Welcome to Our Annual Holiday Gift Guide!
This is our first, but hopefully we can keep it up. Like we keep up everything so very well.
While you're shopping, listen to this tune from A Million Billion Dying Suns, one of my new favorites. It's a little peppier than I normally like my tunes, but you're going to need that energy for all your shopping!
There. That's better. Now on to the shopping...
Buying a gift for the true audiophile can be super tricky because tastes in specific music and gear vary wildly, and people are really passionate about what they like. Obvs, it's best to know something about the recipient's tastes before you venture forth, because even if you think their taste in music is completely retarded, the goal is to make them happy. Although feel free to say something horribly derisive after they open it and are all happy. Having said all that:
#1 Music in Every Goddam Room in the House
Everyone has their main, badass system in the room with their vinyl and other media, and this is where they like to hear their music usually. BUT, that's no reason to believe that it's the ONLY room they might want to hear their music. If I had the money I would have a different system in every room. I fell in love with this little record player from Crosley a while back, and I am soooo proud to say that it was ages before they started carrying them at hipster mecca Urban Outfitters.
Take that, UO! And hipsters, beware: do you ever think about who the trendsetters get their ideas from? That's right. Middle aged mothers. Right now I'm wearing a sweater from Lands' End and some Hush Puppies. Go ahead and shudder. Then go buy some stock. Anyway, I love the idea of having extra record players everywhere. Like the bathroom! And I love the idea of lying on the rug with my face propped in my hands, just staring at the record while listening to it, like we did when we were kids. Like in that Wes Anderson film about that orphan boy scout.
But if you want to seriously gift someone a system for their bathroom, I might recommend this:
I have one. It works well, sounds fine, and you can also take it to the pool or beach and keep your phone or iPod dry. Neat!
#2 Curate That Shit
The idea here is that you put together music with food and / or drink. You have to know what music the person wants, which reminds me... PEOPLE OF EARTH: MAKE YOURSELF A DAMN WISHLIST ON AMAZON. I personally feel it's inconsiderate in this day and age to not have one. Anyway, instead of just chucking them a CD in what can only be a CD-sized wrapper, make it a curated event. Here's my example. I have had John & Yoko's Double Fantasy in every format over the years and I've lost it several times now. I would really, really like it on vinyl again. If you know me well, you know the story of how I came down with some horrible illness when I was eight years old and was bedridden for a couple of weeks. My Mom kept me alive on a diet of orange juice and sesame sticks. I didn't want to eat anything, but it was the first time I'd tried sesame sticks and I loved them. I think the salt was a magical curative. Anyway, she was going out and asked me if I needed anything. I said yes, I needed Double Fantasy, which was just released that day. Sure enough, she came home with the telltale bag from Turtle's, and I wore that record (both of them, it's a double) OUT. And my Mom NEVER, EVER pays retail for ANYTHING. It was quite the event. So to me, the perfect example would be Double Fantasy on vinyl, with sesame sticks (the little fried ones, not the big stupid ones), some orange juice, jalapeno vodka, and some of that chipotle margarita salt. What? I'm a grown up. But whoever got me that would have to know me really, really well. You don't have to be that amazingly thoughtful to make it a fun experience. More examples:
|If they ask for...||Get them...|
|Classical music||A wheel of brie and a nice port or maybe even sherry|
|Show tunes||Some bon-bons and Arbor Mist|
|Electronica / Dance / Trance||A bottle of Nyquil and some carbs|
|Hip Hop / Rap||Hot Cheetos and Takis|
|Sludge / Psych / Doom / Stoner Rock||Buffalo chicken sliders, tequila, weed (IJS)|
|Indy Rock||single barrel scotch, a cigar, a gift card to Mary Todd's, a single speed bicycle, etc.|
|Country||White chicken and beans, some really tight pants (look for it at 1:26)|
|Funk / Soul||Cigarettes and shades and a fun hat|
|Butt Rock||Beef jerky, an energy drink, and loads of roughage|
|The Eagles||Some Twinkies and a Bud Light. Can you gift card a lobotomy?|
#3 More More More!
