Albums: The perfect presents – pop and classical

Not sure what music to buy as a present? Andy Gill helps you decide with his guide to some of this year's best albums
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The Independent Culture

If they like The White Stripes, they'll love The Black Keys. On their latest album Brothers, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney conjure up burly boogies and haunting blues moans from spindly guitar and brooding organ riffs. An idiosyncratic new branch sprouting from this gnarliest of rock'n'roll roots.

If they like Mumford & Sons, they'll love Laura Marling, whose second album, I Speak Because I Can, confirmed her as the most intelligent and provocative talent of the recent folk revival, one capable of bridging the gap between modern insights and traditional methods.

If they like Prince, they'll love Janelle Monáe, the outrageously-talented young soul diva whose sci-fi-themed debut album The ArchAndroid incorporated a mind-boggling range of styles and influences, including soul, glam, jazz, folk, psychedelia, classical and film music.

If they like Bach, they'll love Teodoro Anzellotti's transcription of the Goldberg Variations for solo accordion. The instrument's warm timbre serves the material surprisingly well, with the longer delay-time of the reed notes emphasising the way the lines interlace and intertwine.

If they like Emmylou Harris, they'll love Caitlin Rose, whose debut album Own Side Now reveals a voice as sweet as Patsy Cline's but a songwriting eye that brings a worldly frankness to country music's standard romantic fare.

If they like Fleet Foxes, they'll love Midlake, this year's most intriguing Americana export. Their latest album The Courage Of Others reflected the influence of British folk-rock, both in its sound and its themes of affection for antiquity and spiritual connection to the earth.

If they like soul music, that sweet soul music, they'll love Mavis Staples, whose smoky tones have rarely been better showcased than on her new album You Are Not Alone, a sublime mix of traditional gospel songs, original material, and unexpected covers of Randy Newman and John Fogerty classics.

If they like Stravinsky, they'll love Gustavo Dudamel's 'Rite', which pairs The Rite Of Spring with Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas' Night Of The Maya, which occupies similarly pagan territory, the Simó* Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela attacking both pieces' intense rhythms and discordancies with gusto.

If they like Burt Bacharach and Karen Carpenter, they'll love Rumer, whose debut Seasons Of My Soul features oozingly sensual but emotionally vulnerable performances of melancholy adult soul, set to coffee-toned horns, sweetened with strings in the Bacharach style.

If they like Gnarls Barkley, they'll love Cee-Lo Green, whose album The Lady Killer confirmed him as R&B's renaissance man, blessed with a musical imagination as big as his statuesque physique, and a vocal presence twice that size.