sun 26/03/2017

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wigwam

Kieron Tyler

Over 1972 to 1975, Finland staged a small-scale invasion of Britain. A friendly one, it was confined to music. First, the progressive rock band Tasavallan Presidentti came to London in May 1972 and played Ronnie Scott’s. The Sunday Times’ Derek Jewell said they were “frighteningly accomplished” and that readers should “watch them soar”.

CD: James Blunt - The Afterlove

Thomas H Green

There’s nowhere to go with this one, is there? Like any music writer, I want to come at James Blunt afresh. I’d love to say, “No, put your prejudices away, this album is actually alright and here’s why…”, but even the most accomplished sophist would, I suspect, find this impossible. That said, there’s not much quality difference between the better tracks here and those on Ed Sheeran’s well-loved, hugely successful Divide.

CD: Take That - Wonderland

Joe Muggs

One tries not to conflate the man and the music too much. Getting overly tangled up in questions of authenticity is a fool's errand, songs are...

Craig David, Brighton Centre

Thomas H Green

Craig David’s two-hour show, in two parts, receives an ecstatic response in Brighton. The audience, dominated by women in their twenties, is loudly...

CD: Goldfrapp – Silver Eye

Guy Oddy

Silver Eye is Goldfrapp’s seventh long-player in an 18-year career that has taken in electronica sounds of all stripes. It sees the duo make a stab...

10 Questions for Poet Tommy Sissons

Thomas H Green

Rising young poet talks war, grime, social media and... poetry

CD: Jethro Tull - The String Quartets

Russ Coffey

Is Ian Anderson's new LP faux-classical or just its own thing?

The Best Albums of 2017


theartsdesk's music critics pick their favourites of the year

CD: Yasmine Hamdan - Al Jamilat

Tim Cumming

Globe-trotting electropop from Beirut's original underground icon

Reissue CDs Weekly: Chuck Berry

Kieron Tyler

Fabulous collection shows how one man’s music helped change the world

CD: Judy Collins - A Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim

Liz Thomson

Judy Blue Eyes forsakes Stephen Stills for Stephen Sondheim

CD: The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy

Guy Oddy

East Kilbride’s finest return with their first album in almost 20 years - and it’s a cracker

French Touch, Red Gallery

Kieron Tyler

Ground-breaking exhibition digs into the history of French electronic music

CD: Zara Larsson - So Good

Thomas H Green

The female libido is rendered tawdry and predictable by rising Swedish pop star

theartsdesk in Bergen: Questions upon questions at Borealis Festival

Joe Muggs

The sublime, the ridiculous and the brain-cleansing in the bracing North Sea air

CD: Conor Oberst - Salutations

Russ Coffey

The re-recording of his magnum opus is more mellow - but is it as good?

Lula Pena, Café Oto

Peter Culshaw

Introspective intensity from a singular Portuguese artist

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kitchens of Distinction

Kieron Tyler

The rise and fall of an often-fabulous band charted on comprehensive box set

CD: Mary Ocher - The West Against the People

Joe Muggs

Berlin-based avant-pop songwriter has enough pop to balance the avant

CD: Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales - Room 29

Guy Oddy

An atmospheric song-cycle about decadent Old Hollywood from the Pulp frontman and his buddies

CD: The Moonlandingz - Interplanetary Class Classics

Kieron Tyler

Yoko Ono guests on wearisome Eccentronic Research Council spin off

CD: Fink - Fink's Sunday Night Blues Club Vol 1

Matthew Wright

Woozy, evocative but ultimately rather empty tilt at the blues

CD: Tamikrest - Kidal

Mark Kidel

The tired sound of one camel walking

CD: Miraculous Mule - Two Tonne Testimony

Thomas H Green

Passionate, paranoid heavy rock built for these times

Reissue CDs Weekly: Buzzcocks

Kieron Tyler

Fine box set of the oft-reissued earliest recordings by the pioneering Manchester band

CD: Ed Sheeran - Divide

Katie Colombus

A new grown-up edge to the familiar sound

theartsdesk Radio Show 18

Peter Culshaw

The latest global radio show including Brazilian electronica, Vietnamese Jazz and Ethiopian nostalgia

CD: Laura Marling - Semper Femina

Russ Coffey

The album of the singer's tattoo motto is designed to make you think, but also makes you feel

Apocalyptica, RFH

William Green

Scandinavian rockers reveal the cello in a whole new light

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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