Coldcut 30th Anniversary

Matt Black and Jonathan More’s first single as Coldcut – the 1987 white label Say Kids What Time Is It? – was one of the earliest records to be entirely made up of samples. They celebrate 30 years since its release – three decades that have been filled with groundbreaking remixes, productions, DJ sets, club nights and occasional forays into the charts – with a new and doubtless thrilling audiovisual show.

Loyle Carner

Loyle Carner
Loyle Carner Photograph: PR Company Handout

Of all the current crop of British MCs, Loyle Carner feels the most idiosyncratic. His debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, was restrained, lyrically downbeat, big on mournful piano and jazz guitar, suffused with a very British kind of melancholy, and came furnished with a spoken-word endorsement from his mum (“He was and is a complete joy,” she proudly offered). He’s a genuinely unique talent, and this tour contains his biggest show to date, at London’s Brixton Academy.

The Grime and the Glamour

The Barbican’s season of New York movies has a distinctly musical slant. It opens with a triple bill of rarely seen films about the 70s punk scene, including Amos Poe’s legendary 1976 document Blank Generation, and takes in everything from 80s hip-hop drama Wild Style (30 Sept) to Smithereens, Susan Seidelman’s feature film set in and around the downtown music scene and starring Richard Hell (30 Sept), and Seidelman’s later Desperately Seeking Susan (1 Oct), one of the few films starring Madonna that can be safely viewed without losing the will to live.

David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town

The exemplary series of box sets charting the course of Bowie’s career reaches its third volume and the Berlin and Brian Eno years, The 11 CDs or 13 albums include Low, “Heroes”, the double live set Stage, Scary Monsters and a compilation of non-album tracks including Bowie singing Brecht from the Baal EP. The real gem is a new and noticeable improved version of the hugely underrated Lodger, remixed by Tony Visconti. Next, presumably, Bowie’s 80s: gulp!

  • 29 September (Parlophone).

Miley Cyrus: Younger Now

Miley Cyrus
A more conservative image ... Miley Cyrus. Photograph: Publicity image

Another intriguing career turn from mainstream pop’s most off-message figure, after 2015’s psychedelic Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz. That featured the Flaming Lips, a song called Milky Milky Milk and a cover photo of an impossibly stoned-looking Cyrus smearing her face with glitter: this, however is heralded as a return not to the electropop of Bangerz but to her country roots and a more conservative image, apparently inspired by the election of Donald Trump.

  • 29 September (RCA)

Spacebomb Revue

Richmond, Virginia’s Spacebomb has succeeded in carving out its own musical niche. A recording studio powered by a house band in the manner of Motown or Stax, it’s made a succession of albums that manage to be both individual while boasting a signature style: warm, luscious, soul-influenced Americana. This show features both the label’s mainstays – singer-songwriters Matthew E White, Natalie Prass – and other artists who’ve received the studio’s magic touch, including Foxygen and Mike Scott of the Waterboys.

Liam Gallagher: As You Were

Admirably blunt, Liam Gallagher has admitted that his first solo album represents “the last roll of the dice” for a post-Oasis career that’s thus far never threatened to repeat the kind of success he found with his brother. Beady Eye have been replaced by a team of blue-chip co-writers for hire, including Greg Kurstin, co-author of Adele’s Hello, and regular Mark Ronson collaborator Andrew Wyatt. It’s a strategy that’s produced only minor hits thus far, but you never know.

  • 6 October (Warner Bros).

St Vincent: Masseduction

‘Sex and drugs and sadness’ … St Vincent.
‘Sex and drugs and sadness’ … St Vincent. Photograph: Nedda Afsari

Since her last, eponymous album in 2014, Annie Clark has become infinitely more famous, a state of affairs that has less to do with her music than her private life: you can’t date one of the world’s most famous supermodels without the tabloids taking a prurient interest. Her fifth album should redress the balance: she is, after all, one of the most consistently fascinating singer-songwriters around, and the tracks released thus far from Masseduction – electro-fuelled and “all about sex and drugs and sadness” according to its author – suggest no slip in quality.

  • 13 October (Loma Vista).

