This gift guide is for a smaller, more intense community of music lovers — music obsessives, really — who mark the passage of their life through the milestones of their favorite artists. These are your friends who are always recommending artists you’ve never heard of, old or new, making playlists, extending show invitations, or dropping #knowledge no one asked for about bands you haven’t heard of yet.
The obsessives are a rare breed, and trying to get them a gift can seem daunting because they tend to know everything first. To help with that, this guide is designed to hit these experts with something even they haven’t heard of yet, or at least haven’t been able to pick up yet. Mostly taken from items I use in my day-to-day life, or have been dreaming about all year, the emphasis is on comprehensive, kooky, and under-the-radar finds that will surprise and delight the people in your life who live and breathe songs. Happy hunting, hope this helps.
Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl
Price point: $35 (but is currently on sale!)
The ideal coffee table book for the feminist in your life, that family member who needs to learn more about the history of women in rock, and everyone in between. This beautiful, decidedly pink hardcover features a collection of essays from a number of female journalists weighing in on the women in music who inspired and guided them, and who shaped music history. It was edited by Evelyn McDonnell, writer and associate professor of journalism and new media at Loyola Marymount University, who writes: “Women who bend, break, and create code tend to be dismissed as weirdos, freaks, divas, or bitches. This book honors them as heroes, leaders, geniuses, and, in Miami rapper Trina’s phrase, da baddest bitches — as women who rock.” Get a copy here.
Rock & Roll Oracle Deck
Price point: $36
As all things Tarot and witchy make their way ever more into the mainstream, Brooklyn-based artist and graphic designer Natalie Mertz has combined the appeal of the divine with those who worship at the throne of rock and roll. You can get the deck, with 40 illustrated oracle cards and a 90-page guidebook among other goodies for under $40. Check out the full package here.
Fleet Foxes, First Collection 2006-2009
Price point: $65
Self-professed Fleet Foxes stan here, letting you know that this box set is one of the must-have items of 2018. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of this influential Seattle group’s self-titled debut, the elaborate new edition includes not just Fleet Foxes, but also the Sun Giant EP, the formerly very limited edition self-released The Fleet Foxes EP, and a B-sides & Rarities album. Getting the vinyl set includes a 12-inch of the self-titled full-length and two 10-inch copies of each of the other albums. There’s a CD version available as well, if, for some reason, you’re into committing to that very flawed format. Along with the music itself, the set also includes handwritten lyrics, show flyers, and other tender ephemera from the band’s early years. Make a Fleet Foxes stan very happy here.
Tickets To Lady Gaga’s Vegas Residency
Price point: $650-$5,000
I feel the need to remind everyone that Our Lady Of The Shallow is about to begin her first-ever residency in Las Vegas, where she will join the ranks of countless other stars in crafting a career-spanning, generation-uniting spectacle of pop glory. Both Lady Gaga Enigma and Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano promise to be incredible showcases of one of our era’s finest pop stars. The shows kick off December 28 and run through the rest of 2019, so there’s no better time to grab a pair of tickets. Beware though, they’re definitely pricey. Check out the damage here.
Sawa Life Tech Accessories
Price point: $40-$60
Plenty of well-meaning organizations donate part of their proceeds to charitable causes, but few actually make the effort to go into impoverished communities and build a lasting economic framework that empowers individuals. So, that’s what Sawa Life is seeking to do, instead, by supporting Kenyan women in their traditional art of beading, and getting those products out into America and other markets. Sawa Life works with women in the Kiberia community whose beautiful handmade beads use upcycled magazines and paper to improve pretty much any item they’re wrapped around. That’s particularly true in the case of a pair of plain white earbuds or USB cord, and the beading also helps keep these much-used items tangle free. Get a pair here.
Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock And Roll In New York City 2001-2011
Price point: $13-$18
Perhaps my only quibble with Lizzy Goodman’s runaway smash chronicling the wave of successful indie rock bands in the early 2000s, Meet Me In The Bathroom, is simply that the 2000s weren’t even that long ago! Is it really already time to rehash them in an oral history? Well, the answer is a resounding yes given just how popular Goodman’s collection of stories about the time has proven to be. And, to play my own devil’s advocate, while 2011 may still feel pretty close, 2001 was almost two decades ago now. By expertly weaving firsthand commentary from the bands and major players who made the NYC rock scene come alive during those years, Goodman has created a historical artifact documenting a time that most current music fans lived through, and still find it fascinating to obsess over. Get a copy here.
Price point: $99.95
Sorry Airpod users, I will never join your ranks. Most of you are missing half a pair before you’ve owned them for a month anyway. Enter a sleeker, more logical option: The BeatsX. While attending one of many Beats events focused on supporting women in music this year, I was gifted a pair of these pretty and practical headphones, and they quickly became what I use pretty much 24/7. The cord keeps them safe around my neck, where a magnet draws the buds together to meet, or fits behind my neck when they’re in use. With eight hours of battery life and a fast charging option, they can usually last through even the most grueling cross-country flights, and are perfect for when I’m working in a public place or shared office. Order a pair here, with bonus free two day shipping until December 21.
Ariana Grande, Sweetener Vinyl
Price point: $26
Sweetener is Ariana Grande’s masterpiece, a fully-realized pop album from a diva who is just settling into her prime. It’s the kind of album that comes out and immediately changes the game, remaking the Billboard charts in its image and settling in to impact the sound of pop for months and years to come. Any music obsessive worth their salt will want to collect this instant-classic on vinyl, so go ahead and pick up a vinyl copy while you still can. Plus, that price point can’t be beat. Get one here.
Turntable With CD-R And Cassette
Price point: $349.99
It’s hard for me to explain how much I want this record player. I don’t have it yet, but if you want to make someone’s dreams come true, you should get them this. Not only does it play vinyl, cassettes, and CDs, but it also has AM/FM radio function and offers the capability to record any of those audio types into digital formats. So yes it may be three times as expensive as a normal record player, but that’s because it does three times as much. Get one here.
Bobbie Gentry Complete Discography Box Set
Price point: $80
While the current female country supergroup, Pistol Annies, topped plenty of year-end lists this year, Capitol Records has set out to honor a figure of the past who had a deep impact on the genre. Bobbie Gentry was a massive star during the late ’60s and ’70s — so big that she once replaced the Beatles on the Billboard 200 album chart. While she may not be as well-known today, this career-spanning, eight-disc set seeks to collect her influential work in one place. If you have a country fan in your life, it doesn’t get much better than this. (Even better if you casually sneak in the knowledge drop that Gentry is the one who wrote “Fancy,” the 1991 Reba McEntire hit.) Order a set here.
Mophie Powerstation Plus XL
Price point: $99.95
This is another product I was gifted this year that changed my life. HD Radio threw a dinner in June and passed out branded Mophie XLs to the guests. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but having a built-in lightning cord, along with an additional USB outlet makes this mighty battery twice as useful. Plus, it holds a ton of charge, so I can re-charge my phone multiple times a day at power-sucking events like festivals. Or, I can recharge my headphones quickly while I’m out and about. Now, I never leave home without it. Get one here.
Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs
Price point: $25.95
After spending the last six years going to live music almost every week and never wearing earplugs, I now have to watch any TV show with closed captioning. I’m gonna chalk that up to how much Mac laptop speakers suck, for now, but also urge you to pick up a pair of these tiny, comfortable and painless earplugs for your music obsessive. Instead of muffling sound, they just reduce music to a comfortable level, and they’re designed to be clear/transparent, so no one can even tell you’re wearing them. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and these barely even weigh an ounce. Get a pair here.
Price point: $179.95
Again, functionality trumps all with the portable Beats Pill. When Beats paired with the awesome women/cannabis-focused publication, Miss Grass, this summer, custom dark green Beats Pills were gifted to all the women who had gathered to eat and imbibe, smoke up, and build community. Since then, I’ve found use for it at the beach, in my bathroom, and even in the car on a long road trip when my stereo crapped out. Versatile and emblematic of high-profile music videos in the flush 2000s era, this is a great gift for a music lover who constantly travels, or insists on playing music in every location. Get one here.
Blue Yeti Nano Microphone
Price point: $99.99
Do you live with an aspiring musician, podcaster or rapper? If so, first of all, sorry! Second of all, this USB-ready mic will help them keep the noise and equipment down to a minimum. It’s a great starter mic priced at right around $100 so it’s not a huge monetary commitment. Don’t let the name fool you, either, it comes in a variety of colorful options. Get one here.
The Killers Discography Complete Vinyl Box Set
Price point: $250
When The Killers complete box set came out this summer we were excited. Because The Killers are awesome — they just keep getting better with age. This full vinyl set lets listeners appreciate the way this band is aging like a fine wine on a home stereo, perhaps with a glass of fine wine in hand? Get a set here.
Sign Them Up For Our Brand New Indie Mixtape Newsletter
Price point: Free
If you have any indie head in your life, then 2019 is going to be a banner year for them. Uproxx is partnering with WMG to bring a hyper-focused, weekly newsletter on all things indie straight to the inboxes of indie rock lovers around the world. Curated by cultural critic Steven Hyden, the newsletter will be a daily dose of inspiration and information on must-hear bands that might otherwise fall under the radar. And if adding your friend’s email to a newsletter list doesn’t quite fit the bill as far as a Christmas gift, there’s always Hyden’s books to fill their stocking. Check out his latest two, Twilight Of The Gods: A Journey To The End Of Classic Rock for the real rock fans, and Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me for an in-depth look at music rivalries — both under $20 and sure to please.
Rob Sheffield’s Dreaming The Beatles
Price point: $14
While we’re on the subject of music books, this was, hands down, my favorite book I read this year. Though it technically came out last year, it was re-released this year with a brand new chapter, and is such a compelling story about the band who changed the world, and all of us who love them, that it will be relevant no matter what year it is. If you know a Beatles obsessive, this is quite literally a must-read. Get it here.
Publishers Dey Street Books and Black Dog & Leventhal supplied Uproxx with sample copies of the books included here for us to review. As an Amazon Associate Uproxx may earn commission on qualifying purchases.