mon 22/04/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Sleaford Mods, Dreamland, Margate review – musical news from broken Brexit land

Kathryn Reilly

Sleaford Mods are livid. About everything. But then, aren’t we all? If any single voice could represent this particularly bewildering era, it would be Jason Williamson’s. Outraged, marginalised, furious, he’s determinedly (with the help of henchman Andrew Fearn) dragging the fetid carcass of British society over the coals. Truly, this is a band for our times. And Margate is a fitting place for the post-punk poets to express their wrath.

Reissue CDs Weekly: Terry Allen

Kieron Tyler

Torso Hell tells the story of an American soldier whose limbs were blown off in Vietnam. Amazingly, he and his buddies survived, and in the ensuing medical chaos his arms and legs were re-attached to them rather than him. The narrator says “At the hospital, it’s so crazy and confused that when these guys come in, the doctors and nurses don’t know what from what … they just start sewing. The main guy stays a torso, but they put his arms and legs back on the other guys.

CD: The Cranberries – In the End

Asya Draganova

In the End, the final album by Limerick band the Cranberries arrives three decades after they first formed and just over a year after Dolores O’...

CD: Catfish and the Bottlemen - The Balance

Russ Coffey

Indie-rock sure ain't what it used to be. These days boys-with-guitar bands sound no less manufactured than actual boy bands. And, of...

Take That, SSE Hydro, Glasgow review - capes and...

Lisa-Marie Ferla

This year, says Gary Barlow, marks 30 years since five boys walked into a room in Manchester and auditioned for what would turn out to be the UK’s...

Get The Blessing, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review – West Country cats lay down some jazzy sounds

Guy Oddy

Bristol’s post-jazzers ease Birmingham into the Bank Holiday weekend

CD: Rodrigo y Gabriela - Mettavolution

Guy Oddy

The Mexican guitar duo return to the fray with gusto

theartsdesk Q&A: Bananarama

Thomas H Green

The indestructible girl group on singing, clubbing, post-punk, Lemmy, George Michael and much more

CD: The O'Jays - The Last Word

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Philadelphia Sound leading lights call time on their own terms

John Mayall, Ronnie Scott's review – the legend on his own terms

Sebastian Scotney

Support act Jim Mullen playing better than ever

CD: Loyle Carner - Not Waving, But Drowning

Thomas H Green

British MC lays his heart on the line for album number two

Bebel Gilberto, Union Chapel review - less effort, more transcendence, please

Sebastian Scotney

The support act, Venezuelan singer Luzmira Zerpa, strongly impressive, too

Terry Riley & Gyan Riley, The Old Market, Hove review - gently pleasing evening of improvisation

Thomas H Green

Familial pairing slowly move from avant-jazz to somewhere further out

The Good, the Bad & the Queen, Great Hall, Cardiff review - a jolly big knees-up

Owen Richards

The return of Britain's most understated supergroup

Love Supreme, Roundhouse review - Laura Mvula's defiant confidence tops the bill

Sebastian Scotney

An impressively broad and mostly enjoyable mix of music

Reissue CDs Weekly: Marvin Gaye - You’re The Man

Kieron Tyler

Essential archive trawl, but not the unreleased album it’s touted as

CD: L’Impératrice - Matahari

Thomas H Green

Crafted Gallic disco-pop debut that emanates sleek summery allure

Oumou Sangaré, Earth review - the new Mama Africa takes her crown

Peter Culshaw

For the 15th anniversary of top world music label, the Malian singer goes African classical

CD: Bananarama - In Stereo

Barney Harsent

The first ladies of UK pop deliver hits and misses in a lively but uneven return

Sigrid, PRYZM Kingston review - unassuming, energetic and melodic

Russ Coffey

The Norwegian chanteuse thrills fans at an intimate venue

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Record Store Day Special 2019

Thomas H Green

RSD 2019 featuring reviews of releases U2, Desmond Dekker, Sunn O))), John Otway and more

CD: Fat White Family - Serfs Up!

Guy Oddy

Psychedelic pranksters fall into boring self-indulgence

CD: LSD - Labrinth, Sia, Diplo Present...

Joe Muggs

Team up of megabucks singer-songwriters and producer gels impressively

CD: The Chemical Brothers - No Geography

Thomas H Green

Ninth album from 1990s dance music giants is a party monster

CD: Jessie Buckley - Wild Rose OST

Owen Richards

Actor Buckley proves to be a true star in her latest film's soundtrack

CD: Sun Kil Moon - I Also Want to Die in New Orleans

Howard Male

Further musical and lyrical adventures of an American maverick

Reissue CDs Weekly: Losing Touch With My Mind

Kieron Tyler

Mostly mind-melting box-set compendium of ‘Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990’

CD: Norah Jones - Begin Again

Joe Muggs

A rag tag set of recordings only serves to show Jones's musical maturity

CD: Circa Waves - What It's Like Over There

Mark Kidel

Power pop with a good mix of yin and yang

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

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


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

Britney, Soho Theatre review - finding the funny in a brain...

A brain tumour isn't usually the subject of a comedy show but Britney, written and performed by comedy duo Charly Clive and Ellen...

Sleaford Mods, Dreamland, Margate review – musical news from...

Sleaford Mods are livid. About everything. But then, aren’t we all? If any single voice could represent this particularly bewildering era, it...

Banine: Days in the Caucasus review - revolutions, pogroms a...

By fifteen Ummulbanu Asadullayeva — or Banine, to call her by the name under which she wrote and translated — had already lived more than most of...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Terry Allen

Torso Hell tells the story of an American soldier whose limbs were blown off in Vietnam. Amazingly, he and his buddies survived, and in...

CD: The Cranberries – In the End

In the End, the final album by Limerick band the Cranberries arrives three decades after they first formed and just over a year after...

Brockes-Passion, AAM, Egarr, Barbican review - fleshly Hande...

Whips, scourges, sinews, blood and pus: where Bach’s two Passions...

SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, Isango Ensemble, Linbury...

While Bach's and Handel's Passions have been driving thousands to contemplate suffering, mortality and grace, this elegy for black lives lost over...

St Matthew Passion, Ex Cathedra, Skidmore, Symphony Hall Bir...

For the final instalment of their three Matthew Passions this Holy Week, Ex Cathedra gave a large scale performance of Bach’s oratorio in their...

Red Joan review - Judi Dench can't lift lumbering espio...

The decades-long stage relationship between Judi Dench...