Elisa Bray

Elisa Bray is The Independent's Rock & Pop Editor

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Hark the herald alt-popsters sing: Christmas albums from the most unexpected angles

Watch the exclusive Erasure video for 'Make it Wonderful' above

Man in black: Nick Cave

The Week in Music: Nick Cave is No 1 with a brooding classic that reaches for the sky

It's that time of year when music magazines and websites report their best of 2013 lists. In its latest issue, NME picks Arctic Monkeys' AM as their No 1 album of the year – expected given their rave 10/10 review on its release.

Rita Ora joins Fifty Shades of Grey cast: how she made the big time

From stage school to Jay-Z school, here's how she got there

Phosphorescent, gig review- 'rich and powerful'

Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

Heart and soul: Jessie Ware

The Week in Music: Jessie Ware is still pulling all the strings

With Mercury and Brit nominations, Jessie Ware has had a stellar year. The singer is unveiling her latest song, written with the Blue Nile's Paul Buchanan, at the ASOS All-Nighter (an online house party) on 12 December. She's dedicated the next few months to writing the follow-up to her debut album. "I want my album out next year," she tells me. "It's definitely going to be electronic, but if I can have strings I'm definitely going to!" Expect more collaborating with Julio Bashmore, Kid Harpoon and Dave Okumu.

Jake Bugg burst onto the scene aged 18

The Jake Bugg effect: The young bards bugged by emotion

The success of Jake Bugg and Ben Howard has given rise to a new wave of male singer-songwriters who are queueing up to show off their sensitive sides

The week in music: Damon's aboard for the Mali express

Damon Albarn is a busy man. In between touring with Blur – and work ing on an upcoming solo album – last month he was in Mali recording Africa Express Presents: Maison Des Jeunes, the second album by the collective of African and Western musicians and producers. The album, download-able on 9 December, includes Lobi Traoré Band and Moussa Traoré alongside Brian Eno, Django Django's David Maclean, Ghostpoet and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner. The same day, a launch show at Oval Space, east London, will feature Songhoy Blues and Kankou Kouyate's first ever UK performances, Ghostpoet and Maclean, and the premiere of the film of the 2012 train tour. The physical release will follow in early 2014.

Out of this world: Morrissey

The Week in Music: Morrissey adds his velvet tones to the Lou Reed love-in

We've had covers of songs by the late Lou Reed from My Morning Jacket, Pearl Jam, Arctic Monkeys and Twin Shadow (with a woozy version of “Perfect Day”).

The Killers performing live in concert at the Hammersmith Apollo

Music review: The Killers, Eventim Apollo

'Here's to another ten years'

Anna Calvi in quiet mode

Interview: Anna Calvi - 'I don't mind people thinking I'm scary, it's better than being boring'

On stage, and on her second album, Anna Calvi lets rip. Yet in person she is a model of quiet restraint

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Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment