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.