Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening — is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year? — but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to ten members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that hard-core traveler, beauty junkie, or new mom in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust — or at least a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we asked ten music lovers about the tiny noise-canceling headphones, covetable new records, and music books they want this year.
“This might be too obvious, but it’s true: For the past few years, I’ve asked for whatever new Kendrick Lamar album is out, on vinyl. I would like DAMN. this year, please. I can’t imagine a more foolproof gift for the young music lover in your life.” — Jenn Pelly, associate reviews editor at Pitchfork and author of The Raincoats’ The Raincoats
“I want someone to get me Lizzy Goodman’s book Meet Me in the Bathroom. I’ve had an inside joke with myself ever since it came out, because everyone was like, ‘Have you read it yet? Have you read it yet?’ and I kept saying, ‘No, I’m going to wait for someone to buy it for me’ because it’s the most ‘me’ present ever. My bosses are quoted in the book, and it’s all about Interpol and the Strokes and all these bands that I love, and a scene that I care about. And I’ve bought it for a ton of my friends, and I think it’s funny that I haven’t read it yet. I’m just waiting for it to fall in my lap.” — Shira Knishkowy, music publicist at Matador Records
“One thing I always want for Christmas but never get is the 69 Love Songs album by the Magnetic Fields. I’ve never bought it for myself because I can never justify spending $100 on a box set for myself, but I keep hoping that I’ll someday get it for Christmas. It’s a pretty large accomplishment to make this sprawling album of 69 different styles and genres, with the one through line being that they’re all love songs. I think it’s the best indie-rock album of the ’90s, one of the best albums ever made actually, and I would love it on vinyl.” — Philip Cosores, deputy music editor at Uproxx
“This is on my ‘to read’ list. I love everything Murakami does, and this especially looks great. The first book of Murakami’s that drew me in was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, meditations on running and life, wrapped in a memoir. Before devoting his life to writing, he ran a jazz bar in Tokyo, and the influence of music runs through his novels. Here in Absolutely on Music, he’s in conversation with his friend and conductor, Seiji Ozawa, of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I’m no runner, nor particular fan of classical music, but I’ll happily go on this excursion with him.” — Karl Henkell, editor-in-chief of Record
“This pocket operator is made by Teenage Engineering and comes in many forms. I already have the PO-12, which is a drum machine, but would love to expand my collection. The PO-14 is a great bass-line synthesizer with a sequencer and much more. What’s great about the pocket operators is, you can chain them together and sync them up to play music.” — Demo Taped, musician and producer
“Brian Eno recently remastered a bunch of his solo records, the ones that are more pop-leaning. And they’re mastered at half-speed, so you play them at 45 rpm instead of 33 rpm, which is better for audio. They’re all records that I’ve wanted to own for a while and haven’t been able to track down a good copy. They don’t sell it in my local record shop, but they released Taking Tiger Mountain and Another Green World (which is one of my favorite records of all time), and I would love to get my hands on those.” — Caroline Marchildon, music publicist at Secretly Group
“This book is a collection of solutions for when you are stuck creatively. It offers different approaches to making music and finding inspiration. I think it would be a very useful tool to any producer. Feeling stuck happens to every artist at some point no matter the medium. This book would be a great way to get the ball rolling creatively.” — Demo Taped
“I don’t have a Bluetooth speaker, so this is something that I’ve been wanting for a minute, but I was kind of overwhelmed by the choices. I feel like it’s such a convenient thing to have, even at home if you’re hanging out in the kitchen, for parties, or even for travel. I found one from Bang & Olufsen that’s not that expensive. It’s oval-shaped, it’s a really nice color, and is a nice, sleek size, so you could easily stow it away if you wanted. I feel like some of them are bulky or don’t look that great, but this one is a pretty reasonable price and it looks really nice.” — Caroline Marchildon
“This is an awesome, futuristic voice-controlled speaker, so it’s kind of like Alexa mixed with a speaker, which I really like. Instead of using a remote, it’s easier to just communicate with it. And Sonos is a really good product, so I’m excited to use it.” — Ilana Kaplan, freelance music writer and editor
You can buy the Sonos One on the Sonos website, too.
“I used to have a pair of Bose headphones that an ex-boyfriend bought me, and they were amazing because I travel all the time. I’m on planes every other week, and they come in a really nice case that I can leave in my purse so I don’t forget them, and they don’t get lost or tangled in my bag. But then, of course, I did lose them about a year ago, and I’ve been missing them ever since. They’re so amazing: They’re really small and comfortable, but the sound quality’s amazing.” — Shira Knishkowy
“After having kids, I’ve had to get rid of my sprawling turntable setup and record collection. This turntable stand centralizes all the gear plus record storage into a neatly organized space with a minimal footprint. It prevents the hobby from taking over your life.” — Peter Hahn, co-founder of Turntable Lab
“Ableton is one of our favorite DAWs (digital audio workstations) because of its user-friendly flow. The capabilities are endless with sound-engineering, and it’s also perfect to use on the go. Because we are traveling so much and always on airplanes, this DAW allows us to pull ideas from our head and build out demos super fast while we’re on the go.” — Trevor Dahl, Kevin Ford, and Matthew Russell of electronic music trio Cheat Codes
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