sat 19/10/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

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

Mark Kidel

PJ Harvey is not just a consummate rock musician but a multi-talented artist, who has re-invented herself throughout her career. She paints and makes sculpture, has participated with Artangel in an ambitious art installation, and written and performed theatre and film music.

CD: Allah-Las - LAHS

Kieron Tyler

It’s unfortunate that LAHS’s opening track is titled “Holding Pattern” as the album only achieves lift off with its ninth cut “Light Yearly”, a chugging workout with spiralling guitar and echoes of Sixties folk rock if it were refracted through an opaque crystal.

The Struts, O2 Forum Kentish Town review - a...

Ellie Porter

Having exploded on to the scene like a cross between Queen and My Chemical Romance, Derby’s young glam-rock upstarts the Struts are on top of the...

Richard Hawley, Barrowland, Glasgow - black clad...

Jonathan Geddes

When Richard Hawley arrived onstage, he had a confession to make. “I like to talk”, he declared, before adding “and play rock n’ roll”. Both were...

Bill Frisell's Harmony, Cadogan Hall review...

Sebastian Scotney

“Bill Frisell is all about sound and melody and enhancing whatever context he is in.” That quote, which defines both the American guitarist’s gentle...

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

CD: Wilco - Ode to Joy

Nick Hasted

Love in the time of Trump

CD: The Menzingers - Hello Exile

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Pennsylvania punks channel ageing disgracefully into grown-up punk rock

Richard Thompson 70th Birthday Celebration, Royal Albert Hall review - not just a family affair

Tim Cumming

Special-guest laden celebration of all things RT

Minimalism Changed My Life: Tones, Drones and Arpeggios, QEH review - from Cage and Reich to 'Tubular Bells'

Tim Cumming

Charles Hazlewood explores 'the last big idea in classical music'

theartsdesk on Vinyl 53: U2, Moonlight Parade, Oasis, Stray Cats, Crass, Prefab Sprout and more

Thomas H Green

Possibly the most extensive monthly vinyl reviews in the world

CD: Tonbruket - Masters of Fog

Tim Cumming

Swedish quartet celebrates 10 years with fifth jazz-rock fusion album

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

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


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

Spiral, Series 7, BBC Four review - hard-hitting return of o...

And welcome back to our favourite French cop show – perhaps our favourite...

The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera review - amorpho...

Advance publicity overstated the case for The Mask of Orpheus. "Iconic"? Only to academics and acolytes, for British audiences haven't...

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review - fantasy follow-up fall...

Angelina Jolie is back again with those cut-glass cheekbones and...

Don Pasquale, Royal Opera review - fun and frolics in stylis...

Venetian director Damiano Michieletto’s new...

Glennie, Lubbe, Ticciati, O/Modernt, Kings Place review - a...

Some of the greatest pieces of the string orchestra repertoire are based on pre-existing pieces: the fantasias by Tippett and Vaughan Williams, on...

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

PJ Harvey is not just a consummate rock musician but a multi-...

The deathless Alicia Alonso, in person

The magnificent, controversial Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, who asserted that she would live to 200, died yesterday in Havana, aged nearly 99....

Giri/Haji, BBC Two review - inspired Anglo-Japanese thriller...

Well here’s an interesting one. We’ve been up to our eyebrows in Eurocops for the past few years, but this Anglo-Japanese fusion from...

[Blank], Donmar Warehouse review - strong but dispiriting

Clean Break, the theatre company that specialises in working with women in the criminal justice system, is doing a lot of celebrating. It's the...