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'

Album: White Denim, Workout Holiday (Full Time Hobby)

While many bands name-drop Nick Drake, the Beach Boys and the Velvets (fine and proper, but getting predictable), my interest in this Texas trio was assured when bassist Steve Terebecki announced that White Denim "would really like to turn into XTC".

On the hunt for meaning with Seattle band Fleet Foxes

Nostalgic hippie ruralism and an aura of wilful mystery surround Fleet Foxes. James McNair tries to work out what makes them tick

Album: Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blue (Sony BMG)

His fellow Beach Boys were shocked when, in 1977, their feckless drummer boy became the first Wilson brother to release a solo album: shocked not just that he had found time in his tomcat-hedonist schedule to write and record it, but that it should be so darn good.

Album: Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes (Bella Union)

'Mojo' has already declared them "America's next great band", so it's difficult to know what to add to the welter of positive press that has greeted Seattle's Fleet Foxes since their lovely 'Sun Giant' EP.

The 5-minute Interview: David Marks, musician

'People say I'm not a real Beach Boy'

Album: Jim Noir, Jim Noir (My Dad Recordings)

The army of bedsit Brian Wilsons that began to march as technology revolutionised the recording process merely went to show how difficult it was to match the maestro in terms of warmth, wonder and, crucially, songwriting.

Album: The Grid, Doppelganger (Some Bizarre)

In the Old Rave era, long after Soft Cell had fallen apart, synth maestro Dave Ball formed the Grid with Richard Norris, and sold millions.

First Night: Jersey Boys, Prince Edward Theatre, London

The hits keep coming but Frankie frustrates despite

Album: Radar Bros, Auditorium (Chemikal Underground)

Unfashionable, unloved and barely even functioning as a group, LA's Radar Bros might wish to consider changing their name to Under the Radar Bros. Big shame. Because 12 years and five albums in, 'Auditorium' is head brother Jim Putnam's finest hour, the point at which his love of 1960s psychedelia and country music merges effortlessly into one harmonious, happy/sad celebration – think early Floyd, Midlake and 'Friends'-era Beach Boys. Wikipedia-sourced aside: Putnam's father, Bill, is widely credited as being the "father of modern recording", pioneering the use of echo chambers. Daddy would be proud.

Album: Hot Chip

Made in the Dark, EMI

Teenage Fanclub, Koko, London

In a gig of few surprises, Scotland's most laid-back band reveal they have gone political; well, a little bit. "We've had a new prime minister since we played here last," the garrulous Norman Blake points out. "We met him once, he said he liked Big Star – he must have been briefed."

The Lionheart Brothers, The Social, London

There's nothing like a spot of lacerating Norwegian psychedelia to brighten up a wet winter's night in January, and those who crammed into The Social for a taste of this up-and-coming Trondheim quintet met with an experience they won't forget in a hurry.

Thomson and Lillee shine at the seaside: Playing with the beach boys

Angus Fraser, <i>The Independent's</i> cricket correspondent, gets sand between his toes as legends of the game snap on the shades and slap on the suntan oil in Australia

Album: The Magnetic Fields

Distortion (Nonesuch)

Ken Nelson: Shaper of post-war country music

Kenneth Nelson, talent scout and record producer: born Caledonia, Minnesota 19 January 1911; married (one daughter); died Somis, California 6 January 2008
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'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
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Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
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Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
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The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
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She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
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Get well soon, Joan Rivers

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A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
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Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

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Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

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Europe's biggest steampunk convention

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