sat 15/05/2021

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Music books to end lockdown: Sam Lee, Hawkwind, Dylan, Richard Thompson, and the Electric Muses

Tim Cumming

It won’t be long now before concert halls and back rooms, arts centres and festival grounds fill with people again, and live music, undistanced, unmasked, and in your face, comes back to us.

Album: Jorja Smith - Be Right Back

Harry Thorfinn-George

With all eyes on her in 2018, Jorja Smith’s debut was surprisingly level-headed and mature, filled with the introspection and storytelling of someone twice her age. This new, slender eight-track project feels like a stepping stone in her career rather than a follow up to her acclaimed debut.

Album: Paul Weller - Fat Pop (Volume 1)

Nick Hasted

“The Changingman” came to sound a little rich in the years after it introduced Stanley Road, as Weller settled into a style which grew atrophied...

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Déjà Vu 50th...

Adam Sweeting

With over eight million copies sold in its 50-year lifespan, Déjà Vu was, as Cameron Crowe writes in the booklet accompanying this compendious four-...

Album: St Vincent - Daddy's Home

Lisa-Marie Ferla

From her indie roots to the Grammy-winning angular art-rock of her self-titled 2014 album and the new wave glam of MASSEDUCTION, St Vincent has...

Album: The Black Keys – Delta Kream

Barney Harsent

The blues-rock duo return to their roots for an off-the-cuff covers album

Reissue CDs Weekly: Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat

Kieron Tyler

Box-set version of the US best-seller raises unanswered questions

Album: Sons of Kemet - Black to the Future

Guy Oddy

Shabaka’s jazzers raise a fist for BLM

Album: Squid - Bright Green Field

Asya Draganova

An explosion of energy and intelligent anger from the Brighton newcomers

Album: Rag'n'Bone Man - Life by Misadventure

Nick Hasted

Low-key, ruefully wise sequel to a chart juggernaut

Album: Van Morrison - Latest Record Project Volume 1

John Bungey

The king of Celtic soul suffers a bad case of lockdown blues

Album: Ziúr - Antifate

Joe Muggs

Fantastical industrial cabaret from the cellars of Berlin

Reissue CDs Weekly: Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 7

Kieron Tyler

Once again, the essential series comes up with the goods

Album: Sufjan Stevens - Convocations

Mark Kidel

Rich and complex requiem for a dad

Psappha, Phillips, Hallé St Peter’s, Manchester online review - Turnage world premiere

Robert Beale

New music specialists mark 30 years of enterprise and dedication

Album: Martial Solal - Coming Yesterday

Sebastian Scotney

The great French jazz pianist's last concert

First Person: composer and Renaissance man Tunde Jegede on transcending genres

Tunde Jegede

Crossing boundaries for Southampton's 'Mayflower 400: Voyages of the Heart' project

Album: Marianne Faithfull & Warren Ellis - She Walks in Beauty

Guy Oddy

Everyone’s favourite Nan crashes the goth poetry club

Album: Teenage Fanclub‎ - Endless Arcade

Kieron Tyler

Line-up changes are no obstacle to sustained excellence

Reissue CDs Weekly: Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies

Kieron Tyler

Jason Pierce and co’s first album reappears

Album: The Coral - Coral Island

Nick Hasted

Merseyside veterans' faded fairground concept is steeped in pop craft

Album: Gojira - Fortitude

Thomas H Green

French metallers deliver a sonically crafted pummelling their fans should enjoy

Album: Tom Jones - Surrounded by Time

John Bungey

The man with the big voice looks age in the eye

Album: Dinosaur Jr - Sweep It Into Space

Barney Harsent

Amherst's favourite grunge sons serve up another near flawless album

Album: Field Music - Flat White Moon

Kieron Tyler

David and Peter Brewis draw inspiration from their own lives

Reissue CDs Weekly: T2 - It'll All Work Out In Boomland

Kieron Tyler

Atmospheric prog-rock gem from 1970 gets the multi-disc treatment

Album: Toumani Diabate and the London Symphony Orchestra - Kôrôlén

Mark Kidel

West Africa at the Symphony

Album: AJ Tracey - Flu Game

Joe Muggs

West London's superstar rapper tries to find his mature style with mixed success

The Master Musicians of Joujouka review - a 4000 year-old rock'n'roll band

Mark Kidel

Healing music from the Rif Mountains of Morocco

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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