fri 16/04/2021

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Album: AJ Tracey - Flu Game

Joe Muggs

AJ Tracey is one of Brit rap’s aristocracy now. Along with the likes of Stormzy, Dave, J Hus and lately Headie One, he is massively bankable, with streams in the tens of millions for singles, sellout shows in Alexandra Palace, and radio ubiquity.

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

Mark Kidel

The Master Musicians of Joujouka, described by William Burroughs as a “4000 year-old rock’n’roll band”, and recorded by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in the late 1960s, have always been something of a cult – even in their own land.

Album: Imelda May - 11 Past the Hour

Thomas H Green

11 Past the Hour opens with its title song, a delicious, twangy, string-laden Nancy Sinatra Bond theme that never was. The album closes with a...

Singer-songwriter Peggy Seeger: still in the...

Liz Thomson

If American music has a royal family, it’s surely the Seeger clan. Charles, the patriarch, the composer, musicologist and teacher who could be said...

Album: Lady Dan - I Am the Prophet

Lisa-Marie Ferla

There’s a line in “No Home”, the staggering centrepiece of Lady Dan’s debut album, that perhaps sums up the project. “Wolves will never be my masters...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wes Montgomery - The NDR Hamburg Studio Recordings

Kieron Tyler

Live recordings from 1965 are a footnote in the jazz guitarist’s discography

Album: Alan Vega - Mutator

Guy Oddy

Ex-Suicide frontman’s posthumous solo album is a sublime blast

Album: Cheap Trick - In Another World

Russ Coffey

A rambunctious new offering from the age-defying rock veterans

Album: Raf Rundell - O.M. Days

Joe Muggs

Deeper, stranger and more personal visions from the alt-pop journeyman

Album: Peggy Seeger - First Farewell

Liz Thomson

Carrying the torch - at 85, she still can't keep from singing

Album: Ballaké Sissoko - Djourou

Mark Kidel

Scintillating collaborations from a master of the kora

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tame Impala - InnerSpeaker (2010➝2020)

Kieron Tyler

Box-set makeover of one of the last decade or so’s greatest albums

Album: They're Calling Me Home - Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi

Tim Cumming

Homecoming songs for life after Covid

Album: Caoilfhionn Rose - Truly

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Mancunian musician's second is a comfort in strange times

theartsdesk on Vinyl 63: KMFDM, Laurie Anderson, Seratones, The Telescopes, Black Sabbath, Conrad Schnitzler and more

Thomas H Green

The biggest bumper crop of vinyl record reviews out there

Album: Glasvegas - Godspeed

Nick Hasted

Big Glasgow music finds its heart in quieter moments

Album: Ryley Walker - Course In Fable

Kieron Tyler

The musically aware singer-songwriter at his most assured, most direct

Album: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!

Guy Oddy

No substantial changes for the Canadian post-rock power orchestra

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jon Savage's 1972-1976 - All Our Times Have Come

Kieron Tyler

Tracking the route to punk without stating the obvious

Album: Hannah Peel - Fir Wave

Joe Muggs

Enveloping drama from the queen of headphone dreamscapes

Album: Tune-Yards - Sketchy

Thomas H Green

Californian alt-pop innovators sounding fresh and maintaining their unique trajectory

Album: Suzi Quatro - The Devil In Me

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Seventies icon proves she's still rock and roll royalty

Album: Bheki Mseleku - Beyond The Stars

Sebastian Scotney

Essential album from a South African "gentle genius"

10 Questions for Vocalist-Lyricist Georgia Mancio

Sebastian Scotney

Portraying beauty, dignity and hope - and love, joy and sadness - in song

Album: Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises

Asya Draganova

46 minutes and 37 seconds of electronic, jazz and classical spiritual transcendence

Reissue CDs Weekly: Linda Smith - Till Another Time 1988-1996

Kieron Tyler

Essential compilation celebrating the singular American sonic auteur

Album: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence

Kieron Tyler

Forensic, unflinching accounts of change and loss from the Swedish singer-songwriter

Album: Lana Del Rey - Chemtrails Over the Country Club

Nick Hasted

More cinematic confessionals from Pop Art queen

Album: Black Honey - Written & Directed

Thomas H Green

Brighton band's second album gives indie a good name with huge-sounding and catchy guitar pop

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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