* EXCITEMENT builds for one of the most-keenly awaited releases by an Oxford band this year.

Stornoway release their second album Tales from Terra Firma on March 11, but fans were treated to a preview at a spectacular pair of hometown shows at Oxford Town hall last Thursday and Friday.

The building proved the perfect backdrop to the Cowley band’s deliciously whimsical folk-pop – particularly their more intense, gutsy new songs. While sing-alongs like Zorbing proved obvious crowd-pleasers, the best moments came with a completely unplugged version of November Song by frontman Brian Briggs, the band’s encore on a balcony at the back of the hall for an acoustic rendition of The Ones We Hurt the Most, and a rendition of I Saw You Blink, introduced by a stirring blast on the venue’s pipe organ.

Read reviews of Stornoway, Everything Everything and Bellowhead at oxfordmail.co.uk/theguide

* A TOAST is also in order to Oxford math-rockers Foals whose latest album Holy Fire went straight into the charts at number two.

Frontman Yannis Philippakis also told the BBC this week that he is keen to start his own side-project: a score for a feature film.

The lads play Reading Festival in August. Visit readingfestival.com

* Great news comes from the woodlands of South Oxfordshire this week. After its absence last year, that celebration of all things lovely and wholesome, Wood Festival is back.

Set up by Truck festival founder Joe Bennett of Co-Pilgrim fame (see feature right) and his brother and Dreaming Spires bandmate Robin, the relaunched event is back at Braziers Park, near Wallingford, after a link-up with festival supremo Vince Power.

Headlining is singer-songwriter and lover of West Coast psychedelia Mary Epworth. She is joined by Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou, The Dreaming Spires, Syd Arthur, Nick Cope, Witney kora player Jali Fily Cissokho, Julie Hawk, Flights of Helios, Jack Day and Maniere des Bohemiens. There will also be the traditional workshops teaching everything from traditional crafts to spotting wildlife.

The festival runs from May 17-19. Adult Weekend tickets are £75, including three days camping and all workshops. Children aged 12 and under get in free, with older kids getting in at a reduced price.

Go to the Truck Store, Cowley Rd, Oxford, or woodfestival.com