The Jam: 1977

Attempting to singlehandedly start a mod revival at the height of punk should have been a foolhardy and doomed undertaking: incredibly, Paul Weller pulled it off, as documented by this lavish five-disc box set, clearly aimed at the middle-aged feather-cut Christmas market. It explores The Jam’s oft-overlooked early years in depth, collecting their debut In the City and its wobbly, undercooked follow-up This Is the Modern World alongside umpteen demos, live performances and TV appearances.

  • 20 October (Universal).

J Hus

Rapper Stormzy recently caused baffled consternation by referring to Theresa May as a “paigon”. Had people been paying attention to the oeuvre of his sometime collaborator J Hus, they would have been familiar with the term thanks to his 2015 track Dem Boy Paigon. Since then, his star has risen considerably. This year, his intriguing blend of hard-hitting grime MCing and music influenced by Afrobeat and bashment has resulted in a top ten album and single: a brief tour rounds the year off.

Avicii: True Stories

Watch a trailer for Avicii: True Stories

On paper, a feature-length documentary about an EDM DJ and producer doesn’t sound like the most fascinating cinematic experience imaginable. But Avicii is clearly a more complex and troubled character than his DayGlo music suggests. Film-maker Levan Tsikurishvili spent four years in his company, capturing both his success and a subsequent physical and mental decline that led him to unexpectedly retire from performing live last year. True Stories promises to be “a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame.”

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

The announcement of the Canadian post-rock collective’s seventh album, Luciferian Towers, came complete with a list of demands, among them “the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex” and “the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again”. Certainly, their brand of apocalyptic instrumental music has seldom felt more appropriate: their live shows, meanwhile, are invariably overwhelming experiences, the intensity of the music ratcheted up by the films that accompany it.

Liverpool Music Week

The line-up for the 15th annual Liverpool Music Week is impressively eclectic – ranging from an opening night performance at the Echo Arena by Nile Rodgers and Chic to experimental electronics from Mount Kimbie and Blanck Mass to an appearance by reggae legend Dawn Penn. Everything Everything, meanwhile, headline a closing show that also features Zola Jesus and the Orielles, the latter responsible for two of 2017’s most captivating singles, Sugar Tastes Like Salt and I Only Bought It for the Bottle.

Father John Misty

Josh Tillman continues to cut a divisive figure in rock music: for everyone who thinks this year’s Pure Comedy and its equally acclaimed predecessor I Love You Honeybear are the dernier cri in latterday singer-songwriter sophistication, there’s someone else loudly informing the world that they find his shtick arch and irritating: “the most self-important asshole on earth”, as Ryan Adams recently complained. Live, however, he’s a potent presence: funny and compelling in equal measure.

Goldie: All Things Remembered

You would have a hard time arguing that drum’n’bass pioneer Goldie has led an insufficiently incident-packed life to warrant an autobiography: from a childhood spent in care homes to international celebrity, All Things Remembered promises “an explosive story of abuse, revenge, graffiti, gold teeth, sawn-off shotguns, car crashes, hot yoga and redemption through reality TV”.

Perfume Genius

Outsider art … Perfume Genius.
Outsider art … Perfume Genius. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose/The Observer

Mike Hadreas’s journey from something approaching an outsider artist turning his turbulent life story into shaky, harrowing, lo-fi music to something approaching mainstream success – his music now turns up in adverts, he models for fashion magazines – is a fascinating one. This year’s album No Shape proved a career highlight and one of 2017’s best: a less straightforward pop album than it first appears, where lyrical strangeness exists alongside melodic richness and sonic ugliness disrupts the spectral beauty.

Princess Nokia

Princess Nokia.
Princess Nokia. Photograph: Scott Dudelson/WireImage

Destiny Frasqueri currently finds herself in a unique position. There aren’t many uncompromising, comics-obsessed intersectional feminist female rappers apparently poised for commercial success, but the music on her mixtape 1992 – recently reissued by Rough Trade with a plethora of new tracks attached – is good enough to snare a wider audience and her rhymes are smart and sharp and funny. These shows may well represent the last chance audiences get to see her in smaller venues.

