fri 22/03/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sleeper - The Modern Age

Guy Oddy

While Oasis have so far resisted the temptation of the big pay-off that a Gallagher family reunion would ensure, plenty of other Britpoppers have been considerably less coy about getting back together since the heady days of the 1990s. We’ve already had reunions from Blur (albeit temporarily), Suede, Dodgy and even Shed Seven.

CD: Shy FX - Raggamuffin SoundTape

Joe Muggs

Everything about this mixtape oozes confidence. It crams 12 tracks plus interludes – all produced by Andre “Shy FX” Williams – into barely more than half an hour. It happily leaves “Roll the Dice”, the single which conquered club and radio and featured Lily Allen, until last.

CD: Lucy Rose - No Words Left

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Every so often, an album reminds you that, done properly, the art form is more than just a collection of songs. Barely 35 minutes in length, Lucy...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Where The Girls Are Volume Ten

Kieron Tyler

The US music trade weekly Cashbox chose a picture of the then-hot Diana Ross & the Supremes and Temptations joint enterprise for the cover of its...

Yxng Bane, Brixton Academy review - all the fam...

Katherine Waters

There’s a wolf howl and Yxng Bane (pronounced Young Bane) jumps off a block on stage and his furry hooded coat flies open and the arena erupts in...

CD: The Brian Jonestown Massacre - The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Russ Coffey

Anton Newcombe is a changed man. Fortunately his music remains the same

Loreena McKennitt, Royal Albert Hall review - making Celtic connections

Liz Thomson

A magical musical mystery tour

CD: Stephen Malkmus - Groove Denied

Kieron Tyler

Wayward solo set hits the shops two years after its creator wanted it issued

CD: UB40 - For the Many

Barney Harsent

The British reggae band release a new Labour of Love

CD: Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe

Asya Draganova

An invitation to an inward journey

CD: Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1

Mark Kidel

Smart Power Pop strikes again

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Residents

Kieron Tyler

Expanded editions of the bold ‘Eskimo’ and the provocative ‘The Commercial Album’

CD: Deafkids - Metaprogramação

Guy Oddy

Brazilian noisy psychedelicists play a blinder

I'm Every Woman, JW3, London - a musical celebration of International Women's Day

Liz Thomson

A journey through womanhood

theartsdesk in Zanzibar - behind the veil

Andy Morgan

Searching for the real island at this year's Sauti za Busara festival of African Music

CD: Karen O and Danger Mouse - Lux Prima

Owen Richards

A great album that could’ve been one of the greats

Jason Mraz, Royal Albert Hall review - a rare UK visit from the Grammy-winning organic farmer

Liz Thomson

Platinum albums with a side of organic avocados and coffee

CD: Sigrid - Sucker Punch

Lisa-Marie Ferla

You may have heard this one before, but it's worth revisiting

Kamasi Washington, Brixton Academy review - reaching transcendence

Katherine Waters

New jazz master from Los Angeles spreads a magical message of empowerment

CD: Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury

Howard Male

A great second album from the London band who have a love-hate relationship with today

Keith Flint, 1969-2019

Thomas H Green

The Prodigy lose their punk brother, Keith Flint, aged only 49

Massive Attack, Steel Yard Bristol review - propaganda and pomp

Mark Kidel

Music with a message that shoots itself in the foot

Laura Gibson, Hug and Pint, Glasgow review - fable songs and unpretentious intimacies

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Staggeringly intimate solo show from Oregonian songwriter

CD: Stella Donnelly - Beware of the Dogs

Jo Southerd

Quiet confidence and razor-sharp wit on Australian singer's excellent full-length debut

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sparks

Kieron Tyler

Timelessness, prescience and beauty: 40th-anniversary reappearance of ‘No. 1 In Heaven’

Joan Baez, London Palladium review - fare-thee-well generosity

Liz Thomson

Last notes from a timeless figure whose influence is finally acknowledged

CD: Dido - Still On My Mind

Liz Thomson

Dido's distinctive voice soars above a mix of electronica and acoustic guitar

CD: Hozier - Wasteland Baby!

Russ Coffey

The Irish troubadour subtly changes the formula - how does it compare?

CD: Vök - In the Dark

Kieron Tyler

Too-muted second album from downbeat Icelanders

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

Pose, BBC Two review - transgender goes mainstream

NYC, 1987. AIDS is ravaging the city, Reagan’s in power,...

Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre review - shouting for change

Emilia Bassano Lanier is not a household name. But maybe she should be. Born in 1569, she was one of the first women in England to publish a book...

Minding the Gap review – profound musings on life

Where would you go for a devastating study on the human condition? The home ...

DVD/Blu-Ray: La Vérité

For admirers of Henri-Georges Clouzot or Brigitte Bardot, this Criterion restoration of their rarely seen 1960 collaboration is a must have. ...

Downstate, National Theatre review - controversial but also...

"Some monsters are real," notes a retribution-minded wife (Matilda Ziegler) early in Downstate, Bruce Norris's beautiful and wounding...

Q&A special: The making of Local Hero

Local Hero, released in 1983, has been adapted into a ...

Mike Nelson, The Asset Strippers, Tate Britain review – exhi...

Mike Nelson has turned the Duveen Galleries into a museum commemorating Britain’s industrial past (pictured below right). Scruffy...

The Bay, ITV, review - Broadchurch goes north

In the 1970s, the Mancunian stand-up Colin Crompton had a famous routine about Morecambe. He characterised Morecambe as “a sort of cemetery with...