British pop music has been known for its tendency to get bored with itself and search for outside influences–think of New Order mining Detroit house music to transform the Joy Division formula–but the movement known as Brit Pop was always about wallowing, if sometimes with tongues in cheek, in the national sound.
Which is why Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s recent projects have been both a break from his Brit Pop roots and the inevitable result of too much of a good British thing. There was his platinum-selling Gorillaz project, of course, in which he teamed with Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, among others, to create two albums of spaced-out hip-hop.
In 2006 he released an album as The Good, the Bad & the Queen with former Clash bassist Paul Simonon and Nigerian funk drummer Tony Allen. And last year, the opera Monkey: Journey to the West—directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and based on a 16th-century Chinese novel—debuted in England with Mr. Albarn’s score.
Now we learn that Albarn and a slew of musicians—including Allen, soul singer Candi Staton, L.A.’s Simone White, and Malians Kokanko Sata and Afel Bocoum,—will be coming to Lincoln Center Saturday night as part of the Honest Jon’s Revue.
Honest Jon’s is the name of a label Albarn co-founded in 2002 to promote some of the same West Indian, African, and reggae artists whose records have crowded the isles of Honest Jon’s Records along London’s Portobello Road for over 30 years. After each of Albarn’s buddies takes a solo turn, they’ll join him onstage for a joint performance to close out the night. [On sale now]
Another Brit Pop star with nearly as impressive a résumé is coming to New York. That would be Jason Pierce (a.k.a. J. Spaceman) and his psych-soul outfit Spiritualized. After a battle with double pneumonia nearly killed him three years ago, the Spaceman returned with a new album, this year’s excellent Songs in A&E, and a score for Harmony Korine’s 2007 film Mister Lonely. Spiritualized plays the Music Hall of Williamsburg on July 26. [On sale: today at noon]
The Last Shadow Puppets—the fawned-over new collaboration between the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and the Rascals’ Miles Kane—is coming to the Grand Ballroom on Oct. 30. The rumblings of the next wave of Brit Pop? We wouldn’t dare say. [On sale: Monday, July 14 at noon]
Finally, to turn away from fair Albion for a moment, Grizzly Bear—New York’s other smartly dressed young hit-makers—trip the light fantastic at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Aug. 9 to benefit the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation (there are floods in Iowa, you may have heard). Meanwhile Canada’s favorite Sabbath-enthusiasts Black Mountain head to the Bowery Ballroom on Sept. 23 and the Music Hall of Williamsburg the following day. The cause: Sometimes these guys have to actually make a living! [Grizzly Bear, on sale now; Black Mountain on sale tomorrow at noon for both the Bowery Ballroom and the Music Hall of Williamsburg dates]
It looks like there is life after Will & Grace after all. Sean Hayes, who starred as Jack in the hit series, makes his New York stage debut tonight at City Center in Damn Yankees. He plays Mr. Applegate (the devil himself) who, with his assistant (Jane Krakowski), lures a baseball fan into selling his soul so his favorite team, the Washington Senators, can beat the Yankees. Hayes tells The Times he’s "doing theater to legitimize himself as an actor." Whatever Lola wants! [On sale now]