Holiday Gift Guide — Part 1 (Records/Turntables)

Special Features / December 5, 2014

With people ready to trample each other for Black Friday deals and with bank accounts preparing for the holiday beating they’re about to take, what could we possibly give you loyal Modern Vinyl readers? I know it feels like a cruel joke, but how about a massive list of items you should be picking up for either yourself or that vinyl-loving friend you go digging with? The first annual MV Holiday Gift Guide is a major league two-parter: The first section looks at the records and turntables that might pique your interest, while section two will be revealed soon enough.

Also, if you simply want to support Modern Vinyl in your Christmas shopping, pick up all Amazon purchases through this link.

Shopping list…..finished.


Through Being Cool

Saves The Day — Through Being Cool

The long awaited repress of Chris Conley and company’s pop-punk classic is set to be released through Equal Vision Records. Copies should sell quick, and luckily it’s a pretty large pressing. EVR had a blue and white split variant (limited to 1,000) that sold out and the retail version is black (limited to 1,000). Hot Topic also has a cream variant (limited to 1,200) and a tour exclusive is currently being sold. The heavy duty jacket is coupled with a vinyl remastering and an insert. Some “All-Star Me” on vinyl? Yes please.
[Chris Lantinen]


Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross — Gone Girl OST

Any piece of music from Trent Reznor is sure to be highly anticipated, but it’s really been his score work that’s gained him the most attention in the past 5 or so years. And while The Social Network remains the best work between the Reznor/Ross pairing, Gone Girl is no pushover, the work getting more and more bizarre as the storyline (don’t worry I won’t spoil) experiences similar progression. The 24-track collection is being pressed on double 180-gram vinyl while housed in a gatefold jacket.
[Chris Lantinen]


Death Cab For Cutie Barsuk Reissues
$6 —

Individual portions of the Barsuk box-set are finally going up for sale, with Something About Airplanes, We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes and The Photo Album all hitting this holiday season. They’re set for 180-gram vinyl and die-cut jackets for Airplanes and Facts, along with 4 inserts from Photo. From what I’ve heard, following the center label trouble, delays and just about everything else imaginable with the box-set, it seems as if the end product EVENTUALLY turned out well. These individual LPs are still going for mass amounts on the secondary market, so pick them up while you can. And bonus, You Can Play These Songs With Chords is even being reissued on cassette tape.
[Chris Lantinen]


My Chemical Romance Reissues

Although both Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade were both recently pushed back to early 2015, you can still get your pre-orders in and avoid mass secondary market fees. With Three Cheers being the band’s mainstream breakthrough and Black Parade being their most successful venture, both are essential in understanding the now defunct emo outfit’s impressive progression. Plus, we need to get together and relive our “Helena” MTV glory days. The Black Parade is sporting a D-side etching, while the vinyl will be colored in some way for reach release (not revealed yet). Some more long awaiting reissues to ring in the new year.
[Chris Lantinen]

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Manchester Orchestra Reissues

While always one to embrace the vinyl format, we finally get some colored wax from the Atlanta-based rock standouts, as their first three full length albums were all reissued this past year. All three are available individually or in a bundle and my recommendation? If you love any semblance of rock, you need Means Everything To Nothing in your collection.
[Chris Lantinen]


Cliff Martinez — The Knick OST

You’d think a medical drama set in the early 1900s wouldn’t exactly sport the hippest soundtrack, but Steven Soderbergh’s striking Cinemax-based visuals are accompanied by a Cliff Martinez score, much closer to his ‘80s influenced work on pieces like Drive and Only God Forgives than anything resembling “period music.” Milan Records is putting out the score, a 2xLP housed in a gatefold jacket chocked full of new artwork.
[Chris Lantinen]

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Keep In Touch Flexi-Postcard Series

Keep In Touch gives you 12, 7”x7” flexi-postcards throughout 2015 at a price of $65. Subscriptions are limited to 450, but the real prize is the artist lineup, which features the likes of Into It. Over It. (even in a slow period this man doesn’t stop creating), Ricky Eat Acid and Cloud Nothings, among many others.
[Chris Lantinen]

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Polyvinyl Record Company 4-Track Singles Series: Volume 2

