Musical Xmas Presents – Tribes, Tracey Thorn, Of Monsters and Men, Django Django

After the great month that was October, with a stream of interesting and exciting new music, November was a little quiet. So as it is now less than four weeks till Christmas, I thought we’d start our gift buying suggestion scheme.

I’m not sure whether to do this by relationship (partner, parent, kids) or musical genre.  So maybe combine the two... we’ll lead on “relationship” but give you enough insight as to the music that you can draw your own conclusion about who in your circle might be interested!


Well of course you fully understand your partner’s taste already. But let’s assume the median age of a Spend Matters reader is probably around 40, so we’re talking about someone who isn’t a youngster any more, but is still interested in music and wouldn’t like to be thought of as old... (Some of these are albums we reviewed during the year, and of course they may well feature again on our best of the year list, to be published just before Christmas)!

Now,  if your loved one has a love of either classic Brit-Pop (think Oasis, Blur), or even a fondness for going back further to classic 70s glam rock, young UK rock band Tribes with their debut album Baby should be right up their street. Released early in the year, it still sounds good with strong tunes and a bit of “attitude”, including a lead vocalist who sneers in a convincing Bowie / Hunter / Gallacher sort of way. Nothing absolutely original and unique here, but its credible enough to impress any passing teenagers, but won’t scare the horses (or the grannies) too much ...

If he / she is somewhat more dance included (but I’m not talking a full-on hard core house fan here), then the vibrant indie dance of Django Django provided one of the very best albums of the year with their eponymous debut album.   It’s a fun mix of surf guitar, electronics and harmony vocals, a lovely mix of tunes and rhythms that I guarantee will have you tapping your toes over the turkey. Pretty credible again with the kids and it will brighten up any dank December day.

Another one of my personal contenders for album of the year is Of Monsters and Men with “My head is an animal”. Uplifting, emotionally engaging, sing along-able, Icelandic folk rock. Bringing to mind Arcade Fire, the Mumfords, and the XX, everyone I know who I’ve recommended this to has loved it. It’s another album that has cross-generational appeal, and unless your recipient has a particular animus towards Icelanders and chunky sweaters, I can’t see anyone disliking this really – and most will love it.

And here’s a great tip for a stocking filler for pretty much anyone actually. Tracey Thorn, of Everything but the Girl fame, has released Tinsel and Lights.   She’s composed 2 of her own new songs to go with 8 covers ranging from the well known (“Have yourself a merry little Christmas”), to the iconic (Joni Mitchell’s brilliant “River”, with a brass band ), to the slightly off-beat (a very enjoyable version of the White Stripes “In the Cold Cold Night”).

I’ve always liked her voice, and it stays just the right side of melancholic, but be warned, it’s not exactly Slade or Wizzard. Indeed, she sounds like Karen Carpenter at times, and that’s a compliment in my book. It’s the sort of thing the aged relatives won’t object to over Christmas lunch, whilst the teenagers can be mollified by telling them that Thorn is a pretty credible artist. Here she is with a lovely versions of Surjan Stevens’ Sister Winter.

Happy December!

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Voices (2)

  1. Planbee:

    Der der der, der der der der, deerrr deeerrrr HEY!

    + 1 for ‘Of Monsters and Men’

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