Michael Hann

Teenage Swifties restored my faith in strangers

Taylor Swift is the last of the monocultural pop icons. Put it this way: I bet you’ve heard of her. Your parents have heard of her. Your children have heard of her – and so have your grandchildren. This used to be commonplace – but not now. She transcends pop music. This might be why

The unstoppable rise of country music

When a major artist releases a new album, the first thing to follow is the onslaught of think pieces. And when Beyoncé released Cowboy Carter earlier this year, the tone of these think pieces – especially on this side of the Atlantic – was one of slightly baffled congratulation. Here, at last, was a pioneer

Adrianne Lenker is a treasure for the ages 

You could very well sum up their differing approaches to American roots music from how they were dressed. Both wore cowboy hats and both wore trousers, but Adrianne Lenker’s were faded denim, while Lainey Wilson went with shiny brown leather. Lenker, looking austere and speaking and singing softly, played music plucked from eternity, demanding you

Why garage punk is plainly the apogee of human achievement

How is it that a group that sounds like the Hives are selling out the Apollo? In a world configured according to expectation, the highlight of their year would be an appearance at the Rebellion punk festival in Blackpool, probably high up the bill on the second stage. They’d headline their own shows at places

The horror of London’s music venues

There were headlines last month about the plight of live music in Britain. More than a third of grassroots venues are making a loss; more than 100 of them are ceasing to put on live music or closing altogether. Cue the stories about how, if it wasn’t for these broom cupboards giving musicians the opportunity

The joy of meat-and-potatoes rock

‘Meat-and-potatoes rock’ is the pejorative term critics use when describing groups of white men with guitars who play loud, uncomplicated music. Why would anyone enjoy such stuff, when there are the ceviches of hyperpop, the flavoured foams of experimental hip-hop, the chargrilled seasonal vegetables of jazz? Don’t they know the world has moved on? Unfortunately,

Monumentally good: John Francis Flynn, at the Dome, reviewed

John Francis Flynn is monumentally good. He’s kick-yourself-for-missing-him good. He’s so good that when he spoke between songs in the upstairs ballroom of an old Irish pub in Tufnell Park, it was almost a disappointment: how could the man making this extraordinary music be so normal? Flynn is part of a cohort of Irish musicians

The confusing, overwhelming, exhilarating music of Jockstrap

Shall we get the pop predictions for this year out of the way first? Taylor Swift will continue to conquer the world; the charts will continue their descent into meaninglessness; some long-forgotten group or style will become inexplicably popular because kids use it to soundtrack their TikTok videos. There. That’s the coming year taken care

Why I love the Hold Steady

Live music is thriving right now. According to the US trade magazine Billboard, Taylor Swift’s Eras tour has so far grossed an estimated $838m, and that’s just from 66 shows in the Americas. It’s already the second highest-grossing tour in pop history, and she hasn’t had to cross an ocean yet. At the top end,

Virgin on the astonishing: Madonna, at The O2, reviewed

When I was a kid listening obsessively to AC/DC and Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, I despaired of music writers. How come none of them – except the staff of Kerrang! magazine and a couple of writers on Sounds – could see the majesty and splendour of this music? Why were they always banging on