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One of the biggest pains of the holiday season is not knowing what to gift someone. Whether they’re the person who has everything or they just have extremely picky taste, sometimes finding the perfect gift for those special people in your life can be tough.
Luckily enough, 2017 was a stellar year for music and what makes for a better gift than some new tunes to bump on the way to work, at the gym, or frankly, whenever? When in doubt, give the gift of good music—and 2017 had a lot.
This past year, some of mainstream’s best rock music came from pop stars like Harry Styles and Kesha while some of the best pop music came from indie rock vets like St. Vincent and Queens of the Stone Age. Taylor Swift came back into focus with Reputation, Chris Stapleton made country music by modern mixing it with classic soul, everyone from Jay-Z to Fiona Apple got political, Lorde grew up with Melodrama and Drake put together a playlist rather than an album. To name a few things.
So, if you’re having troubling finding the ideal gift for that difficult-to-buy-for family member, friend or co-worker, here are some of the best albums from the past year for everyone on your list.
Hug of Thunder is Broken Social Scene’s fifth studio album after a seven-year hiatus, yet the group always seems to return to music with textured indie rock that’s both moving and accessible.
The raspy voice of English singer-songwriter Rory Graham adds an edge to his songs, turning them into longing, bluesy stories with a gritty flare.
On their long-awaited second studio album, sister trio HAIM offer soul and ‘80s soft-rock that tells of romantic affliction and determination. Plus, every song is catchy as hell.
Khalid’s American Teen is effortlessly good, finding a way to blend the naiveté of a 19-year-old with wisdom beyond his years. The result is a contemporary R&B album that’s part sarcasm, part skepticism, yet, entirely hopeful.
As the follow-up to his massive In The Lonely Hour, Sam Smith’s second LP replaces beats with his stunning, falsetto-barbed vocals and gospel-charged melodies.
Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Volume 1 is a collection of songs written 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean the talented singer is resting on old laurels. The tracks have a new energy to them while maintaining traditional roots, as Stapleton embraces R&B and other flavours.
After Laughter is like an explosion of fluorescent colour in the form of danceable jams and despondent ballads, meaning, there’s something for everyone here.
I See You, The xx
Relying on Jamie xx’s electronic production and having the connection between Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim to take focus of the trio’s music allowed their third studio album I See You to be it’s most personal and affectionate to date.
The teen prodigy songstress behind “Royals” has since raised the bar. With Lorde’s sophomore record Melodrama, she marries soaring instrumentation with dub and synth, managing to make genuinely intimate, honest pop.
Big Fish Theory builds Staples’ cunning rhymes over big club beats, making for one of the most relevant experiments in hip hop this year.
Harry Styles’ self-titled debut album has something for everyone. Leaving his boy band days behind, Styles emerges as a rock star with ‘70s style guitar riffs, intimate acoustic ballads, upbeat lyrics, folk-esque laments—throwing music genres to the wind, Styles dabbles in it all.