Are you behind on Holiday shopping? Did you justifiably avoid the malls on “Black Friday” only to kick yourself later for not doing so? There are millions of others nationwide just like you – unsure of what gifts to get their loved ones.
Luckily, there have been a lot of excellent album releases this past year. While you may be on the up and up with this year’s music, it doesn’t mean that everyone you know does. This is the perfect guide to finding the perfect 2014 release for every type of music fan on your shopping list.
- This is a family member or friend, typically someone a generation or two older. You consider him/her “closed-minded” when it comes to music and he/she will retaliate by relentlessly blaming your generation for “destroying music”. He/she talks about the “good ol’ days” and will completely shun anything that isn’t a household name.
Get them: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye
Why?: In addition to being their first album in four years, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. (the first Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album to do so) In my personal opinion, it is also their strongest release since 1999’s Echo.
Honorable Mentions: Prince – Art Official Age OR Plectrumelectrum ; Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes
- This can be a friend, co-worker or family member (possibly even yourself) that is always one year behind when it comes to music. Right now, they are not only keeping Nothing Was The Same and Reflektor in regular rotation but insist on telling you about how you’re missing out.
Get them: St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Why?: Following the whirlwind momentum of 2012’s David Byrne’s collaborative LP Love This Giant, St. Vincent’s self-titled album is on practically every major magazine’s Top Album Lists and can essentially be used to single-handedly sum up music in 2014.
Honorable Mentions: Sun Kil Moon – Benji ; Warpaint – Warpaint
“The Car Talk Enthusiast”
- This is someone in your life who can’t be bothered by anything not played on NPR. Chances are, your old-fashioned boss or philosophy professors fall in this category.
Get them: Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
Why?: Obviously it sits on NPR Music’s “25 Favorite Albums of 2014 (so far)” but it is its classic Americana composition that stands out among other releases with more modern inspirations.
Honorable Mentions: Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness ; Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
“The Top 40 Adherent”
- Maybe your mother? Maybe your sister? Whoever it is, they listen to only “Top 40” radio stations and won’t touch your music recommendations – until “that one song” ends up on Z100.
Get them: Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
Why?: There always seems to be a performer known for their sultry vocals that gets slipped between Usher and Pitbull songs. Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour brought classically-trained vocals to the pop genre – just as Adele had done three years ago.
Honorable Mentions: Beyoncé – Beyoncé ; Iggy Azalia – The New Classic
“The Bass Dropper”
- This is your EDM-listener, bass-fanatic and collector of glow sticks. They love New York not because of its beautiful parks and restaurants but because it is home of three HUGE festivals: Electric Daisy, Electric Zoo and Mysteryland. They’ll not only know who Deadmau5 is but will tell you about all of his “beefs” with other DJs.
Get them: Porter Robinson – Worlds
Why?: Electronic music is one of the fastest growing genres and home to one of the most unique spectrum of how the music should sound and how it should be performed. Porter Robinson effortlessly fuses and embraces more electronic sub-genres while some of his peers have failed in the venture. Worlds is a shining beacon of an example.
Honorable Mentions: Flight Facilities – Down To Earth ; Skrillex – Recess
“The Lone Metalhead”
- We all know one and if you don’t, it’s you. This can be someone as subtle as rocking a Goatwhore shirt or someone who only unleashes the devil horns and headbanging at a Manowar show.
Get them: Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
Why?: Pallbearer was acknowledged by Pitchfork back in 2012 for their debut album Sorrow and Extinction. (it received the #1 nod) This year, metal-centric magazine Decibel has crowned Foundations of Burden their album of the year. We would agree and wish we could see more metal bands taking on lengthier tracks not meant for the faint of heart.
Honorable Mentions: Eyehategod – Eyehategod ; Mastodon – One More ‘Round The Sun
- Anyone that worships the written word of Pitchfork, BrooklynVegan and, of course, Neat Beet. It’s all about catching that wave and finding the artist that makes it big – before everyone else. This can also be someone who not only asks for your music recommendations but gives them an open-minded listen.
Get them: The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Why?: It’s that time of year where blogs and websites start posting their retrospective albums lists. The War on Drugs’s 2014 release has placed rather well on many of these, including at the #1 spot on Spin Magazine’s list.
Honorable Mentions: FKA Twigs – LP1 ; Real Estate – Atlas
“The Nostalgic Rocker”
- This is the rock music aficionado who isn’t collecting vinyl records but has had a collection. If they are old enough, they will tell you how great Woodstock was, regardless of whether they attended or not. Their favorite musicians are doing arena-sized farewell tours and hosting American Idol.
Get them: Jack White – Lazaretto
Why?: Jack White was at the helm of some of rock’s biggest musical projects, including The White Stripes and The Dead Weather. So it should come to no surprise that Jack White as a solo artist would be equally commendable. Lazaretto puts everything in Jack’s control: not only did he produce the album himself but he released it from his record label, Third Man Records. This album has the familiar fusion of garage rock and blues rock we can find throughout White’s lengthy discography.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams ; The Black Keys – Turn Blue
“The Modern Rocker”
- Unlike “The Nostalgic Rocker” this is a rock music fan that is okay with listening to 94.3 The Shark, although they will tell you how it doesn’t hold a candle to K-Rock. (RIP) Think rock music from the today and stretching as far as the 90’s.
Get them: Future Islands – Singles
Why?: As “The Blog-o-holic” would tell you, Future Islands were everywhere this year. Singles is the band’s only release to see time on the charts and they seemed to perform on every late night show you can think of. David Letterman’s enthusiastic response is exactly what we’re all feeling.
Honorable Mentions: Interpol – El Pintor ; Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
“The Aspiring MC”
- This could be just about anyone. This could be someone as subtle as someone bookmarking WorldStar Hip Hop at work and then jamming out to …And Then There Was X or something as evident as one who freestyles over Clams Casino beats.
Get them: Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Why?: Take one excellent representation of rising hip-hop talent from two of the East Coast’s rap music capitals, (NYC and ATL) have them write/perform together and you have Run The Jewels. El-P and Killer Mike’s sophomore release holds its own in a very difficult year for hip-hop. (I mean, how do you follow Yeezus?)
Honorable Mentions: Logic – Under Pressure ; Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron
“The Generation Y/Z-er”
- As the name would suggest, this is anyone who looks to Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel for their next iTunes download. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are young – but they want to hear more about Justin Bieber than Thom Yorke.
Get them: Taylor Swift – 1989
Why?: Considering its release late in the year, 1989 is only one of four albums released this year to be certified Platinum by the RIAA. (one of the remaining three is an Honorable Mention below) She is an unstoppable tour de force and this album proves her staying power as a pop star.
Honorable Mentions: Kiesza – Sound of a Woman ; Ariana Grande – My Everything