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THE VERVE

They’re back! The Verve (above) al­ways wrote songs which were ideal for an­themic sin­ga­longs in the open-air and, now on their sec­ond ref­or­ma­tion, that is still the case. If you’re not able to sway along to Bit­ter Sweet Sym­phony or The Drugs Don’t Work, you re­ally should have gone to Ce­line Dion in­stead. Won­der what the new songs will sound like? www.thev­erve.tv

R.E.M.

“A re­turn to form” is some­thing which has been writ­ten about ev­ery new R.E.M. album for the past 15 years or so, but Ac­cel­er­ate seems to the first one to go some way to liv­ing up to that prom­ise. Recorded and proofed in Ire­land, Ac­cel­er­ate has seen the vet­eran US rock­ers gather bar­row-loads of pos­i­tive press. As one reviewer said, it sounds as if the three mu­si­cians fi­nally be­lieve in them­selves again. www.remhq.com

AMY WINE­HOUSE

Will she? Won’t she? Un­for­tu­nately, the most in­ter­est­ing as­pect of Amy Wine­house on the Ox­e­gen bill is the fact that many fans don’t ex­pect her to show. Since she re­leased the awe­some Back to Black album in late 2006, Wine­house’s life has be­come a hor­rific tabloid cir­cus with the mu­sic as a mere af­ter­thought. We hope that will change, but chance would be a fine thing. www.mys­pace.com/ amywine­house

STEREO­PHON­ICS

The Welsh for meat and two veg, Stereo­phon­ics con­tinue to in­ex­pli­ca­bly at­tract an au­di­ence for their stodgy jour­ney­man indie rock, a sound which ceased to be in­ter­est­ing or at­trac­tive a long time ago. Latest album Pull the Pin con­tin­ues that trend, a set of hack­neyed, crude and un­kempt tunes all kept well be­low par by Kelly Jones’s bel­liger­ent bel­lows. www.stereo­phon­ics.com

COUNT­ING CROWS

The US is a big coun­try which is why bands like Count­ing Crows still ex­ist.

There, they can tour and tour and tour away and make a grand liv­ing for them­selves. They’re cer­tainly not to get rich on new album sales, as most re­cent album Satur­day Nights and Sun­day Morn­ings shows. The band’s first album in six years is a poor pas­tiche of the few hits they once had, now de­liv­ered in a dull, trad-rock fash­ion. www.count­ingcrows.com

NEW­TON FAULKNER

There may not be much surf ac­tion go­ing on his his na­tive Sur­rey, but that didn’t stop the Corn­wall surf fra­ter­nity tak­ing New­ton Faulkner to their col­lec­tive heav­ing bo­soms. Of couse, it’s not just the surf­ing com­mu­nity who have been ap­plaud­ing the twen­tysome­thing’s scruffy, folky pop as best seen on his Hand Built By Ro­bots album. Here’s a boyo who knows how to write a song which will sound just right around a camp­site or get­ting belted from a big stage like this. www.new­ton­faulkner.com

SCOUT­ING FOR GIRLS

Lots of “who the hell are they” ques­tions were asked when Scout­ing For Girls an­nexed the num­ber-one spot in the UK album charts ear­lier this year, but the 200,000 peo­ple who snapped up that album knew the an­swers. Scout­ing for Girls have built a fol­low­ing for their high-spir­ited youth­ful pop by gig­ging, gig­ging and then, af­ter all that, go­ing back for an­other spot of gig­ging. www.scout­ing­for­girls.co.uk

BOWL­ING FOR SOUP

Sell­ing over a mil­lion al­bums is a mean feat th­ese days and that’s what Texan combo Bowl­ing For Soup have done over the course of their recorded out­put to date. Yes, there is a vast au­di­ence for this kind of cheery, beery pop-punk with com­edy edges, al­though their jokes and japes (and songs about Val Kilmer) do tend to wear very thin af­ter re­peated lis­tens. www.bowl­ing­for-

soup.com

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