Shabazz Palaces

It says something about how challenging Seattle rap duo Shabazz Palaces’ earlier oeuvre was that a pair of interlinked concept albums about an alien called Quaraz very much represented their most approachable work to date. But amid the sonic experiments and incomprehensible storyline, the Quaraz albums offered moments of unexpected directness – gorgeous melodies, snappy, relatable lyrics – without ever surrendering the duo’s uniqueness: they remain like nothing else in hip-hop.

Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels’ Pyramid stage performance was one of the highlights of this year’s Glastonbury. The duo came on stage immediately after Jeremy Corbyn’s rapturously received speech and were scarcely less triumphant, the potency of their music and their ability to switch their set’s mood from rage to humour to poignancy and back again fully in evidence: proof, should it be needed, of what a great live act Killer Mike and El-P have become.

Hüsker Dü: Savage Young Dü

Hüsker Dü are one of 80s alt-rock’s great lost, pioneering bands: others, including Pixies and Nirvana, made far greater commercial capital from harnessing hardcore’s rage and noise to pop melodies, but Hüsker Dü did it first. Their back catalogue has long been in a state of disarray, never treated with the care and attention it deserves, until now: this exhaustive box set from Numero Group, chronicling their raw, warp-speed early years, is a treat and revelation.

Taylor Swift: Reputation

Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album is by some considerable distance the biggest pop release of the autumn, guaranteed to provoke an infinite number of think pieces. If the two singles that have preceded it are anything to go by, Reputation sees a shift away from 1989’s Springsteen-ish AOR towards a more electronic sound and lyrically continues her habit of opaquely referencing her umpteen feuds and gossip surrounding her private life: it remains to be seen if every song is a kind of millennial You’re So Vain.

  • 10 November (Big Machine)


Smooth … Thundercat. Photograph: Paul R Giunta/FilmMagic

Multi-instrumentalist Stephen Bruner has played with everyone from Suicidal Tendencies to Erykah Badu, but it was his work on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly that really catapulted him into the spotlight, winning him a Grammy. He responded with to the increase in profile with Drunk, a fabulously eclectic album that took in smooth soul, jazz fusion, electronic funk and yacht rock – Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald joining Pharrell and Kendrick among the guest stars. Live, he’s as off-kilter as you might expect.

Morrissey: Low In High School

The announcement of Morrissey’s first new album since 2014’s World Peace Is None of Your Business brings with it the usual mix of excitement and apprehension. A return to peak form or more fair-to-middling? Will the lyrics reflect his passion for Brexit, love of Nigel Farage and belief that Sadiq Khan “talks so quickly that people can’t understand him”? How long until his much-trumpeted new record deal collapses amid blood-curdling acrimony? We shall see.

  • 17 November (Etienne).

U2: Songs Of Experience

Riding high again after the critical and commercial success of their summer tour revisiting 1987’s The Joshua Tree, U2 finally unveil the much-delayed companion piece to 2014’s much-derided Songs of Innocence, its original incarnation scrapped following the election of Donald Trump, and new songs recorded live in the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite. Whether it’s enough to quell the band’s evident fear that they’re seen as a heritage act in the wake of the Joshua Tree tour is an intriguing question.

  • 1 December (Island).



Aux … bringing a taste of K-Music from Korea.
Aux … bringing a taste of K-Music from Korea. Photograph: PR Company Handout

Held at seven venues across London, this festival provides an intriguing reminder that Korea’s music scene stretches far beyond K-pop and Gangnam Style. Many of the artists use traditional instruments in new ways, from the gentle, exquisite compositions of Jiha Park to the psychedelic pansori-rock of Aux. The opening concert, at the Union Chapel, is a collaboration between Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell and Black String, who rework ancient Korean styles using bamboo flute, zither and electric guitar.


Cardiff’s centenary commemoration of the Russian revolution embraces all the arts, but opera features prominently. Welsh National Opera revives its fine productions of Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, while Mid Wales Opera mounts a new touring production of Walton’s The Bear, which is based on a Chekhov short story.

