fri 01/12/2023

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Album: Ghost Woman - Hindsight Is 50/50

Guy Oddy

Ghost Woman’s 2022 self-titled album and this January’s swift follow-up Anne, If were both fairly laidback and spaced out affairs, with echoes of Beak’s free form motorik grooves and the Byrds’ pastoral psychedelia.

Album: Trevor Horn - Echoes: Ancient & Modern

Thomas H Green

A deathless trend in pop is taking great songs, slowing them down, doing orchestral versions, or rendering them raw acoustic. This, ostensibly, reveals their genius and/or brings them a new audience. Rarely, it can work, as on Johnny Cash’s final albums, but usually it simply renders sonic perfection as bland, naff slop. Such is the case with Trevor Horn’s latest.

Album: Peter Gabriel - I/O

Graham Fuller

Some 28 years in gestation, Peter Gabriel’s eighth studio album of wholly original songs – his first since 2002’s Up – will delight his fans and top...

CMAT, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - an...

Jonathan Geddes

There was a moment towards the end of this exuberant evening when Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson compared the show to a pantomime. This was an extremely...

Album: Harp - Albion

Kieron Tyler

After leaving Midlake while recording their fourth album, Tim Smith said he was pursuing music under the name Harp. That was in 2012. Smith had been...

This Is The Kit, Barbican review - familiarity and charm

India Lewis

A beautifully orchestrated end to a tour

Music Reissues Weekly: Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

Kieron Tyler

Head-spinning box-set makeover of Marc Almond and Dave Ball’s landmark 1981 debut album

Album: Catrin Finch & Aoife Ni Bhriain - Double You

Tim Cumming

Divine harp-and-violin duets focused on the folklore of bees

Album: Take That - This Life

Thomas H Green

The national treasure trio don't have enough tunes to counteract the bland production

Album: Joe Jackson - Joe Jackson Presents Max Champion in What a Racket!

Graham Fuller

A note perfect music hall pastiche with a potent whiff of modernity

Nikki Iles featuring the NDR Bigband, EFG London Jazz Festival, Cadogan Hall review - boundless artistry in harmony

Peter Quinn

An unforgettable hymn to the beauty of imperfection

Greta Van Fleet, OVO Hydro, Glasgow review - all rock and very little roll

Jonathan Geddes

The retro rock band were too often sluggish during their arena show

Album: Abigail Lapell - Lullabies

Thomas H Green

Canadian singer takes a short, sweet, somnambulant sojourn

EFG London Jazz Festival 2023 round-up review - vital sparks crossing and uniting generations

Sebastian Scotney

From Sultan Stevenson, 22, to Elaine Delmar, 84, great small-venue shows around the festival

Eurythmics Songbook Featuring Dave Stewart, London Palladium review - Annie Lennox would be proud

Liz Thomson

Forty years on, father and daughter let it rock

Album: Kurt Vile - Back to Moon Beach

Ellie Roberts

Recycled riffs and covers are an enjoyable listen

Music Reissues Weekly: High Tide - The Complete Liberty Recordings

Kieron Tyler

Heavy, dark and relentless music from the London underground of 1969 and 1970

Christine Tobin, EFG London Jazz Festival, World Heart Beat review - an enchanting ode to home

Peter Quinn

A new song cycle from one of contemporary music’s unique compositional voices

Sisters of Mercy, KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton review - Goth veterans return to the fray

Guy Oddy

Former arch Goths add a metallic sheen to songs old and new

Album: Matt Berry - Simplicity

Kathryn Reilly

Berry writes for TV - but not in the way you'd think

Les Égarés, London Jazz Festival, Cadogan Hall review - a wondrous musical conversation

Mark Kidel

Singular talents make collective magic

Album: Rockstar - Dolly Parton

Liz Thomson

An indulgence, but who would begrudge her?

Death Cult, O2 Institute, Birmingham review - The Cult revisit their post-punk roots

Guy Oddy

A blistering return to the early Eighties by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy

Le Guess Who? 2023, Utrecht - deep listening and deft dancing

Cheri Amour

The music festival celebrates its quarter-century reign over the Dutch city

Album: Lucidvox - That's What Remained

Kieron Tyler

Russian quartet’s instantly captivating second album

Ben Folds, Royal Albert Hall review - piano pyrotechnics and modern musings

Bernard Hughes

A relaxed run through old classics and new delights

Album: Madness - Theatre of the Absurd presents C'Est la Vie

Thomas H Green

A tuneful, witty, melancholy and dynamic state-of-the-nation address

Hiromi's Sonicwonder, EFG London Jazz Festival, Barbican review - keyboard fireworks from a brilliantly versatile jazz pianist

Rachel Halliburton

Two very different sides of this extraordinary musician's creativity

theartsdesk on Vinyl 80: Nanci Griffith, Scuba, Dope Lemon, Aerosmith, Bob Marley, Pharoah Sanders and more

Thomas H Green

The most extensive regular record reviews in the known universe

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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