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.

Not so shiny or happy now: REM

REM Earls Court, London Hole Brixton Academy, London

First Night: Cultural icons no longer on the up

REM Earls Court London

Books: Days of rolling Rizlas

Powder by Kevin Sampson Cape pounds 10

Cable and Satillite: Pick of the Day

RICHARD E GRANT'S screen persona was defined by his first major role - the wonderfully dissolute outsider in Withnail and I. There are touches of that in Keep the Aspidistra Flying (8.30pm Sky Premier), Robert Bierman's moderately successful evocation of the novel by George Orwell, which receives its first showing on satellite tonight. Grant (right) plays Gordon Gomstock, a disillusioned copywriter who packs it in to try out a more Bohemian lifestyle as a poet in grimy 1930s Lambeth. Helena Bonham Carter chips in lively support as his frigid girlfriend.

Pop: This Week's Album Releases - Cry Cry Cry Cry Cry Cry (Razor & Tie)

"OUR RECORDING is but a cubic yard of dirt with 12 bright flowers and a lot of timothy grass growing out the top," writes Dar Williams in the liner-notes to this, her collaboration with Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell. I've no idea about the timothy grass, but the 12 songs here do indeed bloom with an enigmatic lustre, largely thanks to the trio's harmonies, which can be tender one moment and carry the astringency of traditional British folk singing the next. The writing, which ranges from popular material by REM and Ron Sexsmith to lesser-known but equally incisive pieces by James Keelaghan and Nerissa Nields, is superb throughout, a series of tales and tableaux working poignantly through themes of morality, mercy, memory and loss.

How we met: Michael Stipe and natalie Merchant

Michael Stipe, 33, is the lead singer with the multi-million-selling rock band REM, which formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980. He is also executive producer of Todd Haynes' glam-rock film, Velvet Goldmine. REM's new album, Up, was released last month and is at number two in the album charts. Natalie Merchant, 35, is the former vocalist of the New York-based band 10,000 Maniacs. Her erudite debut solo album, Tigerlily, sold more than four million copies in America alone. Her newly released second album, Ophelia, is accompanied by a short film in which she plays seven of the characters from the songs. To "stay connected", she continues to do regular voluntary work with the homeless.

The Critics: Rock: The one I love

REM 'Up' Beck 'Mutations' Alanis Morissette 'Supposed Former Infatuatio n Junkie' Robbie Williams 'I've Been Expecting You'

Shiny happy few get close to REM

THE BAND that has some claim to the title Most Successful in the World will be performing live in Britain tonight. But not at Wembley.

The perfect rock band

Unlike other groups, REM have never sold out, or self-destructed, or made a bad record. How do they do it? By Nicholas Barber

Pop review: Devlin disguise

The Devlins

Behind the song: Why Stipe wrote 'Losing My Religion'

First released: 1991 Highest UK chart position: 7

Pop: Wandering star

From the early days of his former band American Music Club right through to his present third solo album, Mark Eitzel has been an eternal songwriting misfit. His achey tunes and impassioned and complex lyrics rarely fit pop conventions and, as well as inspiring devotion from followers, sometimes songs stir up uncomfortable times for Eitzel. Take the story behind the title of the new album: Caught In A Trap And I Can't Back Out Cause I Love You Too Much Baby. On the surface, it is just a snatch from Presley's "Suspicious Minds", but there's more to it than that. "What happened was I had just stopped doing these incredibly long tours with a couple of major-label bands in America and every night I was confronted by completely indifferent audiences and I had no time to myself," he explains. "I almost had a nervous breakdown after that. So that record is to do with every specific thing. Every night I got onstage and thought, `I'm caught in a trap'."

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