Life and Style

Now this is a place with real pedigree. I don't mean it used to be owned by Pierre Koffmann or helmed by Marco Pierre White or picked up a Michelin star under Raymond Blanc. Oh no. In Edwardian times it was a theatre-cum-dancehall-cum-bioscope (an early form of cinema, where punters could watch footage of King Edward VIII's funeral).

Guest Columnist: 45 Forever #1

There's something inherently cool about vinyl. Beyond the evident heightened sound quality there's something more to this archaic format, something more than the look, the touch, the smell; there's rumination; there's the childlike excitement of the whole thing. It’s how Rough Trade stays in business, how Moshi Moshi stay so cool, and it’s the thing that has inspired writers, musicians and filmmakers the world over. It’s Anita handing William a copy of Simon and Garfunkel and it’s The Count grappling with death. It’s the reason budding music tycoons get into the business... to release the pinnacle of indie cool, the 7” single. It has, for years, been the platform to launch any new band worth their salt in the realm of guitars, and the point in which they can declare their existence in the music archives.

My Fantasy Band: K'Naan

'John Frusciante is just incredible'

Album: Solus 3, The Sky Above the Roof (Solus 3)

They don't come any more uncategorisable than this.

Album: Lila Downs, Y la Misteriosa en Paris – Live (World Village)

As the undisputed queen of Mexican village music, Lila Downs brings an unusual blend of additional influences, and her art is unique.

The Word On: The Drums, The Drums

While known for blurring the lines between music, performance, video and sculpture, on her new album, Homeland, Laurie Anderson homes in on the music and lyrics.

The Drums, Heaven, London

It would be pretty easy to be cynical about The Drums. Four suspiciously handsome young New Yorkers with impeccable turn-ups and eerily perfect hair, they were spat into the collective consciousness some time last year and accepted without question by a baying blogosphere.

Album: The Drums, The Drums (Moshi Moshi)

A drum, when all’s said and done, is a hollow vessel that makes a lot of noise. It’s the perfect name, then, for the loudly hyped but essentially vacuous Drums.

Jake Hanna: Drummer whose controlled power made him the linchpin of the Harry James and Woody Herman bands

Already established as an outstandingly gifted and versatile drummer, in 1961 Jake Hanna arrived at Harry James's house to join the James band.

Ed Thigpen: Jazz drummer celebrated for his work with the Oscar Peterson trio

One of the most tasteful of jazz drummers, Ed Thigpen was a master of every aspect of music. He rejected the idea of the flashy, gum-chewing soloist who hogged the spotlight and drove the bobby-soxers mad in the Swing Era, nor did he ever try to lead the way in any of the bands he played in. Instead, his drumming was like the spring of a Swiss watch and he was uniquely talented at making himself an integral part of any jazz group.

Album: Decoy, Volume One: Spirit (Bo'Weavil)

Great idea: a free-jazz Hammond-organ trio.

My Fantasy Band: Example

Vocals and guitar - Jack White
He's one of my favourite artists of the last 10 years. I loved Horehound last year. He's got a really interesting voice and mind boggling lyrics.

Album: Stefano Bollani, Stone in the Water, (ECM)

The Blue Note label used to avoid velvet-touch pianists like the plague; ECM has made them a speciality. Italian star Bollani follows his excellent solo work with this trio featuring Jesper Bodilsen on bass and Morten Lund on drums.

Album: Portico Quartet, Isla (Real World)

Forget the ex-buskers' Mercury-nominated debut. With Isla, produced by John Leckie, Portico have found their mojo: a thrumming, intensely textured and dynamic sound flowing between sax, bass, drums and hang. (Looks like a wok, sounds like a steel drum.)

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