*OXFORD has produced no shortage of great bands over the years, and the latest to start pricking up ears way beyond the city’s dreaming spires are synth-pop four-piece Secret Rivals, pictured.

Long a hit on the local scene, they are now expected to break out with the imminent release of their album, Just Fall.

Such is the depth of support for Clouds, Jay, Andy and Reece that fans have supported recording with pledges. The result is a sparky, exhilarating and feel-good piece of work enlivened by an electrifying interplay of boy-girl vocals by co-frontman/woman Jay and Clouds.

It will be released on the Jericho-based Standard Tandoori label later this month.

To celebrate, the band headline a launch party at The Cellar, Frewin Court, tonight. Present will be Standard Tandoori founder Nathan Pyle, who described the album, with typical understatement, as “[expletive deleted] ...amazing!”.

Support comes from Beta Blocker and the Body Clock, and King of Cats. Doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets are £4 from wegottickets.com

* ALSO celebrating the release of a new album is singer-songwriter Beth Orton. Blending folk and dance music to create what has been described as ‘folktronica’, Beth is a genre-defying artist of singular talent. Collaborations with her old boyfriend William Orbit, as well as Chemical Brothers and Andrew ‘Screamadelica’ Weatherall, saw her dreamy vocals enrapturing a generation of music-lovers more at home with dance beats and indie-rock.

Her engaging new album Sugaring Season follows an absence of six years, during which she has been busy writing and having two children. And it is worth the wait.

She plays the O2 Academy on Saturday. Tickets are £20 from ticketweb.co.uk

* Foppish merry monarch of pop, King Charles is an artist who demands attention – not least for his impressive beehive hairdo and waxed moustache.

His music is a joyous mix of Afro-beat, rock and roll, glam, folk, hip-hop, and country. And it’s all great fun. The regal rocker holds court at the O2 Academy Oxford tomorrow. Support comes from Story Books and Giovanna. Tickets have sold out.

* Sixties survivors The Hollies bring their sunny pop to the New Theatre on Sunday.

Expect such enduring hits as Bus Stop, The Air That I Breathe, and He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother. Tickets are £22-£27 from atgtickets.com