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Music round-up

Jude Mason

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. With a positive spin on that phrase is something of a comeback album from Beth Orton, Sugaring Season.  Her light, ever-so-English voice floats as ever over strings and beats, but these are not the house-inspired electro beats of her breakthough albums of over a decade past, and it's the super-live atmospherics of the drums that seems to put just the right amount of air beneath the music to help it soar.  This is eyes-closed-lay-back-and-dream-music, people. Pour yourself a big glass and indulge.

Blowing up in the States is Britain's own surfer dude, Ben Howard.  If you need another sip of gentleness after your Beth Orton-gasm, then his Every Kingdom is a sweet chaser.

There's something incredibly comforting about the never-changing faces of No Doubt.  From a Cali-ska garage band, to Cali-ska worldwide-superstars, to Cali-ska 40-something-parents, nothing has really altered.  They're still producing quality Cali-ska dance tracks and ballads that seem to creep into our little listening hearts whether bidden or not.  If as many tracks from Push And Shove receive the airplay as they deserve (either on the radio or on your personal little guilty-pleasure list) then we'll be humming more Gwen Stefani (pictured) than we perhaps expected by the end of the year.

There are several reasons why the Olympic-friendly  Muse worked so well on the soundtrack to the first Twilight vampire film:  both are vapid yet showy, bombastic, unnecessarily complicated, fascinated with darkness, and popular with teenagers. Containing all this and more, The 2nd Law is everything one would hope for from a Muse album, and with it is something wonderfully entertaining and yet also somewhat hilarious.  

Also a worthy listen at this point in the year is a newly re-energised Van Morrison, with an album that treads a great line between the classic genres of Jazz and Grumpy-Old-Man. Born To Sing: No Plan B is a daft title for a good record.

Kylie Minogue has a sweet new track, 'Flower', to promote her 25th - yes, it's 25 years - anniversary Best Of, so it's high time we reminded ourselves of the brilliance of 'songs like Confide In Me', 'Can't Get You Out Of My 'Head and the rest of 'em.  Go on.  You know you want to.

Jude Mason