Elisa Bray

Elisa Bray is The Independent's Rock & Pop Editor

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Brute Force: Wild Beasts
Fringe benefits: Stephen Malkmus

The week in music: A chance to wig out to the indie rockers who are no Scrooges

After the rush of Christmas albums and deluxe repackagings, it remains a thin time for music. But that's all set to swerve in a more exciting direction. First up are albums by Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks and Ed Harcourt, both out on Monday. As a new year's gift to the fans, Malkmus's sixth studio collaboration with the Jicks, Wig Out at Jagbags, is being streamed in full on Amazon. Pepping up a weak month for gigs, they start their UK tour on 13 January, reaching London's Forum on 16 January.

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”).

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Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments