Our sea­sonal guide to pur­chas­ing presents for the mu­sic lovers on your naughty-or-nice list in­cludes vinyl, dig­i­tal gui­tar les­sons, cloth­ing—and earplugs, natch.

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - By Kate Wil­son, John Lu­cas, and Mike Usinger

In the age of Spo­tify, no one col­lects mu­sic on phys­i­cal me­dia any­more. Well, okay, that’s over­stat­ing things a bit. Vinyl ob­ses­sives still do, be­cause they are con­vinced that drag­ging a nee­dle through a groove in an over­priced piece of plas­tic im­parts an in­ef­fa­ble sonic qual­ity and an in­tan­gi­ble “warmth” that a dig­i­tal file never will.

There is some­thing on this list for such de­luded souls, and for other mu­sic lovers, too, in­clud­ing those who would pre­fer to keep what hear­ing they have left and those whose tastes in fash­ion unashamedly in­clude co­pi­ous ex­posed chest hair and nut-hug­ging uni­tards.

Happy shop­ping!


If you have some­one on your list who dragged you out to see Bo­hemian Rhap­sody half a dozen times, even while point­ing out the tini­est his­tor­i­cal in­ac­cu­ra­cies, they might ap­pre­ci­ate the gift of an out­fit that Fred­die Mer­cury him­self would have given his seal of ap­proval. Based on the Har­lequin-es­que uni­tards that the Queen front­man wore on-stage circa 1977, Co­quetry Cloth­ing’s made-to-order catsuit is “a must-have out­fit for the guy in your life who dares to live with­out fear”. Due to its skintight na­ture, it’s also for the guy in your life who’s not afraid to show the world ex­actly what he’s pack­ing. Not in­cluded: bot­tom­less mi­cro­phone stand, iconic mus­tache, or tal­ent. ($137.22 on Etsy) FENDER PLAY

The prob­lem with the gui­tar is that it takes for­ever to get even semipro­fi­cient. Les­sons can help, but then there’s the teacher sit­ting there rolling her eyes, se­cretly won­der­ing why it’s tak­ing some­one three months to learn the in­tro to “Wild Thing”. Get that bud­ding Slash, Jimi Hen­drix, or East Bay Ray on your list Fender Play, a sub­scrip­tion­based ser­vice launched by the iconic mak­ers of the Stra­to­caster, Twin Re­verb amp, and Pre­ci­sion bass. Video les­sons (ap­prox­i­mately one hour per week; when and if stu­dents ac­tu­ally do them is up to them) are streamed through the Fender app and geared to ev­ery­one from sausage-fin­gered be­gin­ners to those one lick away from start­ing a Slayer cover band. For mess­ing around in the bed­room, the ser­vice breaks down thou­sands of pop­u­lar songs—from Irv­ing Berlin’s “White Christ­mas” to Rage Against the Ma­chine’s “Killing in the Name” to the Dixie Chicks’ “Good­bye Earl”. Pre­paid gift cards ($114.99 for 12 months of les­sons; $64.99 for six months) for Fender Play are avail­able at Long & Mcquade. The ser­vice is also avail­able to those who would love to learn to play the ukulele or bass, but have found them­selves un­able to mas­ter even a rudi­men­tary ver­sion of Jonathan Rich­man’s “Road­run­ner”. Rock on. (From $64.99 at


The past cou­ple of years have seen the pub­li­ca­tion of more books about the Sex Pis­tols than any­one other than a truly ob­ses­sive fan could ever need. These in­clude a mem­oir (Lonely Boy) by gui­tarist Steve Jones, an ex­haus­tive re­count­ing of the record­ing of Never Mind the Bol­locks (1977: The Bol­locks Di­aries), and a pair of com­pan­ion vol­umes doc­u­ment­ing the Pis­tols’ tours of the U.K. and the U.S. (An­ar­chy in the U.K. and The Sex Pis­tols In­vade Amer­ica, both by Mick O’shea). The most cu­ri­ous en­try in the canon—and pos­si­bly the most in­ter­est­ing—is a new reis­sue of for­mer EMI Records exec Brian Southall’s long-out-of-print Sex Pis­tols: 90 Days at EMI, the in­side story of how the first ma­jor record la­bel to sign the Pis­tols also be­came the first to drop the band in short order, in a move that, thanks to a hefty sign­ing bonus, left the punks some £40,000 richer. Talk about a great rock ’n’ roll swin­dle! ($12.99 at Book Ware­house)

JUSTIN TIM­BER­LAKE UGLY SWEATER Aim­ing to make up for that time in 2004 when he ripped Janet Jack­son’s bra off in front of mil­lions, Justin Tim­ber­lake was the star of this year’s Su­per Bowl half­time show—though we’re us­ing “star” pretty lib­er­ally. With a show de­scribed as “eerily un-self-aware” by the New Yorker, JT was sum­mar­ily up­staged by a teenager tak­ing a selfie, a 40-foot flap­ping sheet with Prince’s face on it, and some kind of bizarro camo-print suit with a buck-hunt­ing shirt and a Woody-from-toy-story ban­danna. Then there was the re­lease of Tim­ber­lake’s new al­bum, Man of the Woods. A baf­fling mix of coun­try mu­sic and over­pro­duced pop, the record var­i­ously de­scribes his pe­nis as a faucet, dis­cusses his de­sire to col­lect io­dine tablets, and tries re­ally, re­ally hard to po­si­tion Tim­ber­lake as a whole­some, cabin-dwelling lum­ber­sex­ual who ab­so­lutely doesn’t care about his net worth of $230 mil­lion. Un­sur­pris­ingly, crit­ics panned it. All of which is to say that Justin Tim­ber­lake’s 2018 has been, well, ugly. Which, in our book, makes him the per­fect icon to em­bla­zon on your ugly Christ­mas sweater this year. This ver­sion fea­tures a charm­ing shot of a pre-walden JT (he’s got a suit on, folks), with a lovely Christ­masknit ef­fect around the out­side. It’s just a shame it doesn’t come in flan­nel. ($43.95 on Etsy)


There are plenty of mu­sic-themed Christ­mas gifts out there that, frankly, suck. Who ac­tu­ally wants a thumb pi­ano? Why does ev­ery elec­tron­ics com­pany have a range of shitty Blue­tooth speak­ers? Real mu­sic fans don’t want weird gim­micks, and they don’t have any space left in their drawer of crap to hide use­less Christ­mas se­lec­tions. But what to get them? Vinyl Me, Please is a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice that sends the re­cip­i­ent a new al­bum on wax ev­ery month. Each record is care­fully se­lected for its mu­si­cal merit, and in­di­vid­u­als can choose one of three cat­e­gories—es­sen­tials, clas­sics, and rap and hip-hop—to make sure their lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence will be suit­ably pleas­ant. Ar­riv­ing by post on their doorstep, the pack­age also in­cludes mys­tery ex­tras like col­lectible art prints, lis­ten­ing notes, and cus­tom cock­tail recipes in­spired by the al­bum. Past se­lec­tions in­clude Mavis Sta­ples’s self-ti­tled record, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III, Muddy Waters’s Fa­thers and Sons, and Rico Nasty’s Nasty—so you can be sure that there’s enough va­ri­ety to keep your loved ones both on-trend and wist­fully nos­tal­gic. (For sub­scrip­tion pack­ages, go to vinylme­


Few things in this world are more elec­tri­fy­ing than live mu­sic, and the closer you get to the stage, the more pow­er­ful a show ends up be­ing. Ask any­one who was lucky enough to be stand­ing in the front row for Grin­der­man at the Com­modore, Motör­head at Ker­ris­dale Arena, or the Re­fused at the Vogue. The only down­side? That would be the fact that hu­man be­ings weren’t meant to sub­ject them­selves to 130 deci­bels of noise, when the safe thresh­old is 85. Cue Vibes Hi-fi Earplugs, which first popped up on Shark Tank, and have since been hailed as a bril­liant al­ter­na­tive to what con­cert­go­ers have been stick­ing in their ears for years (foam plugs from Home De­pot, spit-soaked nap­kins, Dub­ble Bub­ble gum). Vibes lower both tre­ble and bass fre­quen­cies, mean­ing you still hear the con­cert the way the sound­man in­tended, in­stead of as a muf­fled mess. The real selling point? Un­like cus­tom­moulded ear pro­tec­tors, which can run a cou­ple of hun­dred bucks, Vibes clock in at un­der $40. Just be­cause the mu­sic lover in your life adores Deafheaven, there’s no rea­son for them to leave the show half deaf. ($37.95 at ama­

You’ll be some­thing like a liv­ing rock ’n’ roll le­gend if you give the mu­sic lover on your list (clock­wise from left) Brian Southall’s Sex Pis­tols: 90 Days at EMI,Vibes Hi-fi Earplugs, Co­quetry Cloth­ing’s cus­tom-fit and skin-tight “Mer­cury” catsuit, or a pre­paid gift card for the Fender Play gui­tar-learn­ing app.

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