Arts and Entertainment Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol whose supergroup Tired Pony trails behind according to our critic

“It’s called... ‘The New One’!” announces Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody, promoting his indie supergroup Tired Pony’s second album The Ghost Of The Mountain with a suitably schmindie level of marketing skill.

Album: R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant (I.R.S./Capitol)

Twenty-five years ago, Lifes Rich Pageant found R.E.M. metamorphosing from what was effectively a turbo-charged folk-rock cult indie outfit into a proper rock band capable of filling stadia.

Album: Alela Diane, Alela Diane & Wild Divine (Rough Trade)

Nothing in Diane's previous albums of guitar-led psych-folk will have prepared listeners for the poppy direction that has come with enlisting her husband and father to her backing band and luring Scott (REM, Nirvana) Litt out of "retirement" to produce.

Please put the camera away, darling...

When couples collaborate on screen the results are usually disastrous, says Ben Walsh. So why do they keep on doing it?

Album: R.E.M. Collapse Into Now (Warner)

R.E.M's 15th album could trade places with almost any of the previous 14.

Album: R.E.M, Collapse Into Now (Warner Bros)

R.E.M., by bookending the album with the ringing guitar drone of "Discoverer", are suggesting Collapse Into Now has a conceptual unity absent from their recent albums; and certainly, the recurrent themes of conclusion, starting over and rebuilding do lend it a muscular sense of purpose. That muscularity finds its musical equivalent in the rock heft of tracks like "Alligator_Aviator_ Autopilot_Antimatter" and "All the Best", although it's the more tender songs, such as "Überlin" and "Oh My Heart", which are the standouts, recalling Automatic for the People. The latter track, with its waltzing accordion, has a distinctly European flavour, while elsewhere the presence of mandolin/bouzouki folk-rockers like "It Happened Today" and "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I" marks a welcome return to a more varied textural palette.

The Decemberists - Everyday stories from country folk

Acoustic experimentalists The Decemberists have opted for a simpler formula on their latest album. They tell Gillian Orr why

Caught in the Net: The Moore songs the merrier

Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth (below) once authored a book celebrating the old-fashioned cassette mixtapes, so, appropriately enough, when his band put out a newfangled online mixtape, it was accompanied with the graphic of a cassette tape, its spools spinning as the music plays.

Album: The Decemberists, The King is Dead (Rough Trade)

Kicking off with a Dylanesque blast of harmonica, the Decemberists reveal their new intent right up-front.

Album: Tired Pony, The Place We Ran From (Fiction)

Tired of penning consoling-arm-around-your-shoulders Coldplay-esque anthems with Snow Patrol (and hearing "Chasing Cars" on US TV shows, perhaps), Gary Lightbody sought a new "country" direction that reflected his love of Wilco, Smog, Calexico etc. M Ward, Zooey Deschanel and REM's Peter Buck all chip in.

Album: Deer Tick, The Black Dirt Sessions (Fargo)

The first of their three albums to secure a UK release, The Black Dirt Sessions finds US indie combo Deer Tick mining a rich vein of Americana in which life is presumed to be a losing game, though not necessarily unworthy of celebration.

Nada Surf, ICA, London

Kicking-off a summer tour with two intimate and sold-out nights at the ICA, Nada Surf's frontman, Matthew Caws, sets the tone when he appears holding a tiny milk jug. "They didn't have any cups left," he says, with mischief in his eyes, as he takes a dainty sip from his "carafe".

Album: REM, Live at the Olympia in Dublin, (Warner Bros)

"This is not a show" we are told before a note is played. And it's true – this "experiment in terror" finds REM "rehearsing" new material and playing old favourites in front of a select audience.

Album: R.E.M., Live at the Olympia (Warner Bros)

Most live albums are fairly disposable artefacts, intended primarily as souvenirs for those who attended the shows, and usually consisting of an act's most recent album along with a few of their greatest hits from which the life has been gradually worn away through repetition.

Album: Bad Lieutenant, Never Cry Another Tear (Triple Echo)

Ironically, while younger bands strive to revive the sound and mood of Joy Division, Bernard Sumner's subsequent career has sometimes seemed like a desperate flight from his earlier group.

Album: Idlewild, Post Electric Blues (Cooking Vinyl)

Roddy Woomble's various side-projects, along with the diminishing returns of the group's last few albums, led to rumours that Idlewild were on the verge of splitting up.

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