Paste's Holiday Gift Guide for Music Lovers
As you prepare for your holiday shopping, Paste will post a series of new Gift Guides—offering suggestions for the Movie-, Music-, TV-, Videogame- and Book-Lovers you hold dear.
As the holidays rapidly approach and you realize you need to think of something better than Justin Bieber’s new Christmas album to give your music-obsessed friends (assuming they already have subscriptions to Paste), we’re here to help. Below are some useful holiday gift ideas for more serious music lovers.
Finally, there might be a way for your video game-loving kids to learn an instrument. Rocksmith is a logical extension of the Guitar Hero concept of simulated musical learning, only the controller isn’t a toy guitar with five buttons but your actual guitar. Any guitar is compatible, from the crappy starter model in your basement to a high-end custom Les Paul, and the game allows for players to customize the difficulty level to fit their ability and modify the tone of the guitar via in-game effects. The only drawback: The guitar is sold separately.
It probably won’t make Lou Reed’s latest album with Metallica sound any better, but the former Velvet Underground leader’s custom-designed earbuds should heighten the quality of most other music tenfold, the rest of his catalog included. In addition to possessing superior detail and sound quality, the X10i also comes with a special remote (which includes voice control) compatible with several Apple products. A limited number will also come with Reed’s signature.
3. Sonos Play:3
A wireless speaker system that can be positioned and controlled all over the house and has immensely powerful sound, despite the speaker itself weighing less than 10 pounds and lacking an amplified subwoofer. Sonos also boldly states the system can “stream any music on earth” — and boasting compatibility with over 100,000 digital radio and streaming sites, that’s not too exaggerated a claim. The standard package comes with three fully integrated speakers. (Full disclosure: We fell in love with this after Sonos sent us a unit last year.)
Part of the colossal progressive rock band’s extensive remastering campaign, Why Pink Floyd?, the group’s two most acclaimed albums have been given a lavish box set treatment. Each box set not only includes the remastered album but also a CD of outtakes and rarities, DVD-quality sound for stereo and surround sound systems, booklets loaded with artwork and rare photos, stickers, coasters, an album-themed scarf, custom-designed marbles and more. Perfect for any hardcore Floyd fan who’s been craving a look behind the curtain of these two masterpieces.
5. Dogfish Head Bitches Brew
Since no holiday season would be complete without alcohol, you might as well make the beer fit the occasion. Popular craft brewery Dogfish Head has just the thing: Bitches Brew, an obvious testimony to the 40th anniversary of the experimental Miles Davis album. Like that work’s fusion of jazz, rock and avant-garde, Dogfish Head combines “three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root” for an end result that’s dark-bodied with a smooth yet bold finish.
You can’t get much more metal than drinking a beer out of a tusk — not even if you’re lining up shots of Jägermeister. Atlanta’s metal titans Mastodon have crafted a limited-edition drinking stein in the shape of a tusk that goes on sale Dec. 6., made of white porcelain and emblazoned with logos of the band and its newest album The Hunter.
You know this collection is comprehensive since Neil Young himself oversaw its production. Available in DVD and Blu-Ray formats, this first edition of Young’s box set series examines the folk-rock icon’s younger days, beginning with his earliest rumblings with The Squires as far back as 1963 and continuing through his 1972 classic Harvest. It also includes plenty of extra material and footage of his tenures with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. As a means of perspective, the DVD and Blu-Ray editions also come with an interactive timeline of Young’s storied career.
Back in the ’70s and ’80s Clapton would have released some signature beer mugs, but this is 2011, and the recovering alcoholic guitar legend has endorsed a collectible coffee cup set, so you can enjoy coffee or espresso in style while listening to Cream or Derek & the Dominoes after a wild holiday season. Each mug comes with a complementary saucer, both embossed with Clapton’s trademark “EC” logo.
Plenty of books have been written about Johnny Cash, but House of Cash is distinctive in that it’s written by his son, John Carter Cash. That means plenty of never-before-seen photos, notes, lyrics and more culled from the family’s personal archives. Unlike most writings about Cash, which tell his story as a musician and public figure, this book offers a more intimate, private glimpse of Cash’s personal and family life, centered around several series of conversations between the country legend and his son.
10. Custom-Built Panda Ukulele
Fairly self-explanatory: a ukulele with the body modeled after a panda bear, and a head and neck stylized like bamboo. The cute factor can’t much higher than that. Not to mention it’s a ukulele—and not just any ukulele, but a hybrid electric ukulele.