sun 23/01/2022

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Stan Tracey Trio - The 1959 Sessions

Kieron Tyler

What’s now been titled The 1959 Sessions represents an unreleased studio album completed by the Stan Tracey Trio on 5 and 8 June 1959 at Decca’s London studio at Broadhurst Gardens. If issued then, it would have been the swift follow-up to the trio’s debut album Little Klunk, recorded at the same studio on 22 and 26 May 1959.

Long Promised Road review - another attempt to probe the fragile genius of Brian Wilson

Adam Sweeting

There has been no shortage of documentaries about king Beach Boy Brian Wilson, not to mention the 2014 bio-drama Love & Mercy, so the purpose of this new effort by director Brent Wilson (no relation) isn’t altogether clear.

Album: Eels - Extreme Witchcraft

Nick Hasted

Mr. E’s music examines hellish depths, but always climbs back towards the light. Electro-Shock Blues (1998) was soon redeemed by “Mr. E’s Beautiful...

Album: Earl Sweatshirt - Sick!

Harry Thorfinn-George

Around 2017, Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, known professionally as Earl Sweatshirt, said he wanted to push his music in a more experimental direction, to...

Album: John Mellencamp - Strictly A One-Eyed Jack

Liz Thomson

“I didn’t even know what I was writing about. It was just sent to me”, John Mellencamp has said of Strictly A One-Eyed Jack, his first album in five...

Album: Lady London - Lady Like: The Boss Tape

Thomas H Green

Multi-talented rising US MC gives a teasing taste of her skills

Album: Boris - W

Joe Muggs

The Japanese doom metal / dreampop trio on the form of their lives

Music Reissues Weekly: Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds - Stormy Monday And The Eagles Fly On Friday

Kieron Tyler

Proof there was more to the blues-soul stylist than oldies radio staple ‘Out of Time’

Album: Elvis Costello and the Imposters - The Boy Named If

Mark Kidel

Nothing will ever stop our super-gifted Elvis

Album: Spell Songs II – Let the Light In

Tim Cumming

A second volume of nature-centric magic from the folk supergroup

Album: Grace Cummings - Storm Queen

Kieron Tyler

A wild ride with the Melbourne singer-songwriter and her memorable voice

Album: Cat Power - Covers

Guy Oddy

Chan Marshall’s latest album of cover versions could benefit from some serious editing

Music Reissues Weekly: The Gun Club - Preaching The Blues

Kieron Tyler

Smart box set of singles honouring the singular musical vision of Jeffrey Lee Pierce

Album: Kiefer Sutherland - Bloor Street

Thomas H Green

The Hollywood star's latest is for fans of American FM radio mainstream slickness

Album: Bed Wetter - A Life in the Day

Barney Harsent

The producer also known as Man Power gets personal in public on an immersive journey through the emotions

Albums of the Year 2021: PinkPantheress - to hell with it

Harry Thorfinn-George

The most essential 18 minutes of music of 2021

Albums of the Year 2021: Chrissie Hynde - Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

Liz Thomson

Pretender rifles through Dylan's back pages

Album: Dope Lemon - Rose Pink Cadillac

Guy Oddy

Angus Stone’s Australian cosmic cowboy music is just the thing for those missing the sun

Albums of the Year 2021: Eliane Elias - Mirror Mirror

Peter Quinn

A dazzling album of piano duets offers risk-taking and hyper-romantic outpourings

Music Reissues Weekly: Jon Savage's 1977-1979 - Symbols Clashing Everywhere

Kieron Tyler

Personal take on three years when disparate outlooks could happily coexist

Albums of the Year 2021: Sault - Nine

Barney Harsent

The UK soul collective prove you can't get too much of a good thing

Albums of the Year 2021: Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

Howard Male

Two very different British female artists share a love of the power of words

Albums of the Year 2021: Céu - Acústico

Sebastian Scotney

The Brazilian singer's new, acoustic versions of her songs are sheer delight

Music Reissues Weekly: Looking back at 2021

Kieron Tyler

Linda Smith, Karen Black, Elton John, Screamers, Sixties psych-punk, Graham Collier, The Count Bishops and more

Albums of the Year 2021: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence

Kieron Tyler

An exceptional Swedish release and the year's other finest albums

Albums of the Year 2021: Katherine Priddy - The Eternal Rocks Beneath

Tim Cumming

A striking debut leads the pack through a second long year of pandemic

Albums of the Year 2021: Greta Van Fleet - The Battle at Garden's Gate

Russ Coffey

The Led Zep-lovin' boys from Michigan blew away the Covid cobwebs

Albums of the Year 2021: Limiñanas / Garnier - De Película

Guy Oddy

A year of two halves for live gigs but plenty of fine new music nevertheless

Music Reissues Weekly: The Beau Brummels - Turn Around The Complete Recordings (1964-1970)

Kieron Tyler

Last-word box set celebrating San Francisco’s important musical innovators

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


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

Music Reissues Weekly: Stan Tracey Trio - The 1959 Sessions

What’s now been titled The 1959 Sessions represents an unreleased studio album completed by the Stan Tracey Trio on 5...

Album: Eels - Extreme Witchcraft

Mr. E’s music examines hellish depths, but always climbs back towards the light....

Raymonda, English National Ballet, Coliseum review - a creak...

Neglected classics, whether books, plays or ballets, are usually neglected for a reason, and so it is with the three-act ballet Raymonda...

Nightmare Alley review - a dazzling trip through a heart of...

Director Guillermo del Toro has described Nightmare Alley as “a straight, really dark story”, lacking the supernatural elements in his...

Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Piccadilly Theatre review - spect...

One of the many theatrical casualties of Omicron in December was the...

Memory Box review - exquisitely made drama set in Lebanon

Memory Box is that rare thing, a glimpse into a lost world from its traumatised inhabitants. Made by the...

Album: Earl Sweatshirt - Sick!

Around 2017, Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, known professionally as Earl Sweatshirt, said he wanted to push his music in a more experimental direction,...

First Person: Femi Elufowoju Jr. on directing Verdi's...

I find that my experience of living as a Black man in the UK cannot help but inform the way I approach my work and never more so than with...

Russell Howard, Netflix special review - joyous return to li...

In 2019, Russell Howard was all set to celebrate his 20th year in...