The Limiñanas: Costa Blanca
Husband-and-wife duo Lionel and Marie Limiñana have absorbed some of the best bits of French pop music – the mischievous menace of Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc’s simple hooks, a generous helping of yé-yé – and combined them to create Costa Blanca, a luxuriously retro romp across the French musical landscape. You might think you’ve heard these immediately charming tunes before, and that’s kind of the point. Costa Blanca is that record to put on when perhaps your Christmas party’s taken a strange late-night turn and sounds that are familiar, fun and festive are the only way to go.
'Costa Blanca' is out now.
Nick Lowe: Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family
Almost a punk in his 1970s heyday – but with far too much natural-pop talent to alienate any listeners, Nick Lowe occupies a peculiar place in British music. His recent reincarnation as an old-time crooner continues to delight on this festive offering, Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, a combination of covers, traditional songs and some new originals too. Lowe’s record is a rockabilly rummage under the Christmas tree that avoids sugary stereotypes while raising a few smiles in equal measure – much like the man himself.
‘Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family’ is available to buy now.
Norwegian producer Pandreas is the moniker of Bergen-based 21-year-old Andreas Kleven Rasmussen. His latest EP Rås combines straight-up beats with an expansive sense of the epic, icy Nordic landscape from which they came. It’s not dissimilar music to that other great export doing good things for Norwegian sounds, Lindstrøm, in its ability to transport the listener somewhere very different to where the songs initially begin (think; a sweaty dancefloor that opens onto a windswept cliff-top panorama, perhaps?). Or you could just play it as a NYE party crowdpleaser and let everyone else in on the absurd fantasy.
‘Rås’ is available to buy now.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: II
An album that should be in anyone’s end-of-year list is Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s II. The project, led by New Zealand-born songwriter Ruban Nielson plus US-based drummer Riley Geare and bassist Jake Portrait, provided a richly melodic and inventive take on guitar pop in the first half of 2013. Songs such as “Swim and Sleep (like a Shark)” and “So Good at Being in Trouble” are chilled-out earworms that linger long after this warm fuzzy record stops spinning. There may have been some irony in that name to begin with, but you sense the Mortal Orchestra won’t be unknown for long.
‘II’ is available to buy now.
Lee Hazlewood: There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving, 1966-1971
The good times at Christmas bring about almost lethal doses of sickly sweet nostalgia, but if you’re going to do nostalgia – do it right. During the 1960s, master-songwriter Lee Hazlewood made pop records with a deliciously unashamed sense of kitsch and over 100 of those songs – performed by a roster of should’ve-been-stars and Lee himself – are contained here on a newly released boxset. There’s also a 172-page book and Hazlewood’s never-before-released film Cowboy in Sweden on DVD. High on camp fun, low on subtlety, There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving is a gift that’ll keep on giving.
'There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving, 1966-1971' is out now.