sun 15/01/2017

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Roy Acuff

Kieron Tyler

In 1942, Roy Acuff set up Acuff-Rose Music in partnership with Nashville-based songwriter and talent scout Fred Rose. The new publishing company was dedicated to treating songwriters decently. They would not be cheated out of their copyrights. There would be clear and honest accounting. The contracts offered would have better percentages than rival publishers. There would be no shady deals.

CD: Petite Meller - Lil Empire

Thomas H Green

God knows we need originality in pop, and French singer Petite Meller delivers it. At least, she does visually, which, in 2017, is 50 percent of the game. Like Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord, she offers a direct subversion of femininity. However, where Visser is confrontationally satirical, Meller’s image is uncomfortable, creepy even, Picnic at Hanging Rock Victoriana by way of rouged baby doll mannequin weirdness. The music is more straightforward.

CD: Brian Eno - Reflection

Mark Kidel

Eno pioneered ambient music way back in the 1970s, in collaborations with Robert Fripp, Jon Hassell, Harold Budd, and on his own label. His new album...

CD: Michael Chapman - 50

Kieron Tyler

50 is titled to mark fifty years of touring. Now 75, Michael Chapman released Rainmaker, his first album, in 1969. Though well-known devotees have...

CD: Trish Clowes - My Iris

Matthew Wright

Saxophonist, composer and former Radio 3 New Generation Artist Trish Clowes has created a reputation for original chamber jazz of densely woven...

CD: Laurie Shaw - Felted Fruit

Barney Harsent

An overlooked Christmas present for lovers of psych pop gems

David Bowie: The Last Five Years, BBC Two

Jasper Rees

From Reality to finality: Bowie's 70th birthday is celebrated with a searching look at his late renaissance

Reissue CDs Weekly: Action Time Vision

Kieron Tyler

Thought-provoking box set dedicated to British independent-label punk rock

CD: Camilla George Quartet - Isang

Peter Quinn

Alto saxist's debut offers a striking voyage of discovery

CD: The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody

Kieron Tyler

A once-great band needs to pull its socks up

Albums of the Year: Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker

Mark Kidel

Music at death's door from a late master - and other intimations of mortality

Albums of the Year: Anohni - Hopelessness

Bernadette McNulty

In 2016, who gave us the nightmarish sound of the present?

Albums of the Year: Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

Russ Coffey

Thom Yorke captured the fearful sound of alienation in 2016

Albums of the Year: Paul Simon – Stranger to Stranger

Adam Sweeting

Still making new musical discoveries after 50 years in the business

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mikael Tariverdiev

Kieron Tyler

Melancholy soundtrack of Russian classic ‘The Irony of Fate’ is brought to Anglophone listeners

Albums of the Year: Christine Tobin - Pelt

Peter Quinn

Poetry and music combine to powerful effect in Tobin's Muldoon songbook

Albums of the Year: Dolly Parton - Pure & Simple

Liz Thomson

Dolly mixture: 'garage band' simplicity coupled with a Glastonbury giveaway

Albums of the Year: Sia - This Is Acting

Katie Colombus

The 2016 album that offered pieces of herself to others, came up trumps for Sia

Albums of the Year: Blackstar - David Bowie

Howard Male

An ending that could have been a new beginning

Albums of the Year: Swans - The Glowing Man

Guy Oddy

Michael Gira calls time on the latest Swans line-up with a career high. Plus Soulwax and Bosco Rogers

Reissue CD of the Year: Robert Bensick

Kieron Tyler

Lost art-rock masterpiece ‘French Pictures in London’ finally gets its day in the sun

CD: Neil Diamond - Acoustic Christmas

Russ Coffey

Brooding versions of seasonal classics provide a fitting end to the year

Albums of the Year: Autarkic - Can You Pass the Knife?

Barney Harsent

Producer Nadav Spiegel's debut shone in a year that wasn't shy of contenders

Albums of the Year: Shabaka and the Ancestors - Wisdom of Elders

Matthew Wright

British-South African musical dialogue with the past and future of jazz

Albums of the Year: Yves Tumor - Serpent Music

Joe Muggs

Among a diffuse movement of new black electronica, Yves Tumor shone out

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sun Ra

Kieron Tyler

Singles collection provides the one-stop overview the jazz adventurer needed

Albums of the Year: Beyoncé - Lemonade

Lisa-Marie Ferla

In 2016's tribe of 'nasty women', there was only one Queen

Albums of the Year: Mikko Joensuu - Amen 1

Kieron Tyler

Crisis of faith suffuses Finnish singer-songwriter’s debut solo album with an extraordinary intensity

Primal Scream, Brighton Dome

Thomas H Green

Ever-mutating rock veterans catch a fire on the south coast

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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