Gift Guide: New Hampshire's Best New Music
Opt for local gifts made by gifted musical locals
The season of giving is almost upon us, and, with it, the stress of trying to find a gift that’s both thoughtful, affordable and custom-selected for that friend or loved one. Books and records have been reliable go-to gifts for years, but, to add a special touch, one that shows the buyer to be not only cultured but also centered in time and space, why not focus on the works of writers and musicians who breathe the same clean New Hampshire air as you do? Quality is no problem. All the CDs on this page (and the books in our accompanying literary gift guide) have been reviewed as top-notch products that will be appreciated and enjoyed. And, while you’re at it, buy an extra copy for yourself.
"DarkDays//WinterNights," The Grebes
The freshest new band from central New Hampshire has just released a highly satisfying EP of five original songs. The collection is more of a virtual stocking stuffer than a major gift (the whole set is downloadable for just $5 from thegrebes.bandcamp.com), but it’s nice to support the next wave of hometown talent. Keep an eye (and ear) on The Grebes. These kids are going places.
"Aurora Season," Rob Byrd
Composer and multi-instumentalist Rob Byrd of Meredith treats the guitar like alien technology that had to be reverse-engineered to produce music. His own electronic sound design programs are part of his performance, though no looping or recording is used to achieve the celestial and dazzling tonal architectures that he vaults in his new CD. By the way, Byrd has performed his live guitar score to the 1928 classic silent film “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc” at both Amoskeag Studio in Manchester and in the Nevada desert at the Burning Man Festival.
"Cryptoseismology," Almanac Mountain
The band name is actually just the folder tab on a musical project by Portsmouth composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Cote. This is his third album of soundscapes-disguised-as-songs. The results of Cote’s pop explorations are complex and sometimes jarring but can also be surprisingly sweet and listenable. It’s music that makes you examine your feelings while feeling your examiners, or something like that. A great gift for a music lover who likes to box outside the think.
"A Christmas Gift For," The Connection
Locally produced Christmas music tends to be mellow, Celtic-inspired and sentimental, but a band like Portsmouth’s The Connection really knows how to rock around the Christmas tree. This album, appropriately titled “A Christmas Gift For,” was recorded in 2014 but is still the most hook-filled and spirited set of holiday tunes to emerge from the Granite State. A special pressing on colored vinyl (red or green, natch) will be available on Black Friday exclusively at Record Store Day-supporting stores. Meanwhile, you can download it from Bandcamp for a mere $10.