Both PJ Harvey and Björk have been in the news this week, but for very different reasons. Harvey's been publicly recording her follow-up to 'Let England Shake' in her much-hyped pay-to-watch sessions at Somerset House, with fans able to observe her working on new music behind a glass booth; it's a bold, strange experiment that opens up the normally cloak-and-dagger recording sessions to the masses. Björk, meanwhile, was forced into action by others: after her 'Vulnicura' LP leaked online, she rush-released it on iTunes.
Last week, Bez added a new occupation to a list that includes former Happy Mondays member (he used to be their dancer; now he can't because "my hip joints can't take it"), occasional reality TV star (he won Celebrity Big Brother in 2005) and, latterly, beekeeper: standing for election to Parliament in the Salford and Eccles constituency. There was a party with free beer, a poster campaign urging the locals to "join the revolution" and a stirring speech about how the current MP, Labour's Hazel Blears – who won’t be standing at the next general election – had "let everybody down".
New Order have announced they're to release their first new album in a decade in 2015 - reason to celebrate indeed. If any of the tracks are even half as good as 'Blue Monday', a track that 30 years on, remains as powerful as ever, then they'll be on to a winner. In 2012, we asked the Bernard Sumner and since-departed bassist Peter Hook how they wrote the classic track, clearing up a few myths along the way...
There was something that connected Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse that was greater than tabloid headlines and videos of pet mice on YouTube. Beneath the carnival of chaos that pursued them (and, for one of them, still does), there was something pure and heartfelt in their work. There was a singularity of spirit, a shared ability to write honest and soulful music, words that felt sharp as a knife-gash and as tender as night. Which is what makes this tribute to Amy all the more touching.
Yesterday, Live Earth 2015, a concert featuring over 100 musicians playing in six continents to spread environmental awareness, was announced in Davos, a kind of diamond-studded hoedown of world leaders, oligarchs and business titans. It’s the most high-profile collision between music and climate change for a while. (Well, since One Direction joined Greenpeace’s campaign to stop Shell drilling in the Arctic, anyway). Al Gore and Pharrell Williams will run the event– and they have high ambitions.