sat 19/01/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kings Place review - a kaleidoscope of vibrant sound and vision

David Nice

Julia Wolfe, Caroline Shaw, Anna Þorvaldsdóttir: three names on quite a list I reeled off earlier this week when someone asked me why I found the compositions of Rebecca Saunders, in the news for winning the €250,000 Ernst von Siemens Prize, too arid, and whom I’d choose instead. Saunders gets a look-in at the very end of this Kings Place year of music by women, Venus Unwrapped, so I'll just have to try again.

theartsdesk Q&A: Hedvig Mollestad, Norway's bridge between heavy metal and jazz

Kieron Tyler

Norway’s Hedvig Mollestad Trio reset the dial to what jazz fusion sought to do when it emerged, and do so in such a way that it’s initially unclear whether they are a jazz-influenced heavy metal outfit or jazzers plunging feet-first

CD: The Dandy Warhols - Why You So Crazy

Guy Oddy

Why You So Crazy is a woozy, disorientating and spaced-out affair with a similar understated production to the Dandy Warhols last album, 2016’s...

CD: Morrissey and Marshall - And So It Began...

Liz Thomson

Well this is a treat. Darren Morrissey and Greg Marshall, London-based Dubliners who began their musical life in the fair city as front men of...

CD: William Tyler - Goes West

Kieron Tyler

Its Dali-esque sleeve image captures Goes West perfectly. Over its 10 instrumental tracks, the music drifts inwards from outside as if introducing...

CD: Abdesselam Damoussi and Nour Eddine - Jedba

Tim Cumming

Mesmerising musical ecstasies from Morocco

CD: Katie Doherty & The Navigators - And Then

Liz Thomson

Award-winning Geordie folk musician returns with long awaited second album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World

Kieron Tyler

Exhilarating salute to the Jewish music of London’s East End

CD: Monzen Nakacho - Necropolis Spaceway

Thomas H Green

South coast synth wizard's second album delivers a punchy, tuneful electronic odyssey

CD: Pedro the Lion - Phoenix

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Redemption and rebirth in a return to old haunts and old names

CD: Lorelle Meets the Obsolete – De Facto

Barney Harsent

The Mexican duo return with a head-spinning album of considered contrasts

CD: Venom - Storm the Gates

Guy Oddy

Black metallists reconvene for some further ear damage

CD: You Tell Me - You Tell Me

Kieron Tyler

Union of Admiral Fallow and Field Music members favours the latter over finding a new voice

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jon Savage's 1968

Kieron Tyler

‘The Year the World Burned’ captured in 48 tracks

CD: Yak - Pursuit of Momentary Happiness

Thomas H Green

Solid return for loud-rockin' London trio

theartsdesk Radio Show 23 - the hottest Brazil sounds for 2019 with guest Tiago Di Mauro

Peter Culshaw

New Year, New President, New Sounds - discoveries from Brazil

CD: Daniel Knox - Chasescene

Mark Kidel

More French chanson than Americana

Albums of the Year 2018: Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel

Jo Southerd

Cynicism and crippling self-doubt on relevant, relatable record

Albums of the Year 2018: Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere

Ellie Porter

Charismatic country singer arrives with her Grammy-nominated major-label debut

Albums of the Year 2018: Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer

Owen Richards

Irresistible pop nuggets delivered a message of positivity and social change

Reissue of the Year: Carola Baer - The Story of Valerie

Kieron Tyler

Collection of tracks from obscure early Nineties cassettes is 2018’s most arresting archive release

Albums of the Year 2018: Joan Baez - Whistle Down the Wind

Liz Thomson

Joan Baez bows out with an album that deserves all the plaudits

Albums of the Year 2018: Mari Kalkun - Ilmamõtsan

Kieron Tyler

Estonian singer-songwriter unites beauty and an understated power

Albums of the Year 2018: William Parker - Voices Fall From The Sky

Peter Quinn

A profoundly beautiful paean to the human voice

Albums of the Year 2018: Ry Cooder - The Prodigal Son

Mark Kidel

Music that stirs the soul in a year of increasingly dangerous politics

Ed Vulliamy: When Words Fail review - the band plays on

David Nice

Autobiography interwoven with a polyphony on music's healing in war and peace

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Beatles

Kieron Tyler

Rewritten history and revelations rub shoulders on the newly reconfigured ‘White Album’

Albums of the Year 2018: St Vincent - MassEducation

Russ Coffey

The New Yorker's once-more-with-feeling reboot was impossible to resist

Albums of the Year 2018: Helena Hauff - Qualm

Joe Muggs

The basic growls and howls of acid techno have power on and off the dancefloor

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

Close Footnote

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kings Place review - a kaleidoscope...

Julia Wolfe, Caroline Shaw, Anna Þorvaldsdóttir: three names on quite a list I reeled off earlier this week when someone asked me why...

theartsdesk Q&A: Hedvig Mollestad, Norway's bridge...

Norway’s Hedvig Mollestad Trio reset the dial to what...

CD: The Dandy Warhols - Why You So Crazy

Why You So Crazy is a woozy, disorientating and spaced-out affair with a similar understated production to the Dandy Warhols last album,...

American History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley, BBC...

The multi-costumed Lucy Worsley is television marmite, loved or loathed...

Murrihy, Britten Sinfonia, Elder, Barbican review – a countr...

As the January chill began to bite around the Barbican, Sir...

Beautiful Boy review - well-acted but a slog

The tortuous road to addiction and back again – or maybe not  makes for a faintly tedious experience in...

The Unreturning, Theatre Royal Stratford East review - hymn...

Nadia Fall is a good thing. Her appointment as the artistic director of this venue, with her first season having begun in September last year, has...

'Bringing things to life is what opera is all about...

I’m here in Leeds at the end of five weeks of quite intense rehearsals for...