At its best, the holiday season finds us at our best, spreading cheer and good tidings to family and friends, and managing just a little more compassion for the world at large. Often, this involves the giving of gifts... but therein also lies the rub!
Do you twist yourself in anguished knots trying to determine the perfect gifts for those who have everything and/or hate everything and/or want nothing? Does the fear of being re-gifted rob you of deserved holiday joy? Are you ashamed to show your face well into the new year following yet another disappointing White Elephant showing at the office holiday party?
If you answered yes to any of that, then this is for you. We're not saying that these gift ideas are particularly useful, or that they'll even be well-received... but it won't be because you're uncool.
• To start close to home (and close to obvious), the gift of well-chosen local music (and/or the merch that goes with it) is always sure to warm the heart. We've got a monthly series that is nothing but new and local music, so that might be a good place to start. There was a lot of great music released in Colorado this year! Favorites will vary, but for my part (this is Jeremy, Inside Track editor writing here), I loved Blankslate's album Summer on a Salt Flat, to name but one. It's great, and found online or at your favorite local record shop. Of course, in lieu of specifics a gift card to one of those shops will work, but shouldn't you care enough about the giftee to at least make a decent guess at what they'd love? $10-20
• Write and record a song for someone and have it put it on a lathe cut record from locals Meep Records. (Works for any occasion, which is good because orders for Christmas had to be in by 12/2. Oh well, file away for next year!) prices vary
• Maybe cassettes are more the throwback music medium speed you're looking for, in which case you should know that Evergreen-based "musical commune" Cowboy Cowabunga recently became a cassette label. They recently released their first two titles – Miles Eichner's You Be Good. I Love You, and the debut from recent Local 303 artist Amlamas, Electric Eyes. $10
• Portable record players are common enough and sweet for a Saturday in the park, but chances are they're not a Sound Burger! Audio Technica recently revived their oft-copied Sound Burger after nearly 40 years with some new fixins (including Bluetooth). $199
• You can take it everywhere and listen to the vinyl edition of the soundtrack to the maximalist cinematic vision that is Everything Everywhere All at Once. Son Lux did the score, and it includes bonus cuts from Moses Sumney, Randy Newman, and that stunning David Byrne/Mitski collaboration. $40
• The Linda Lindas are so cool that even if you don't know their music (yet), you'll want some of their merch. They've got stuff for big and little kids alike, and it's all great. prices vary
• Put Santigold's new Spirituals on and get steeping! Santi's got her own tea line, sold in a 3-pack bundle (No Stress, I Heart, and Brand New). $80
• Nathaniel Rateliff's Marigold Project presents Meet Me at the Table, a cookbook featuring recipes from 35 musicians you love (John Prine, Fantastic Negrito, Adia Victoria, Wesley Shultz, Nikki Lane, Lido Pimienta, and more) benefiting good food justice orgs. $40
• Speaking of books, it's been a truly banner year for music books. Nick Cave's (with journalist Sean O'Hagan) Faith, Hope, and Carnage, and Bono's Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story get up close and personal with those respective personalities; and Dan Charnas' Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, and Kurt Cobain: The Last Interview (edited by Melville House) offer examinations of a pair of late greats. Bob Dylan writes again in The Philosophy of Modern Song, and Patti Smith's latest, meanwhile, offers a kind of visual journal influenced by her Instagram feed in Book of Days. There's also a "lo-fi history of the Elephant 6 mystery," as Adam Clair's Endless Endless is billed, making some sense of the loosely-based collective that included Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, The Minders, and more, and counted Denver as one of its central hubs. prices vary
• But of course, a book needn't be hot off the presses to delight. Surely, you know about the ever-growing 33 1/3 series of books, bound to include a take on some classic album that will appeal. And while Meet Me in the Bathroom, Lizzy Goodman's rather exhaustive oral history of New York City's early-'00s rock & roll rebirth, is five years old this year, there's fresh interest thanks to the new documentary of the same name. It's also required reading for fans of The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, The Walkmen, Interpol, TV On the Radio, and the like. prices vary
• Yes, si, oui – speaking of that Yeah Yeah Yeahs band, they had a pretty great year (or third of a year, anyway), releasing their first album in almost a decade, Cool It Down, back in September. You'd do well just to give somebody that in whatever format they like because it's fantastic... but you could go a little bigger. Their online shop is full of vintage candids from the band's early touring years, shot and hand-signed by guitarist Nick Zinner. Looking through them feels exuberant and super-personal, and they're going fast! $100
• Walls are for covering, and Sandgrain Studios' retro, understated poster designs celebrating both new and classic albums are a tasteful way to do it. $33-35
• We'll always stump here for the work of Brooklyn-based artist Matthew Lineham (above), whose passion for the New Wave subjects he illustrates is apparent. prices vary
• Whether you're nostalgic for the John Hughes years because you were there, or you're doing that thing where you're nostalgic for a time you weren't yet living, we can all agree: life moves pretty fast. That's actually the title – Life Moves Pretty Fast - of a new 6LP box set collecting songs from classic Hughes titles like Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, She's Having a Baby and more. The best part? The Flowerpot Men's "Beat City" is here! Available in uber-expensive imported red vinyl ($191) and plain old black ($31).
• Finally, why not support the station you love and look cool, too? We've got scarves and caps and sweaters (well, zip-hoodies), to paraphrase Death Cab for Cutie, and you support Colorado Public Radio when you buy them to give as gifts (or keep as a little gift to yourself).
You made it!
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