sat 21/04/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Willie Nelson - Last Man Standing

Tim Cumming

Willie Nelson turned 85 at the end of April, a few days after releasing his latest album and a rare set of self-penned new songs, Last Man Standing. “I don’t want to be the last man standing,” he sings slyly on the shuffling, restless opener, “Oh wait a minute, maybe I do…” Last man standing? In several key contexts, that’s exactly what he is.

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Record Store Day Special 2018

Thomas H Green

Record Store Day 2018 – Saturday April 21 – is upon us. It should really be Record Shop Day 2018 as this is the UK but let’s not quibble. Instead, put aside cynicism about major labels cashing in, wander down to the nearest record shop – and, happily, new record shops are starting to pop up a lot lately – then rifle through the racks.

10 Questions for Courtney Pine: 'How do you...

Matthew Wright

Over 30 years after he made his debut as a solo artist, woodwind multi-instrumentalist Courtney Pine is still Britain’s most prominent and...

Roy Orbison In Dreams Hologram, Eventim Apollo...

Russ Coffey

On Wednesday night, the music world took a small step closer to the realms of science fiction. Roy Orbison, 30 years dead, stood in front of a packed...

CD: Dylan Carlson - Conquistador

Guy Oddy

Ambient metal outlier and leader of the mighty Earth, Dylan Carlson’s new solo album is the soundtrack to an imaginary western, based on the true...

CD: Jenny Wilson - Exorcism

Kieron Tyler

Sexual assault and its aftermath are chronicled with chilling precision

CD: Mark Peters – Innerland

Barney Harsent

The former Engineer turns cartographer on a simple yet articulate instrumental journey

Reissue CDs Weekly: Brian James

Kieron Tyler

First solo album from the former Damned and Lords of the New Church man is a blast

CD: Glymjack - Light the Evening Fire

Thomas H Green

Singer-songwriter Greg McDonald's new folk project is a well-conceived treat

CD: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - Paradox

Mark Kidel

Weak soundtrack album lets Neil Young down

Arcade Fire, Wembley Arena review - sensational spectacle

Jasper Rees

Canadian indies sing up a storm in in-the-round, with a cameo from Jarvis Cocker

10 Questions for Musician Jeremy Cunningham of The Levellers

Thomas H Green

The dreadlocked Levellers bassist talks of film, books, fans, the new album and touring the US

CD: Manic Street Preachers - Resistance is Futile

Russ Coffey

The Welsh rockers' 13th album is philosophical and exciting

CD: National Jazz Trio of Scotland - Standards Vol.IV

Thomas H Green

Scottish alt-jazz institution Bill Wells continues his explorations

Joan As Police Woman: 'I was going to die if I didn't have some way to express myself' - interview

Russ Coffey

The cult singer discusses loss, #MeToo, Trump and much more besides

CD: Laura Veirs - The Lookout

Kieron Tyler

Assured 10th album from the American singer-songwriter

Reissue CDs Weekly: Radka Toneff and Steve Dobrogosz

Kieron Tyler

The timeless ‘Fairytales’ unites understatement and forcefulness

CD: Brazilian Girls - Let's Make Love

Howard Male

Back with a bang (and a few whimpers)

CD: Kylie Minogue - Golden

Joe Muggs

Nashville reinvention for the People's Princess doesn't sit well

CD: The Damned - Evil Spirits

Guy Oddy

UK punk first wavers prove they still have plenty in the tank

Gregory Porter, Royal Albert Hall review - impressive first night for the Nat King Cole & Me tour

Sebastian Scotney

Much more to this show than simple re-creation

theartsdesk on Vinyl 38: Led Zeppelin, Lissie, Holger Czukay, Gomez, Ringo Starr, Moscoman and more

Thomas H Green

The giant monthly vinyl reviews round-up

CD: Fenne Lily - On Hold

Thomas H Green

Rising singer has a striking voice that may be the making of her

CD: Sonido Gallo Negro - Mambo Cósmico

Mark Kidel

Healing energies from Mexico

Reissue CDs Weekly: Shirley Collins

Kieron Tyler

‘The Ballad of Shirley Collins’ is a selective tribute to the British folk great

News Exclusive: R.E.M. Announce Surprise New Studio Album

Thomas H Green

R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe's press office release statement about imminent new material

CD: Eels - The Deconstruction

Javi Fedrick

Acoustic tenderness gets lost amongst middle-of-the-road musical wanderings

CD: Owen Broder - Heritage

Peter Quinn

Americana meets modern jazz in collection of striking originals and inspired reworkings

CD: Napalm Death - Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs

Joe Muggs

Midlands grindcore war machine still firing on all cylinders after all these years

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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