Polyvinyl’s own vinyl series features a 7” every month, but the wrinkle here is that all the artists recorded their music on a traveling 4-track. This year, Of Montreal, David Bazan (Pedro The Lion) and members of MGMT, Foxygen and Real Estate are participating. The set is priced at $110 and comes with a custom designed box. Only 1,000 spots are available.
[Chris Lantinen]


Vinyl Me, Please Gift Membership
$75 — $284

There are a few record “clubs” out there that offer a subscription to receive a record a month, and while many of them have been tested, Vinyl Me, Please appears to be the winner of the moment. Devoted to curating some of the best independent releases of any given year, Vinyl Me, Please would be the perfect gift to anyone you know who doesn’t just love collecting records, but who also loves music in general. Each month’s release since its inception has indeed been a stellar one in both fan and critics circles, so you know you’re getting a great record. The records are also exclusive and limited variants, typically pressed to colored vinyl and including a 12″x12″ piece of artwork that reflects the album cover art in some way. The addition of a cocktail pairing adds some spice to what is sure to be a great investment, especially when the holidays come around. With monthly gift subscriptions starting at $23/record, why not give the music lover in your life something to look forward to well past the month of December?
[David Fisch]


Mad Men Christmas

Yes, I’m sure you can pick up these older tracks at a thrift store and mix and mash until you have a nice holiday playlist (I’ve already received this complaint). Or you could spend 20 bucks, snag this Mad Men-centric collection of Christmas tracks and be done with all holiday music needs. It’s an added bonus that it includes the show’s theme music, a remix of Jessica Pare’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” rendition and some nice red vinyl.
[Chris Lantinen]


Vince Guaraldi Trio — A Charlie Brown Christmas
$19.98 — $24.99
Red and White

An obvious choice, but you shouldn’t be introducing the kids to Christmas without a little Charlie Brown. Fantasy Records has certainly taken advantage of the holiday theme in their reissues of this soundtrack, with the Amazon version on green wax, a Newbury Comics variant on red and white and Urban Oufitters housing a red. And judging by past Charlie Brown Fantasy products I’ve both received and reviewed, you’ll be getting a solid product. This is a standard LP jacket, but it does include a nice little write-up on the back and the music is remastered in each version.
[Chris Lantinen]


Sleater-Kinney — No Cities To Love
$16 — $33

It’s an embarrassment of riches, but yes, our favorite Portlandia resident and Battlestar Galactica fan Carrie Brownstein just happens to be part of the excellent Sleater-Kinney, who are reunited and putting out a new full length album in early 2015. I’d be in a little bit of a rush to pick it up too, as the deluxe double LP, on 180-gram white vinyl and featuring two exclusive tracks is currently available at Sub Pop. That deluxe edition is housed in a slipcase and pre-orders get to stream the album early. Get on this people.
[Chris Lantinen]


Elbow — The Take Off and Landing Of Everything

Elbow has yet to make much of a dent in the States, but the band’s sixth studio album is an amazing work of art that deserves to be on everyone’s top ten list. From the melodic pop sensibilities of “New York Morning” to the art-rock leanings on “Fly Boy Blue/Lunette,” their really is something for everyone on this album.
[Alan Miller]


Black Friday Release: Phil Spector Presents a Christmas Gift for You
Price Not Yet Revealed

Despite his current work detail, Phil Spector has found the time to give us a reissue of his classic 1963 holiday album, A Christmas Gift For You. Pressed on 180-gram festive red vinyl by Sundazed Records, this is the perfect gift for the audiophile in your life who mentions the “wall of sound” in regular conversation. Sundazed has a 180-gram black vinyl version currently in stock, with the red vinyl going on sale as a Black Friday exclusive.
[Alan Miller]


Various Artists — Elf OST

I buy so many soundtracks that my local record shop affectionately refers to me as “the soundtrack king,” so take my word for it when I say that Elf is a must have. I wrote a review about it earlier in the month and while the packaging was a little questionable, the sound quality was stellar and the song selection was awesome. All of the music is lively with a swing and big band feel, sure to please old and young alike.
[Alan Miller]


Street to Nowhere — Hallelujah 7”

