Faced with a glut of new product on record store shelves, the holidays can feel more bah-humbug than happy for last-minute shoppers. Our team of writers has sifted through over 150 CDs and DVDs for NOW’s annual Record Guide, separating the shitty from the stellar
With over 2000 reviews at your fingertips, read up on all of NOW's 150+ picks for the season in our online Record Guide database.
For pals in other countries who believe the Toronto scene begins with the Barenaked Ladies and ends with Blue Rodeo
REQUIRED LISTENING (Do Right!)
Movement DJ John Kong serves up a stunning sampling of the city's best nu jazz, neo-soul, abstract hiphop and groove music. The stars of tomorrow.
ANDREW COLLINS & MARC ROY Likewise (independent)
The Crazy Strings pickers show off their jaw-dropping chops on this fab mandolin/guitar duets set. Well beyond bluegrass.
ARCEE Mixedwell (Fifty-Fourth)
A head-turning mix of fast-rising local MC Arcee's singles tracks, including the wall-shaking Jake One-produced Stripes.
BARCELONA PAVILION It's The Barcelona Pavilion! EP (Meccocio)
The neo-wave attack unit have only been together a short time, but they're already causing a stir overseas. Get the 7-inch single, since Tidy Up Tidy Up is best savoured at 33rpm.
For electro-loving fashion victims DJ mix CDs
SWAYZAK Fabric 11 (Fabric/Distribution Fusion III)
Worth it just for the inclusion of LCD Soundsystem's anti-hipster anthem Losing My Edge. Swayzak expertly treads that thin line between house music and indie rock.
GUS GUS Mixed Live (Moonshine)
Iceland's second-best-known musical export, Gus Gus check in with a live recording of a party in a small tropical bar in Reykjavik and play a surprisingly dirty and sleazy set (in a good way).
JAQUES LU CONT Fabriclive.09 (Fabric)
What other mix CD features the Pixies on the same disc as Junior Sanchez? On its own level in terms of vision and creativity.
FELIX DA HOUSECAT A Bugged Out Mix (Emperor Norton)
Felix even gets a bit industrial-sounding on this mix disc, fleshing his master plan of 80 revivalism. Bits of house, new wave, electro, industrial and techno.
For the beard-stroker on your list jazz/world
TWO BANKS OF FOUR Three Street Worlds (Red Egyptian)
Massive soul jazz from the UK.
LHASA The Living Road (Audiogram)
The torchy Montreal singer returns with an expanded sound and an even wearier world view.
GABY KERPEL Carnabailito (Nonesuch)
Abstract Argentine folk and roots music. What the Latin Playboys would sound like if they were from Buenos Aires, not East L.A.
DAVE DOUGLAS Freak In! (Bluebird)
The New York trumpeter inna Sly Stone/Dark Magus frame of mind.
Joints to bump in your Escalade hiphop
JAY-Z The Black Album (Roc-a-Fella) The "last album ever" by New York's finest isn't his best, but Jigga still can sling a sentence together like no other.
DIZZEE RASCAL Boy In Da Corner (XL)
UK hiphop from another planet.
DWELE Subject (Virgin)
With D'Angelo still in hiding, this Detroit crooner could be the next R&B saviour.
MISSY ELLIOTT This Is Not A Test! (Elektra)
The bass is made for boomin', so roll down the windows and watch the buildings shake.
Discs to give your little sister
PINK Try This (BMG)
While most parents probably don't dig having Fatherfucker in their 11-year-old's music collection, Try This sneaks Peaches-flavoured feminism under the radar.
KELLY OSBOURNE Changes (Sanctuary/EMI)
This is essentially just a re-release of her Shut Up debut, but it's still kinda funny to think of eight-year-olds singing along with metal guru dad Ozzy on the title track duet.
MANDY MOORE Coverage (Epic)
The revamped 70s-80s radio staples Moore covers here are better written than most of what you'll find in mainstream pop music.
HOWIE DAY Stop All The World Now (Epic)
Day can't figure out whether he wants to be Bono or Fran Healey. Great for anyone who thinks Coldplay is too harsh.
LIZ PHAIR (EMI)
Warning: with lyrics about "hot, white cum" and being a cougar, this is only suitable for preteen girls who have exceptionally liberal parents. Get this Matrix-juiced disc for the Avril fan on your list.
Check out the rest of our Record Guide at http://www.nowtoronto.com/recordguide/.