wed 17/10/2018

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Yoko Ono - Warzone

Guy Oddy

There is no doubt that the hippies of the late 60s and early 70s gifted the world a horde of beautiful music before they finally slipped into a dope cloud of tedious self-satisfaction. Despite what some might claim, it’s hard to view Yoko Ono’s songs as part of this treasure trove and easy to suspect that she would now be viewed as a footnote in the history of the avant garde art world, if not for her place in the Beatles’ mythology.

CD: Karine Polwart – Laws of Motion

Tim Cumming

Karine Polwart has a stellar track record as a pop and folk songwriter and interpreter of traditional songs, from Malinky through a solo career that has garnered six BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including Folk Singer Of The Year 2018.

Reissue CDs Weekly: Rockin' in the USA - Hot...

Kieron Tyler

One marker arrived on 1 August 1981, when MTV began broadcasting. With its format based around screening pop videos, American radio had a competitor...

CD: Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics

Barney Harsent

Collaboration clearly suits Neneh Cherry. From co-writing with husband Cameron McVey, to projects with Youssou N’Dour, her band cirKus, The Thing and...

CD: Jess Glynne - Always In Between

Katie Colombus

The first release from Jess Glynne’s new album, “I’ll Be There” confirmed the North London singer as the first ever British female artist to have...

CD: Kurt Vile - Bottle It In

Thomas H Green

Rising alt-Americana artist continues to consolidate his reputation

CD: Jaakko Eino Kalevi - Out of Touch

Kieron Tyler

Prolific Finnish sonic auteur favours style over impact

CD: Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground

Ellie Porter

The guitarist and songwriter has lost none of his blistering rage

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kubrick's Music

Kieron Tyler

Enlightening box-set exploration of a fundamental aspect of Stanley Kubrick’s films

CD: John Grant – Love Is Magic

Barney Harsent

The singer-songwriter is on fine form on an immensely rewarding fourth album

theartsdesk on Vinyl 43: Pixies, Nazareth, Yumi and the Weather, Beta Band, Northern Soul and more

Thomas H Green

The wildest, most wide-ranging monthly record reviews under the sun

They Might Be Giants, Barbican review - genuine, authentic humour

Sebastian Scotney

Short songs and an oblique way of looking at the world bring levity

CD: You Me At Six - VI

Thomas H Green

Well-established rockers are new to our dubious reviewer but he's impressed

CD: Echo & the Bunnymen - The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon

Guy Oddy

The Bunnymen indulge in some pointless self-harm

Soft Cell, O2 review - a memorable finale to their career

Caspar Gomez

The Eighties electro-pop kingpins go out on a three-hour epic

CD: KT Tunstall - Wax

Joe Muggs

Sometimes the middle of the road is no bad place to be...

theartsdesk Q&A: Soft Cell

Thomas H Green

Prior to their O2 show the Eighties synth-pop icons talk new music, old music, 'Top of the Pops', 'Sex Dwarf', drugs, and Dennis Waterman

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Michael Gibbs Big Band, The Gary Burton Quartet

Kieron Tyler

‘Festival 69’ documents a previously unreleased fusion of American and British jazz

CD: Jessica Sligter - Polycrisis: yes!

Kieron Tyler

Disquieting commentary on Europe’s downward spiral

CD: Cat Power - Wanderer

Guy Oddy

Chan Marshall’s tenth album is a haunting thing of great beauty

CD: Nile Rodgers & Chic - It's About Time

Thomas H Green

Very daytime Radio 1 but the disco kingpin's comeback album has just enough pizzazz to stand up

CD: Cher - Dancing Queen

Jo Southerd

A shameless celebration of all that glitters

CD: Rod Stewart - Blood Red Roses

Mark Kidel

An old hitmaker won't ever let you down

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bobbie Gentry

Kieron Tyler

‘The Girl From Chickasaw County’ is an enlightening box set dedicated to the ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ hitmaker

theartsdesk Q&A: Chas and Dave

Jasper Rees

A memorial interview with the lovable rockney duo following the death of Chas Hodges

CD: Tim Hecker - Konoyo

Joe Muggs

Long avant narratives and moments of shimmering beauty from Canadian-Japanese collaboration

CD: Mudhoney - Digital Garbage

Barney Harsent

Grunge's unsung pioneers sound vital as ever

CD: Prince - Piano and a Microphone 1983

Joe Muggs

Is this a glimmer of hope that treatment of the Paisley Park archives is going to be respectful?

David Crosby & Friends, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, review - still spine-tingling at 77

Ellie Porter

The singer-songwriter rifles through a long back catalogue from the Byrds through CSN to his new output

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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