If your recipient is truly a garbage disposal of music, then there are some very inexpensive and / or high value ways to get music thrown at him or her on the regular. Well, there's really only one way, subscription services, but there are several of them.
The Music Box is a subscription service that sends out either several CD's and loads of merch for $10 a month, or a mix CD for $5 a month (or $13 a month for both) of music from unsigned bands. It's basically a kind of promotion vehicle, but a really good idea nonetheless. However, of the 6 or so CD's he got over 3 months, my own personal garbage disposal of rock only liked one CD. They give you a questionnaire at the beginning to try and figure out what you might like, but I think they just got it all wrong for Poor Kevs.
Jukebox is a similar subscription service, except it is $14 a month plus shipping & handling, and they appear to send out more music and merch per package.
Vinyl Me, Please - For $25 a month, the recipient gets a limited edition LP pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please members, an original 12” x 12” art print and a custom cocktail pairing (suggestion, not the actual cocktail), access to The Standard, a weekly music & gear digest (which you don't need because you can read Rawk Talk for free), and special members-only pricing on additional records & gear. I can't decide if this would be worth it or not. Definitely check out their archive first and see if the kind of music (aka All Over the Place) is the kind of thing the recipient would be into. The potential bonus is that one day the record could conceivably be worth more money.
The Pairings Box from Turntable Kitchen is a combination of #2 and #3, but seems pretty much geared to the Indy loving type. For $25 a month, the recipient gets an exclusive 7" vinyl, a digital mixtape, three seasonal recipes, 1-2 premium ingredients, and tasting notes. The idea is to make and eat a meal (with or without other people) while listening to the vinyl and mixtape. Beware: one month the premium ingredient was a little packet of fancy salt. So your recipient could end up standing there with a 45, a packet of salt, and a confused look on his or her face. But again, the records are special edition and could end up being worth more than the value of the subscription.
All of these subscriptions can be done as gifts and can be for anywhere from 1-12 months. So if you want to go cheap and just do one shot, go for it.
#4 Expensive-Ass Box Sets
Do you really need to prove your love to someone? If that someone is a music nerd, there is a very easy way to do it. Just look up the crazy expensive box set for their favorite band and enter your credit card information.
If you really need to prove your love to me and Dawg, go buy Zaireeka and four of those Crosleys so we can play it properly!
That would actually set you back way less than this little gem from the Beatles...
At the risk of sounding like an oldster, I cannot conceive of spending $500 for a used box set of music from a video game. What the fuck is this? Does anyone know?
You could spend $8K on the Rolling Stones. You could spend $5K on Elvis. You could spend $4K on Nine Inch Nails, for Christ's sake. But I'm clearly getting carried away. Here are this year's crazy expensive new boxed sets:
Beethoven for $104
Lead Belly for $100
The Go-Betweens on Vinyl for $168
The Grateful Dead for $50 (yeah, that's expensive for the unpteenth box set from these guys)
Daft Punk on Vinyl for $120
Sun Ra & Arkestra on Vinyl for $70
The Kinks Anthology on CD for $70
Sinatra + DVD for $60
Lenny Kravitz for $70
Rainbow on Vinyl for $140 (wut)
Destroy All Monsters for $105
I could go on and on, but there are way, way too many of them to list. You get the idea. The one on my wishlist for this year is Wilco's Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1984-2014, preferably on vinyl, because I am a smart girl from Gen X and this is what we need to have.
If you're looking for the box set bargain of a lifetime, though, seriously, it's this beauty from ZZ Top. 10 CD's for $45!!! Kevs just got it recently and we are making our way through it one sleazy step at a time! It rules!
(and yes, all the hipsters will be rolling around with their wizard beards, listening to ZZ Top soon, mark my words)
Consider Leveling Up When You Shop This Year
For old vinyl, always go to Once Possessed in Lilburn. Bonus - they do gift certificates! So easy and hassle-free.
For new vinyl, Criminal Records is your best bet for having it in stock.
When shopping on Amazon, instead of going to amazon.com, go to smile.amazon.com. You pick a charity, and every time you buy something from them using that smile.amazon.com URL, they donate a portion of their sales to that charity. Bonus points if you choose Noah's Ark Rehabilitation Center in Locust Grove, GA - I will love you for that.