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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links