A change is gonna come: The strangest modern musical reinventions

Ever since Bob Dylan went electric and David Bowie began painting his face, musicians have been reinventing themselves. The Kooks are about to do the same, and they’re not alone 

The Kooks

The Kooks have been synonymous with anthemic guitar-pop since their debut album Inside In/Inside Out brought hits “Naive”, “She Moves in Her Own Way”, and “Ooh La”. The band have talked about reinvention before, when they released the not-so-experimental Konk, but their upcoming album Listen, out in September, is the real deal, taking a leap in the direction of soul, R&B, gospel and hip-hop. Singer songwriter Luke Pritchard joined forces with young hip-hop producer Inflo, explored the territory of New Orleans funk, and aimed to make an “upbeat soul record”. It’s a winning formula, as seen in singles “Down” and “Around Town”, due in June.

Kate Nash

Tagged as Lily Allen-lite after her 2007 breakthrough Made of Bricks which saw her win Best British Female at the Brits, Kate Nash swapped twee pop for riot grrrl with its follow-up My Best Friend is You in 2010. Its grungier lo-fi sound was less commercially successful than her debut, and saw her dropped by her record label, Fiction. She returned, grungey look and black hair replacing the girly tea-dresses, with a third album Girl Talk that saw her further shun the mainstream, delving into the territory of lo-fi punk.

Bill Callahan

Who’d have thought the lo-fi rock singer-songwriter of Smog was a dub fan? He revealed his love for the genre last year, when he put out – as the lead single to promote his album Dream River – a surprise dub version of “Javelin Unlanding”. Perversely, the dub version didn’t appear on that album, but early this year Callahan released a full dub album Have Fun With God, reworking the eight songs of Dream River. Inspired by 1970s dub and Jamaican music, Callahan said in an interview: “Dub is a spiritual, abstract, visceral, mystical thing.”

Nick Mulvey

Former founder member and percussionist in Mercury-nominated jazz collective Portico Quartet, Nick Mulvey has found new burgeoning success as a left-field acoustic folkie. He applies Spanish-style acoustic guitar picking, learned on a Cuban guitar course, most winningly on melodic singles “Cucurucu” and “Fever to the Form”, which drive along with lilting offbeat rhythms. He’s already approaching the mainstream, finding his way onto Radio 1 playlists, and has sold out every UK gig he’s played over past six months, including the Scala in March, and Village Underground this month, all before the release of his debut album. He has fans in Laura Marling, Ben Howard and London Grammar who have all asked him to support.

Justin Hayward-Young

Back in 2009, Justin Young was known as Jay Jay Pistolet, a troubadour playing twee nu-folk sometimes coloured by brass and strings, with the sensitive lyrics to match. Perhaps realising that the music scene didn’t need another folk troubadour, he decided to reignite guitar music instead, forming The Vaccines in 2010 and gaining thousands more fans in the process. The London quartet’s bursts of post-punk guitar-pop led to a No 4 which would become the biggest-selling debut album by a band in 2011, and was followed by the chart-topping Come of Age in 2012.

Radiohead

In 1998, following their hit with OK Computer that took the Oxford band to the top of the charts for the first time, Radiohead were stuck in a rut. Thom Yorke was plagued by writer’s block, reduced to turning up to see his producer, Nigel Godrich, with incomplete lyrics.  But Radiohead used their frustration to make a radical shift away from drums and guitar-led indie rock into the worlds of jazz, classical music and electronica. Kid A was born, and the left-field release shot into top position in the chart.

Charlie Simpson

The frontman of successful pop-punk boy band Busted had two million-selling studio albums in 2002 and 2003, and two BRIT Awards. But all along Simpson was harbouring a desire to front a heavy rock and emo band, and in 2005 he quit Busted to focus on Fightstar. Simpson’s rock band has been on hiatus since 2010 to make way for his new direction as a solo artist. His debut solo album Young Pilgrim, with acoustic guitar and piano, went into the charts at No 7, and its follow-up is due this summer.

MGMT

After providing the hits of 2008 summer festivals with sing-along singles “Kids” and “Time to Pretend”, the Brooklyn duo took a sharp route from the synth-pop that made them stars, releasing an album devoid of singles. Their motive? To encourage the album as an art form to be played through, in order. Ben Goldwasser explained the tactic: “We’d rather people hear the whole album as an album and see what tracks jump out rather than the ones that get played on the radio – if anything gets played on the radio. There definitely isn’t a “Time to Pretend” or a “Kids” on the album.” Instead it featured meandering psychedelic prog-rock tracks such as the epic 12-minute-long “Siberian Breaks”, that some considered  commercial suicide.

Lauryn Hill

The former Fugee’s debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a Grammy-winning, multi-million selling album that established her as a pioneer of hip-hop and nu-soul. But her 2002 follow-up, the live album MTV Unplugged 2.0, took a courageous swerve away from the smart hip-hop that made her name into meandering folk and acoustic soul. The 106-minute journey through new material, performed live and stripped-back on acoustic guitar, featured lengthy between-song monologues about her struggles with the emptiness of fame, and God. There hasn’t been a full-length release from Hill since.

Nick Mulvey releases ‘First Mind’ on 12 May on Communion Records; The Kooks’ ‘Listen’ is out on 1 September on EMI/Virgin; Charlie Simpson releases ‘Long Road Home’ on 14 July

Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

Arts and Entertainment
Full circle: Wu-Tang’s Method Man Getty

Music review

Arts and Entertainment
When he was king: Muhammad Ali training in 'I Am Ali'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game