Recently I wrote a Random Pull for Street to Nowhere’s fantastic cover of the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah.” This would be an awesome stocking stuffer for any indie or emo rock fan. On top of that it’s only 5 bucks on vinyl at Dave Smallen’s webstore. Won’t go wrong with this.
[Zach Behm]


Various Artists — Guardians of The Galaxy OST Options
$22.99 — $50
Deluxe 2xLP
Cassette Version Coming On Black Friday

At this point the film nor the soundtrack need any introduction, neither does our glowing opinion of them here at Modern Vinyl. A while back Hollywood Records put out a deluxe edition of the OST and the score together for a really great price. Black Friday 2014 will bring a cassette version of the soundtrack with artwork that mimics the cassette found in the film. If you can score a copy of that, do so. This would make for a really cool stocking stuffer for any fan of the movie – it even comes with a digital download, so even if they don’t have a tape player they still get great music and packaging! Finally – If you have yet to buy the vinyl version of the release — and don’t mind paying a little extra – go for for the Mondo edition with screen printed artwork by Tyler Stout. The specs are awesome and it’s still up for pre-order at Mondo’s site. You may have to give someone an IOU as this does not come out until after the holiday season, but if you show them pictures I’m sure they will understand. You could also have yourself a Guardians of the Galaxy holiday with all three.
[Zach Behm]


Danny Elfman — Batman: The Animated Series 12″

Early this year Mondo released a slew of Batman: The Animated Series 7”s. They sold out quickly but Danny Elfman’s theme is back on wax with a 12” version die-cut into the shape of the iconic Batman logo. The best part is that this is an “open edition” meaning you’re guaranteed a copy if you pre-order before the pre-sale closes at the end of the holiday season. The gray splatter variant also appears to be an open edition. The release features awesome gatefold artwork from Phantom City Creative. It also looks like Mondo is doing everything in their power to get the first 1,000 orders out before Christmas, making a perfect gift for any Batman fan, record collector or not.
[Zach Behm]


Various Artists — The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records
400 (Volume 1)
$400 (Volume 2)

Chronicling Paramount Record releases, Third Man Records has created two visually striking box sets that represent both the music found within the release and the era in which it came out.  If you have not already checked out pictures or the specs of this bad boy — do so above. It’s definitely one of the coolest looking sets I have seen. This is a must have for any serious jazz and blues historian. TMR still has copies of both volumes.
[Zach Behm]

Jack White — Lazaretto

While most hardcore collectors will probably own the latest from Jack White, if a vinyl-loving friend hasn’t experienced the “Ultra LP,” which is in fact the retail version, it’s time to remedy that. It’s currently the highest selling vinyl record of 2014 (and will certainly finish that way) and of course we have the massive run-down on features (also seen above): 180-gram, hidden tracks on the center label, Side A plays from inside out, different openings for “Just One Drink,” etched hologram (which I’ve noticed does actually work for people), different mix and a different running order. Whatever you think of the album (it’s out of my rotation and was pretty quick), you have to realize that we’re looking at some of the best vinyl presentation of the year.
[Chris Lantinen]


Have Mercy — A Place Of Our Own

I wasn’t exactly an early adopter of the Baltimore-based outfit, but they stand as one of my current favorites and the best of what Hopeless has to offer. The band’s newest full length, A Place Of Our Own, is available over at Hopeless on transparent gold vinyl and make sure to check out tracks like “Two Years,” “Pete Rose and Babe Ruth” and “Spacecrafts” (those latter two in combo, oh god). The band has a genuine ferocity difficult to replicate and only recently accomplished by bands like Brand New and Manchester Orchestra. I know, lofty comparisons. And in this rare case it’s deserved.
[Chris Lantinen]


She & Him — A Very She & Him Christmas

You’re getting older….you’re starting to have your own Christmas and holiday gatherings…..and well, you’re trying to break away from the standard holiday music fare. Enter She & Him, the longtime tandem of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, who covers tracks from the likes of Vince Guaraldi, The Beach Boys and Elvis in A Very She & Him Christmas. What could have turned into a very “Hipster Holiday” mixtape is elevated by Deschanel’s pitch-perfect vocal work, with her voice just kinda perfect for this kind of music. Nice for both background and full attention, the perfect combination for this kind of release.
[Chris Lantinen]


