sat 19/09/2020

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Album: Alicia Keys - Alicia

Joe Muggs

Alicia Keys is a puzzling mixture. On the one hand she’s the hyper-achieving, multi-platinum, 752-Grammy-winning America’s sweetheart, all dimply smiles, positive-thinking ultra sincerity and the kind of showbiz over-emoting and singing-technique-as-competitive-sport so beloved of talent show contestants. On the other, she’s an undeniably interesting artist on multiple levels.

GogolFest:Dream review - the best music festival of the summer?

Peter Culshaw

GogolFest:Dream in Kherson, somewhere near the Crimea in Ukraine was the music festival of the summer.

Album: Fish - Weltschmerz

Russ Coffey

"This party's over" snarls Fish on Weltschmerz, and, this time, it seems the big man really means it. After threatening retirement for...

DVD/Blu-ray: Where Does a Body End?

Guy Oddy

Michael Gira, Swans’ band leader and last remaining original member, has a reputation for being an intense and difficult individual who doesn’t...

Album: Marilyn Manson - WE ARE CHAOS

Russ Coffey

It's the self-portrait on the cover that gives the first hint that something's changed with Marilyn Manson. The eyes are blank, his face weary....

Reissue CDs Weekly: The London Pub Rock Scene, The Year The UK Turned Day-Glo

Kieron Tyler

Box sets underlining how Brit-punk didn’t create a cleavage with the musical past

Album: Toots & the Maytals - Got to be Tough

Guy Oddy

Toots back on fine form in what has become his final album

Album: Ammar 808 - Global Control/ Invisible Invasion

Mark Kidel

Fusion between the Maghreb and South India that's so good it explodes

Album: Doves - The Universal Want

Barney Harsent

The Manchester three-piece end a decade-long hiatus in style

Singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter: 'I wanted to do something. I wanted to be useful in some way'

Liz Thomson

On creating her 'Songs from Home' in a time of crisis, depression and musical empathy

Album: Allison Neale - Quietly There

Sebastian Scotney

A completely delightful album

BBC Proms live online: Anoushka Shankar/Laura Marling - scintillating sitar and fortified folk

Miranda Heggie

Innovative collaborations from genre-melting musicians

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Stooges - Live At Goose Lake

Kieron Tyler

Blistering 1970 recording of Iggy and pals roaring through the full ‘Fun House’ album

Album: Suzanne Vega - An Evening of New York Songs and Stories

Liz Thomson

Tom's Diner by way of Cafe Carlyle

Album: Rui Ho - Lov3 & L1ght

Joe Muggs

Dayglo experimental pop from Chinese artist in Berlin

The Rolling Stones' Goats Head Soup 2020 - old-time decadence revisited

Tim Cumming

A tasty 1970s Rolling Stones classic is revived with added ingredients

Album: Declan McKenna - Zeros

Thomas H Green

Second album from young prodigy contains some solid songs but suffers from crassly overboard production

Album: Tricky - Fall to Pieces

Mark Kidel

Moody vignettes transform pain into beauty

South West Four Live, Electric Brixton online review - the dance goes on?

Nick Hasted

Clapham Common rave retrenches to your living room

Album: Throwing Muses - Sun Racket

Guy Oddy

An earthy and disorientating return for the Boston trio

Reissue CDs Weekly: This Is Our Music - Jazz Out Of Norway

Kieron Tyler

Double-disc testament to a nation’s fertile musical seedbed

CD: Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith - Peradam

Tim Cumming

The third in a beguiling trilogy of immersive albums

Ellie Goulding, V&A online review - cautious liberation

Nick Hasted

A night at the museum is a graceful stopgap

Album: Katy Perry - Smile

Joe Muggs

Is it possible to grow up in public when you're at the top of the celebrity tree?

Album: Disclosure - ENERGY

Thomas H Green

Great selection of guests add up to a decent, if sometimes predictable, album from the house revivalists

Album: Gregory Porter - All Rise

Sebastian Scotney

Porter and team on strong form

Album: AK/DK - Shared Particles

Guy Oddy

Brighton’s synths and drums duo lay down a lo-fi dancefloor monster

Reissue CDs Weekly: Ready Or Not - Thom Bell's Philly Soul Arrangements & Productions

Kieron Tyler

Overdue homage to the great American sonic auteur

theartsdesk Radio Show 30 - podcast on Malcolm McLaren with Paul Gorman, his biographer

Peter Culshaw

Discussing the legacy of the much misunderstood visionary subversive, Malcolm McLaren

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


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

Picnic at the Castle review - entertaining mixed bill

Of all the outdoor spaces being utilised to keep live performance going in this maddest of years, Warwick Castle is surely among the most striking...

Nocturnal review - an impossible love

The most painterly and ominous sequence in Nocturnal naturally occurs at night. Until recently strangers, 33-year-old Pete (Cosmo Jarvis...

Album: Alicia Keys - Alicia

Alicia Keys is a puzzling mixture. On the one hand she’s the hyper-achieving, multi-platinum, 752-Grammy-winning...

Rocks review - impressively well-crafted neo-realist drama

Rocks is a beautifully made slice of neo-realist filmmaking which deserves to get a wide audience but may well slip off the radar in the...

GogolFest:Dream review - the best music festival of the summ...

GogolFest:Dream in Kherson, somewhere near the Crimea in...

Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall/Hill Quartet, Bandstand Chamber Fes...

An early hero of lockdown, livestreaming from his Berlin home in terrible sound at first, Igor Levit is a supreme example of how adaptable...

The Devil All The Time review – a test of faith in a Souther...

Theres no denying the Faulknerian ambition to the construction of Anthony Camposlatest feature Devil All the Time...

Eavesdropping on Rattle, the LSO and Bartók’s Bluebeard

One source of advance information told us to expect a reduced version of...

Album: Fish - Weltschmerz

"This party's over" snarls Fish on Weltschmerz, and, this time, it seems the big man really means...

Alban Gerhardt, Markus Becker, Wigmore Hall review - long sh...

It wouldn’t be true to say I’d forgotten what a solo cello in a...