Published Dec 21, 2009It becomes painfully evident every holiday season that out of all the people on your shopping list, dad is usually one of the toughest to buy for. For one, there are a million different types of dads: the middle-age crisis dad, the new age/hippie dad, the burned-out, born-again biker dad... the list goes on and on. But one thing most dads seem to have in common is a love for music.
Notice we didn't say "good" music? Yeah, well, there's a reason for that - it's because dads usually dig on the most god-awful music imaginable. For every father-figure fan of the Clash or Black Sabbath, there are at least two dozen dads who rock out to .38 Special or Prism. And some dads even swear by radio-pop dung like Celine Dion and Shania Twain (and, trust us, it's not the Mutt Lange production that's bringing dads back to "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" every time they get a couple brews in their jolly old bellies).
So, in the spirit of turning dad onto some respectable music this holiday season, or at least broadening their aural horizons a little, we present the Top 10 Albums to Buy Your Uncool Dad This Christmas.
1. The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site (2003)
This one is perfect for dad - polite, inoffensive, nostalgic ('cuz you know how dads are, talking about uphill in the snow twice a day, rabbit ears, brouhahas, all that jazz?) and rocking in a gentle, Blue Rodeo way. This would be a good one for the midlife crisis dad, who wants to seem at least slightly hip as he shamelessly tries to flirt with the indie rock cashier at the grocery store. Eeew.
2. Bruce Springsteen - Magic (2007)
Bond with your uncool dad over the Boss, who your old man last checked in with during the '80s stadium rock days. Those days rocked, but Magic rocks even harder; bring your dad back to Bruce with this one. Buy this for the dad who will never really accept new music into his life, kinda like the older brother who will never accept any metal that isn't Metallica into his life.
3. PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love (1993)
Slip your alternative-friendly dad this album for Xmas, but do it on the sly while mom isn't looking. Because if dad is still even slightly in touch with his libido, this one's gonna get him all hot and bothered. We know, it's gross to even entertain the possibility, but it's guaranteed that one listen a day to Polly Jean Harvey's landmark album will get dad right off the Viagra. Come to think of it, this might be a present for mom as well. And bonus points if your dad's name is Billy (see YouTube link below).
4. Rocky Votolato - Makers (2006)
While dad probably wouldn't care less that Votolato used to front one of the best post-hardcore bands ever (Seattle's Waxwing), he will surely identify with this wonderful album about family and heartbreak, intertwined in an amalgam of tragedy and triumph. But don't tell manly-man dad any of that; instead, put this on late Christmas night when the turkey endorphins are really kicking in, pour dad a shot of whiskey, and watch an uncool-music dad transform before your very eyes.
5. Greg MacPherson - Night Flares (2005)
This one's an easy sell; put Night Flares on, reference Bruce Springsteen a lot and call your pops "Boss" as the two of you hunker down with Winnipeg's Greg MacPherson and his one-of-a-kind brand of blue-collar rock. This works especially well with any dads who drive truck, work the shipyard, slog away at the mills, or clock in shifts at shipping/receiving. But if you're dad's a little more of a touchy-feely, sensitive dad type, there's enough quieter moments from MacPherson to appeal to any father. Heck, even your shithead younger brother who's only into punk will like this one.
6. Vic Chesnutt - At the Cut (2009)
It might help if you could drag dad out to see one of Chesnutt's raucous and amazing live shows, but if ol' pop ain't the type to head to the local nightclub for a gig (we mean, really, what kind of dads are?), then get him this album and watch his eyes bug out at music that seems perfectly made for fatherly figures. Something about Chesnutt's simple yet intricate song structures would make great workshop tunes for dad when he's building that new skewered bookshelf or tinkering with a model train set that never seems to work properly. And if he's a Neil Young fan, well, you've just become dad's favourite kid for the day.
7. Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits (2005)
You've gotta try, right? Dad will hate it, but maybe, just maybe, he'll find the lyrics - or at least the way these hosers fit the lyrics in their song structures - interesting. Good for the hippie dad who will be on the same page as the band, issue-wise, but maybe not shredding dual-guitar-action-wise.
8. Metallica - Master of Puppets (1986)
Screw it - you only live once. Dad may not be hip to... well, anything, but, like Satanic rituals, weird sex, and analyzing spreadsheets, you have to try everything once. Might as well listen to what is easily in the top three metal albums of all time for dad's heavy fix. Good for the dad always trying to relate to the kids today, no matter how extreme their tastes.
9. Naked City - Torture Garden (1991)
Avant-grind jazz that can be either both absurd antagonistic noise or "mature" and "thoughtful" jazz is always a perfect gift. Well, maybe not always, but it is perfect for the dad who has a bunch of really weird shit in the basement.
10. Merzbow - Merzbox (2000)
Nothing says I love you like a 50-CD (and two-CD-ROM) box set from the king of psychotic Japanese noise. Perfect for the batshit-crazy dad that thinks the Weakerthans are fucking wimps and routinely runs down the road screaming conspiracy theories at alarmed neighbours.