Various Artists — Ghostbusters Stay Puft Edition

Yeah it’s expensive. But it’s also really cool for the biggest of Ghostbusters fans (like myself). The big “Stay Puft” package is pretty light on the music, with the original theme song and the Run DMC version on the B-side. The real prize, though, is the packaging, with the marshmallow, soft jacket and marshmallow scented vinyl (although I heard that’s not too strong). You also get some 3D lenticular prints. There’s only 3,000 pressed and again, this is for big supporters of the movie. Casual fans need not apply.
[Chris Lantinen]


Taylor Swift — 1989

Taylor Swift has often professed her love for our namesake format and is backing that love up with a vinyl pressing of her new, smash hit of an album, 1989. The artistic standards of the release may be up for debate, but it’s a pop record, a damn good one and it isn’t THAT big of a leap from what she’s produced in the past. “Out Of The Woods” is basically a great Bleachers song (more on them in a second) and the LP could end up as one of those pop classics we continue to talk about for years to come.
[Chris Lantinen]


The Beatles — The Beatles In Mono

The Beatles mono set got some real nice reviews when it was released in September and the product description of the set being “how most listeners first heard the group in the 1960s” seems to be accurate. The 180-gram vinyl is coupled with replicated artwork, kinda the same as the stereo set, but the sound quality is much improved this time around. Remastered from the analogue master tapes, the set also includes a 108-page book. You can also pick up the records individually.
[Chris Lantinen]



Bleachers — Strange Desire

It feels like I’ve been yapping nonstop about this album since its release this summer, but it’s certainly deserving of any praise. “I Wanna Get Better” told us something we already knew, as Jack Antonoff (Steel Train, Fun.) is often able to craft seemingly effortless pop hits, but tracks like “Wild Heart,” “Wake Me” and “Take Me Away” push this LP into truly innovative territory. It’s a top 5 record of the year, incorporates both Fun. and Steel Train flourishes for those that prefer either and comes from one of our greatest musical minds.
[Chris Lantinen]


Various Artists — I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson

Take 24 of the most memorable songs used throughout Wes Anderson’s filmography, have 24 of the best independent musicians working today cover those songs, and you have I Saved Latin!. Each cover is unique and interesting, simultaneously bringing something new to the table and expressing a real love and admiration for Anderson’s films. The album features some awesome album artwork and if you order through American Laundromat Records you can add on some nifty Wes Anderson themed bonus items to your order. Items include a red knit hat, pins, patches, decals, and even a “Richie Tenenbaum” headband. The super limited vinyl edition is still available and features different artwork than its CD counterpart, as well as a bonus track.
[Zach Behm]


Bright Eyes — A Christmas Album

A few years back Bright Eyes, along with Maria Taylor, released A Christmas Album to benefit the Nebraska AIDS Project. The entire album features some wonderful Christmas standards performed with a nice Bright Eyes, indie-folk flare. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Silent Night” have since become two of my favorite tunes to listen to around Christmas. Proceeds are still going to the Nebraska AIDS Project as this is now a widespread release on 180-gram vinyl. This is essential Christmas listening.
[Zach Behm]


Cursive — The Ugly Organ (Remastered Deluxe Edition)

This year has seen quite a few amazing reissues and Cursive’s landmark album The Ugly Organ is one of them. Cursive and Saddle Creek really held nothing back with this one, giving it the deluxe reissue treatment the album deserves. For the release the album was remastered and pressed on heavyweight vinyl. Paired with it is a disc of 7 remastered tracks recorded around the same time as the album. Both discs are housed in a sturdy gatefold that contains a black variation on the original album artwork with a detailed booklet attached to the middle seam. The booklet features an essay from Kyle Ryan of The A.V. Club, scanned handwritten lyrics, photos and a complete list of shows that span the length of the entire tour, and some artwork. The audio quality on the release is also stunning, I am really impressed with both the remastered tracks, and the pressing quality itself. If you have somehow never heard The Ugly Organ, do your ears a favor and pick this up.
[Zach Behm]


