thu 30/05/2024

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Beth Gibbons, Salle Pleyel, Paris review - a triumph of intimacy

Mark Kidel

Beth Gibbons, once the voice of Portishead, and later a wonderful solo singer and songwriter, hasn’t been on stage for a long while. She makes the most of a paradoxical yet magical mix of being at once fleeting and totally present.

Album: Richard Hawley - In This City They Call You Love

Liz Thomson

Hot on the heels of his Olivier Award-winning musical Standing at the Sky's Edge, comes In This City They Call You Love, the 10th solo album from Richard Hawley, proud son of Sheffield, and it’s a peach. With echoes of early Elvis (the slow numbers, like “Can’t Help Falling in Love”) and Roy Orbison, it feels almost instantly familiar.

The Lovely Eggs, XOYO, Birmingham review -...

Guy Oddy

When the Lovely Eggs’ married duo of Holly Ross and David Blackwell took to the stage at the recently rebranded XOYO in Birmingham on Bank Holiday...

Album: Bat For Lashes - The Dream of Delphi

Thomas H Green

Natasha Khan’s musical career has always explored the artier end of pop. Her latest album, her sixth and first in five years, is more akin to the...

Travels Over Feeling: The Music of Arthur Russell...

India Lewis

Last night’s Travels Over Feeling: The Music of Arthur Russell (a concert in part accompanying the recent publication of a book about his life by...

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Album: Richard Thompson - Ship to Shore

Tim Cumming

The master and commander of misery and despair casts off into the deep once more

Music Reissues Weekly: Jon Savage's The Secret Public - How The LGBTQ+ Aesthetic Shaped Pop Culture

Kieron Tyler

A significant release

Album: Jihye Lee Orchestra - Infinite Connections

Sebastian Scotney

A serious and important third album dominated by Korean 'han'

Album: Twenty One Pilots - Clancy

Tom Carr

Pop-rock duo close their long-running narrative with aplomb

Album: Isobel Campbell - Bow to Love

Thomas H Green

The Scottish singer's latest is woozy, ultra laidback and sometimes delicious

Album: Samana - Samana

Kieron Tyler

Hypnotic psychedelic folk from the Welsh valleys

The Great Escape Festival 2024, Brighton review - 12 hours on the musical frontline of Day Three

Caspar Gomez

Checking out gigs by Being Dead, Kneecap, Pip Blom, Looking Glass Alice and more

Music Reissues Weekly: Andwella - To Dream

Kieron Tyler

How a cult psychedelic band laid the ground for a massive Demis Roussos hit

Album: Barry Adamson - Cut to Black

Guy Oddy

The coolest Mancunian returns with a lesson in style

The Great Escape Festival 2024, Brighton review - a dip into day one and the elephant-in-the-room

Thomas H Green

An opening snapshot of Brighton's multi-venue showcase

Laufey, Royal Albert Hall review - fans in heaven

Sebastian Scotney

The sequence of heartbreak songs sounded same-y

Album: Billie Eilish - Hit Me Hard and Soft

Tim Cumming

Desire and longing are the submersibles that propel Eilish’s riveting third album

Album: Jack Savoretti - Miss Italia

Thomas H Green

Middle of the road singer embraces family history with an album of Italian pop

Hidden Door 10th Birthday Party, St James Quarter, Edinburgh review - going underground

Miranda Heggie

Car park transformed into gallery/rave venue for multi-art celebration

Conchúr White, St Pancras Old Church review - side-stepping the past to embrace the future

Kieron Tyler

Northern Irish troubadour pushes forward

Pop Will Eat Itself, Chalk, Brighton review - hip hop rockers deliver a whopper

Thomas H Green

Eighties/Nineties indie-tronic dance mavericks take the roof off

Album: Beth Gibbons - Lives Outgrown

Mark Kidel

Intimate songs of unavoidable sorrow

Music Reissues Weekly: Little Girls - Valley Songs

Kieron Tyler

Deserved tribute to the Los Angeles new wave popsters who failed to click

Album: Ani DiFranco - Unprecedented Sh!t

Liz Thomson

Tough, uncompromising, unflinching

Album: Abigail Lapell - Anniversary

Thomas H Green

An engaging - if doleful - set from the Canadian folk-Americana singer

Album: Kings Of Leon - Can We Please Have Fun

Joe Muggs

The good ole boys of stadium indie go back to basics: will it work?

Album: Bab L'Bluz - Swaken

Guy Oddy

Fiery psychedelia to lift your soul coming straight out of the Maghreb

Album: Pokey LaFarge - Rhumba Country

Liz Thomson

A pig in a pokey, as the singer farms in Maine and reads the Bible, with technicolor results

Album: Josienne Clarke - Parenthesis, I

Tim Cumming

Redefining the self, from the most absorbing of British singer-songwriters

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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