Making a list? Checking it twice? Here are some guidelines to keep befuddled spouses, parents of teenagers and others on the right track.

*** 1/2 EELS, "Beautiful Freak," DreamWorks. Eels' maverick vision reminds you of all the great Los Angeles bands, from the Flying Burrito Brothers to X, that have chronicled the outsider, underdog attitude in the shadows of a record industry that never embraces them commercially.


Albums and other items in the Gift Guide are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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