Arts and Entertainment Tom Odell: 'Every band needs a vibe guy to bring up the energy'

'Every band needs a vibe guy to bring up the energy'

Alan Livingston: President of Capitol Records who launched the Beatles in America

As the president of Capitol Records in America, Alan Livingston converted a relatively small record company into a major player, with a portfolio of artists that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat “King” Cole and the Beatles.

Album: Fredo Viola, The Turn (Because Music)

An artist for our times, Fredo Viola's "cluster" videos went viral and led to an as-yet-unreleased collaboration with Massive Attack.

Album: M Ward, Hold Time (4AD)

Each album sees Matt Ward edge closer to the mainstream, but also finds the guitarist cut further adrift from the sublime folk-blues picking that made his reputation.

Animal Collective, Koko, London

The critical and blogging hype surrounding Animal Collective's ninth album Merriweather Post Pavilion is a sure sign that the Baltimore band are on the verge of finally breaking. Music website Pitchfork gave the new album 9.6, the highest score awarded to any album since Arcade Fire's Funeral in 2004, and the album looks set to hit the Top 10 – impressive for an experimental band that plays a mainstream-shy mash-up of electronica, prog, psychedelia, folk and techno, and which had previously only dented the Top 200

Album: Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion, (Domino)

Accosted by Leslie Crowther in the supermarket aisle and cajoled into doing the taste test, you'd swear that 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' was a Mercury Rev record.

Hit & Run: Lost in music

It's tempting to hope that The Beatles' fabled 14-minute track "Carnival of Light", which Paul McCartney wants to release 41 years after its recording, will be a magnificent avant-garde assemblage of noise. But the truth is that just because it was John, Paul, George and Ringo wandering around the studio banging things and shouting "Barcelona!" doesn't mean the result will be a masterpiece, no matter how often McCartney mentions Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was never released because the other Beatles thought it "too adventurous". This is the same band that would release such fare as "Revolution 9" on The White Album, so chances are that "too adventurous" was their way of gently letting Paul know that "Carnival of Light" was a bit rubbish.

Bellowhead: Bringing the fun back to folk music

The group which made English folk music fashionable again now want Morris dancing to be in the Olympics

San Diego: An oasis of indulgence

In Southern California, where the desert meets the Pacific, you'll find San Diego, a city that combines opulence with stunning scenery. Simon Calder is suitably dazzled

Just why is beach volleyball in the Olympics?

Now, look, this will probably be an unpopular piece - but can someone explain to me again why beach volleyball is in the Olympics?

Album: Pacific! Reveries (Half Machine)

Pacific! thoroughly live up to their name. Not in the oceanic sense but in the adjectival one: they pacify you. 'Reveries', the Swedish electro-pop duo's idyllic debut album, sounds as if you're being serenaded by an unusually benign robot.

Album: Dr Dog, Fate (Park the Van)

Album number five for the Philadelphia-based quintet and critical opinion Stateside is divided: 'Entertainment Weekly' declared 'Fate' an "expertly honed tribute to the past", while 'Slant' magazine called it "phenomenally uninteresting".

Wind surfing: First there was romance in the air, now rivalry puts wind up Dempsey

As if Chrissie and Greg were not enough to have the non-sporting media abuzz, we had better prepare for a surfeit of Nick and Sarah and Love Boat headlines.

Heaven knows our music's miserable now

What with the miserable summer weather and seemingly endless threats of economic meltdown, people could be forgiven for feeling a little down in the dumps. All across the country wallets are being tightened, Benidorm forsaken for Bognor, M&S traded for Primark.

Jerry Cole: Surf guitarist

In the 1960s, Jerry Cole was one of America's most prolific guitarists, turning his hand to surf music, rock, country, jazz and blues and playing on sessions for Brian Wilson and Phil Spector. He would replace less proficient group members at recordings, making the acts sound better than they were.

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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

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After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

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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'

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Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

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