Rock it, sock it
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Monday, November 30, 2009
11/30/09 at 9:12 AM
This holiday season, expand your comfort zone. If
you're looking for gifts for yourself or friends, remember: Most everyone you know already owns an Eagles or a Led Zeppelin or a White Stripes or an AC/DC album. Expand your aural timeline — and listening pleasure — with these ultimate gift suggestions. If you're looking to grow your tastes, re-explore them, discover the roots of your favorite music or impress someone with a thoughtful gift of music, here's our guide for you.
For those about to rock
Do you favor the flavor of warm amps, heavy bass and heeeee-uge drums? Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. Cream. You know the types. So, try this newbie group, full of schooled musicians. Impress your friends.
Them Crooked Vultures (2009)
The self-titled debut from the supergroup starring Led Zep bassist John Paul Jones, former Nirvana and Foo Fighters drummer/guitarist Dave Grohl and Eagles of Death Metal/Queens of the Stone Age vocalist Josh Homme.
To quote the legendary Jones, it "rocks like (a dirty word used by rockers that means sex)." And it's true. It's hard, it's heavy and it totally rocks.
Songs for a mixtape: "Elephants," "Reptiles," "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I."
Roll with it
Bluesy, garagey, amped and surf-inspired. If you like the eclectic sounds of the White Stripes, the Animals and early R.E.M., then Dexter is
. He's the king of the underground.
Dex Romweber Duo, "Ruins of Berlin" (2009)
Without Dexter Romweber, there very likely would not be a Jack White
Dex and sister Sara on drums belt out garagey, bluesy, anthemic, roots-inspired rockabilly and surf tunes. He's also the former frontman of surf-rock-garage-punk combo The Flat Duo Jets.
"Ruins of Berlin" is old-school and beautiful in the way inner-city streets gleam after a rain, and it features pristine vocals from Neko Case and Cat Power, too.
Songs for a mixtape: "Love Letters," "Ruins of Berlin," "Lookout."
Run that by me again
What's superfresh never gets old. Especially albums from influential and ground-breaking artists that leave indelible impressions on America's musical soundscapes.
Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue" (2009)
Skronk, soul blues, psychedelic jazz. It has many names and has influenced countless musicians and inspired even more music fans. This is the deluxe, 50th-anniversary Legacy Edition reissue of the best-selling jazz album of all time. It's remastered, with bonus tracks, an expanded documentary and a glossy picture book.
Songs for a mixtape: "Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take)," "On Green Dolphin Street."
Beastie Boys, "Paul's Boutique" (2009)
If you want to study the history of all genres, study the rappers who knew literally every beat in every groove on hundreds (if not thousands) of hit records, from punk to classic rock to reggae to soul and everything in between. This deluxe edition is digitally remastered and features a commentary track that coincides with each beat on the album. The original 1989 release was sampling's ground-breaking and mind-bending last hurrah, and this album has earned its niche as the band's "magnum opus."
Songs for a mixtape: The entire "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" set of 10 short mixes, starting with "Ask for Janice."
Nirvana, "Bleach" (2009)
Buy this album. Some 20 years ago, it defined grunge before the band even knew what it was, before Nirvana pop-grunge hits "Smells Like Teen Spirit," or "Heart Shaped Box" or "All Apologies." No, no and
. The 20th-anniversary reissue of "Bleach" is out-and-out grimy, rough-hewn, underproduced, angry and angsty and spectacular. Here, there's the mind-whumpingly raw "Negative Creep," quite possibly the best Nirvana song. Ever. The deluxe set includes 13 original tracks and a "Live at Pine Street Theatre," recorded live at the Portland Theatre in 1990.
Songs for a mixtape: "Swap Meet," "Negative Creep," "Floyd the Barber."
Too cool for school
Let's hear it for punk rockers new and old — do-it-yourselfers including everyone from The Ramones to NOFX to Dropkick Murphys. And how about Youth Brigade?
"Let Them Know: The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records" (2009)
The Youth Brigade exploded out of Southern California in the early '80s, leading the charge of hard-core punk rock and do-it-yourself ethos. Now, what many call the "seminal" Southern California punk label, BYO Records (Better Youth Organization), unleashes "Let Them Know." The box set includes a 31-track, red vinyl double LP (or CD), a 90-minute snarky-yet-smart documentary, and a full-color, hardcover book with photos and essays from voices within the SoCal punk community. The music also is available at digital retailers. Among the many iconic punk bands asked to cover their favorite song from the extensive BYO Records catalog include Leatherface, Matt Skiba, The Briefs, 7 Seconds, Subhumans, NOFX, Bouncing Souls, Dropkick Murphys, Pennywise and Anti-Flag.
Songs for a mixtape: "Hating Every Minute," by Krum Bums; "We're In!," by Old Man Markley; "Misfortune," by Youth Brigade; "We're Gonna Fight," by Pennywise.
Heard it all? Right...
Box set: Nothing says "holiday gift" like the ultimate box set, especially this one. For real, it says so right on the package:
"Time Capsule: The Ultimate Collectors Limited Edition Box Set," (2009) by Atlantic Records.
It's an anthology of Atlantic Records' first 62 years — each set even comes with an individually-numbered certificate of authenticity. Musicians include Clarence Carter, Rush, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Skid Row, Bobby Darin, Kid Rock, John Coltrane, Otis Redding, Rob Thomas, Hootie & the Blowfish and dozens more (Average White Band! Gnarls Barkley! Roxy Music!).
There are 165 tunes spanning nine CDs, "The House That Ahmet Built" DVD, 140-page full color book, custom metallic "time capsule" box
a re-pressed vinyl RPM of Atlantic's first hit song "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" by "Stick" McGhee & His Buddies. Plus, you'll also find quotes and stories from artists and leading characters, more than 200 "from the inside" images, memorabilia and vintage swag. At about $200, it's practically a steal for any musicphile.
Songs for a mixtape: C'mon. There are
discs. Make your own. I suggest (one tune from each disc): "Money Honey," by Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters; "Walking the Dog," by Rufus Thomas; "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," by Iron Butterfly; "Sweet Jane," by the Velvet Underground; "Love is the Drug," by Roxy Music; "Mama," by Genesis; "Show, Don't Tell," by Rush; "Missing (Todd Terry Mix)," by Everything But the Girl; "Soul Meets Boy," by Death Cab for Cutie.
Jennifer Chancellor 581-8346