thu 14/12/2017

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2017: Nick Mulvey - Wake Up Now

Thomas H Green

For the past few years my Album of the Year has leapt out at me, craved attention, stood out from the competition. With no disrespect to Nick Mulvey’s fine second album, that wasn’t the case in 2017. Many albums this year had vital, enjoyable music, but marred by much lesser songs.

theartsdesk on Vinyl 35: Christmas 2017 Special with Pink Floyd, Mariah Carey, ELO, Madness and more

Thomas H Green

The music business is about to disappear on holiday wholesale and we won’t see hide nor hair of it until mid-January. There’s just time for one last 2017 vinyl celebration. Regular readers should be warned that theartsdesk on Vinyl becomes rather easy-going at this time of year – must be all the Baileys – and prone to making allowances for the odd sliver of cheese and office-party silliness.

Albums of the Year 2017: Idles - Brutalism

Javi Fedrick

In March, Bristol’s Idles drove up and down the country, leaving painfully small quantities of their debut album Brutalism in each independent record...

CD: Gaspard Royant - Wishing You a Merry Christmas

Kieron Tyler

French stylist Gaspard Royant has recorded at London’s garage-rock-central studio Toe Rag and been produced by Edwyn Collins. Both fit a worldview...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Pentangle

Kieron Tyler

A nineteen-minute adaptation of “Jack Orion” took up the whole of Side Two of Cruel Sister, Pentangle’s fourth album. It's the highlight of the smart...

CD: Cheap Trick - Christmas Christmas

Guy Oddy

It’s a glammed-up Yuletide with the Illinois power pop veterans

Robert Plant, Royal Albert Hall review - the voice remains the same

Ralph Moore

Led Zeppelin frontman and his Sensational Space Shifters are joyously joined by Chrissie Hynde

CD: Tom Chaplin – Twelve Tales of Christmas

Barney Harsent

The former Keane frontman may have done a Christmas album, but don't expect a party

CD: Sia - Everyday Is Christmas

Thomas H Green

Well-made and enjoyable hokum from a giant of contemporary pop

CD: Christmas with Elvis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Liz Thomson

The ghost of Presley past

theartsdesk on Vinyl 34: Trent Reznor, Shpongle, Roni Size, Willie Nelson and more

Thomas H Green

The widest-ranging record reviews on this or any other planet

Tom Russell, 100 Club review - tales from a time-honoured troubadour

Liz Thomson

Bridging the great divide

CD: Alexander Armstrong - In a Winter Light

Russ Coffey

Mr Pimms O'Clock invites us in for some festive cheer

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Rolling Stones

Kieron Tyler

Aural makeover diminishes ‘On Air’, a significant collection of Jagger and Co’s Sixties BBC sessions

CD: Erlend Apneseth Trio - Åra

Kieron Tyler

Terrific recontextualisation of Norway’s Hardanger Fiddle

CD: Godflesh - Post Self

Guy Oddy

Industrial metal-heads’ eighth bring new sounds to their sonic Armageddon

CD: U2 - Songs of Experience

Barney Harsent

The Irish rockers return, but this time you'll have to pay to play…

CD: Kaukolampi - 1

Kieron Tyler

Heady first solo album from Finnish musical mainstay

CD: Scanner - Fibolae

Thomas H Green

Elegiac work from an electronic explorer who's been quiet for almost a decade

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Jam

Kieron Tyler

Warts-and-all box set dedicated to Rick Buckler, Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller’s 1977

CD: Björk - Utopia

Katie Colombus

Nature and classicism collide in a profoundly forward-thinking compendium of hope

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Nick Mulvey

Thomas H Green

The singer-songwriter opens up about ayahuasca, Ram Dass, the Standing Rock protests, the nature of death, and much more

Jools Holland and José Feliciano, Royal Albert Hall review - giving the audience what they expect

Sebastian Scotney

The live show stays close to the spirit of a 25-year TV phenomenon

CD: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Visitor

Liz Thomson

Neil Young plays his Trump card

CD: Martin Hayes Quartet - The Blue Room

Tim Cumming

Irish tunes revel in new chamber music settings

CD: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built The Moon

Russ Coffey

The ex-Oasis man spreads his wings

CD: Dark They Were And Golden Eyed - Design Your Dreams

Joe Muggs

Underground polymath Trevor Jackson pushes his self-releasing to preposterous levels

Reissue CDs Weekly: Phil Seymour

Kieron Tyler

Illuminating yet frustrating best-of dedicated to the ‘Prince of Power Pop’

CD: Mavis Staples - If All I Was Was Black

Liz Thomson

At 78, the queen of R&B marches on

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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