tue 27/02/2024

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Bevis Frond - Focus on Nature

Kieron Tyler

Musically, the assured Focus on Nature knows exactly what it is. Fuzzy, psychedelic-leaning, folk-aware pop-rock with an emphasis on guitars about captures it. And what tunes – this 75-minute double album’s 19 songs are immediate, instantly memorable and stick, limpet-like, in the head. Even during “A Mirror’s” backwards guitar coda the song’s melody is still to the fore.

Music Reissues Weekly: Blank Generation, Just Want To Be Myself

Kieron Tyler

“I hate it, so I guess Eater have succeeded.” NME’s March 1977 appraisal of the debut single by UK punk's teen sensations was direct. In his trailblazing British punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue, Mark Perry was equally forthright when contemplating “Outside View.” “Sorry lads but this single is crap,” he wrote. “It’s not even good crap, it’s just a waste of time.”

Album: Everything Everything - Mountainhead

Tom Carr

There are few bands who can claim to operate in a similar visionary style as Everything Everything. Since their 2010 debut Man Alive, the Manchester...

Album: Aziza Brahim - Mawja

Tim Cumming

Glitterbeat is home to a wildly eclectic and reliably brilliant world of artists, from Korea’s Park Jiha via Slovenia’s Sirom to Mauriania’s Noura...

Album: Laetitia Sadier - Rooting for Love

Joe Muggs

It must be kind of unreal living in the Stereolab universe.A band of geeky introverts, beloved of the type of hairclip-and-satchel indie ultras a...

Album: MGMT - Loss of Life

Kieron Tyler

US art-rock duo see the lighter side of pessimism

Music Reissues Weekly: Lou Christie - Gypsy Bells

Kieron Tyler

First-time exploration of the ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’ hit-maker’s 1967 spell with Columbia Records

Tom Webber, The Hope and Anchor review - a fresh nod to the past

Mark Kidel

Catchy power pop in London's temple of pub rock

Album: Nadine Shah - Filthy Underneath

Kathryn Reilly

Bravely confessional, cleverly composed

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Sarah Kent

Acknowledgement as a major avant garde artist comes at 90

Album: Paloma Faith - The Glorification of Sadness

Joe Muggs

Big emotions, big tunes with firehose intensity, but who is the person behind them?

Album: Jennifer Lopez - This is Me... Now

Thomas H Green

Mega-star ode to being loved-up doesn't achieve lift-off

Album: Chromeo - Adult Contemporary

Thomas H Green

Dave-1 and P-Thugg's sixth album maintains their post-modern smooth-funkin'

Album: Les Amazones d'Afrique - Musow Danse

Guy Oddy

West African feminist collective blend sweet harmonies with gritty electronic sounds

Music Reissues Weekly: Scott Fagan - South Atlantic Blues

Kieron Tyler

Distinctive, soul-inclined album from 1968 gains another chance to find an audience

Album: The Dead South - Chains & Stakes

Katie Colombus

Catchy countrytown with twisty quirks

Northern Winter Beat 2024 review - Julie Byrne, Alabaster DePlume, Deerhoof and Mary Ocher triumph in Denmark

Kieron Tyler

Through music, the Danish third city Aalborg asserts its regional presence

Album: Katherine Priddy - The Pendulum Swing

Tim Cumming

The spirits of home and away haunt the acclaimed songwriter’s sophomore album

Album: Helado Negro - PHASOR

Joe Muggs

Pastoral dreaminess from the alt-pop journeyman

Album: Brittany Howard - What Now

Cheri Amour

The Nashville musician continues her epic odyssey of sound in sophomore solo record

Music Reissues Weekly: The Tornados - Love And Fury: The Holloway Road Sessions

Kieron Tyler

Forensic box-set examination of the Joe Meek-produced ‘Telstar’ hit-makers

Album: Declan McKenna - What Happened to the Beach?

Thomas H Green

Enjoyable third album from Brit singer-songwriter boasts bubbly songs and wibbly sonics

John Francis Flynn, The Dome review - new trad and taped tin whistles

India Lewis

A night of reinterpreted jigs and ballads from a rising star in Ireland's folk scene

Album: The Telescopes - Growing Eyes Become String

Guy Oddy

Stephen Lawrie’s space cadets resurrect a long-lost album from a decade ago

Tony Kofi Quartet, 606 Club review - from good to great

Ed Vulliamy

British-Ghananian saxophonist and his fabulous quartet pay homage to Thelonius Monk

Album: The Last Dinner Party - Prelude to Ecstasy

Kathryn Reilly

Absolutely audacious debut that will definitely get under your skin

Album: J Mascis - What Do We Do Now

Joe Muggs

Tapping into the endless elemental flow of an alt-rock mainstay

Album: Plantoid - Terrapath

Kieron Tyler

The surprise return of the nexus of prog-rock and jazz-rock fusion

Music Reissues Weekly: Fantastic Voyage - New Sounds For The European Canon

Kieron Tyler

An absorbing dive into the musical ecosphere surrounding David Bowie’s ‘Lodger’ and ‘Scary Monsters’ albums

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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Album: The Bevis Frond - Focus on Nature

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