The gift that keeps on giving is always the gift of music. You can go all out and get someone you love a new record player with a handful of vinyl for them to christen the needle with. You can pick up a CD or even a cassette, and you can purchase the album online to receive the download code to upload to your electronic device. So many options! Here are some of my recommendations with the newer albums I’ve been listening to nonstop, recently.
Janel Munoa’s Howls From Deep In The Woods is jazzy, bluesy, rock goodness. This album is beautifully written and poetically appealing. It also features a roster loaded with talented musicians from the Valley. I feel like this is an album that anyone can listen and groove to. I’d pair it with a comfy, colorful printed throw blanket and a bottle of red wine with a pretty label.
Drag Beach, the first full-length album from Northampton/Easthampton’s Neon Fauna is an energetic rollercoaster ride inside a sci-fi haunted house. The continuous flow of rock/metal/progressive fast-paced tunes will ignite excitement through your veins. I’d pair it with a Frankenstein glow in the dark fuzzy poster and a tarot deck.
John Trudeau is best known for being the wizard of synthesizers. Trudeau’s 40-minute, one-track album, Ascent, will shoot you off to your own sci-fi film. With no vocals, the psychedelic, progressive sounds will paint a picture in your mind of a 40-minute short art film. I’d pair it with a Nicolas Winding Refn film (Drive, The Neon Demon, Only God Forgives) and/or a wizard incense burner with dragon blood incense.
Solium Fatalis’s Genetically Engineered to Enslave is the latest release from New Hampshire’s extreme metal dudes, and it’s a metal masterpiece. If you’re shopping for a metal fan, this is the gift. I’ve always had this thing where I clean my house listening to Slayer; they’re fast and energetic and it makes me get the job done while rocking out. Well, my first thought two songs in was “Fuck Slayer, from now on, Solium Fatalis it is for the cleaning sessions.” I’d pair it with a Swiffer set and say you’re welcome.
On Transportation To Mind Transformation, Northampton’s Bunnies are a psychedelic trip back in time when Pink Floyd was still producing trippy, beautiful tunes for a moment of therapeutic release in our chaotic brains. I love this album and listen to on vinyl in my kitchen. The vinyl comes with the album artwork as a poster in which you can color, so kind of like two gifts in one. I’d pair it with an edible marijuana treat from NETA in Northampton.
I saw Alice Bag back in August at The Wheelhouse in Greenfield. I was so inspired by her performance that I’ve been nonstop obsessing over her music and her presence. Blueprint is her latest release and it’s pure punk wrapped in a beautiful feminist bow. It’s available on vinyl, which is what I’ve been spinning. I’d pair it with her diary-styled book “Pipe Bomb For The Soul,” based on her 1986 Nicaraguan diaries, which are loaded with pictures and cool illustrations.
PussyVision’s REPLICATE:// is intricate, sweet, sweet, dark, gloomy noise. I love this album and have listened to it so much that I tend to mimic the noise machines through the speakers. The droning, the unique sounds and distant vocals blend together to produce an art noir-style of an album. When the vocals are present, they are powerful: “If you hold me down by my hair / than I’ll cut it all off.” I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a vinyl release of this some day. I’d pair it with David Lynch’s Eraserhead and a leopard print pocket knife.
Jennifer Levesque writes the monthly Valley Show Girl column, you can reach her at www.valleyshowgirl.com.