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We asked Mike from the [PIAS] Store why these 12 releases are the perfect Christmas gift ideas - and here’s what he said!

⇥ PUBLISHED ON 20 December, 2023

Explore Mike’s Christmas gift recommendations, featuring 12 album releases from 2023, all available to purchase with a 20% discount at the [PIAS] Store now!

Arlo Parks – My Soft Machine

Signed to Transgressive

 

Mike: “How do you follow a Mercury Prize and BRIT Award winning debut album? Like…how!? Talk about creating a rod for your own back. Well thankfully, it’s not something you or I will likely be doing in a hurry and we have generational talents like Transgressive’s Arlo Parks to make it seem far more effortless than it undoubtedly is. A deeply personal record, including a feature from Phoebe Bridgers, My Soft Machine is a grown Arlo Parks, documenting her 20s and all the rawness and vulnerability your third decade contains”

 

A Christmas present for: “anyone who’s ever decried pop music for not being emotional, intelligent, and honest. This’ll learn ‘em”

ARNO – Les Duettes

Signed to [PIAS] Recordings

 

Mike: “Having sadly left us in 2022, after over fifty years of writing and releasing music and earning certifiable legendary status in his homeland, this collection of duets from ‘the Belgian Tom Waits’ and a slew of collaborators was curated by musical director Mirko Banovic for his second posthumous release, following last year’s Opex, also released by [PIAS] Recordings”

 

A Christmas present for: “the family member you’ll be staying up with on Christmas night, with the lights down low and a glass of red wine in hand”

Baxter Dury – I Thought I was Better Than You

Signed to Heavenly Recordings

 

Mike: “Making a name for yourself, all the while beholden to the name of somebody else, it can be difficult to step out of a father’s shadow. For those who’ve been keenly following Baxter’s career, the new album on Heavenly Recordings, his highest charting and arguably most critically lauded to date, follows on from his 2021 memoir in addressing the privileges and pressures of being a musician in your own right despite your famous dad (notably Ian Dury of The Blockheads fame)”

 

A Christmas present for: “your parents. A not so subtle hint you can do things very well for yourself, actually”

Black Pumas – Chronicles of a Diamond
Signed to ATO Records

 

Mike: “One of the [PIAS] Store’s best selling albums of 2023, ATO Records’ multiple Grammy Awards nominated Black Pumas returned in October with the hugely anticipated Chronicles Of A Diamond. Psychedelic Soul at its modern-day finest, the album showcases the growing confidence and abilities of Black Pumas main man Eric Burton, pulling in influences from a plethora of other genres, from jazz and funk to rock and roots, all the while remaining distinctly Black Pumas”

 

A Christmas present for: “the effortlessly achingly cool one round the Christmas dinner table”

dEUS – How To Replace it
Signed to [PIAS] Recordings

 

Mike: “With their first album in ten years, Belgian art-rock legends dEUS ushered in a brand new chapter in their own story, cementing an almost cult status amongst their ‘90s rock peers. How To Replace It may have taken a decade to arrive, but the band have never fully switched off, with festival appearances, world tours, and anniversary releases happening in that time, with the new album testament that good things come to those who wait”

 

A Christmas present for: “the person in your life who’s at Ancienne Belgique (UK readers: The Roundhouse) at least three nights a week”

Explosions in the Sky – END
Signed to Bella Union

 

Mike: “The press release reads ”End is perhaps the “grandest” Explosions in the Sky album – melding the quiet restraint and crushing feel of their early releases with the sonic texturing and ornate experimentation of their later releases…” and then goes blah blah blah like all press releases tend to do. However, it’s hard to argue with that assessment of this stunning and emotive seventh record from the Texan post-rock legends. Get this in your ears and feel things”

 

A Christmas present for: “my mate Sam. He loves Explosions In The Sky. Although, you getting it for him would be weird, so get it for your own version of Sam”

Heartworms – A Comforting Notion
Signed to Speedy Wunderground

 

Mike: “Arguably one of the breakout artists from this year’s SXSW music industry showcase festival, A Comforting Notion is the debut release from Heartworms, aka London based musician, poet, and WWII nerd Jojo Orme. Produced by Speedy Wunderground label owner and super-producer Dan Carey (Wet Leg, Fontaines DC, Slowthai), A Comforting Notion is the first step on Heartworms’ journey to becoming the UK underground’s Next Big Thing”

 

A Christmas present for: “your gothic, dystopian, post-punk obsessed son/daughter/sister/brother/niece/nephew/grandchild/cousin”

Loverman – Lovesongs
Signed to [PIAS] Recordings Belgium

 

Mike: “Signed out of the [PIAS] Recordings homeland of Belgium, the debut album Lovesongs is the brainchild of Anglo-Belgian baroque folk-poet Loverman. Unashamedly influenced by the likes of Scott Walker, Nick Drake, and Leonard Cohen, Lovesongs is equally unashamedly centred around the title of the album, keeping love in all its shapes and sizes at the very heart of every track”

 

A Christmas present for: “the family Scrooge, who needs to hear a few songs about the power of love this Christmas”

Nation of Language – Strange Disciple
Signed to Play It Again Sam

 

Mike: “I could tell you Rough Trade named this their album of the year 2023. I could tell you Paste called Nation of Language “the best synth-pop band in the world”. I could tell you about their sold-out US, UK, and European tours. And I could even tell you how they drew the biggest crowd of the festival at Primavera this year. But I won’t do any of that. What I will tell you, however, is you need to listen to this record immediately, but you’d sort of gathered you should do that anyway by now, right?”

 

A Christmas present for: “whoever it is you want to think of you as the effortlessly achingly cool one round the Christmas dinner table”

Jake Shears – Last Man Dancing
Signed to Mute

 

Mike: “Arguably the most glitz, glam, and fabulous release on our list, ex-Scissor Sisters co-vocalist Jake Shears signed to Mute for his sophomore solo album Last Man Dancing. An essential collection of life-affirming pop extravaganzas, celebrating the nightlife and all that comes with it, the album is anchored by a 2018 collaboration with the queen Kylie Minogue, with input elsewhere from such names as Jane Fonda and Iggy Pop. Think of this as the pop album of 2023 most likely to be found in sequins”

 

A Christmas present for: “whoever’s most likely to be five glasses of Bucks Fizz down by 11am on Christmas Day”

TEMPS – Party Gator Purgatory
Signed to Bella Union

 

Mike: “The only artist you’ll find this year, and indeed in most years, fronted by a cartoon alligator. The brainchild and passion project of stand-up comedian, podcast host, and seemingly all-round good guy James Acaster, this Bella Union released album arguably sits as the most experimental release on the list, but with a scope and scale not seen in many other records from 2023. A bold first step into music if ever there was one”

 

A Christmas present for: “your nan. Confuse the hell out of her”

Texas – The Very Best of 1989 – 2023
Signed to [PIAS] Recordings

 

Mike: “What can be said about Texas and Sharleen Spiteri which hasn’t already been said? Bona-fide Scottish music legends, friends of Wu-Tang Clan, and Glastonbury festival main stage mainstays, the band’s most recent Best Of compilation, released fresh after signing with [PIAS] Recordings, includes all the hits from the past 34 years, plus two heavily radio-supported new singles After All and Keep On Talking, which have rapidly become Texas classics in their own right”

 

A Christmas present for: “your aunt & uncle who disappear to a festival for a weekend every summer and never tell you what they get up to, giving you a mischievous wink instead”

⇥ Welcoming Melanie De Biasio’s new album ‘Il Viaggio’

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