The Social Nutwork – Holiday Picks 2012

Posted: November 26, 2012 in Music
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image courtesy of brolo-d4j73eb

Music and movies make great gifts, and this holiday season offers plenty of great new releases for listeners and movie buffs young and old. There are mountains of re-issues from artist such as Paul Simon, Tortoise, and Johnny Cash, tons of greatest hits compilations from bands like Led Zepplin and the Rolling Stones as well as a sleigh-full of theatrical boxed sets from everything from James Bond to the Men In Black trilogy – but let’s face it – the best gifts to unwrap are the ones filled with brand new stuff, and here’s a quick guide to some of the best alternative choices for the music and movie fan on your list.

Soundgarden – King Animal: Considering the band hasn’t released a new album in over 15 years, King Animal qualifies as a ‘must-have’ for pretty much anyone that was alive during the grunge era of modern music. While Soundgarden took an undeserved back seat to acts such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam during the scene’s heyday, their music was just as strong and influential as anyone during the nineties.  The new album picks up right where the band left off, filling the air with Chris Cornell’s trademark vocals and thick, heavy guitars. A welcome return for one of rock’s greatest bands. 4.5/5

Deadmau5 – <Album Title Goes Here>: As the hottest commodity in the House/DJ world of beeps and blips, Deadmau5 fires on all cylinders through thirteen tracks featuring such diverse guests as Gerard Way, Imogen Heap and Cypress Hill. Underneath the huge head covering lies one of music’s most prodigal minds, and fans of electronic music will eat this up faster than pumpkin pie. 5/5

Ted (Rated R): Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane throws his name (and crude sense of humor) into the movie-making business with a hilarious tale of a little boy’s Christmas wish come true – making his stuffed bear come to life. Thirty years later, the bear (voiced by MacFarlane) and his boy (Mark Wahlberg) still share their friendship (along with the occasional bong rip and hooker), until man meets woman who is bound and determined to sever the ties. It’s obnoxious, it’s profane, and it is laugh out loud funny. It’s not for kids, but after sitting through A Christmas Story ten times, you’ll appreciate the change of pace. 4.5/5

Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension!: January will mark the 40th anniversary of Aerosmith’s first self-titled release, but instead of resting on their laurels and hits, the band has recently released their first album of new material since 2001’s ‘Just Push Play.’ Surviving the tension between Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, as well as Tyler’s stint as judge on ‘American Idol’ the band seems to have made nice and deliver a solid album of tracks as recognizable as they are radio-worthy. 4/5

Phillip Phillips – The World From The Side Of The Moon: Speaking of American Idol, last season’s winner was quick to the punch on releasing his first album, a disc filled with folk-influenced, country-tinged songs that are as strong lyrically as they are musically. Outside of Daughtry and Kelly Clarkson, American Idol winners have been pretty ‘flash-in-the-pan’ as far as long-term success in the business, but Phillips seems destined to blaze his own trail with his debut release. It sounds a lot like Dave Matthews, but with an energy and spirit that is bound to keep Phillips around for years to come. 4.25/5

The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (Rated PG): Disney is at it again with a heart-warming tale of a couple who – in pursuit of having their first child – have one delivered to their doorstep… through a hole in the ground. The premise is a little far-fetched, but the whimsical nature of the boy, as well as his parent’s adjustment to his presence, leads to the expected laughs and tears that the folks at Disney have pretty much trademarked. It has just the right touch of weird (the film was written by Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet) and, at worst, is a great excuse to sit down with your kids for a couple of hours and ignore your sister-in-law visiting for the holidays. 4/5

Kid Rock – Rebel Soul: Detroit’s self-proclaimed king of rock has been (unfortunately) all over the place musically over the course of his last few albums, but Rebel Soul has him back in his comfort zone as the rock and soul badass we remember him for. Gone are the country duets and banjo solos, replaced with a more definitive sound of loud guitars and self-glorification – and it couldn’t have come quick enough. An ass-kicking return to form, and a great album to ‘rock’ your holiday gatherings. 4.5/5

Green Day – Uno!/Dos!/Tres!: What does a band do after pretty much re-writing the record books for pop/punk success over the course of their last two albums? Why not write three separate albums, and release them in the last three months of the year? That’s exactly the course taken by punkers Green Day. If the sheer amount of new songs doesn’t impress you, the fact that the band has dialed back the grandiose in favor of a more pure, conventional punk sound should. All three albums are raw, underproduced, and scratchy – all by design. You’ll feel more like you are listening to the Ramones or the Replacements at times, and it’s a nice reminder of what garage punk was, and still can be. And don’t worry – each of the three albums are priced under ten bucks, so you won’t break Santa’s bank by grabbing all ‘tres’…  4.75/5

Looper (Rated R): You’ll have to wait until December 31st to grab this action-packed mind bender, but save your gift cards, as this was quietly one of the best films of the year, if not the last ten. The premise is this: Time travel will be invented – but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a “looper” – a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good – until the day the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.  An instant classic for fans of crime/action films. 5/5

While all of these come highly praised, there are a ton of other great selections out there. November and December offer new albums from Joe Cocker, Bjork, Bad Brains, Alicia Keys, Deftones, Bruno Mars and more. Many other great DVDs are also out, including Savages, Brave, The Dark Knight Rises, Total Recall and ParaNorman, so get out there and boost the economy with any of these recommendations.  Have a momentous holiday season, and we’ll meet again in 2013…

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