Caught in the Net: The latest adventures of Sonic Youth

The latest Sonic adventures...

Freak weather claims another music festival

A musical festival expected to attract more than 100,000 revellers over the weekend has been cancelled because of the weather.

Album: Go-Kart Mozart, On the Hot Dog Streets (West Midlands)

Lawrence Hayward, former leader of Felt and Denim, is one of underground pop's true eccentrics.

Album: Santigold, Masters of my Make-Believe (Atlantic)

Santigold was one of 2008's great pop finds, making the sound of tumbleweed whistling around her second album baffling.

Bow Wow Wow, The Brook, Southampton / Daniel Johnston, St Bartholemew's Church, Brighton

Bow Wow Wow's return after 30 years is unexpectedly life-affirming, while Daniel Johnston's honesty has 'em snivelling in the aisles

Album: M Ward, A Wasteland Companion (Bella Union)

This Oregonian 38-year-old, perhaps best known as the "Him" to Zooey Deschanel's "She" (who guests here), hasn't reinvented any wheels with his seventh album.

Four police officers suspended in Northern Ireland over 'sectarian texts'

Four police officers in Northern Ireland have been suspended from duty after the discovery of racist and sectarian text messages.

Album: The Futureheads, Rant (Nul Records)

The most famous moment of The Futureheads' most celebrated song – a cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" – is its a cappella intro, so the idea of the Mackem quartet recording an a cappella album isn't too much for the imagination to handle.

How Soon Is Now?, By Richard King

To the younger generation of music fans, "indie" is a genre, a ubiquitous term used to describe artfully scruffy purveyors of white-boy guitar pop. In the late Seventies and Eighties, however, it was an abbreviation of "independent", used to distinguish the small, self-financed, artist-friendly record labels - the type started in garages, garden sheds and behind the counters of record shops - from their corporate counterparts.

Album: Blood Red Shoes, In Time to Voices (V2)

ITTV is the third album from the Brighton duo of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell and, while they haven't quite justified their claim to have thrown away the rulebook, they're executing their spooked alt-rock with added poise and class.

Sting at Hammersmith Apollo, London

“Sometimes I'm scared of being Ozzy Osbourne. But it could have been worse. I could have been Sting.”

Album: Frankie Rose, Interstellar (Memphis Industries)

Former denizen of Brooklyn indie girl groups such as Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose has stepped out on her own and come up with a surprise delight: an enchanting dream-pop album steeped in her multi-tracked harmonies.

Culture to comfort us: When did we become so culturally conservative?

We are taking refuge in the past, whether it's 'Call the Midwife' and 'Downton' on TV, Coward and Rattigan at the theatre, or neo-Romantics in the galleries. Where's the sensation? By Philip Hoare
Jenny Agutter, Jessica Raine and Judy Parfitt in 'Call the Midwife'

The shock of the old: When did we become so culturally conservative?

We are taking refuge in the past, whether it's 'Call the Midwife' and 'Downton' on TV, Coward and Rattigan at the theatre, or neo-Romantics in the galleries. Where's the sensation, asks Philip Hoare?

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Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all