Saturday, April 13, 2024

Gift Ideas for the Music Lover on Your List

With the kick-off to the holiday shopping season just two days away, here are a few suggestions of new albums, hitting stores this week and next, for

music fans on your list.

This week

Kate Bush – “50 Words for Snow” (Anti-, $9.99)

This week’s most buzzed-about new album deserves all the hype; it’s just the second release of new music in 17 years from the British chanteuse. This brittle, sensual, chilly chamber-pop epic is comprised of just seven songs, but it runs 65 minutes long, all of which are, per Bush, “set against the backdrop of falling snow.” The song titles – “Snowflake,” “Misty,” “Snowed in at Wheeler Street,” the title track – suggest as much, and the music evokes the moods and textures of the kind of weather Florida never sees. Elton John and actor Stephen Fry contribute guest vocals to the album. Live shows to accompany this release are not likely; Bush famously hasn’t toured in more than 30 years, often credited to her debilitating fear of flying. But a boy can hope, can’t he?

Ex Norwegian – “Sketch” (Dying Van Gogh Records, $12.99)

Before there was Surfer Blood and Jacuzzi Boys – at least, before they got big – there was Ex Norwegian, the Miami indie rock band that seemed to put South Florida on the underground map leading into the 2010s. It released a terrific album, “Standby,” in 2009, rocketed to success at CMJ and started to pique the attention of national blogs before surprisingly dropping off the map about a year later. But after a six-month absence, the group is back, with frontman Roger Houdaille joined by a partially new lineup. A gig last month at the Green Room in Fort Lauderdale is, hopefully, just the beginning for this rebooted band. “Sketch” was released in a very limited edition before the band went on hiatus, and it receives a full, proper release this week. You can stream the entire thing here. It shows, once again, that these guys are masters of the infectious three-minute pop-rock song, reinventing no wheels but making ‘em roll as well as anyone.

Next week

Bill Nelson – “Practice of Everyday Life: Celebrating 40 Years of Bill Nelson” (Cherry Red, $105.03)

The output of British musician Bill Nelson is staggering, particularly when you consider how few fans he has actually gained over his 40 years in the music business. The man has released nearly 100 albums since 1971, putting even prolific talents like Robert Pollard to shame. Most of these are out of print, devoured by his cultlike legions before vanishing into obscurity. Why he’s never made it bigger than he has is beyond me; one of his few songs I recognize, “Flaming Desire,” is as catchy and synthy as anything Oingo Boingo or Thomas Dolby recorded in their prime, and his music from the turn of the century captures the big, atmospheric splendor of some of U2 and Sting’s best moments. This box set provides an extensive introduction to Nelson’s music, featuring a career-spanning 150 tracks hand-selected by Bill himself, including previously unreleased material.

Gorillaz – “The Singles Collection 2001-2011” (Virgin, $18.53)

What began in the late ‘90s as a goofy side project from Blur’s Damon Albarn has become, a decade later, at least as popular as Blur in its heyday. Joined, at times, by other members of revered bands (including Cibo Matto, The Clash and Talking Heads), Gorillaz are appreciated largely as a virtual project, with the band members adopting full-time, animated alter-egos for all Gorillaz videos and live appearances. This collection offers a nice overview the past decade of Gorillaz’ music, covering four albums and featuring hits such as “Clint Eastwood,” “Dirty Harry” and “On Melancholy Hill.” An accompanying DVD includes 14 music videos.

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