Voices

Smoking is the hazy fug of a 1930s jazz club, the deadline mist of a 1970s newsroom and the chocolate-wood smell of my granddad’s lounge circa 1988

Caught In The Net - Gremlins beset Russian fairy

Even three years since her breakthrough album 'Begin to Hope' was described as "one of the rare albums where the talent practically sears the speakers" by The Onion's AV club, Regina Spektor's quirky piano pop is still as bizarre as anything indie music has to offer. It's been a busy week for the Russian pop fairy (left), with her new record release beset with artwork problems after the wrong images were distributed, leading Spektor to speculate on the chances of her forthcoming album, "Far", being released with a "t" added to the end of its title. "We had a million comps, ideas, and we posted the wrong ones," the starlet mused on her MySpace blog, adding: "I'm giving up trying to make things perfect, because they never are". Gastric mix-ups aside, though the album doesn't hit the shelves until 23 June, anyone looking for a sneak preview can check out the star's MySpace page for the brand new "Laughing With", described by the Spektor herself as "a new song that I never played for people at shows before". Along with some older hits, it's available at tinyurl.com/nypxo

My Fantasy Band - Ebony Bones

Vocals - Poly Styrene
The X-Ray Spex singer makes an amazing frontwoman. I would definitely put her braces back on so she had a gob full of metal. I'd also have the Pointer Sisters on backing vocals. They even sang on "Sesame Street"!

Paul Carrack, Ronnie Scott's, London

Superlative talents like Paul Carrack. He replaced Jools Holland in Squeeze twice, has had spells with Roxy Music, Nicks Lowe and Cave, played sessions with The Smiths, and written songs for the Eagles. You'll know his beret, grey beard and shades from his time as singer for Mike Rutherford's Genesis off-shoot Mike + the Mechanics. But it's as a reliable professional hand in better bands' later days that Carrack has become a minor part of British rock's fabric.

Close-up: Just Jack

How do you cope with sudden pop fame at 32? A quiet night in with a DVD

Observations: Can we sing it? Yes we can!

It was only a matter of time. In this case, surprisingly little time. Barely a third of the way into his first 100 days in office, Barack Obama is set to appear on the London stage – in a musical. OK, the man himself won't actually tread the boards – nor will an actor have the impossible task of living up to the immensely popular President. Rather, Obama on My Mind, which will play in North London's charming Hen and Chickens pub next month, is a political comedy about the determined individuals behind the campaign to get Obama into the White House, set to 14 pop, gospel, jazz and Motown tunes. Teddy Hayes, a Cleveland-born crime-writer and film-maker who has been living in London for 13 years was inspired to write the piece when he started canvassing overseas Americans in the run-up to the election.

Debbie Purdy & Omar Puente: A matter of love and death

She doesn't want to die. But when she does, she wants to hold her husband's hand, knowing he won't be arrested. On Tuesday, a court will decide if she can. Cole Moreton meets... Debbie Purdy & Omar Puente

The 39 Steps, BBC1 <br>Affinity, ITV

The BBC's remake of John Buchan's 'The 39 Steps' follows a long tradition of being unfaithful to the book

Last Night: Later With Jools Holland, BBC2

Carla and the monsters of rock

Blues brother: Seasick Steve rides the wave of sudden fame

He went from hobo to hero almost overnight, and now he's the toast of the festival circuit. Tim Walker catches up with Seasick Steve and hears the story of his incredible journey

Later with Jools Holland, Metallica...and Carla Bruni

The halls of the Elysée Palace are not famous for reverberating with the thrashing drums and shredded guitar solos of "Kill 'Em All", "Cunning Stunts" or "St Anger". Nevertheless, the French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is apparently enthralled to be taking time out from her diplomatic duties to jam alongside the heavy metal band Metallica – and Sir Paul McCartney – in a live appearance on Jools Holland's late-night television music show in two weeks' time.

Terence Blacker: Why we hark back to the old certainties

Between spasms of optimism and self-belief, there have been long periods of hand-wringing

Dawn Kinnard, Bar Academy, London

There's a story behind the whisky-soaked, lived-in voice that belongs to Dawn Kinnard. The daughter of a Baptist preacher in Pennsylvania, Kinnard would take her guitar to her hairdressing job, where she started to write songs; she sold her treasured Harley-Davidson to record her mini-album. That she was discovered singing in a Nashville bar is fitting, given her smoky blues and country sound.

Things the Grandchildren Should Know, By Mark Oliver

A revealing and poignant memoir is marred by bursts of grouchy, rock-star posturing
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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness