Christmas presents - it's getting harder

Andrew London Trio.

Ten more day to go. Ten shopping days. I know I'm screwed.

It just seems to sneak up doesn't it? One minute there's snow on the Desert Road, the next they're playing ‘Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer' in Pak‘nSave. Time is travelling faster.

And that's the way it goes. The further you progress in life the faster weeks and months seem to pass.

This is, as I suspect we all now know, a trick of perception, since we subconsciously compare each passing year with the entirety of our lives. Thus for a five-year-old a year is a huge length of time, a fifth of their life.

But for those of us slightly more mature folk, a year is a mere blip on a time-line stretching back decades. So it feels shorter. Like many changes that occur in later life I can confirm this is of absolutely no benefit.

But with news on telly that it's snowing in London I guess we have at least a couple of blessings to count.

Corn, strawberries, asparagus and the glorious bounty of summer food is on the way, Pimms and Prosecco can be happily sipped on warm afternoons and – if you forget for a minute the impending mayhem and gaze a little further into the future – everything looks rosy.

Panic and craziness

But until then it's panic and bad craziness. Regularly at this time, in an effort to reduce stress, I offer a few ideas for Christmas presents. But for us traditional recreational buyers this is getting a lot harder.

Once upon a time my list for presents was essentially CDs, DVDs, books. Why not? Something to read, something to watch, something to listen to. Sounds perfect.

Except for... well, the bleeding obvious. These days most people stream their music and movies and have either given up reading or switched to Kindle or some such device.

And there are still worthwhile local CDs, even though they're only available these days via artists' websites or Facebook pages. But, unfortunately, pickings are a bit slim.

There are a couple of killer instrumental albums I mentioned last week – the self-titled CD from the band Infinity and Sean Bodley's very impressive guitar showcase Genesis.

There was an album from Davey Beige and an EP from alt-rock band Dead Recipe. But, in keeping with these tough times for musicians, very little music was released. My prediction, depressingly enough, is that this will only get worse. When you can't even recoup the cost of recording, it makes for a barren music scene.  

Andrew London Trio

Whoops! Did I slip into melancholy for a second? Sorry. I do have a recent album that certainly cheers me up and would make a great Christmas pressie for the right listener.

The Andrew London Trio (nee Hot Club Sandwich) has a new CD on offer, Let's Take Offence! And a most enjoyable listen it is too.

Once again Andrew's love/hate relationship with the intricacies of middle-class Kiwi living takes centre stage with ‘Middle Aged Man In Lycra', ‘Let's Go To A Concert And Talk', the title track and others exploring New Zealand's social foibles. Elsewhere Andrew's wife Kirsten, who also plays bass, sings a couple of affecting tunes and Andrew takes a rare moment to get serious and almost sentimental with the absolutely wonderful ‘It's Just A Thing My Father Did At Christmas'.

The playing is immaculate, with lovely sax and clarinet flourishes from Nils Olsen, and finishes with a delightful parody of ‘That's Amore', exploring the various Wellington suburbs – ‘That's Karori'.

Get it through the band's website.

But it's trickier elsewhere to get physical presents. The self-titled debut album from L.A.B., the band comprising Kora members and local guitar monster Joel Shadbolt, is only on digital platforms. And limited edition vinyl.

So that makes for a tricky gift. But it shouldn't stop you listening. Go straight to Spotify and dial up that sucker. (Remember, to find it you need to search L.A.B. not LAB.)


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