December 2011 Music Guide

Black Keys to Rammstein to The Roots and beyond, the top 10 albums to watch for this month!

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

While you're wading your way through the ocean of Christmas music this month, we've got the inside track on a batch of December releases dropping that aren't holiday themed. It's looking like one hell of a great month for music, with new offerings from The Black Keys, The Roots, Amy Winehouse, Common, and even Korn's odd little dubstep experiment with Skrillex!

There's quite a bit to get through this month, and to help you stay on top of it all, we've compiled a list of all the major releases you should have on your radar this December.


Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures

Release Date: December 2

Label: Island

What's the deal? According to Amy’s official website, Lioness: Hidden Treasures will contain 12 tracks, including unreleased songs, alternative versions of previous ones, and two “brand new Amy compositions”. As the press release states, “it quickly became apparent to Salaam and Mark that they had a collection of songs that deserved to be heard, a collection of songs that were a fitting testament to Amy the artist and, as importantly, Amy their friend.”

Why should you care?Because unlike the undoubtedly countless posthumous Michael Jackson albums we'll see as the years pass, this is the final official collection of new songs we're likely to hear from Winehouse. She was terribly flawed, but she was a gem.

Link me: Listen to her collaboration with Nas, and order on Amazon.


Korn – The Path of Totality

Release Date: December 2

Label: Roadrunner

What's the deal? The "we were dubstep before dubstep existed" rockers teamed up with industry-darling DJ Skrillex for their tenth record, an experimental album that finds the sludge-rock traded out for hopelessly average bass-buzz electro-beats. Singer Jonathan Davis' fake-ass troubled darkness schtick is unfortunately the only element of the band's sound that hasn't undergone a metamorphosis, and in its naked sameness has become utterly and indefensibly ridiculous. Rise to the sonic changeup, man.

Sample lyric: "I'm gonna take you, gonna break you, gonna rape you, gonna fuck you bitch" – Where's Fred Durst? Someone's steppin' on turf.

Why should you care? This will undoubtedly divide the black-clad & perpetually angry oxy-monsters in the wastelands of middle-America’s Wal-Marted suburbia, but the good news is that the conversation will likely remain there once this underwhelming novelty wears off. As for you, dear reader, I advise steering as clear as possible from this mess.

Link me:


The Cure – Bestival Live 2011

Release Date: December 6

Label: Sunday Best Recordings

What's the deal? A live recording of the The Cure's incredible, career-spanning two- and-a-half hour set performed at this year's Bestival in the Isle of Wright. The double album, which is split over two CDs and is also available as a digital download, is made up of thirty-two Cure classics, including "The Lovecats," "The Caterpillar," "Close To Me," "Friday I'm In Love," "Lullaby," "The Hungry Ghost," "The End Of The World," "Just Like Heaven," "Grinding Halt," "Jumping Someone Else's Train" and "Boys Don't Cry."

Why should you care?Because The Cure is an awesome part of all our childhoods. And if it's not a part of yours, it's time to change that. Besides, proceeds from the live album will go towards the Isle of Wight Youth Trust, which offers counseling and support services to young people

Link me: Amazon


The Roots – Undun

Release Date: December 6

Label: Def Jam

What's the deal? Undun will be the Roots’ first concept album, detailing the life of Redford Stevens, a man who died at the age of 25 in 1999. With an emphasis on storytelling through the full scope of musicianship, The Roots rise to the challenge this time around with an album unlike anything they've done before.

Why should you care?The sounds truly are unique this time around, opening with ghostly effects and a quickening pace that leaps into a downright gorgeous architecture around Black Thought's gimmick-free storytelling and remarkable discipline. This one's going to win some deep awards. Mark my words.

Link me:  Listen here.


The Black Keys – El Camino

Release Date: December 6

Label: Nonesuch

What's the deal? El Camino, The Black Keys' seventh LP, sounds nothing like its predecessor Brothers, the album that took them from secret gems to superstars. Tighten Up producer Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton returns for the entire ride this time, and it wasn't a matter of adding color to a finished product; Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney entered the studio with nothing. They started from scratch, and the living blues legends from Akron have risen to meet the Gnarls knob turner with an album that hip-checks the sensational hit factory of Brothers for boundless pockets of catchiness and full-throttle gut-rock.

Why should you care?The soulful R&B sheen of Brothers is conspicuously absent, replaced with 60s garage charm and Cramps-style rhythmic attitude with rockabilly frills. It's a record to bridge genres and generations, with enough rockabilly stomp-funk goodness to be precisely the right album after midnight with a few rolled, a few tipped and some good friends. Sounds like a modern classic to me.

Link me: Read our review




Rammstein – Made in Germany 1995-2011

Release Date: December 6

Label: Universal/Vagrant

What's the deal? Rammstein's long-awaited retrospective release, Made In Germany 1995 – 2011, will span the band's lengthy career with a look back at their strongest work to date.

Why should you care? Because Rammstein is terrifyingly awesome, that's why. And we all need an album in our collection that will simultaneously inspire and scare the shit out of us. If you need more incentive, just watch this NSFW beach party from hell:

Link me:


Juvenile – Rejuvenation

Release Date: December 13

Label: UTP/Rap-a-Lot

What's the deal? Juvenile returns with his 9th studio album Rejuvenation, produced by Mannie Fresh and led by the first single ‘Power‘ featuring Rick Ross. Additionally, Drake makes an appearance with a verse on the album.

Why should you care?Not entirely sure you should. Juvenile and Mannie haven’t worked together extensively for almost a decade, though Fresh did supply one beat for his 2006 album, Reality Check.

Link me: Amazon


Various – Please, Please, Please: A Tribute To The Smiths

Release Date: December 13

Label: American Laundromat Records

What's the deal? American Laundromat enlisted a herd of indie-rock luminaries – including The Wedding Present, Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch, Throwing Muses co-founder Tanya Donelly, Telekinesis, and William Fitzsimmons to contribute covers of classic songs by The Smiths for our new 2-CD tribute album. In a fitting touch, we were lucky enough to secure a photo of ’60s U.K. pop star Sandie Shaw for the cover art; Shaw was a favorite of both Morrissey and Johnny Marr who, in 1984, covered The Smiths’ "Hand in Glove."

Why should you care?In all honesty, you probably shouldn't unless you're a major Smiths fan.

Link me: ALR Music


Common – The Dreamer / The Believer

Release Date: December 20

Label: Warner Bros / Think Common Music

What's the deal? In Common's own words, from our most recent interview: "It’s song-making, and there was a time when No I.D. and myself would do a song and it was just be a scratch and a hook, and that’s what hip-hop was at that time, and we hadn’t grown as songwriters yet or grown as visionaries of music enough to say, hey, we’re going to put this melody here. I mean, we did it kind of naturally, but now there’s thought to it also, and we have collaborated with great songwriters, so this music is just really pure, good music."

Why should you care? Because Common is an artist who focuses on the evolution of his craft, and he's putting out some of the best work of his career these days. Need proof? Just check out his Cocaine 80s EP collaboration with No I.D. 

Link me: Amazon


Check out our November 2011 Music Guide.