While I toiled at Oxfam yesterday, a middle-aged hipster languidly entered the store and donated boxes of cool stuff. There were more foreign language art films than one could shake un bâton pointu at, some charming and esoteric books and, hurrah, numerous CDs. Many I owned already (Portishead, Blur, Elbow etc.) but I snaffled up and bought a brace of belters from this year that had, thus far, somehow avoided my radar. The Last Shadow Puppets’ The Age Of The Understatement is a stylish blighter, all cinematic poise and orchestral elegance. The media have picked up on Scott Walker comparisons and I, not being a big Walker expert, can’t really comment but the songwriting is epic and beguiling and the arrangements are charismatic and enticing. I like this long player already but sense it will grow on me e’en more. My favourite of the pair on just two playings today is Damon Albarn’s ‘pop opera’, Monkey: Journey to the West, a bewitching marriage of elecronica and Chinese folk music and much more besides. This is not conventional stuff and remains a verse-chorus-verse-free-zone. It’s really beautiful though. I salute the anonymous middle-aged hepcat; he made my weekend.