Holiday gift guide: Albums for that hipster millennial cousin and other family members

Sill have not bought holiday gifts for your loved ones? Fear not! I have done all of the thinking for you and compiled a list of albums you can get for an array of different relations.

For your hipster millennial cousin: “Bury Me At Makeout Creek” by Mitski

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Mitski lately,” is not a phrase you want to hear from one of your friends. Mitski Miyawaki, more commonly known as Mitski, is an artist who serves as a staple for indie listeners who are not happy enough to listen to the more blissful surf-rock and pop-leaning subsets of the genre. She settles into this niche nicely, with her finest work undoubtedly being “Bury Me at Makeout Creek.”

At a cool 30 minutes in length, “Bury Me at Makeout Creek” showcases the absolute best of Miski’s talents as a songwriter, such as in the early highlight, “Townie,” a buzzing-guitar infused track with jarring lyrics like, “And I want a love that falls as fast/As a body from the balcony.”

There is an off-putting melancholy aura radiating from the entire album, especially in “First Love/Late Spring,” which features a moody, surprisingly nostalgic chorus, even on first listen. There is a clear sense of anxiety here, too, presented on “Francis Forever,” a yearning post-breakup rocker that not only boasts the best hook but also the best lines on the album: “I don’t need the world to see/That I’ve been the best I can be/But I don’t think I could stand to be/Where you don’t see me.”

The only weak points of the album are its softer songs, which fail to captivate, especially “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” which, though its lyrics are interesting, lacks a melody.

For your adolescent daughter: “1989” by Taylor Swift

I hesitate to include another Taylor Swift album on one of my lists, but this is an album that I have always wanted to talk about. For those who dislike Swift with every fiber of their being and refuse to buy one of her albums for their adolescent daughter, “Emotion” by Carly Rae Jepson is another great choice.

(For the purposes of this review I am going to pretend that the song “Bad Blood” does not exist.)

It’s easy to understate the importance of this album, the one where Swift was finally able to fully sharpen her pop songwriting skills, all set behind an 80s synth background. While this sound isn’t new, Swift pioneered making this a selling point and branding tactic for a mainstream album.

“1989” made a compelling argument that Swift was capable of creating a smart pop record, and it holds up. “Blank Space” is one the most clever songs of this decade, as Swift creates a satire that is not only infectious but also perfectly capitalizes on all of her past scrutiny: “Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane.” The spacey “Style” is another quintessential pop song, a prime example of a top 20 song with a clear sense of depth.

The album’s deeper cuts, while not as immediately gripping, could be any other artist’s biggest hits. “How You Get the Girl” is underrated as a formulaic summer jam, and the production on “Clean” is just about as crisp as its title suggests.

For your formerly cool uncle: “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco

It is hard to not have a soft spot for the alternative country genre. It is your average people (mostly artsy men) just writing about feelings and love, with all the heart of traditional country and none of the embarrassment that comes with listening to it, which must be why old men love it so much.

The album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” has a soft-rock feel, aided by lead singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy’s understated vocal deliveries; his voice is rich on songs that utilize the album’s sound, like on the coffeehouse jam “Jesus, Etc.” The record isn’t a one-trick-pony, though. There is serious groove, even hints of funk, on “Kamera” and especially “I’m the Man Who Loves You.”

The sound here is incredibly refined. Even on songs like “Pot Kettle Black,” which have a bit of a heavier, more power-pop sound, the band practices restraint to let Tweedy’s lyrics and sharp melodies shine.

You have to love with this album’s sentimentality. “Heavy Metal Drummer” is a gorgeously arranged, melodic tune, with lyrics that evoke a sense of youthful spirit (“Shiny, shiny pants and bleached blond hair/A double kick drum by the river in the summer.”)

For the one who “Hates this generation’s music:” “Parallel Lines” by Blondie

“Heart of Glass” has become popular recently due to Miley Cyrus’s cover, but what should not be forgotten is the album it came from. “Parallel Lines” is one of the few examples of a punk-turned-new-wave band of the 70s creating an album that is both totally cool and intensely relatable to women and teenage girls (lead singer Debbie Harry wrote many songs on the record).

As well as the aforementioned “Heart of Glass,” this album is mainly remembered for its smart, “Pink Ladies”-esque single “One Way or Another.” The tragedy of this album, then, is that since its singles are so enduring, its other tracks are often glossed over; “Pretty Baby” and “Fade Away and Radiate” could be any other band’s greatest songs.

Perhaps the best part of this album’s experience is its ability to transport a listener to another time, exemplified in fizzy standout song, “Picture This,” as Harry declares in one of the best choruses in all of popular music: “Picture this, a sky full of thunder/Picture this, my telephone number.”

And for anyone with any doubts that this is a band that should be included in conversations about The Clash and Buzzcocks, on the closer “Just Go Away,” the listener is treated with angry, shouted backing vocals by men with British accents. It does not get more punk than that.