I got just a handful of CDs for Christmas and I bought 3 out of the 5 with cash I received; my eMusic subscription meant I got a lot more music than usual this past year. I've now listened to two of them two times each and I thought I'd share some quick thoughts.
My brother bought me the new Beatles album, Love, which was a perfect gift. I'd heard good things (and really, how could it not be good?) but hadn't gotten around to picking it up. The cool aspect of this new album is that the familiar songs are mashed up, with bits of several songs coming together to make something new but still 100% Beatles. This works really well - for example, the drumbeat from "The Word" forms the basis of "Drive My Car" with "What You're Doing" thrown in and what sounds like the guitar solo from "I'm Only Sleeping," or when "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" crashes down into the riff of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Fun stuff. There's also a beautiful acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with a newly-created string part by George Martin. Hearing great music in new ways and getting to play sonic detective while doing it - how cool is that?
I bought myself Band of Horses' Everything All the Time, which I'd been meaning to pick up ever since I heard a few songs on KEXP. The obvious touchstone here is My Morning Jacket, which isn't a bad thing. They have a nice ringing, jangling sound with soaring vocals like "The Great Salt Lake" and quieter more acoustic songs like "St. Augustine." I haven't even begun to parse the lyrics but I still am glad I picked it up. Looking forward to digging into it more too.