sat 23/06/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears

Thomas H Green

Norwich is remote, out near the Norfolk Broads, doing its own thing on Britain’s eastern-most edge. It’s not renowned as a place that’s contributed much to rock and pop. This may be about to change.

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2018

Caspar Gomez

Daft Punk! Kendrick Lamar! The Kinks! Yes! We blew the lid off!

theartsdesk on Vinyl 40: Talking Heads, Ornette...

Thomas H Green

Earlier this year, in May, Brighton hosted the Vinyl World Congress where Paul Pacifico, head of the Association of Independent Music, told the...

David Byrne, Eventim Apollo review - twice in a...

Peter Culshaw

Forgive the sports metaphor, but David Byrne knocked this one out of the park. Coming out of the concert at the Eventim Apollo, you felt that the...

CD: Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch

Ellie Porter

Concluding a trilogy of releases that began with the EPs Not the Actual Events (2016) and Add Violence (2017) – Bad Witch is being called an LP...

The Rolling Stones, Twickenham Stadium review - until the next goodbye?

Tim Cumming

Their first UK tour in 11 years comes to an end where they began, in South West London

CD: Kamasi Washington - Heaven and Earth

Matthew Wright

Uplifting, expansive spiritual jazz

Enter theartsdesk / h Club Young Influencer of the Year award


In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club100 Awards, we're looking for the best cultural writers, bloggers and vloggers

Ismaili a Go-Go: How the Aga Khan funded a music renaissance

Peter Culshaw

Musical extravaganza focusing on enigmatic Central Asia comes to the Royal Albert Hall

Scorpions/ Megadeth, O2 Arena review - by turns lavish, silly and exhilarating

Russ Coffey

The Stone Free Festival serves up an improbable mix of speed-metal and German soft-rock

Paloma Faith, Bedgebury Pinetum review - positive pop in a woodland setting

Katie Colombus

A magical, festival-vibe gig in a beautiful forest glade

CD: Jim James - Uniform Distortion

Kieron Tyler

My Morning Jacket man’s fourth solo album is his best so far

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Rose Garden

Kieron Tyler

‘A Trip Through The Garden’ charts the rise and fall of the fine, folky Californian harmony pop band

CD: Soulwax - Essential

Owen Richards

Belgian beat maestros return with a different approach

theartsdesk at the Setúbal Music Festival 2018: youth leads the way

David Nice

Community spirit infusing high-level events in a Portuguese port

CD: The Orb - No Sounds Are Out of Bounds

Guy Oddy

The Ambient Dub Masters regroup with some old mates for some time travel

CD: Christina Aguilera - Liberation

Katie Colombus

A reflective yet conflicted album

theartsdesk at Download Festival 2018: three days of metal mayhem


Guns'n'Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Avenged Sevenfold and many more

CD: Melody’s Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

Jo Southerd

Long-awaited follow-up to 2012 debut is wonderfully weird prog-odyssey

CD: AMMAR 808 - Maghreb United

Mark Kidel

North African trance hits the spot

Reissue CDs Weekly: Gene Clark

Kieron Tyler

Significant first-time release of demos recorded after the singer-songwriter left The Byrds

Taylor Swift, Etihad Stadium, Manchester review - pop perfection on epic scale

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Here be serpents - and songs about her feelings

CD: Lykke Li - So Sad So Sexy

Joe Muggs

How does jettisoning her indie roots work for the Swedish popstrel?

CD: Black Sedan - Adventure Lit Their Star

Thomas H Green

Musical outing from polymath Mark Hodkinson proves a woozy, worthwhile listen

Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh - transforming spaces

Miranda Heggie

Now in its fifth year, this celebration of vibrant art in disused buildings is better than ever

CD: Lily Allen - No Shame

Thomas H Green

Broken marriage vividly dissected under the microscope on the singer's fourth album

Courtney Barnett, Albert Hall, Manchester review - mesmerising indie-rock set

Javi Fedrick

Slacker-rock queen is anything but slack in blistering performance

Best Albums of 2018


theartsdesk's music critics pick their favourites of the year so far

CD: Gruff Rhys - Babelsberg

Barney Harsent

The sometime Super Furry frontman heads for the apocalypse armed with hope and an amazing clutch of songs

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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