sat 24/08/2019

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh International Festival 2019: JARV IS review - Britpop legend still delivers

Miranda Heggie

”Cunts Are Still”. Well, that got your attention, didn’t it? Not my words, merely the title of one of JARV IS’s new tracks. In case you didn’t get it, JARV IS is a play on words and the name of given to Pulp frontman and founder Jarvis Cocker’s latest outfit. Cocker still is releasing new material. He still is an exuberant and energetic performer. He still is wearing those glasses. And still is very good.

CD: Taylor Swift - Lover

Lisa-Marie Ferla

If there's a central motif to the sprawling, 18-track opus that is Taylor Swift’s seventh release - and it’s an album that references both Drake and Springsteen, so it's hard to pin down - it first emerges in track three, the title track.

CD: Tanya Tucker - While I'm Livin'

Thomas H Green

When Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin released the former’s stripped back, soul-bearing American Recordings in 1994 the impact was massive. Not only did it...

Eels, Hammersmith Apollo review – dark, swampy...

Ellie Porter

"Would you mind if I jammed on my new... castanets?" We’re halfway through Eels’ triumphant set at Hammersmith's Eventim Apollo and this is the kind...

CD: Sleater-Kinney - The Center Won't Hold

Nick Hasted

This album’s title began as a reaction to fractiousness under Trump, but gained more intimate meaning when drummer Janet Weiss quit Sleater-Kinney...

CD: Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity - To Whom Buys a Record

Kieron Tyler

Energised yet structured reconfiguration of free jazz archetypes

CD: New Model Army - From Here

Guy Oddy

Almost 40 years on and the Bradford post-punks are still gloomy

Reissue CDs Weekly: Phil Manzanera - Diamond Head

Kieron Tyler

Roxy Music man’s overlooked first solo album is a winner

Foo Fighters, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow - communal singalongs and career highlights

Lisa-Marie Ferla

A muddy bucket list show from one of the biggest bands in the world

Pram, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - a fine hometown return for the psychedelic oddballs

Guy Oddy

A Theremin-powered weird-out from South Birmingham’s resident psychedelicists

CD: Grenades - Primate

Thomas H Green

Debut from UK punk outfit shows black wit and sonic imagination

Josienne Clarke, Green Note review - world-class melancholia hits its mark

Tim Cumming

Stripped to the bone: the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner returns

CD: Ride - This Is Not A Safe Place

Russ Coffey

The shoegaze legends' comeback is still going strong

The Hold Steady - Thrashing Thru the Passion

Lisa-Marie Ferla

A joyous return to form from the world's best bar band

CD: Frank Turner - No Man's Land

Nick Hasted

A richly conceived, blandly executed history lesson

CD: ESE & The Vooduu People - Up in Smoke

Howard Male

Attitude is backed up by talent on Hendrix-inspired band's propulsive debut

theartsdesk in Oslo: Øya Festival 2019 review

Kieron Tyler

A musical communion in Norway’s capital

Reissue CDs Weekly: Come On Let's Go!

Kieron Tyler

Thrill-packed compendium of ‘Power Pop Gems From the 70s & 80s’

CD: Bon Iver – i,i

Ellie Porter

Ta-da! Justin Vernon treats fans to an early release of his band's fourth album

Johnny Marr, Royal Festival Hall review - rock royalty having the time of his life

Ellie Porter

The prince of Manchester pulls out all the stops in blistering set for Nile Rodgers' Meltdown

CD: The Regrettes - How Do You Love?

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Teenage rockers deconstruct romantic relationships on second album

The National, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow review - rapture, catharsis and jokes

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Cincinnati indies play new album and old favourites over two summer nights

CD: Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind

Guy Oddy

The veteran Iowan misanthropes are in no danger of mellowing out

Wilderness Festival 2019 review - marvellous misbehaviour

Katie Colombus

A luxury lifestyle festival full of jolly good shows

CD: PP Arnold - The New Adventures Of…

Kieron Tyler

Impressive though belated comeback from the ever-distinctive soul stylist


Joe Muggs

A powerfully affecting missive from the eternally introspective Planet Anticon

Nile Rodgers and Chic, Royal Festival Hall review – great band, shame about the sound

Sebastian Scotney

A life-affirming celebration of a brilliant career

Graham Nash, Alexandra Palace review - from Salford to Woodstock and back

Liz Thomson

Intimate songs and stories from the versatile supergroup survivor

Reissue CDs Weekly: Fernando Falcão - Memória das Águas

Kieron Tyler

The rediscovery of a Brazilian musical auteur

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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