Arts and Entertainment

Vinyl is shedding its image as a retro novelty as a new generation discovers cover art, liners and great sound

The Decemberists, Forum, London

The performing of albums in their entirety has been territory reserved by bands boasting earlier seminal albums, but the Decemberists tonight play their newest album released just six months ago. But then the Portland quintet have never had to worry about pursuing trends to ensure a sizeable following.

Album: The Cribs, Ignore the Ignorant (Wichita)

Last heard wielding guitar for American alt.rockers Modest Mouse a year or two ago, Johnny Marr continues his outreach programme dedicated to bringing a touch of intrigue and style to otherwise unremarkable indie rockers by now turning up as the second guitarist in The Cribs.

The word on... Arctic Monkeys, Humbug

"When Arctic Monkeys get hold of a song like the roaring 'Potion Approaching' they sound like the most exciting rock band on the planet. But more often than not on 'Humbug', they sound like a less inspired version of themselves." - Noel Murray, avclub.com

Album: Arctic Monkeys, Humbug (Domino)

If Favourite Worst Nightmare was a sketchbook of Arctic Monkeys' responses to their vertiginous success then Humbug seems to represent the more considered comedown after a few years pursuing alternative diversions.

Album: Deastro, Moondagger, (Rom/Universal)

Things are starting to get interesting... As more and more bedroom boffins trade acoustic guitars for laptops, the emerging sound is a strange and entirely now blend of indie, melancholia and electro.

Album: British Sea Power, Man of Aran, Rough Trade

British Sea Power pay tribute to the power of the British sea

Album: The Maccabees, Wall of Arms, (Fiction)

Tricky second-album syndrome? These boys take it in their stride

Album: The Enemy, Music for the People, (Warner)

The bafflingly popular Enemy are a band with their heart in the right place but an inability to express themselves in anything other than the most clichéd and graceless ways.

Album: The Enemy, Music for the People (Warner Brothers)

There's something rather sinister about the title of The Enemy's second album – as if all other music were somehow against "the people" (whoever they are); or as if the band's modest creations had been officially sanctioned as fit for our ears.

Bat For Lashes, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Natasha Khan's alter ego, Bat for Lashes, is a daunting live prospect, flitting as she does between dark, otherworldly princess and timid, slightly posh, Brighton-born pop ingénue. A former nursery-school teacher, Natasha Khan's DIY musical creativity is used to harness deep, dark emotions, and if there's a theme for both her Mercury-nominated debut, Fur and Gold, and her recent follow-up, Two Suns, it's the honesty and naiveté of youth mixed with very adult themes of loss and heartbreak. That's not to suggest simplicity, though. The latter of her albums has been described by Khan as an essay in duality, and her lyrics certainly feature the poetic complexity to back the claim up.

Album: The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love (Capitol)

Sometimes, a good idea isn't quite enough. Always a fan of 1960s British folk-rock and prog, Decemberists songwriter Colin Meloy was inspired to create this concept album by hearing Anne Briggs's rare 1966 EP The Hazards Of Love.

Album: The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love, (Rough Trade)

A 17-song folk-rock opera complete with overture, children's choir, reprises, motifs and mythic and mundane themes... just another record from Portland's finest, then.

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