The fast approaching holidays means its time for some last minute shopping for gifts and stocking stuffers. A simple last minute gift that fits nicely into the stockings hung with care, is music. We recently compiled a list of artists for Best Buy and two playlists of tracks that should most definitely be on your wish list. The artists we listed there included Childish Gambino, Aziz Ansari, and The XX. However, our list was not complete. Here are those albums that barely missed the cut.
No other band can evoke deeply buried emotions within me the way that the Counting Crows do. If you have ever seen them live you are aware that their songs become stage plays — as a three minute tune quickly becomes a 15-minute theatrical performance. There are few live acts that can pull this off genuinely. This album provides a taste of those emotions weaved through a live performance of their debut album, in original track order.
Another fantastic live band, The Killers recently released this new studio album. Battle Born is their latest attempt at creating stadium style anthems. Heartthrob Brandon Flowers belts every lyric with fervor and the rest of the band drives the pace in each momentum gaining track. This album is a perfect listen for a road trip or when you are out for a run.
If the XX make sexy music, The Weeknd make the pillow talk. Atmospheric, dark, and romantic, 22 year old Abel Tesfaye creates an unmatched ambiance. The highly anticipated Trilogy was released on November 13th and is a compilation of his three mix tapes and a few other new tracks. My favorite track is “The Morning.”
An ambitious double album that often feels like a dream, M83 creates a story and ambiance with his music and lyrics. This album may not be for everyone, but when listened through the idea of it as a concept album, the listener gains a greater appreciation. Each track is filled with pieces of contrasting sounds that will entice you to listen again.
Sheeran is a super creative musician that fits in well with pop radio. He will remind some of Jason Mraz with his guitar and wordplay, but his lyrics possess a depth of emotion. Although I’d prefer to listen to this album while in a mellow mood, I wouldn’t want to place Sheeran into a genre box. He’s even got a hip-hop collaboration with Yelawolf out there somewhere.
Oddisee is a good artist. Citing A Tribe Called Quest as an influence because “these rappers don’t talk about drugs or murder, and I can relate more to their lyrics.” Combining poignant thoughtful lyrics with excellent beats and musical interludes. Give Let it Go a listen, and drift away to another place.
EDM (electronic dance music) has blown back into the mainstream and Benny Bennasi is the founding father of this modern variation. He is one of the greatest DJ’s of our time and has paved the way for many of the great EDM artists listed below. His influence is intertwined in their music. His album Electroman gets better with each listen.
The duo of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay has always been a favorite of mine for their tough, progressive rock style of electronic music. Whether it is utilizing auto-tuned voices, heavy bass hits, claps, or electronic sound bytes, their natural sense of timing always seems to peak and valley right when my heart wants to. I can’t help but bob my head rhythmically like a metronome whenever a good Justice track comes on.
Joel Zimmerman has recorded as Deadmau5 ever since 2004 and brings a flair to his live shows. Performing while wearing a giant mouse head, Zimmerman uses monster beats and trance-like synthesizers to create a synergy with an audience. As a recognizable leader in EDM, Deadmau5 shows will continue to get bigger and better.
An innovative and underrated trio from the UK, the Magnetic Man album has 14 polished tracks. While some tracks will get you lost in their mesmerizing instrumentals, its the tracks featuring guest vocalists that really take you to another place. My favorite track features the sultry sounds of John Legend, called “Getting Nowhere.” If you want a track with more of a dance vibe, listen to the song “I Need Air.”
There are a handful of truly memorable tracks on this soundtrack that when heard outside of the movie will usually make you think of the movie. From Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” to Tomoyasu Hotei’s “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” to some great RZA tracks, this soundtrack has the iconic collection of sounds that we come to expect from Tarantino.
If you are a die hard Snatch fan, you will love this soundtrack, which is what really set the mood for so many scenes. Features an irresistibly eclectic mix of new and old and includes classic tracks by Massive Attack, Mirwais, The Specials, Oasis, The Stranglers, and many others. It’s a great collection with a lot of fun funky tracks.
Probably one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time, it set the precedence for great selling movie albums. Artists like Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure, The Rollins Band, and many other gems take you right back to the 90’s while listening to it.
3-time Grammy Award winning Skrillex (Sonny John Moore) is one of the most influential artists in the American dubstep scene and is quickly making a name in the global scene. He is well-known for his bassy anthem-like remixes that really get the crowds noddin’ their heads. This album is was the catalyst for his rise to fame.
The group Nero is comprised of 3 Londoners: Daniel Stephens, Joe Ray, and Alana Watson (vocals). Stephens and Ray have been creating electronic music together since the 80’s. The Nero sound is a very unique and creative sound to dubstep that has a feeling of going on a journey.