Buying music for someone else is always a stressful experience. Below, I’ve identified some archetypal music fans and a few examples of music that you can buy for them: A couple classics, a couple new albums. Each should satisfy the music lover in your life.
The Classic Rocker
New: Robert Plant, “Carry Fire”
The Led Zeppelin frontman returns with another solo album, this time with a little bit more fire and energy than the last few records. Definitely recommended to someone who wants new spices on an old flavor.
New: Greta Van Fleet, “From the Fires”
Opposite the new Robert Plant, Greta Van Fleet offers a fresh spin on the classic rock style and swagger. The band is full of 18- to 20-year-old dudes, and it sounds like something you could hear alongside AC/DC and Aerosmith on classic rock stations.
Old: Rolling Stones, “On Air”
This newly released collection of 1964-1965 BBC radio performances from the legendary rhythm and blues band was hidden in the vaults until now. A great piece of rock ’n’ roll history that any music nerd would appreciate.
The Hip-Hop Head
New: Flatbush Zombies, “3001: A Laced Odyssey”
An under-appreciated crew from the East Coast with wonderful production and three absolutely killer and unique MCs. No one in the game right now sounds like Eric, Meech, and Juice.
New: Action Bronson, “Blue Chips 7000”
Moving away from the Ghostface worship on his first couple records, this new mixtape is quintessential Action. Funky jazzy beats with raps about prosciutto and Mario Batali laid over them.
Old: GZA, “Liquid Swords”
The greatest hip-hop album of all time, and so many seem to not know it. Classic Wu-Tang sound with verses that are still poignant, even after 20-plus years.
The Indie Pop Darling
New: Bjork, “Utopia”
The aural equivalent of a rainbow made of crystallized happiness. Wonderfully weird and powerfully executed, and just experimental enough to keep it interesting after repeated listens.
New: Beck, “Colors”
Easily Beck’s most accessible album, fair-weather fans will only know a few songs, and this new record will give them a lot to sink their teeth into.
Old: Kate Bush, “The Kick Inside”
One of the most bombastic and unique debut records of all time, Kate Bush’s “The Kick Inside” came out in 1978 and there is still nothing else like it. “Wuthering Heights” will get stuck in your head. You have been warned.
The Bass Thumper
New: Carpenterbrut Live
High energy and no room for excuses. This French group is fast and loud and will get you moving. Closing track is a rousing cover of “Maniac” from “Flashdance.” If that appeals, check it out.
New: Infected Mushroom,” Converting Vegetarians II”
At times quiet and ambient, at others raucous and psychedelic. These Israeli psytrance DJs bring a worldly element to their dance track that no other electronic group does.
Old: Daft Punk, “Alive 2007”
One of the best live recordings of all time, Daft Punk expertly fuses three or four of their classic disco-house songs into each track of this recording. Supremely under-appreciated.
The Bluegrass Stomper
New: Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, “Echo in the Valley”
A virtuosic blend of banjo and world music by two of the best to ever do it. Their duets are lovely, and the synchronicity of their performances are even more so.
New: Steve Martin, “Long Awaited Album”
Most people by now know of Steve Martin’s talent with the banjo, but he has finally figured out the best way to blend together his music and comedy. “Nights in the Lab,” a jaunty tune about a love blooming between two biologists, is a particular highlight.
Old: Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, “Foggy Mountain Jamboree”
Bill Monroe, the inventor of bluegrass, featured these two as members of his band in the ’40s. Another history lesson, but one that will be well embraced by those who are fans of the genre.
Notable releases this week: Eminem’s “Revival” and NERD’s “No One Ever Really Dies.”