fri 17/09/2021

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Album: Lil Nas X - Montero

Joe Muggs

Lil Nas X is good at being a pop star. Like, what could pop culture need more than a young, flamboyant, witty gay rapper from the deep south who can top the US country charts then just when it appeared he might not be able to live up to the success of “Old Town Road” lap dance Satan in the video for the Latin-tinged “Call me by Your Name” and storm to mega sales all over again?

Duran Duran, O2 Institute, Birmingham review – an intimate gig for the local megastars

Guy Oddy

Incredibly it’s now 40 years since the release of Duran Duran’s debut album. To mark this event, the remaining members of the band’s classic line-up decided to return to Birmingham. Not to the NIA or any similar-sized venue, but for a couple of intimate gigs at the city’s O2 Institute.

Album: The Eivind Aarset 4-Tet - Phantasmagoria,...

Kieron Tyler

Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey instantly sets its controls for an excursion into the interstellar void between gaseous and solid...

Michael Janisch Band, Ronnie Scott's review...

Tim Cumming

This was, said bassist Michael Janisch, his first gig since January last year, and his crack group’s Monday evening set, kicking off at the un-jazzy...

Album: The Felice Brothers - From Dreams To Dust

Nick Hasted

There’s a modesty to the Felice Brothers, an absenting of ego, even as they seek glimmers of transcendence in the vast American night. These working-...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Goldie & the Gingerbreads - Thinking About The Good Times

Kieron Tyler

How a New York band became an essential part of the British Sixties pop boom

Out of the shadows: Dylan’s Eighties reappraised

Tim Cumming

Bootleg Series co-producer Steve Berkowitz gives an insider’s run-down on the latest Bootleg Series release, 'Springtime in New York'

Album: Limiñanas / Garnier - De Película

Guy Oddy

French psych-rock royalty and an iconic techno DJ team up for something special

Album: Helen Sung – Quartet+

Sebastian Scotney

A celebration of the great women jazz composer/pianists

Blade Runner, Avex Ensemble, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - synths synced to screen

Miranda Heggie

Ridley Scott's masterpiece screened with a live performance of Vangelis's score

Album: Low - Hey What

Kieron Tyler

The Minnesota duo at their most transcendent

Nadine Shah, Winterstoke Sun Shelter, Ramsgate review - a thrilling return in a stunning venue

Kathryn Reilly

The sultry South Tyneside siren dazzles above the waves

Album: Martina Topley-Bird - Forever I Wait

Mark Kidel

Songs of maturity and experience

Reissue CDs Weekly: Laura Nyro - American Dreamer

Kieron Tyler

Lavish box-set collection of important albums by ‘The Funky Madonna of New York Soul’

Album: Drake - Certified Lover Boy

Harry Thorfinn-George

Way 2 Sexy Uncle D's long-delayed album is business as usual

Album: The Stranglers - Dark Matters

Thomas H Green

Eighteenth album from punk crossover originals combines the elegiac with the punchy

Album: Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

Kathryn Reilly

The talented rapper takes things to another level in her masterful fourth album

Album: Iron Maiden - Senjutsu

Joe Muggs

17 albums in and a slightly portly old Maiden has still got some sizzle in her

Album: Halsey - If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Triumphant pop-rock pivot

Album: Gerry Rafferty - Rest in Blue

Tim Cumming

Ten years after his death, a posthumous new album reaffirms a singular talent

Reissue CDs Weekly: Leslie Winer - When I Hit You, You’ll Feel It

Kieron Tyler

First-ever anthology dedicated to polymath former model whose music prefigured trip hop

Album: Rudimental - Ground Control

Thomas H Green

Latest from London dance-pop quartet is half bland but half bangin'

Album: Saint Etienne - I’ve Been Trying To Tell You

Kieron Tyler

British pop institution’s affecting concept album about a half-remembered past

Album: Toyah - Posh Pop

Thomas H Green

Post-punk pop star bubbles with righteous energy but doesn't quite hit its mark

Edinburgh International Festival 2021: Anna Meredith

Miranda Heggie

Undiluted maximalism from a true innovator

The Beach Boys: Feel Flows - the Sunflower and Surf's Up Sessions 1969-1971

Adam Sweeting

Five-disc examination of how the band evolved to meet the 1970s

Album: The Bug - Fire

Guy Oddy

Kevin Martin gets fierce and seriously heavy

Reissue CD Weekly: Iggy and the Stooges - Born In A Trailer

Kieron Tyler

Box set documenting what came before and after 1973’s crucial ‘Raw Power’ album

Album: Spencer Cullum's Coin Collection

Kieron Tyler

Nashville-based British pedal steel player favours his own roots over Americana

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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