Music gift guide 2008
Like, tote rad
Ever wish your diaper bag could blast Takin Care of Business? And, sure, some hip kids might carry a vintage Beatles lunch box, but how many can rock Abbey Road with their sandwich sack? Loop NYC and Parcel styled this little versatile tote after a retro 80s boom box, and it truly rocks. Or raps. An interior cord jacks your iPod into the 2" speakers, turning a picnic blanket into an instant break-dancing mat. Available at Insound.com; $29.99.
Early tech adopters have been burned before with MiniDisc, HD DVD and Betamax. Were not certain slotMusic, SanDisks new album format, will escape the same fate, but it has a couple things going for it. The players are about a tenth of the price of an iPod and blow away iTunes audio-qualitywise. The miniscule microSD cards plug into phones and USB ports. Plus, they can be reused, erased, and can accept additional MP3s or other digital data. Then again, theyre unmarked and the size of a Frosted Flake. Handling the fingernail-size chips makes you feel like a spy. But youre smuggling Robin Thicke, not Commie secrets. Organizing a collection seems impossible, but this middle ground between hard copy albums and downloads is built to be disposed and recycled. Albums and players are available at slotmusic.org; $14.99$19.99.
Om, Sweet Om
Buddha machines have been around in Asia for years. FM3, a Chinese electronic duo, began manufacturing and marketing their stylish take on the device to music geeks in 2005. This month, FM3 released Version 2.0 of the addictively soothing devices.They look like cheap transistor radios, but the electric guts of these colorful blocks generate an unending stream of droning trance sounds. Flick the switch, and its like Brian Eno conducting monks playing synths in a temple. Honestly, it renders most ambient musicians superfluous. Purchase online through fm3buddhamachine.com; $23.00.
Nevermind the Goldilocks
Hard-rocking parents can already buy CDs of Ramones lullabies for baby, so Never Mind Your Ps and Qs: Heres the Punk Alphabet seems rather inevitable. Hip toddlers can learn about the Clash, the Only Ones, the Jam, Iggy Pop and mohawks, while record-collecting parents will get teenage kicks from the Mark E. Smith and Vivienne Westwood jokes. Dont worry: The authors teach lil Sids the vulgarity of shouting Up yours! to Mom and Dad. Purchase at lovepolice.com.au; $27.95.
Local music archeologists the Numero Group have been continually unearthing lost, dusty gems from overlooked nooks around the country. From Kansas City power pop and California folk to funky gospel and lost blaxploitation soundtracks, each release is lovingly packaged, obsessively researched and, most importantly, pretty much the coolest noise you can put in your ears. The label offers a one-year subscription, and the crate-diggers promise new entries into their Good God and Wayfaring Stranger series, two volumes of Eccentric Soul and the documentary DVD, Local Custom: Downriver Revival. Order online at numerogroup.com; $120.