fri 14/08/2020

New Music reviews, news & interviews

AIM Awards 2020, SBTV review - a game attempt to rewire awards ceremonies

Joe Muggs

Music awards shows are a strange beast: part window display, part industry conference and part party. Especially if you don’t have Brit Awards or Mercury Prize budget to create a whizz-bang spectacle, the ceremonies can be an interminable pileup of attempts to earnestly celebrate both musicians and behind-the-scenes figures, in front of a room full of increasingly drunk and impatient people.

Album: Biffy Clyro - A Celebration of Endings

Mark Kidel

Together for over 20 years and with a string of incredibly successful albums, the Scottish trio return with a ninth release that offers more of the relatively sophisticated bombast they've consistently delivered, not least in perfectly-paced audience-pleasing festival performances.

New Music Unlocked 5: Biffy Clyro, Rave the Vote...

Thomas H Green

Although Metallica are screening a freshly recorded concert across America’s drive-in cinemas at the end of the month, we’re no nearer to actual gigs...

Album: James Dean Bradfield - Even In Exile

Lisa-Marie Ferla

One of the most evocative tracks on James Dean Bradfield’s second solo album is hardly his at all. The Manic Street Preacher takes “La Partida”, a...

Album: Tanya Donelly and The Parkington Sisters

Liz Thomson

It’s exciting to come to an album with no preconceptions and no context and find you fall immediately in love with it. Tanya Donelly is probably less...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dudu Phukwana and the "Spears"

Kieron Tyler

Dudu Pukwana’s Joe Boyd-produced debut album reappears, with added Fairport Convention input

Everything: The Real Thing Story, BBC Four review - brilliant but long overdue

Joe Muggs

The breakthrough Liverpudlian band's story told lovingly and not before time

Album: Moscoman - Time Slips Away

Barney Harsent

The producer leans full-tilt into synth-pop with an enviable commitment to quality

theartsdesk Q&A: Record label New Heavy Sounds

Thomas H Green

Co-founder Ged Murphy sheds light on the world of Britain's most original heavy rock independent

The Streets, EartH review - empathy in isolation

Nick Hasted

Garage laureate proves eager to connect

Album: Deep Purple - Whoosh!

Guy Oddy

The Purple machine just keeps on going

Album: Conrad Schnitzler & Frank Bretschneider - Con-Struct

Joe Muggs

Complete abstraction engenders a bizarre sense of familiarity

New Music Unlocked 4: The Streets, heavy metal, punk rock and R.E.M.

Thomas H Green

What's worth looking out for in music online over the coming week

Album: Glass Animals - Dreamland

Owen Richards

A woozy and familiar trip into surreal pop

Album: Fantastic Negrito - Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?

Guy Oddy

There’s another riot going on in the USA

Reissue CDs Weekly: Shellshock Rock

Kieron Tyler

Undiluted box-set salute to punk-era Northern Ireland

Album: Zapatilla - Zapatilla

Thomas H Green

Thoughtful Balearic dance-pop adds up to a delicious, easy going summer listen

Album: Alanis Morissette - Such Pretty Forks in the Road

Nick Hasted

Confessional progress in the Nineties megastar's ongoing mission

Album: Fontaines DC – A Hero's Death

Kathryn Reilly

The Dubliners return, bowed but not beaten by success

New Music Unlocked 3: Dermot Kennedy, Lollapalooza and Cambridge Folk

Thomas H Green

Save Our Venues and other tasty musical happenings this week

Album: The Psychedelic Furs - Made of Rain

Guy Oddy

The Butler brothers return with a swagger after almost 30 years

Album: Max Richter - Voices

Mark Kidel

Stirring musical reminder of universal human rights

Reissue CDs Weekly: Oneness Of Juju - African Rhythms 1970-1982

Kieron Tyler

Driving jazz, grooves, funk and electrifying percussion from James 'Plunky' Branch and Co

Album: Taylor Swift - folklore

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Lowkey lockdown storytelling to save your summer from one of pop's brightest stars

Nick Cave, Alone at Alexandra Palace review - mournful beauty from the king of misery

India Lewis

A stripped back set is the perfect setting for Cave's lyricism

Album: Maria Schneider Orchestra – Data Lords

Sebastian Scotney

A great double album inhabiting two worlds

Album: Courtney Marie Andrews - Old Flowers

Liz Thomson

Songs of an achy breaky heart, but with real feeling

New Music Unlocked 2: Nick Cave, Tomorrowland, The Prodigy, The Clangers and more

Thomas H Green

Previewing the wild array of new music events available this week

Reissue CDs Weekly: Super Sonics - Martin Green Presents 40 Junkshop Britpop Greats

Kieron Tyler

Britpop filtered by a man who knows

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

Close Footnote

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Spree review - a wild ride through social media madness

Allergic to that word “influencer”? Afraid that social...

Mandy, BBC2 review - Diane Morgan's new creation

Mandy started life in the Comedy Shorts season last year, and has now been given a six-part series. Diane Morgan, who has a...

Theatre Unlocked 4: Shows in concert and a contemporary clas...

After months spent sifting amongst the virtual, I'm pleased to report that live performance looks to be on the (socially distanced) rebound. The...

Pinocchio review - wooden heart

This seems a perfect project for Matteo Garrone, a director who has found new ways to conjure old Italian dreams, and invests even his most grimly...

AIM Awards 2020, SBTV review - a game attempt to rewire awar...

Music awards shows are a strange beast: part window display, part industry conference and part party. Especially if you don’t have Brit Awards or...

Charles Owen, Fidelio Orchestra Café review - high-profile,...

Composer Gian-Carlo Menotti once asked rhetorically what society wanted of performing artists – “the bread of life or the after-dinner mint?”...

Album: Biffy Clyro - A Celebration of Endings

Together for over 20 years and with a string of incredibly successful albums, the...

Fanny and Stella, Garden Theatre review - a saucy slice of q...

In a purgatorial summer, this boisterous, camp and chaotically charming...

Cuba: Castro vs the World, BBC Two - turbulent life and time...

During World War Two, President Franklin D Roosevelt described the USA as “the arsenal of democracy”. Only a couple of decades later, Fidel Castro...

The Telephone, Scottish Opera/Cargill, RSNO, Søndergård, Edi...

Lockdown, perhaps more than any other time, has amplified how ...