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Sound holiday choices guaranteed not to elicit yawns



Even in an era of digital downloading, you can still find plenty of music-oriented gifts that are infinitely more interesting than that generic iTunes or Amazon gift card you've been considering. So here, for your last-minute shopping consideration, is a guide to some of this year's best box sets, most interesting books and coolest accessories — any of which should bring a smile to the face of the true music fan on your holiday shopping list.

For the collector

The Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box Set

Price: Around $350

Pricey, to be sure. But then, this is the Fab Four. Here are all of The Beatles' albums you want and need — including all 12 of their original U.K. releases — in one convenient box set, with 180-gram vinyl pressings and a massive 252-page hardbound book. It might be painful to shell out the cash, but it should absolutely please any Beatlemaniac.

Blur 21: The Box

Price: Around $175

If you missed the boat on some of the best Britpop of the '90s, it's not too late to discover Blur with this massive, 21-disc box set that covers the band's entire catalog while also celebrating the 21st birthday of its debut album, Leisure. The set includes the obligatory hardback book, three live DVDs and lots of rarities, making this a collection we'd love to revisit yearly.

Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection

Price: $69.99

With a birthday of July 14, 1912, Woody Guthrie would have hit 100-years-old this year. And there's no better way to celebrate the legendary songwriter's life than with a three-disc, career-spanning box set. The collection includes the best-known tracks plus 21 rarities and a 154-page book packed with art and essays.

For the literate

Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young

Price: $30

Due to its wandering nature, legendary rocker Neil Young's Waging Heavy Peace might only be for hardcores. It's a sprawling memoir that also explores his take on musical roots, family life and the challenges of staying relevant. At 500-plus pages, there's plenty of material for longtime Young fans. To earn bonus points, pair it with his excellent new Psychedelic Pill album.

LCD, an LCD Soundsystem photobook

Price: $29.95

Although LCD Soundsystem might have broken up last year, they're making themselves hard to forget with bandleader James Murphy's various odd jobs, the behemoth documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits, and now a 216-page photobook by Ruvan Wijesooriya, who has been taking photos of the band since 2004. The book includes an engaging forward penned by Murphy himself.

Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy, edited by Alan Licht

Price: $16.95

Paired with editor Alan Licht, Will Oldham produces what my fellow reviewer Elias Leight called a "book-length interview" with himself. Between the two, it introduces more into the life of the elusive Oldham than we ever could have hoped for, including his unique philosophies on creating music under the Bonnie "Prince" Billy moniker.

For the musician

Animoog by Moog Music Inc.

Price: $9.99 for iPhone, $29.99 for iPad

If you're hesitant to drop $30 on an app, we can guarantee there will be no regrets with this one. Moog Music's Animoog app brings the amazing quality of Moog synthesizers to the iPhone and iPad. While the instrument is set up to be utilized by those who can already play keyboards, it's intuitive enough for musicians and music fans alike to get a kick out of the synth's amazing capabilities, featuring a massive library of signature timbres and features found on the iconic original synths. Add in a recording function, and you'll be crafting your own synth-centered songs in no time.

Orange Micro Terror

Price: $199

If you've ever wanted all the power Orange amplifiers are known for but don't have the cash (or neighbors with a love of great guitar tone), the Orange Micro Terror is for you. It's a tiny package that's capable of powering massive cabinets if need be, and one of the main pluses for traveling or practicing musicians is in the -inch headphone jack for crushing tone at any volume.

Pick Punch

Price: $24.95

You can teach a man to fish and he'll eat for life, and you can buy your favorite guitarist a pick press, and he or she will stop rushing to the guitar store every few weeks or so after losing them by the handful. This interesting little item allows musicians to punch picks out of pretty much anything — our favorite post-holiday resource being our credit cards, of course.

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