wed 21/02/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Femi Kuti - One People One World

Guy Oddy

A superstar elsewhere in the world, particularly in West Africa, Femi Kuti still lives somewhat unfairly in his dad, Fela Kuti’s shadow in the West.

CD: Snowpoet - Thought You Knew

Peter Quinn

While some albums cram in more fillers than a Christmas stocking, Thought You Knew, the second recording from the London-based group led by the 2016 Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year Lauren Kinsella and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson, is all about restraint and depth of feeling.“The Therapist” ushers you gently into the album’s delicate sound-world, underpinned by guitarist Nick Costley-White’s rippling chordal work. “Under the Tree” acts like an instrumental postscript – a dancing, minimalist...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Choir

Kieron Tyler

During the British Invasion years, a Cleveland, Ohio band called The Choir ploughed a Brit-focussed furrow from late 1964. Initially and tellingly,...

CD: Jonny Nash and Lindsay Todd - Fauna Mapping

Barney Harsent

A little over two years ago, The Arts Desk reviewed Hipnotik Tradisi, Black Merlin’s extraordinary first offering for Island of the Gods’ Island...

CD: Fever Ray - Plunge

Thomas H Green

This album has been about in virtual form since last autumn but now receives physical release. In more ways than one. Since theartsdesk didn’t review...

CD: Dreamweapon - SOL

Guy Oddy

Portuguese trio lay down some potent and trippy vibes

CD: The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment

Kieron Tyler

Mix-and-match take on golden-era indie offers much that’s familiar

CD: Young Echo - Young Echo

Joe Muggs

Bristol's deep and strange roots throw up gnarled new shoots

Kendrick Lamar, Manchester Arena review - Kung-Fu Kenny sets the stage alight

Javi Fedrick

Blistering set manages to marry the rapper’s religious faith with martial arts and pyrotechnics

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jon Savage's 1965

Kieron Tyler

Thrilling 48-track salute to ‘The Year the Sixties Ignited’

CD: Joan as Police Woman - Damned Devotion

Russ Coffey

The Brooklyn alt-soul singer sends an anti-Valentine card

Khruangbin, SWX, Bristol review - stoned stew of global sounds hits the mark

Phoebe Michaelides

Slick, tight and stylish, Texan trio's post-psychedelic sound enchants with a rare space age cool

CD: Belle & Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems, Parts 1, 2 and 3

Katie Colombus

An album for the superfans perhaps, but a tough one for non-devotees

CD: Stick in the Wheel - Follow Them True

Tim Cumming

Striking second album from London's folk insurrections

CD: Franz Ferdinand - Always Ascending

Kieron Tyler

Despite a change of line-up, the art-rockers plough familiar furrows

CD: GoGo Penguin - A Humdrum Star

Matthew Wright

Successful Manchester trio's contemporary fusion grows outside the jazz shadow

Reissue CDs Weekly: Chris Hillman

Kieron Tyler

The Seventies solo albums ‘Slippin’ Away’ and ‘Clear Sailin’’ reappear for reappraisal

Kings of The South Seas, Cutty Sark review - folly and tragedy resurrected

Tim Cumming

John Franklin returns in Kings of the South Seas' album launch on board the Cutty Sark

CD: Beth Nielsen Chapman - Hearts of Glass

Liz Thomson

Old gold and new on her first studio album in four years

CD: Ezra Furman - Transangelic Exodus

Kieron Tyler

The gender-fluid American singer-songwriter delivers a State of the Nation address

CD: Rae Morris - Someone Out There

Thomas H Green

Rising Lancashire pop hopeful has enough personality to break through predictable presentation

I'm With Her, Bush Hall review - folk supergroup debut album to treasure

Liz Thomson

Four years after their first impromtu performance, the trio launch See You Around

CD: Dream Wife - Dream Wife

Guy Oddy

Icelandic-British Riot Grrrls whip up a storm with their debut album

theartsdesk on Vinyl 36: Gary Numan, Wes Montgomery, Trevor Jackson, Propaganda and more

Thomas H Green

The widest-ranging record reviews in the solar system

CD: Saxon - Thunderbolt

Russ Coffey

The veteran metallers' new one is heavy and full of heart

Reissue CDs Weekly: How is the Air up There?

Kieron Tyler

Absorbing collection of freakbeat, mod and soul stylings from New Zealand

CD: Simple Minds – Walk Between Worlds

Barney Harsent

The last gang in Glasgow play it true to form and to a stadium crowd

CD: Above & Beyond - Common Ground

Joe Muggs

Plaintive sweetness wrestles with gigantic synthesiser fizz from the globe-straddling trance trio

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Mark E Smith

Tim Cumming

The transcript of an 2010 interview with The Fall frontman, who has died aged 60

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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