sun 31/05/2020

New Music Reviews

Deolinda, Jazz Café

howard Male

Sometimes it’s worth remembering that what is world music to one music lover is pop music to another. Portuguese four-piece Deolinda’s first album, Canção ao lado, spent nearly two years at the top of the charts at home, so there are an awful lot of people who see this band as pop music. This must also make it strange for the band themselves who, presumably, play sizeable venues in Portugal, only to find themselves in front of a London crowd of less than 300 at the Jazz Café...

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The Streets, O2 Academy

Bruce Dessau Mike Skinner: Is it really the end of the road for the pop pioneer?

Grown men with bulging muscles and tattoos were crying in Brixton last night. And not just the man at the front who got unexpectedly kicked when Mike Skinner decided to go crowd-surfing. It was Skinner's very last gig before he pursues film-making, novels or roadsweeping, depending which interview you believe, so could he finish with a bang?

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Robyn, The Roundhouse

Kieron Tyler

Halfway through last night’s show, as songs segued and smooshed into each other, it became clear that Robyn has perfected a high-concept pop that’s impossible to place geographically. She might be Swedish, but bloopy Chicago house, Euro electro and synthetic Japanese new wave are in the mix. A human blender, she’s at a peak – visibly fizzing.

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Janelle Monáe, The Roundhouse

joe Muggs Janelle Monáe: The would-be android princess

I have thus far been a bit wary of the Janelle Monáe hype. It's only natural: when an attractive young performer is taken under the wing of megastars like Outkast and P Diddy, and drenched with media acclaim that pronounces them an artist on the level of Prince, all on the basis of a few download tracks and one album, one bristles. And when that album is heavily conceptualised and crisply produced but more full of overt retro references than it is instant tunes, the suspicion only grows....

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PJ Harvey, Troxy

Bruce Dessau

Since breaking through with her 1992 debut album Dry, PJ Harvey has constantly been on the move, changing and evolving, both musically and sartorially. Last night at the Troxy in East London was no exception. As she walked onstage dressed in a long black frock with a riot of matching feathers exploding from her head, she resembled Lady Gaga's bonkers West Country Edwardian ancestor.

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Mogwai, Brixton Academy

David Cheal

There are some glorious sounds to be heard in the world of music: a big band in full swing; a symphony orchestra in full flight; a gospel choir; the Hammond B3 organ. But to my mind there’s nothing quite like the sound of a line of electric guitars – not chugging along like the Quo or Lynyrd Skynyrd, but meshing, interweaving, thrumming, humming, threshing, shredding, screaming; like Mogwai.

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Foo Fighters, Wembley Arena

Adam Sweeting Dave Grohl (second left) leads the new five-piece Foo Fighters

Fresh from being anointed a Godlike Genius at this week's Shockwaves NME Awards, Dave Grohl celebrated with a roaring two-hour set with his recharged Foo Fighters at Wembley Arena, still a dismal dive despite the major refurbishment which put the entrance at the wrong end. However, Dave basks in the reputation of being the Nicest Man in Rock and a thoroughly good egg (Lemmy says so,...

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Bookworm Babies, Royal Festival Hall Ballroom

joe Muggs

Rap audiences are not renowned for being easy to please – but it's a daring performer indeed who is willing to stand up and drop lyrics in front of some couple of hundred babies and toddlers. Yes, as television's Rastamouse has brought reggae culture to Ceebeebies viewers, so this week DJ, promoter, teacher and poet Charlie Dark has been breaking down the elements of hip-hop for those who are more pre-school than old-school.

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Ray LaMontagne, Royal Festival Hall

Russ Coffey

Rock-folkies can sure be snobs. Even though New Hampshire-born Ray LaMontagne is still relatively unknown over here, there are still purists who view his records with suspicion. They feel the voice is just too huge, the sound too commercial. The irony is that no-one courts attention less than LaMontagne. Last night he delivered the entire concert from a static spot just to the left of the band. And apparently he’s as withdrawn offstage as he is on. But the RFH saw him focussed. Focussed on...

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Singles & Downloads 10

Thomas H Green Kanye West: preposterous and over the top, but also rather brilliant

This month's Singles & Downloads leads off with a new one from an absolute kingpin of US pop and hip hop. However, the focus is equally on the backwaters and curious places where other lively varieties of music dwell. From dancehall raucousness to erudite indie, from ranty punk to funk reinterpretations of American minimalist composition, all pop life is here and keenly assessed by Thomas H Green and Joe Muggs.

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