Belle & Sebastian — Reissue Series
$17 — $23

This year we also got a huge reissue campaign form Belle and Sebastian. Going into all of these would take to much time, so I will just recommend Dear Catastrophe Waitress, If Your Feeling Sinister, The Life Pursuit (the one that has been OOP the longest) and The Boy With The Arab Strap. Every one of their albums is great, but these are real standouts that should be owned by every record collector. You can buy them all together in one huge order from Matador Records, or you can buy them individually.
[Zach Behm]


Acceptance — Phantoms

Why isn’t this sold out people! Bad Timing still has second press copies of the highly anticipated reissue on sale, with the white and blue splatter run still in stock. This was the album’s first vinyl campaign and the band’s lone LP is one of the more under-appreciated of the mid 2000s. Songs like “Take Cover” and “Over You” still have quite the “pop” and this is one full album tour I probably wouldn’t complain about.
[Chris Lantinen]



Audio Technica AT-LP60

Are you thinking of getting a turntable but you don’t want to drop boatloads of cash on it? Got a friend or loved one who you want to get into vinyl? Ignore the Crosleys that are around the same price and get an Audio Technica AT-LP60. Unlike with the Crosleys, a listener can experience the “warmth” factor so many record collectors talk about. This is thanks to the presence of a duel magnet stereo cartridge with a metal stylus and the professional aluminum platter the turntable uses. Crosleys use that red plastic stylus that will destroy the grooves of the record after only a few spins. The device is belt driven and fully automatic which is cool for casual listening. Another neat thing about this is the presence of a switchable preamp. Thanks to this preamp an owner can hook the turntable up to power computer speakers. This is nice for someone just starting out collecting records. As the owner gets more serious into record collecting they can set the device up to a receiver with a phono output. This is not perfect for records, the owner will want to upgrade someday – but it’s much better than the Crosleys for starting out – and it’s around the same price as the big ones Urban Outfitters sells. For an introduction to the world of vinyl, this is perfect.
[Zach Behm]Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 11.15.09 PM

Pro-ject Debut Carbon

I upgraded from my Audio-Technica AT-LP120 to the Debut Carbon about 5 months ago. The LP120 is a great deck for a great price, but I was quickly moving into Audiophile territory, and wanted a sound that was truly better than what my computer could put out. The Debut Carbon was cited as being a great turntable for an entry level audiophile that provided a vast array of upgrade options (something the LP120 does not) that can be done at any time so you would not be looking to upgrade after a year. I saved up my pennies, sold my LP120, and never looked back. With the Debut Carbon you will get the jaw-dropping sound quality and warmth you hear associated with the word “vinyl.” The turntable features a carbon fiber tone arm to reduce vibration, an anti-skate that does what it’s supposed to, a nice heavyweight platter, and one of the best affordable cartridges on the market, the Ortofon 2M Red. If you are getting into vinyl for sound quality and are looking at something like the AT-LP120, just keep saving a little longer and pick this bad boy up. The deck comes with a super cheap platter mat that undermines the quality of the turntable — I suggest getting yourself a rubber, cork mat, or even cowhide mat if you’re adventurous — and putting one of our Modern Vinyl slipmats over it.
[Zach Behm]


Stanton T.92

Don’t be put off by the wording on the box, Stanton turntables aren’t just for DJs. The T.92 is built like a tank, includes a built-in preamp, and even has USB output for easy hookup to your computer. The operation is also very simple, with all functions being manual and no auto return or repeat. While that may seem like an inconvenience to some, the lack of auto return and cue also means there are less parts to possibly go bad at a later time. When it comes to turntables, the general rule is the simpler the better. The T.92 can also play 33, 45, or 78 speeds, which will be beneficial to some. It’s not the cheapest table on the market, but for versatility and durability I would put it up against any other tables in current production.
[Alan Miller]


Third Man Records – Pro-Ject Limited Lighting Yellow RM 1.3

Have a friend or loved one who subscribes to the Jack White/Third Man Records cult? Have a deep pocket? If you said yes to both you should look into the newly announced Third Man Records audiophile turntable. This marks the first audiophile deck from Third Man Records, something fans have long been asking for. They teamed up with Pro-Ject for this release, to design a turntable for one purpose “sonic transcendence.” No reviews to go off yet, but Pro-Ject puts out good stuff. It also has great specs, looks amazing, and even comes with an exclusive slipmat. Check it out.
[Zach Behm]

 Look for part 2 tomorrow!

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Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

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