2014 Gift Guide for Music Lovers

Music Features Gift Guide
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Given that most people’s turkeys aren’t even thawed yet, it may seem a little early to start thinking about holiday gifts, but if you’re one of the crazies (er, brave souls) planning on hitting the stores on Black Friday, you’re no doubt already drafting a gameplan to enable you to get in, get what you need and get out in time to heat up some leftovers.

So what to get the music lover on your list this year? The possibilities are endless—do you go with an album? Some new gear? A subscription to a streaming service? Something else entirely? Ultimately it comes down to knowing your gift recipient’s tastes and needs, but here are a few suggestions we suspect any music fan would be happy to find in their stocking.

Reissues/Box Sets

Bob Dylan and The Band, The Basement Tapes Complete

$92.49 at Amazon
For music collectors of a certain age, the release of The Basement Tapes Complete has been a long time coming, and the opportunity to hear everything that Bob Dylan and his friends recorded at a rented house in upstate New York in 1967 is the realization of a decades-old dream. Advance press has touted the issuing of this six-CD set as having the significance of finding the Holy Grail or discovering the lost city of Atlantis. The nearly 150 songs collected on The Basement Tapes Complete provide perhaps the greatest insight into an artist’s creative process that we’ve ever been allowed to share in. The amount of material in the six-CD set is staggering and should have things that even the most ardent Dylan enthusiasts haven’t heard.—Douglas Heselgrave (Read Douglas Heselgrave’s full review of The Basement Tapes Complete here.)

The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground Super Deluxe Edition

$84.98 at Amazon
This six-disc box set features three mixes of The Velvet Underground, including a fresh remaster and Lou Reed’s “Closet Mix,” so called for its intimate character and because guitarist Sterling Morrison famously said it sounded like it had been recorded in a closet. The fourth disc contains several tracks originally meant for the band’s fourth album but that were shelved during a contractual dispute with record label MGM. Some of those songs, like “Rock & Roll,” were later included on other albums. The final two discs contain new mixes of live performances recorded at The Matrix in November of 1969.—Dan Holmes


$75.39 at Amazon
R.E.M.  and MTV have teamed up to create REMTV, a six-disc DVD box set featuring the network’s exclusive footage, global live performances and a new documentary. The first two discs include footage from award-show performances, MTV Unplugged and VH1 Storytellers sets and R.E.M.’s 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Next come three discs’ worth of rare live performances from around the world. The last disc features R.E.M. by MTV, which follows the history of the band and the network and how they grew symbiotically.—Sarra Sedghi

I’ll Take You There: by Greg Kot

$21.04 on Amazon
It’s been a big year for the legendary Mavis Staples, with a star-studded tribute concert honoring her 75th birthday, as well as this book by Greg Kot that traces the history of her life and career with her family in The Staple Singers. You don’t need an excuse to read about Mavis Staples, but a celebration of 75 years seems like a pretty good one. Read Elias Leight’s review of I’ll Take You There here.

Country Music Broke My Brain by Gerry House

$15.78 at Amazon
Gerry House, the famous country radio personality and accomplished songwriter (recorded by Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Brad Paisley) delivers a tangent-filled, unabashedly name-dropping, highly entertaining first book. Saying a thing “defies description” feels like a critical failure, a writer’s decision to bow out of the contest. But House’s book certainly comes close to earning that status. Biography? Yep. Gossip? Absolutely. Marriage advice? Of course. Interesting observations and stories about music? Tons. Also: Travel recommendations. A strange story about being ignored by Taylor Swift at a public function. Dinners with Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman. Plenty of golf. You name a kitchen sink brand, and it’s probably in here. What holds this stuff together? Humor. House has been entertaining people for years, and he’s very good at it.—Elias Leight (Read Elias Leight’s full review here)

Do Not Sell At Any Price by Amanda Petrusich

$18.30 at Amazon
Do Not Sell At Any Price shows the ways a group of competitive record collectors have shaped pop’s history. It started as a story for Spin about, in Petrusich’s words, the “commercial resurgence of vinyl.” To be clear, she doesn’t write about just any vinyl. (Your garden-variety garage-sale LPs? Kid stuff.) She’s into 78s—older, stranger, more esoteric and in worse condition. Eventually Petrusich’s Spin story became a book about the people who lusted after those objects … and she joined their ranks.The story began several years ago when, she writes, “the modern marketing cycle and the endless gifts of the Web had begun to feel toxic.” Petrusich “missed pining for things.” But importantly, Do Not Sell At Any Price never disavows the present—that usually results in boring books (and music). She quickly points out that she doesn’t believe “that the emotional circuitry that allows us to love and require a bit of music is dependent on what it feels like in our hands.”—Elias Leight

Dinosaur Jr. by Dinosaur Jr.

$63.13 at Rocket 88
This book features the band chronicling their history in their own words, as well as all sorts of rare, previously unseen photos and memorabilia dating back to their high school years. Perfect for Dinosaur Jr. diehards and casual fans who want to brush up on the band’s first 30 years alike. Besides, you know you want to see what J Mascis looked like with short hair.


Vinyl Clock Art

$28-$33 at Etsy
This Etsy store features all your favorite vinyl records cut up and transformed into wall clocks. The selection ranges from crooners like Frank Sinatra and classic rock bands to more modern fare like Daft Punk and Arctic Monkeys. This one’s also a good option for any movie buffs on your list—the artist also offers designs inspired by James Bond, The Blues Brothers, Pulp Fiction and more.

A-Z Record Divider Set

$410 at Kate Koeppel Design
You’ve no doubt watched the music fan on your list dig hopelessly through their shelves in search of a specific record. Help them tidy up their collection with these engraved wooden dividers that make alphabetization easy.

USB Mix Tape

$21.29 at Amazon
You can never go wrong with a heartfelt, well-curated mix, but somehow “Hey, I made you a Spotify playlist” just doesn’t have quite the same feel. If your pal doesn’t have the technology to play cassettes anymore but you miss all the personal touches that go along with writing out the tracklist and labeling the mixtape yourself, try this USB Mix Tape. Just add all the MP3s onto the USB, pop it into the cassette-shaped case and go crazy personalizing the thing.

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