wed 23/10/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Kiefer Sutherland, Shepherd's Bush Empire review - actor totally convinces as country rocker

Ellie Porter

There’s no getting around it – it’s very surreal indeed to be in the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and see an eye-wateringly famous movie and TV star rocking out on stage.

CD: James Blunt - Once Upon a Mind

Russ Coffey

James Blunt loves to joke about how gloomy his songs are and he says Once Upon a Mind is his most depressing collection yet. But the truth is that the album is really just agonisingly safe and painfully middle-of-the-road. (For the most part) Blunt has stared into his dark night of the soul and turned it into something beige and inoffensive.Partly it's the voice. That thin, strangely inert warble. It's also Blunt's tendency to treat every subject as a melancholy singalong. You might...

CD: Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Colorado

Nick Hasted

Neil Young’s prolific, patchy output rejects the very notion of major releases, though only a major artist would be given so much rope. His thirtieth...

Hot Chip, Barrowland, Glasgow review - dancefloor...

Jonathan Geddes

Familiarity evidently does not breed contempt, at least in the case of Hot Chip and Glasgow. This was the band’s third appearance on Glaswegian soil...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Kinks - Arthur or the...

Kieron Tyler

Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire hasn’t had the stratospheric levels of praise as the preceding Kinks album, 1968’s The Kinks Are...

10 Questions for musician Craig Finn

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Hold Steady frontman on his "more vulnerable" solo work and mental health on the road

CD: PJ Harvey - All About Eve (Original Music)

Mark Kidel

Moody soundscapes from West End play

CD: Allah-Las - LAHS

Kieron Tyler

Underwhelming fourth album from the previously sprightly Los Angeles quartet

The Struts, O2 Forum Kentish Town review - a masterclass in pleasing an audience

Ellie Porter

There's no shortage of love for the Derby glam-rockers at this wildly entertaining show

Richard Hawley, Barrowland, Glasgow - black clad crooner's songs remain full of atmosphere and heart

Jonathan Geddes

The singer was in playful form at the Barrowland

Bill Frisell's Harmony, Cadogan Hall review – superb Americana

Sebastian Scotney

A great new project with voices takes in Lerner and Loewe and Bowie

CD: Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2

Mark Kidel

Intelligent pop with poetry and heart

CD: James Arthur - You

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Pop delinquent grows up on extended third album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dip - Ḣ-Camp Meets Lo-Fi

Kieron Tyler

Collaboration between former Sugarcube and the evolving Jóhann Jóhannsson subverts expectations

PP Arnold, Islington Assembly Hall review - joy in a consummate musical setting

Kieron Tyler

The claim of being 'London’s first lady of soul' is shown to be no idle boast

CD: Mark Lanegan Band - Somebody's Knocking

Kieron Tyler

The growling auteur continues his purple period with an album of winningly dark pop

CD: Jacques Greene - Dawn Chorus

Thomas H Green

Housey electronic suite from Toronto producer is gently alluring

Black Flag, The Mill, Birmingham review – hardcore punk originators come up trumps

Guy Oddy

Greg Ginn’s crew set ears ringing and answer the doubters

CD: Elbow - Giants of All Sizes

Nick Hasted

Brutal times put Guy Garvey at bay

Alice Cooper, The Stranglers, MC50, Brighton Centre review - a triple-headed blast of vintage rock

Thomas H Green

Alice Cooper holds his own alongside 24 carat support acts

CD: Lightning Bolt - Sonic Citadel

Guy Oddy

Adrenalin-soaked wild abandon from the bass and drum duo

Kano, Brighton Dome review - simply joyous

Nick Hasted

Grime king exhilaratingly delivers home truths

Two Door Cinema Club, O2 Academy, Glasgow - lively but risk averse party songs for the weekend

Jonathan Geddes

The Irish trio were in Glasgow supporting new album False Alarm

CD: Babymetal - Metal Galaxy

Katie Colombus

Heavy metal meets cutesy Kawaii in an incongruous and deeply baffling blend

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Hollywood Stars - Sound City

Kieron Tyler

Unreleased 1976 album revealed as unlikely pointer towards hair metal

Rodrigo y Gabriela, Eventim Apollo Hammersmith review - fiery flamenco rock

Katie Colombus

A rare live experience of synergy, unique musicality and Buddhist alchemy

CD: 808 State - Transmission Suite

Thomas H Green

First album in 17 years from Mancunian electronic innovators is an engaging retro-futurist ear-journey

Jambinai, Purcell Room - launching K-Music Festival with a wall of sound

Tim Cumming

This year's opening offers a powerful melding of Korean folk and post-rock

CD: Mika - My Name is Michael Holbrook

Joe Muggs

The arch ostentatiousness and grandiosity of Mika's pop are all still intact

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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