fri 23/10/2020

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Album: Bruce Springsteen - Letter to You

Mark Kidel

As he cruises into the autumn of his life, 71 year-old Bruce Springsteen, The Boss, as he's generally known, revisits territory that will sound very familiar to his fans. Perhaps that's what's needed, at this time when those core American values he's sung about with enduring passion seem threatened as never before.

Album: Melody Gardot - Sunset in the Blue

Liz Thomson

What a pick-me-up this album is. Released as the days darken, literally and metaphorically, it’s a real joy – a transport of delight to dappled squares in Paris or Lisbon, or a street party in Rio.

Album: Songhoy Blues - Optimisme

Guy Oddy

It’s not hard to understand why so many people in the UK really don’t like political pop and rock music. For one, you only have to look at the clowns...

Album: Faithless - All Blessed

Thomas H Green

The big news is that this is Faithless’s first album without longterm frontman Maxi Jazz. Instead, remaining members Rollo and Sister Bliss work with...

Reissue CDs Weekly: La Locura de Machuca

Kieron Tyler

La Locura de Machuca translates as “the madness of Machuca.” A Colombian label which issued its first record in 1975, Machuca was active until 1995....

The Divine Comedy: Live from the Barbican review – thirty years of great songs

Bernard Hughes

Neil Hannon marks the anniversary with a joyful trawl through his catalogue

Album: Rodrigo Leão - O Método

Mark Kidel

Mood music for melancholics

Album: Headie One - Edna

Joe Muggs

London's most dramatic drill success story tries to bridge his past life and mainstream acceptance

Album: The Struts - Strange Days

Ellie Porter

Glam rock revivalists get productive during lockdown for entertaining third album

Album: Annie - Dark Hearts

Thomas H Green

Cult Norwegian pop star makes a long overdue and welcome synth-pop return

Album: Dub Pistols - Addict

Guy Oddy

A riotous hip-shaker from Barry Ashworth’s mob

Reissue CDs Weekly: Crass - The Crassical Collection

Kieron Tyler

The entire catalogue of the totemic anarcho-punk disruptors is revisited - again

theartsdesk Q&A: Sally Anne Gross and Dr George Musgrave, authors of 'Can Music Make You Sick?'

Joe Muggs

On World Mental Health Day we meet the authors of an incisive new study of music and musicians

Album: Katie Melua - Album No 8

Liz Thomson

Grown-up at last

Album: Emmy the Great - April / 月音

Thomas H Green

Singer-songwriter comes back with a luscious album loosely conceived around her Hong Kong origins

Album: Ozric Tentacles - Space for the Earth

Guy Oddy

The post-rave Gong are back but the song remains much the same

Album: Loudon Wainwright III with Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks – I’d Rather Lead a Band

Liz Thomson

Loudon looks back at the Jazz Age

Reissue CDs Weekly: Peephole In My Brain - British Progressive Pop Sounds Of 1971

Kieron Tyler

A fresh perspective on the year glam rock began flexing its muscles

Album: Andy Bell - The View From Halfway Down

Barney Harsent

The Ride guitarist's solo debut gives us a glimpse of an impressive panorama

Album: BaBa ZuLa - Hayvan Gibi

Mark Kidel

Direct-to-disc Turkish psych-folk in a well-travelled groove

Album: Melanie C - Melanie C

Joe Muggs

The nicest Spice Girl gets a disco reinvention on her eighth album

Album: Groove Armada - Edge of the Horizon

Thomas H Green

First album in ten years from hit-making dance duo is a yacht rock stinker

Reissue CDs Weekly: Helen Shapiro - Face The Music The Complete Singles 1967-1984

Kieron Tyler

A lack of hits doesn't weaken this homage to the UK’s first home-grown female pop star

Album: Róisín Murphy - Róisín Machine

Joe Muggs

Murphy and long time Sheffield comrade deliver the disco goods

Album: Corey Taylor - CMFT

Guy Oddy

A wealthy, middle-aged rock star releases an insipid vanity project

theartsdesk Q&A: musician Kevin Rowland - 'it was painful to be misunderstood and misinterpreted'

Kieron Tyler

To coincide with its reissue, the Dexys Midnight Runners lynchpin considers his solo album ‘My Beauty’

Album: Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?

Kathryn Reilly

Most of their heroes STILL don't appear on no stamps, and PE are mad as hell about it

Album: Sufjan Stevens - The Ascension

Mark Kidel

A brilliant song cycle for our times

Reissue CDs Weekly: John Coltrane - Giant Steps

Kieron Tyler

60th-anniversary edition of the jazz landmark doesn’t go far enough

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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