sat 16/10/2021

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Manic Street Preachers, Brighton Dome review - solid gig occasionally explodes to another level

Thomas H Green

There is a three song segment midway through Manic Street Preachers’ set which suddenly ramps everything up. For this brief while, the performance and response in the sold-out, nigh-on-2000-capacity venue, elevates the concert from another decent gig on another tour in front of a devoted fanbase, to something more memorable and truly electric.

Album: Coldplay - Music Of The Spheres

Nick Hasted

Chris Martin has talked, not for the first time, of this finally being the Coldplay era of “no rules or fear”.

Album: Finneas - Optimist

Joe Muggs

This record is a heck of a metatextual experience to listen to. In releasing his debut album, 24 year old Finneas O’Connell is attempting to step out...

Maximo Park, Saint Luke's and the Winged Ox...

Jonathan Geddes

Time waits for no band, as Maximo Park’s lively singer Paul Smith opined early into his band’s set. “I am young and I am lost” he declared during "...

Karine Polwart, Birmingham Town Hall Review:...

Miranda Heggie

With a few extra dates to her rescheduled UK tour, Scottish folk legend Karine Polwart returned to Birmingham Town Hall with some tunes from her...

Album: Pokey LaFarge - In the Blossom of Their Shade

Liz Thomson

Pokey's lockdown escape

The Velvet Underground review - Todd Haynes tunnels through band history

Saskia Baron

Ingeniously composed documentary portrait, with John Cale the definitive star

Album: Santana - Blessings and Miracles

Mark Kidel

Latin Jazz pioneer hampered by a surfeit of brilliant guests

Reissue CDs Weekly: Psychedelic Soul - Produced By Norman Whitfield

Kieron Tyler

First-ever overview of the storied producer and songwriter

Album: James Blake - Friends That Break Your Heart

Thomas H Green

Our James Blake-phobic reviewer has to admit the singer's latest has much to admire

Album: The Courettes - Back In Mono

Guy Oddy

Garage rock revivalists go-go girl group crazy

Album: Sam Fender - Seventeen Going Under

Joe Muggs

The Geordie stadium singer-songwriter unleashes fury while maturing his sound

Patti Smith, Royal Albert Hall review - a wild ride from a musical legend

Katie Colombus

A transcendental experience from the poet laureate of punk rock

K-Music 2021: striking the right note for musical fusion

Tim Cumming

Stars of this year's festival of Korean music discuss East-West fusions and shared roots

Album: Ministry - Moral Hygiene

Guy Oddy

Uncle Al raises a battle flag against the US political right-wing

Balimaya Project, Colectiva, Milton Court review - Africa and Latin Jazz re-invented

Mark Kidel

Double bill at the Barbican scores two hits

Imperial Wax, Dead Wax, Birmingham review - ex-Fall guys whip up a storm

Guy Oddy

Sam Curran and the ex-Fall gang leave ears screaming in a stormy autumn night

Album: Efterklang - Windflowers

Kieron Tyler

The Danish art-poppers balance the tension between reserve and forthrightness

Reissue CDs Weekly: Van der Graaf Generator - The Charisma Years 1970-1978

Kieron Tyler

Statement-piece box set honouring a band like no other

Album: BADBADNOTGOOD - Talk Memory

Nick Hasted

Jazz/hip-hop mavericks' psychedelic voyage has a Hollywood ending

Album: Vangelis - Juno to Jupiter

Thomas H Green

The septuagenarian electronic don maintains his course to the stars

Album: The Specials - Protest Songs 1924 - 2012

Thomas H Green

Raw, spirited covers set featuring well-chosen songs of dissent and satire

Album: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga - Love for Sale

Sebastian Scotney

A new Tony Bennett album...at 95

Kero Kero Bonito, Heaven review - euphoric bubblegum

Alfred Quantrill

Feel-good electropop taking on climate change and visions of peace

Album: Catherine Graindorge - Eldorado

Mark Kidel

Ambient reflections on lockdown and death

Reissue CDs Weekly: Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space; Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World

Kieron Tyler

Wallet-friendly new editions deliver an alternative to £250 original pressings

Album: Black Dice - Mod Prog Sic

Joe Muggs

Twenty-three years into their career, the raw electronic trio get to the hub of things

Album: Amon Tobin - How Do You Live

Thomas H Green

Perennial electronic wizard pushes yet further into unexplored, sometimes loud, always compulsive terrain

Album: Nao - And Then Life Was Beautiful

Harry Thorfinn-George

The soulful singer goes for a more organic musical approach on her third album

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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