A month in music: November

Nu-folk, funk and the return of The Fireman
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Kelli Ali, the singer who made her breakthrough on the Sneaker Pimps debut album Becoming X in the late Nineties, is set to release her first album in three years on 24 November. Rocking Horse (One Little Indian) sees Ali abandon her electronic roots and instead embrace an acoustic, nu-folk feel, replete with string quartet, acoustic guitar and vintage organs. Get a sneak preview at a free gig next Tuesday, 4 November at The Bedford in Balham, London.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of reggae independent VP Records and to celebrate the label is releasing a 2CD/DVD set, Reggae Anthology: Randy's 5oth Anniversary (17th North Parade). Compiled by Jamaican producer Clive Chin, who cut his teeth back in the reggae heyday of the Seventies, it features 50 tracks including cuts from Alton Ellis, the Skatalites, Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown; extended liner notes from Steve Barrow and David Katz plus a 40-minute DVD documentary.

Purveyors of "bottom heavy beats and future funk", New Zealand's Fat Freddy's Drop make a rare Northern hemisphere appearance this month, playing Birmingham Academy on 14 November and Manchester Academy 1 on 15 November. The group are currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to new album Big BW (Kartel), expected to land on these shores early next year, while new single "Pull The Catch" is out next month.

US pop punk rocker Jay Reatard makes his first tour of the UK this month, kicking off on 16 November at the Green Synergy Festival in Dublin, then taking in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Bristol and London before rounding things off at the Engine Rooms in Brighton on 28 November. See matadorrecords.com for details.

Hard to believe, but Coldcut's Solid Steel radio show is 20 years old this month. The brainchild of Matt Black and Jon More, aka the duo responsible for ground-breaking label Ninja Tune, the show's eclectic mix of beats and breaks started out on Kiss FM before finally finding a permanent home on the net. More himself, DJ Food, DK, PC, The Herbaliser's Ollie Teeba, DJ Kentaro, Bonobo and Hexstatic are headlining The Solid Steel Anniversary party at The End in London on 6 November.

Belle and Sebastian: The BBC Sessions (Jeepster) is released on 4 November, featuring songs the band recorded for the late, great John Peel in 2001/2 as well as tracks for Mark Radcliffe and Steve Lamacq's shows. A limited edition version also includes a bonus live disc of a 2001 Christmas show taped in Belfast.

Following swiftly in the funk-steps of 6Toys brilliantly catchy cover of the Prodigy's "Voodoo People", the talented, Liverpool-based septet release their eponymous debut album on First Word Records at the end of the month. With live drums, bass, keys, guitar, trombone and sax as the band's backbone, the album sounds at times convincingly like the JBs in full flow. 6Toys play an album launch party at The Magnet in Liverpool on 13 November. Highly recommended.

And finally, The Fireman, aka one Sir Paul McCartney and producer/bassist Youth, release their first album in 10 years, Electric Arguments (MPL) on 24 November. The odd couple's first two albums could be easily filed under ambient electronica, but Arguments has a decidedly rockier feel, liberally layered with guitar and vocals. In keeping with the offbeat nature of their ongoing collaboration, each of the 13 tracks was written and recorded in just a single day.

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