CD: The Killers - Wonderful, Wonderful The Vegas quartet's fifth album - is it destined to be th

From The Arts Desk The last song on The Killers' new record is called "Have All the Songs Been Written?". The words refer to Brandon Flowers' writers' block during the album's recording. Apparently, he tried everything to get out of the slump, including asking Bono for advice. The U2 singer had no answers but their meeting started a process that gradually led to Flowers realising what he really needed to do: to write about his own life. This self-reflective approach has resulted in a record which starts out full of ambitions but ultimately ends up sounding low-key compared to their earlier work. The trademark sweeping choruses have largely been retired and in their place, we find another ser

CD: Cat Stevens/Yusuf - The Laughing Apple - The legendary songwriter gives us the album we've b

From The Arts Desk When, in 2006, Yusuf announced his return to music, speculation was rife as to how he might now sound. At first, the music felt gentle and touchy-feely. Then came 2014's Tell 'Em I'm Gone – a strutting, blues record full of attitude. More exciting than either of these new musical directions, though, were those odd moments where Yusuf offered a glimpse of his old, wistful self. It gave hope that one day he might record another full-on Cat Stevens album. And here it is. The Laughing Apple consists of three new songs and eight re-interpretations of forgotten tracks from the Sixties and Seventies. Although the source material comes from various periods, the album's mood is dis

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Albert Hammond The songwriting supremo talks Justin Bieber, rapping, a

From The Arts Desk Albert Hammond might not be a household name but he's still, undeniably, one of the world's greatest living songwriters. His songs have sold 360 million copies, ranging from Starship's soft-rock classic "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" to Julio Iglesias' "To All the Girls I've Loved Before". Hammond's own singing career includes "It Never Rains in Southern California", and last June he released In Symphony – a career retrospective arranged for voice and orchestra. On September 19 he will be performing these arrangements at London's Cadogan Hall. Hammond was born in London in 1944, his family having been evacuated from Gibraltar. After the war, they returned home, and as a boy

CD: Queens of the Stone Age - Villains The kings of stoner-rock are back and now they want to dance

From The Arts Desk Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme recently declared that, while recording Villains, his intention had been to redefine the band's old sound. His recent work with Iggy Pop, he said, had recharged his imagination and now he wanted to make some changes. Two objectives seem to have been uppermost in Homme's mind - to keep things fresh and to make people dance. To achieve these he hired none other than producer Mark "Uptown Funk" Ronson. On paper, the combination sounds pretty mind-boggling. But on record, the results are less radical. Certainly, there are no disco-rock tracks like the Killers' recent single, "The Man". Instead, Villains sticks with the same basic set

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