The Judas Passion

Mary Bevan.
Mary Bevan. Photograph: PR Company Handout

Sally Beamish’s new choral work promises a fresh look at one of the most familiar biblical stories. David Harsent’s libretto retells the events of Christ’s crucifixion from the perspective of Judas Iscariot, posing questions of whether his betrayal can ever be forgiven. Nicholas McGegan conducts the OAE and its chorus for the performances, with Mary Bevan as Mary, Roderick Williams as Christ and Brendan Gunnell as Judas.

• 24 September, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden; 25 September, St John’s Smith Square, London.


Hard to believe, but the London Sinfonietta is 50 years old this year. It is celebrating its half century with a series of concerts, and though sadly there is no revival of the work with which it made its debut, John Tavener’s exuberant fantasy The Whale, it is revisiting some of its great successes, including Voices, Hans Werner Henze’s evening-long, multilingual song cycle, conducted by David Atherton, one of the Sinfonietta founders.

• 11 October, St John’s Smith Square, London.


English National Opera gave the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s first opera, Two Boys, in 2011. It’s got the first bite at Muhly’s follow-up too, which is based on Winston Graham’s 1961 novel, which also led to Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller. Martyn Brabbins conducts his first new production as ENO’s music director; Sasha Cooke takes the title role and Michael Meyer directs.
Coliseum, London, 18 November-3 December.

Les Troyens

Complete recordings of The Trojans, Berlioz’s operatic epic, can still be counted on the fingers of one hand. The new one, conducted by John Nelson, is derived from a pair of concerts in Strasbourg last April. Reports on that live performance were hugely enthusiastic, and with Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Cassandra, Joyce DiDonato as Dido and Michael Spyres as Aeneas, the cast is about as good as anyone could hope to hear today.


Mike Gibbs’ 80th Birthday Tour

The glowing ensemble sound and raucous harmonies of jazz composer Mike Gibbs mark him out as one of the most creative inheritors of the painterly methods of Duke Ellington and Gil Evans – a tradition into which he has woven elements from Charles Ives and Olivier Messiaen to Thelonious Monk and country rock. Pianist Hans Koller has assembled a superb Gibbs-directed UK orchestra including saxophonist Jason Yarde and guitarist Mike Walker for this 80th birthday tour.

25th London jazz festival

Hugh Masekela.
Hugh Masekela. Photograph: PR

The EFG London jazz festival returns with its signature mix of stars and intriguing newcomers, marking its 25th anniversary year with the 25 for 25 showcase of specially commissioned work, including American trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s Herbie Hancock-inspired piece for full orchestra. South Africans Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela, mandolinist Chris Thile, and piano giants Brad Mehldau and Chucho Valdes are among many glitzy guests on this unique citywide 10-day jazz party.


First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger

A memoir of an eventful life from a hugely influential figure in the folk revival, now 82. Seeger is an ardent feminist and left-wing activist, a singer-songwriter blacklisted under McCarthyism, the half-sister of legendary folk singer Pete and partner of controversial folk purist Ewan McColl, whose most famous song, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, is about her. The blurb promises “a story of birth and abortion, sex and infidelity, devotion and betrayal”.

  • 5 October (Faber & Faber).

Jon Boden

The singer-songwriter and fiddler who shook up the folk scene as the frontman of Bellowhead returns with a new solo album, Afterglow, the second part of his post-apocalyptic trilogy, which began with Songs from the Floodplain in 2009. He says that the new songs deal with a world transformed by climate change, in which “the luxuries and comfort of 21st-century life have become scarce, and a harder, simpler existence now prevails”.

  • 6 October (Hudson records). On tour 6-26 November.


Haunting … Saz’iso. Photograph: Andrea Goertler

Albanian saze is a haunting, often melancholy style that features clarinet, violin and complex iso-polyphonic singing that combines at least two melody lines. This powerful music is little known outside southern Albania, but that could change thanks to Saz’iso, a group of virtuoso musicians who came together with help from Joe Boyd, a producer who has worked with everyone from Nick Drake and Fairport Convention to Cubanismo and Songhai. He co-produced their debut album, At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song,

  • 13 October (Glitterbeat). On tour 1-11 November.


Alexis Petridis, Andrew Clements, John Fordham and Robin Denselow

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