Whether it's Kanye or Lorde, A$AP Rocky or Lady Gaga, there's something kind of impersonal about a hastily gift-wrapped major-label CD, a present that basically screams last-minute stop at the record store.
So in the days ahead, as you find yourself making that desperate annual pilgrimage, consider forgoing the one-size-fits-all big-budget releases in favor of music from artists right here in Colorado Springs.
In addition to classic albums by some of the Springs' most popular acts — including the Haunted Windchimes, Grass It Up, Malakai, El Toro de la Muerte, and the ReMINDers — here's a selection of 2013's best local releases worth adding to your shopping list.
Black Pegasus, Y.M.P.: With guest appearances by Dizzy Wright, Krizz Kaliko and Liquid Assassin, Black P's latest album shows why he continues to be Colorado Springs' most enduring hip-hop favorite. The artist's eighth release is also one of his most diverse, ranging from the outrageous title song, which is an acronym for "Yo Momma's Pimp," to tracks like "Anatomy of Black P," which reprises a more serious approach that dates back to his early days with Fusion of Syllables.
Changing Colors, Joan & the King: With his preference for acoustic instruments, and a voice clear and resonant enough to expand Simon & Garfunkel into a trio, Changing Colors' main man Conor Bourgal typically gets pegged as an indie-folk artist. But this sophomore effort, which features guest appearances by members of Paper Bird and most of his Blank Tape labelmates, is too eclectic to be pigeonholed.
Eros & the Eschaton, Home Address for the Civil War: The newest addition to the Colorado Springs scene, Eros & the Eschaton had their debut album released by the prestigious Bar/None label shortly before moving here this fall. The hushed vocals of husband-and-wife team Adam Hawkins and Kate Perdoni (aka Katey Sleeveless) shimmer just below the surface of guitar feedback and synth hooks, earning the duo comparisons to Low and My Bloody Valentine.
Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds, Round and Round: Given his pedigree as the howling half of the Jack Trades and the multi-instrumentalist in the Haunted Windchimes, there was little on Mike Clark's résumé to suggest that he'd be fronting a retro-soul band whose debut album is packed with original songs that draw upon the vintage sounds of Al Green and Roy Orbison. But he is.
Inelements, The Warning: This 2013 EP from one of Colorado Springs' favorite live acts mixes dual-guitar assaults with vocals that shift from soulful melodies to alt-metal yowling, all in service of songs that are a cut above most of what you'll hear on hard-rock radio.