mon 08/03/2021

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sly & The Viscaynes - Yellow Moon The Complete Recordings 1961-1962

Kieron Tyler

The Viscaynes ought to have been a footnote. A minor footnote. From Vallejo in north California, they were one amongst many early Sixties vocal groups giving it a shot. Some were lucky and had hits. The Earls, The Impalas and Randy & The Rainbows did. Like The Marcels, who charted with “Blue Moon”, they were all rooted in the doo wop sound. Despite their three singles – including the Marcels referencing “Yellow Moon” – The Viscaynes did not break through to national success.

Album: Genesis Owusu - Smiling With No Teeth

Thomas H Green

The debut album by Australian-Ghanaian artist Genesis Owusu is so musically restless it’s exhilarating. What’s clear is this guy doesn’t want to be placed in a box, marked hip hop or anything else.

Album: Zara Larsson - Poster Girl

Katie Colombus

Best known for winning Sweden's version of Got Talent, at the tender age of 10, Zara Larsson is a shining example of a prodigious young female talent...

Album: Kings of Leon - When You See Yourself

Barney Harsent

Over the course of seven albums and nearly two decades, Kings of Leon have gone from spiky, short bursts of adrenaline-fuelled garage rock to swollen...

Album: Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Shortly after Arab Strap split up in 2006, Malcolm Middleton was quoted saying “I don’t think we should ever get back together”. That’s the sort of...

Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry, Apple TV+ review - sprawling account of the singer's rise to superstardom

Adam Sweeting

Would RJ Cutler's documentary work better in bite-sized chunks?

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Misunderstood - Children Of The Sun The Complete Recordings (1965-1966)

Kieron Tyler

Definitive statement on the John Peel-lauded psychedelic pioneers

Album: Jane Weaver - Flock

Kieron Tyler

The idiosyncratic singer-songwriter embraces poppiness and dance grooves

Album: Blanck Mass - In Furneaux

Mark Kidel

Healing the disorientation of our pandemic times

Album: Alice Cooper - Detroit Stories

Thomas H Green

50+ years into his career the veteran shock rocker's latest is contagiously entertaining

Album: Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains - Banane Bleue

Kieron Tyler

French-born singer-songwriter Frànçois Marry’s soft focus celebration of internationalism

Britney Spears (1998-present): The Video Special

Thomas H Green

Britney on video: 23 years of salacious self-objectification and hyper-kitsch

Album: Willie Nelson - That's Life

Liz Thomson

Willie Nelson takes another dip into the great American songbook

Reissue CDs Weekly: For The Good Times - The Songs Of Kris Kristofferson

Kieron Tyler

An unexpected brush with punk from the writer of ‘Help me Make it Through the Night’

Album: Maxïmo Park – Nature Always Wins

Kathryn Reilly

Less political and more introspective: the arty Geordies two decades in

Disc of the Day 10th Anniversary: the level playing field

Joe Muggs

Ten years of record reviews show how sometimes deranged variety works in our (and the records') favour

Sauti za Busara Festival 2021, Zanzibar review - 2500 gather to celebrate music unlocked

Simon Broughton

Cheering glimpse of a massed musical gathering of the kind we're all missing

Album: Ghetts - Conflict of Interest

Nick Hasted

Mature redemption songs from a grime master

Disc of the Day 10th Anniversary: Albums We Got Wrong


Our writers reveal the occasions when their critical faculties glitched

Album: Mathieu Boogaerts - En Anglais

Tim Cumming

The spirit of Chanson comes to south London

Reviewing music off-piste: reflections on working beyond the comfort zone

Mark Kidel

The joy of adventure on unfamiliar ground

Album: Mogwai - As the Love Continues

Joe Muggs

The Glasgow guitar noise veterans crash into indie Valhalla

Albums of the Decade 2011-2021


Our writers explain their choices from the last ten years

Disc of the Day Celebrates 10 Years of Album Reviews

Thomas H Green

Theartsdesk's daily music reviews section reaches a significant birthday

Reissue CDs Weekly: Disco Zombies - South London Stinks

Kieron Tyler

There’s more to the arty pop-punk outfit than the racket they made

theartsdesk on Vinyl 62: Nick Mulvey, Off The Meds, Black Keys, Kreator, Oneohtrix Point Never, Sam Cooke and more

Thomas H Green

The largest, loudest, longest reviews of music on plastic

Album: Tindersticks - Distractions

Guy Oddy

The Midlands’ perpetually disappointed romantics go minimalist

Album: Sia - Music

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Pop star's movie tie-in misses the mark

Album: The Pretty Reckless - Death By Rock And Roll

Russ Coffey

The New York quartet's latest is bewitching and raw, if not entirely original

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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