Christmas albums for all the family
Friday 11 December 2009
The Beatles box set (in mono or stereo)
The Beatles' remastered albums are an indulgent collector's gift for the member of the family who has everything. At around the £200 mark, they're not cheap so you might want to club together.
Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream
His three-hour set at Glastonbury was a hit this year, and Springsteen's latest album – his 16th – was another critical success for the American rock star, an optimistic album heralding the arrival of Obama.
Lisa Hannigan: Sea Sew
The Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan finally stepped out of the shadows, graduating from a former role as Damien Rice's backing singer when she was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize this year. Her debut album is a gem of folk-rock.
Alela Diane: To Be Still
Alela Diane's second album is an understated collection of serene, melodic folk and pure vocals, with the delicate harmonising of band-members Alina Hardin and her guitarist father. This year, the talented 26-year-old singer-songwriter emerged as a new addition to a burgeoning folk scene that includes Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear.
Florence & the Machine: Lungs
Florence Welch won plaudits this year, including her Brits Critics' Choice victory and Mercury Music Prize nomination. She may have been pipped to the Mercury by Speech Debelle, but her debut album, melding harp, rock and powerful vocals in self-styled "melodramatic pop", has fans in young and old alike.
Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been to see them play, and the Brooklyn band has fans in Paul Simon and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. Their third album, following 'Yellow House', 'Veckatimest' transformed experimental psych-folk rock into one of the breakthrough hits of the year – so you can be sure to impress.
Chipmunk: I Am Chipmunk
One of the most anticipated rap albums of the year. Known to his parents as Jahmaal Noel Fyffe, the Londoner Chipmunk was a grime star before he had even left school. He beat off competition from Jay-Z, Kanye West and Eminem to win a Mobo for best hip-hop act and his debut album entered the charts at Number 2.
Doves: Kingdom of Rust
Coming 20 years into their career, the Manchester trio's fourth album could just be their best yet. Gems such as the epic, Western-feel title track, "Kingdom of Rust", the Krautrock-driven "Jetstream" and the bucolic "Birds Flew Backwards" are the rewards of a work that took two years to craft in the studio. Well worth the four-year wait.
AND, FOR THE UNCLE WHO THINKS HE'S COOL...
Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3
Rap's biggest star, below, returned with a hit album to follow up his Glastonbury victory last year. With guest contributions from stars Rihanna and Kanye West.
The Very Best: Warm Heart of Africa
Super-cool for fans of Vampire Weekend, this uplifting fusion of African pop and electronica is the brainchild of the Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and the French/Swedish production duo Radioclit. Topped with the guest vocals of Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, it's a joyous, genre-spanning album.
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