6 items from 2013
From new voices like NoViolet Bulawayo to rediscovered old voices like James Salter, from Dave Eggers's satire to David Thomson's history of film, writers, Observer critics and others pick their favourite reads of 2013. And they tell us what they hope to find under the tree …
My favourite books of 2013 are Drama High (Riverhead) by Michael Sokolove, Sea Creatures (Turnaround) by Susanna Daniel, and & Sons (Harper Collins) by David Gilbert. Drama High is incredibly smart, moving non-fiction about an American drama teacher who for four decades coaxed sophisticated and nuanced theatrical performances out of teenage students who weren't privileged or otherwise remarkable and in so doing, changed their conceptions of what they could do with their lives. Sea Creatures is a gripping, beautifully written novel about the mother of a selectively mute three-year-old boy; when she takes a job ferrying supplies to a hermit off the coast of Florida, »
- Ali Smith, Robert McCrum, Tim Adams, Kate Kellaway, Rachel Cooke, Sebastian Faulks, Jackie Kay
Live Cricket: Friends Life T20 Quarter Finals | Count Arthur Strong | The Kids with No Memory | Stephen Fry's Key to the City | Make Me a German | King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons | Steve Coogan: Stand-Up Down Under | The Mindy Project
Live Cricket: Friends Life T20 Quarter Finals
4pm, Sky Sports Ashes
Traditional cricket fans harrumph at the shorter version of the game; unsurprisingly, with team names such as the Sussex Sharks and Nottingham Outlaws. But, though the current Ashes series has exhibited the joys of "proper" cricket, there's no doubt that T20 does provide a thrill as the overs count down. At the time of writing the lineups for these quarter-finals are unknown, though Nottinghamshire and last year's winners Hampshire have impressed in the group stage. David Stubbs
- Rachel Aroesti, Jonathan Wright, Ali Catterall, Andrew Mueller, Mark Jones, David Stubbs, Gwilym Mumford
It’s been six years since the California stoner rock band released their last LP, Era Vulgaris. Suffice to say, it wasn’t their best effort and instability in the band at the time (and since) has proven to be a large obstacle for Queens of the Stone Age.
It even required the band asking Josh Homme to come back and record after knee surgery that left him bedridden for a few months. After apparently experiencing death momentarily he must have had some sort of refreshing epiphany that made him write some brilliant new music. And that’s the background for their latest album, …Like Clockwork.
Extremely catchy and original guitar riffs show that the band are back on top form and Homme’s lyrics are brilliantly put across by his trembling baritone vocals. Every song clearly has input from each member of the band, including the subtle keyboard from Dean Fertita. »
- Stuart Ward
Queens of the Stone Age, ". Like Clockwork" (Matador)
Opening to the sound of breaking glass and riddled with lascivious intent throughout, Queens of the Stone Age's new album ". Like Clockwork" is the soundtrack to the B movie of your dreams.
In the six years since the release of the band's critically acclaimed "Era Vulgaris," Queens founder Josh Homme has moonlighted with the Eagles of Death Metal and super group Them Crooked Vultures. Now, the California native sounds energized back in his day job.
The credit list for ". Like Clockwork" reads like a who's who of modern rock, with appearances from the band's frequent collaborators Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan, as well as Homme's former bandmate Nick Oliveri, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, Artic Monkeys' frontman Alex Turner and, perhaps surprisingly, Sir Elton John – who lends backing vocals and piano to "Fairweather Friends."
Thankfully, ". Like Clockwork" isn't overwhelmed by its roster of guest stars, »
Top Shot is back on History, and this time around we’re in for the somewhat obligatory All-Star season. As reality fans know, you can hardly go through a few seasons of any competition without bringing back the contestants that hooked audiences, whether they did so in a good or bad way. Top Shot isn’t likely to buck the trend, and the cast list seems to bear that out. Fan favorites like Kelly Bachand, all the way from season one, are here, as are the competitors who were chasing Most Hated Reality Star honors… I’ll let you decide who that might be.
Though a huge fan of the show, I wonder about the extent to which those in charge have paid attention to what seems to be the overall reaction to the latest season. Whether you’re keeping up with the general reactions on Twitter and similar social media outlets, »
- Marc Eastman
I’ll not waste your time with too many words for reading before you can hit play on the video below, though I imagine you aren’t even reading this because I’m excited, I’m really excited – but I get to listen to it while I write this. I mean, you could go down press play and then come back up here and read; because you’re nice and appreciate the less than minutes it took me to shamble this together.
Anyhoo, it’s been some time since we last got a taste of real Queens of the Stone Age fine dining, until now and it is no mere horse imitation. Era Vulgaris was the last album to be released by Qotsa back in 2007. Then, after some sneaky hints that there would be an album this year, soon followed by the outright tease and tickle of showing the mixing »
- Morgan Roberts
6 items from 2013
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