fri 18/08/2017

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Man Duo - Orbit

Kieron Tyler

True to their name, Finland’s Man Duo are male and there are two of them. The better-known half is former Helsinki tram driver Jaakko Eino Kalevi. Born Jaakko Savolainen – the Kalevi nods to his home country’s epic tale, The Kalevala – his long solo discography stretches back to 2001. That year, he made a collaborative single with Sami Toroi, who traded as Long-Sam.

CD: Gogol Bordello - Seekers and Finders

Thomas H Green

As a live phenomenon Gogol Bordello are unstoppable, a crowd-whipping Balkan-punk storm that sweeps venues away with them. For some years this blinded me to their recorded output. Their albums sent shivers up my spine, a tinctured version of their explosive performances, and I was unable to understand why, despite their wildness, rock’n’roll attitude, and ability to rip out a solid tune, their success remained of the cult variety. Listening to Seekers and Finders, things are clearer.Frontman...

CD: Dent May - Across the Multiverse

Kieron Tyler

As the title and Seventies-style cover image indicate, Across the Multiverse is knowing. Though the “Across the Universe” reference nods to The...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Noise Reduction System

Kieron Tyler

Last year, the arrival of Close to the Noise Floor compelled theartsdesk’s Reissue CDs Weekly to conclude that it was “hugely important and utterly...

CD: Lucky Soul – Hard Lines

Barney Harsent

We are living, I think it’s fair to say, in troubled times. That is, if we’re living at all by the time of publication. Putting aside, for a second,...

CD: Kesha - Rainbow

Thomas H Green

Kesha's comeback is full of vim and studded with gems which bode well for the future

theartsdesk on Vinyl 31: Psychic TV, Kendrick Lamar, Brian Eno, Stan Getz and more

Thomas H Green

The most diverse record reviews out there

The Best Albums of 2017


theartsdesk's music critics pick their favourites of the year

CD: Richard Thompson - Acoustic Classics II

Russ Coffey

Another unplugged journey around the old master's back-catalogue

CD: The Duke Spirit - Sky is Mine

Javi Fedrick

Fifth album from London alt-rockers comes on thoughtful but tough

CD: ZGTO - A Piece of the Geto

Thomas H Green

Detroit duo take hip hop off the rails into outright strangeness

Reissue CDs Weekly: Fairport Convention

Kieron Tyler

The British musical institution’s first decade is celebrated by a shape-shifting box set

CD: Offa Rex - The Queen of Hearts

Tim Cumming

Olivia Chaney and Portland's Decemberists channel the golden age of English folk rock

CD: Rat Boy - SCUM

Thomas H Green

Occasionally invigorating, often irritating debut from cheerfully loud-mouthed geezer and band

Goat/Moonlandingz, Brixton O2 Academy review - a feast of modern psychedelic rock

Javi Fedrick

Top nu-psych package concert shakes the venue and the audience

CD: Songdog - Joy Street

Liz Thomson

Lyndon Morgans gathers fine musicians to channel Dylan, Waits and Dire Straits

Camp Bestival 2017 review - family festival drenched but exuberant

Thomas H Green

Mister Maker, Right Said Fred and a few thousand families face down rain-storms with aplomb

CD: James Heather - Stories From Far Away on Piano

Thomas H Green

Nine piano pieces that announce a new contender

WOMAD 2017, Charlton Park review 2 - utopian globalist festival dances through the rain

Peter Culshaw

Old-style Senegalese magic, Swedish shamans, Italian trance - and more

Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park review - a mini-Glastonbury of the border lands

Graeme Thomson

Happy Mondays, Slaves, Brian Wilson and Franz Ferdinand, plus many off-peak delights, in the muddy magic of the Cumbrian countryside

Indigo Girls, Islington Assembly Hall review - exhilarating and generous

Liz Thomson

Folk duo close first UK tour since 2009 with Lucy Wainwright Roche in support

WOMAD 2017, Charlton Park review - multicultural nirvana transcends mud-bath conditions

Tim Cumming

New names make big impressions at the 35th edition of the world music festival

Silver Birch, Garsington Opera review - gritty drama in the Chilterns

Helen Wallace

A community coheres in a thoughtful opera on war and manhood

CD: Girl Ray - Earl Grey

Kieron Tyler

London trio’s debut album is a winning update of Eighties indie archetypes

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Cadogan Hall review - peace, love and harmonies

Liz Thomson

South African family choir still soothing after all these years, with European support

Reissue CDs Weekly: Marylebone Beat Girls, Milk of the Tree

Kieron Tyler

From the mid-Sixties to the early Seventies, the shifting context of the female voice is chronicled

CD: Randy Newman - Dark Matter

Russ Coffey

The veteran songsmith's latest LP swaps the political for the personal

theartsdesk at Førdefestivalen - fado, tango and desert blues among the Norwegian fjords

Tim Cumming

Where the north gathers the music of the world around itself

CD: Black Grape - Pop Voodoo

Guy Oddy

Shaun Ryder and Kermit unexpectedly bounce back after 20 years

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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