The 5 Albums You Need to Hear in December

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It’s the allegedly festive season, the end of the year, the time when the music industry largely abandons the idea of releasing new records for bringing in the cash with box sets, classic reissues, etc. Still, there’s the occasional brave artist who decides to release something in December, and so, as ever, we’ve perused the release schedules and huddled together in a quorum of music geekdom to decide on the new releases that are worth getting hold of this month, along with those that you really should be avoiding like crazy.

Xiu Xiu — Nina (December 3)

What better way to welcome the “festive” season than with an album’s worth of Xiu Xiu covering Nina Simone? I swear I’m not making this up.

Erol Alkan — Illumination (December 3)

We’ve fêted Alkan for his remixing and production skills, and it’s hard to believe that this is his debut release under his own name. But hey, it is, and even though it’s only a three-song EP, it’s definitely worth having a listen to.

Dam-Funk and Snoopzilla — 7 Days of Funk (December 10)

If you’re looking to banish the winter blues rather than wallow in the melancholy that leaden skies and freezing mornings bring, then behold: surely the happiest, summeriest album ever to have been released in the middle of December. As much as anything else, it’s excellent to see this collaboration with Snoop Dogg (for it is he) bringing some much-deserved mainstream exposure for LA keytar wizard and all-around excellent dude Dam-Funk, and the combination of Snoop’s rhymes and Dam-Funk’s liquid backing tracks makes for a record that can’t help making you feel like you’re cruising a California freeway with the top down and the wind in your hair.

Toy — Join the Dots (December 10)

Like a cockney version of Neu! Huzzah.

E-40 — Welcome to the Soil 4-6 (December 10)

The endlessly prolific elder statesman of hip hop releases three albums on the same day. It’s a rare artist who continues improving 25 years into his career, but E-40’s slew of releases over the last few years have been largely excellent, and there’s no reason to believe these records will be any different.

Also out this month:

Black Flag — What the… (December 3) And the prize for Most Appropriate Album Title of the Month goes to…

Britney Spears — Britney Jean (December 3) True fact: “…Baby One More time” is 15 years old this month.

Childish Gambino — Because the Internet (December 10) Can we go back to when Community was great and all of this unpleasantness could have been avoided?

R Kelly — Black Panties (December 10) Back! Back into the closet! Begone! *wields cattle prod*