thu 20/09/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Prince - Piano and a Microphone 1983

Joe Muggs

Knowing a deceased artist's archives are available for re-release is a double-edged sword. Will there be a shoddy flood of any and every old bit of tat a la Jimi Hendrix? Will there be half-arsed, half-finished and even fake songs bodged together by trashy but popular modern dance remixers like Michael Jackson? Will the vaults just stay infuriatingly locked? With the impossibly prolific, but often self-indulgent Prince, it is doubly worrying: who has the rights?

David Crosby & Friends, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, review - still spine-tingling at 77

Ellie Porter

“This, quite possibly, could be a really good night,” declared David Crosby. He’s a couple of songs into this show, one of only two UK dates on the tour promoting his current album Sky Trails. Looking trim, beaming and in impeccable voice, the 77-year-old known as Croz fulfils his prophecy – and then some.

CD: Christine and the Queens - Chris

Katie Colombus

Christine has become Chris. The singer has struck out part of her name to gain a part of her identity – a gesture that quivers around words like...

10 Questions for singer Live Foyn Friis

Matthew Wright

Norwegian-Danish singer Live Foyn Friis (for English-speaking readers, Live is her first name) has released six albums, and leads several different...

CD: Malcolm Middleton - Bananas

Thomas H Green

Bananas is Malcolm Middleton’s first solo album to be built around guitar, bass, drums and all that stuff since 2009’s gorgeous Waxing Gibbous. Like...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Soft Cell

Kieron Tyler

‘Keychains & Snowstorms’ is a benchmark box-set reconfiguration of Messrs Almond and Ball’s hit-making years

CD: Glen Matlock - Good To Go

Kieron Tyler

Toughening-up needed on former Sex Pistol’s first solo album for two decades

Classic Albums: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black, BBC Four review - suffering turned into song

Mark Kidel

How the singer's second album made musical gold out of the blues

theartsdesk Radio Show 22 - the autumn's newest global sounds

Peter Culshaw

The latest globalist sound sensations including Indian gamelan, Somalian funk and Spanish trip-hop

CD: Hawkwind - Road to Utopia

Joe Muggs

The grizzled, grimey drug-rockers get an easy-listening makeover with somewhat surprising results

Arctic Monkeys, O2 review - musicanship and showmanship successfully collide

Kathryn Reilly

Sheffield rockers make up in concert performance execution what they have lost in charm

'I read French from left to right and Arabic from right to left': remembering Algerian rebel rocker Rachid Taha

Peter Culshaw

Recalling a night out drinking in Paris with the Algerian rocker who died this week

CD: Paul Weller – True Meanings

Barney Harsent

The Changing Man returns with an album of quietly wonderful surprises

CD: Loudon Wainwright III - Years in the Making

Mark Kidel

Intimate treasures from a long career in song

The The, Digbeth Arena, Birmingham review - Matt Johnson takes his political pop back on the road

Guy Oddy

The The return to a time when indie kids paid attention to the news but didn’t dance much

CD: Richard Thompson - 13 Rivers

Tim Cumming

RT's white-water ride down a new river of song

theartsdesk in Cologne: urban boutique on the Rhine

Kieron Tyler

c/o Pop festival clouded by uncertainties about Britain’s departure from the EU

Reissue CDs Weekly: Stella Chiweshe

Kieron Tyler

‘Kasahwa: Early Singles’: joyful collection of previously obscure tracks by Zimbabwe’s mbira marvel

CD: Willie Nelson - My Way

Thomas H Green

Sinatra standards delivered with unforced ease by the country don

CD: Orbital - Monsters Exist

Guy Oddy

The first album of the third coming of the Hartnoll brothers hits the right spot

CD: Paul McCartney - Egypt Station

Tim Cumming

All aboard for some late, great new tunes from Macca

CD: Kandace Springs - Indigo

Matthew Wright

A nice voice in search of an artistic vision

CD: Waxahatchee - Great Thunder EP

Jo Southerd

Brave solo offering, full of intimacy and warmth

Reissue CDs Weekly: Try A Little Sunshine

Kieron Tyler

Bold box-set celebration of 'The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1969'

CD: Teksti-TV 666 - Aidattu Tulevaisuus

Kieron Tyler

Intense, inventive and impactful Finnish reimagining of familiar touchstones

CD: Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt

Guy Oddy

Jason Pierce returns with more songs of heartbreak and redemption

CD: Many Angled Ones - Suicide: Songs of Alan Vega and Martin Rev

Thomas H Green

Collection of Suicide cover versions that has abrasive rock'n'techno bite

CD: IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance

Javi Fedrick

Bristol five-piece tear toxic masculinity a new one in searing second album

CD: Paul Simon - In The Blue Light

Thomas H Green

As he winds down his career the master songwriter takes a look back

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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