Pretty Good Gift Idea: Tunes for All

music
Well, actually, this post’s header lies. This isn’t one pretty gift idea — it’s several. And they all come courtesy of River City Books bookseller and music maven Kevin Krein. I have multiple music lovers on my shopping list and, um, I pretty much stopped knowing what was on the radio in 1989. Kevin’s the one to turn before zipping over to RCB’s impressive wall of CDs. Recently, I was smart enough (shuddup!) to take a few notes.

Here’s his roundup of gift-worthy tunes, with an eye on finding options for every sort of ear:

Giving the gift of music during the holiday season can be both thoughtful and dangerous. Thoughtful in the sense that you thought that someone on your holiday shopping list might like an album by an artist they have enjoyed in the past. Dangerous in the sense that if you’re buying blindly for someone without knowing their tastes, come Christmas morning, they could shoot you a dirty look like they’ve just unwrapped an ugly sweater or a package of athletic socks.

A lot of albums were released in 2008. Here are some of them, sorted by genre/demographic to please even the most picky listeners this holiday season.

For the fan of contemporary popular music, usually heard on the radio, listened to by young people … try The Killers, who returned with their third release, “Day & Age.” Epic Brit-poppers Coldplay continued to dominate radio airwaves with “Viva La Vida or Death And All of His Friends.” Hot “it” rap artist of the moment Lil’ Wayne released his “Tha Carter III,” which was recently nominated for a whopping eight Grammy Awards. Mr. Modesty himself, Kanye West, released his most personal and high-concept record to date, “808’s & Heartbreaks.”

dylanFor fans of adult contemporary, like your mom and dad … Bob Dylan fans rejoice — the eighth in his “bootleg” series, titled “Tell Tale Signs,” was released this fall. Rock/Country mainstay Lucinda Williams returned with her latest studio album “Little Honey.” Alt.Country poster boy Ryan Adams released only one album this year — “Cardinology,” recorded with his band The Cardinals. Rilo Kiley chanteuse Jenny Lewis released her second solo album, “Acid Tongue,” which boasts a guest appearance by Elvis Costello.

For fans of college/indie rock, like stuff you’d hear on The Current, or if you were a twenty-something … Where to begin? Since I fall into this demographic, there was a plethora of great releases this year. There was the sparse folk arrangements of Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago,” as well as “House With No Home,” by Horse Feathers. Brooklyn’s TV on The Radio returned with their own avant-garde blend of pop on “Dear Science.” Gangly shoegazers Longwave released the masterful “Secrets Are Sinister,” after a three-year hiatus. U.K. trip-hoppers Portishead released their third album, aptly titled “Third,” after being absent for more than a decade. Mark Kozelek’s Sun Kil Moon released the epic “April,” their first collection of new material in five years. Oh, and before I forget: The new Sigur Ros album, “With a Buzz in Our Ears, We Play Endlessly,” is the perfect gift for the person that loves epic Icelandic pop music.

clashIf you went to college in the 80’s, you may enjoy … Before he was the “ringleader of the tormented,” Morrissey was the front man for the English rock band The Smiths, who released a best-of collection, available in both one and two disc format. Relive a live set by the only band that matters, The Clash, with their “Live at Che Stadium.” Original shoe-gaze noise makers The Jesus & Mary Chain release a four disc boxed set entitled “The Power of Negative Thinking” — compiling all of their b-sides and rarities, for your listening enjoyment.

Thanks, Kevin. The stockings shall soon be properly stuffed.

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