabilly and razor-sharp guitars

CD: Josh Rouse - The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse

Ellie Porter

Likeable singer-songwriter serves up an undemanding Christmas confection

Mark Lanegan Band, Roundhouse review - rocking reiteration of Mr Gruff’s persona

Kieron Tyler

Goth-edged attack is offset by upper-body swaying

CD: Robbie Williams – The Christmas Present

Kathryn Reilly

A saccharine concoction served up with lashings of cheese

Dido, Maida Vale Studios review - old hits bring unresolved irony

Sebastian Scotney

Percussionist Jody Linscott was a star in the backing band

Dinosaur Pile-Up, O2 Institute, Birmingham review - grungy punk poppers end the weekend on a high

Guy Oddy

Leeds grungers chase the winter blues away

CD: Los Lobos - LLegó Navidad

Russ Coffey

The Southern Californian quintet serve up some seasonal Latin flavours

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5

Kieron Tyler

After 15 years, the classic compilation series returns

Rick Wakeman’s Grumpy Old Christmas Show, Cadogan Hall review – solo piano and Yuletide nostalgia

Sebastian Scotney

Prog veteran serves up carols, jokes, The Beatles and Bowie

Rufus and Martha Wainwright, A Not So Silent Night, RFH review - Christmas, family-style

Liz Thomson

Glittery guests celebrate the season and remember Kate McGarrigle

My Baby, Concorde 2, Brighton review - Dutch three-piece deliver trance dance power

Thomas H Green

The best band you've never heard of set the night alight once again

CD: Rob Halford - Celestial

Guy Oddy

Judas Priest frontman spreads some Christmas cheer

ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition, O2 - one for the supergroup's completists

Veronica Lee

Some interesting nuggets unearthed

CD: Liam Payne - LP1

Thomas H Green

One Direction star's debut has electronic bounce and is sexy as service station forecourt flowers

IDLES, Barrowland, Glasgow review - rowdy and raucous, but with heart

Jonathan Geddes

The Bristol band's Glasgow gig provided noise and a party spirit

CD: Gang Starr - One of the Best Yet

Kathryn Reilly

Back by dope demand? Guru raps from beyond the grave on a mixed album

CD: The Who - WHO

Tim Cumming

A bracing and bellicose return for the rock giants

The Chemical Brothers, O2 review - eye-boggling monster rave-up

Thomas H Green

Giants of electronic dance music play their largest UK gig to a rapturous response

Bat for Lashes, St Bartholomew’s Church, Brighton review – a heartfelt homecoming

Nick Hasted

Natasha Khan conjures LA pop myths and South Coast ghosts

CD: U-Bahn - U-Bahn

Kieron Tyler

Got a hankering for early Devo? Look no further

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mercury Rev - All is Dream

Kieron Tyler

Expanded reissue of the 2001 album tells a new story

Amon Amarth, O2 Academy Brixton review – London welcomes its new Viking overlords

Ellie Porter

Swedish metal behemoths entertain with irresistible tales of myth and mayhem

CD: 10.000 Russos - Kompromat

Guy Oddy

Porto’s psychedelic power trio return with a scorcher

CD: Function - Existenz

Joe Muggs

Magnum opus from long-established staple of shadowy corners of New York and Berlin

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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