Arts and Entertainment

"Welcome to the afterli-i-ife" is trilled like a creepy lullaby at the beginning of CocoRosie's fifth album.

Observations: A bit of a glissando

It seems the harp is having a moment. After Florence Welch brought 12 harpists to The Brits, American harp-playing folkie Joanna Newsom sold out the Royal Festival Hall for two nights and has received rave reviews for her enchanting album Have One on Me. It has taken a while for a British exponent to give the instrument a similar profile. Lancastrian solo artist Nancy Elizabeth uses the instrument in her beguiling work, but only the smaller Celtic version.

Album: CocoRosie, Grey Oceans (Pias)

The medieval and futuristic rub up against one another on the fourth album from sisterly duo Sierra and Bianca Casady, whose eccentric folk-pop has become subtly familiar via advertising.

Joanna Newsom, Royal Festival Hall, London

A girl, a 'persnickety' harp and a God-given gift to challenge Gaga

Here comes summer: The cultural events of the season

From Glyndebourne to Gorillaz and Picasso to Pygmalion, there's something to suit every cultural taste in the coming months. Alice Jones presents an essential guide to the hottest tickets

Joanna Newsom - Make mine a triple, please

If you thought Joanna Newsom's second album was ambitious, wait until you hear Have One on Me, her new, three-CD epic. Gillian Orr meets an adventurous talent

The Word On... Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me

"Set aside an afternoon, pull down the shutters and immerse yourself in it... It might take a week, a month, or even a year for it to yield up all its treasures; but after only a week in its company, this reviewer's instincts tell him that 'Have One on Me' is a masterpiece." - musicomh.com

Album: Joanna Newsom, Have One on Me (Drag City)

Ding dong the witch-child is dead! Make mine a triple

Beth Jeans Houghton - The new Jean Genie

Rising folk star Beth Jeans Houghton is only 19, but she's a fan of glam-rock stars like Bowie and Bolan. Two years ago Devendra Banhart pulled her out of an audience – now she's one to watch in her own right. By Elisa Bray

Caught in the Net: Knife's cutting-edge opera

In the past year, Karin Dreijer Andersson of Swedish electro duo the Knife scared the bejesus out of everyone with the strange and brilliant sounds of her debut solo album made under the name Fever Ray – not to mention a recent rather weird acceptance at a Swedish awards ceremony (tinyurl. com/yg7a2ol). She also found time, though, for a return to the Knife fold to create music for an opera about Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species'. Called 'Tomorrow, in a Year', it was commissioned by Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma and first staged in September. Now the studio- recorded soundtrack made by the Knife with the aid of experimental musicians Mt Sims and Planningtorock has been released. The physical CD version doesn't arrive until March but it is already available digitally at rabidrecords.com and is also streaming at theknife.net. The music is suitably weird and bizarre, but also rather spectacular and just plain great. I'm going to make a bold prediction and suggest that it's probably the best avant-garde "Darwin electro-opera" most of us will hear all year.

Christmas albums for all the family

FOR DAD

Alela Diane, Shepherds Bush Empire, London

In the true tradition of folk, singer-songwriter Alela Diane's shows are a family affair. Her father Tom Menig plays guitar and mandolin, while her boyfriend is the bassist.

Tori Amos, Hammersmith Apollo, London<br/>Passion Pit, Concorde 2, Brighton

Amos seems visibly unhinged but, as she purrs and grabs her crotch, you can't help but be captivated

Monsters of Folk: Folk has a new supergroup

Monsters of Folk could upset the purists. Elisa Bray reports on a change for a usually unassuming scene

Album: 6 Day Riot, 6 Day Riot Have a Plan, (Tantrum Records)

Fronted by Glaswegian Tamara Schlesinger, 6 Day Riot are a band for anyone who won't run a mile at the thought of daisy chains, hair-braiding and folk festivals.

My Fantasy Band: Jack Penate

Vocals: Joanna Newsom, Kate Bush and Thom Yorke
They all have a lot of personality and I'd really like to hear them harmonise together. If they can perform one of my songs, that'd be the dream.

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