Arts and Entertainment

Less than two years ago, the Manic Street Preachers played the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena. Now, they play to a tenth of that audience size, the intimacy of this west London venue - and others on this tour - ideal for their new, 11th studio album, Rewind the Film, which revolves around gentle acoustic modes. It seems that in their middle age the Welsh band are embracing subtlety (musically, at least).

Album review: Manic Street Preachers, Rewind the Film (Columbia)

An album about midlife resignation may not sound like the best spark to relight creative fires, but the Manics’ return is an unlikely victory even by their standards. After 2004’s potential career-killer Lifeblood, their last three albums proved they could still draw on a patented friction between brazen populism and brittle introspection. But their 11th is fresher still, its mostly acoustic intimacies offering searing, sublime dispatches from a stand-off – “in between acceptance and rage” – with middle age.

Hip hop artists Ryan Lewis, left, and Macklemore

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis win big the at Association of Independent Music awards

See the AIM Independent Music Awards winners in full (below)

Texas, The Conversation ([PIAS])

Album review: Texas, The Conversation ([PIAS])

Returning after eight years away, Texas shoot straight to the top of 2013's Unnecessary Albums chart with The Conversation. It's not that it's actively bad – that would be interesting, at least – but that it lacks impetus, panache and compulsion, just for starters. The title track is OK, in an ersatz country-soul way, and the country-pop of “Dry Your Eyes” works well too.

Stupidity is contagious – just watch the television news headlines

From mindless juries to Mantelgate, it seems a new virus is raging

A viewers’ survival guide during the BBC strike

No Today? No worries. A viewers' survival guide

Yesterday, fans of Bill Turnbull et al were alarmed upon turning on their televisions to discover Bargain Hunt, while Today was switched for The Kitchen Cabinet. Of course, it was due to an NUJ strike.

Alt-J won the Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave

Awesome! Alt-J win as Mercury Prize seeks lost youth

Three years ago they were playing gigs in the upstairs rooms of student pubs in Leeds. Today they wake up as the next big thing in British pop. Such are the whims of the Mercury Prize.

Album: Lisa Marie Presley, Storm & Grace (Island)

Presley gets back on track, with help from her friends

Album: Pete Williams, See (Baseheart Recordings)

Williams is best known as the bassist and, more recently, co-frontman of Dexys, playing nice cop – literally – to Kevin Rowland's "burning" protagonist, his gentle voice a counterpoint to Kev's impassioned yell.

Karima Francis

Album: Rufus Wainwright, Out of the Game (Polydor)

Rufus Wainwright believes this to be "the most pop album" he's ever made, and he's probably right, so long as you're thinking 1970s pop.

Pulp, Brixton Academy, London

"Do you remember the first time?" Jarvis Cocker pleads on Pulp's opening number? I do. As a gob-smacked audience member witness-ing a libidinous Cocker perform "Underwear" – one of Pulp's best live numbers and sensational tonight – on TV's The White Room in 1995, on a bill shared with Portishead. Forget the dismal Blur vs Oasis debate, the two P-bands were the most spine-tingling acts to emerge from these shores since The Smiths. If Portishead evoked J D Ballard's dystopian science-fiction, then Pulp were more reminiscent of Alan Sillitoe's kitchen-sink dramas, particularly Tom Courtenay's lanky rebellious teen in The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. Only with added smut, oodles of added smut.

Album: Duane Eddy, Road Trip (Mad Monkey)

The legendary twang guitarist's first album in 24 years mercifully contains none of the gimmicks used by his 1980s collaborators Art of Noise, just a timeless surf sound from producer, co-writer and obvious fan Richard Hawley.

The Great Escape, Assorted venues, Brighton

Brighton's answer to the South by South-West festival has, it appears, already outgrown its roots. Five years ago it was about showcasing new bands, though now, in summer festival style, it's wilfully drawing bigger crowds with established names. Hence, punters find themselves in the quandary of whether to follow the A&R trail and take a chance on the untried acts, or face the long and inordinately slow-moving queues in order to see the stars.

Dylan Jones: 'Richard Hawley has a deep baritone voice so rich it sounds almost ironic'

Richard Hawley is the Roy Orbison of the Tens. With his dour demeanour, large-frame spectacles, Bill Haley-standard quiff (grease, I think, not gel) and his velvet-collared jacket, Hawley is a real oddity, an entertainer who has made it his business to walk the walk of the singular and the aloof. He is anachronistic to a T.

Album: Alex Turner, Submarine, Domino

Submarine is the directorial debut of Richard Ayoade (better known as Moss from The IT Crowd), a gentle comedy of delusional adolescence set in South Wales at some indeterminate point in the late 20th century.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital