Vinyl Me, Please — A Holiday Gift Guide for music lovers (records & more)
With everyone and their brother on the vinyl bandwagon these days, turntables are bound to be a popular gift this holiday season. But what to put on that new record player? Despite the vinyl boom, not every town has a record store anymore, but if you’re looking for a little of that curated-by-a-human-not-an-algorithm experience a brick-and-mortar shop gives you, Vinyl Me, Please has been doing a great job of that since 2013, offering up exclusive editions of records, as well as just selling ones they really like. There’s the club version of VMP, which sends you an album of the month for a subscription fee, or you can just buy from their store. (Some items are exclusive to subscribers, though.) We’ve picked a handful of records Vinyl Me Please currently has to offer (most of which even non-members can buy), including a few holiday ones, that would make good gifts…or just as a treat for yourself.
If you’re in the market for a turntable, Vinyl Me, Please doesn’t sell them but they do have recommendations.
1) Vinyl Me Please Subscription
To really take full advantage of what Vinyl Me Please has to offer, you’ll want a VMP subscription that, for $29 a month, $81 every three months, or $299 a year, gets you a new deluxe edition exclusive vinyl LP monthly. There are three “tracks” to choose from — “Classics” (soul, blues and jazz), “Rap & Hip Hop,” and “Essentials” which pulls from all genres and time periods. Those monthly records also come with an exclusive art print and perfectly-paired cocktail recipe. You get to pick your first record, and after that there are options for swapping out selections if, say, you already own Queen’s A Night at the Opera.
2) Vinyl Me, Please: 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection
The VMP staff put together this book that lists and discusses “100 albums that would undeniably enrich the lives—and most importantly, the record collections—of anyone who has all 100.” The list goes from Afrika Bambaataa to Arcade Fire, from Bowie to Beyonce and beyond, with essays, some of those aforementioned cocktail recipes and more from such noted writers as Jes Skolnik, Eric Sundermann, Tom Breihan, and Thursday’s Geoff Rickly. The book also offers up other suggested listening for each of their 100 essential picks. Vinyl Me, Please, the book, is an enjoyable read whether you just bought your first turntable, your home is already overflowing with records, or you’re more of a Spotify Me Please person.
One of the preeminent shoegaze groups, Slowdive took a left turn on their third album, 1995’s Pygmalion, which had them dropping the veil of hazy guitars for a decidedly minimalist, electronic-tinged sound that owed more to Brian Eno’s ambient works. The band’s fans didn’t know what to make of it, neither did critics or their label, Creation Records, who dropped them a week after Pygmalion was released. (Slowdive called it quits shortly after.) Perhaps because of its out-of-time sound, Pygmalion has aged very well. Like pretty much everything they’ve done, it’s a gorgeous record. This exclusive edition, on half-speed mastered white vinyl with silver marbling (in a reflective chrome-board sleeve), is the first of a series of collaborations between VMP and Pitchfork.
The final album from the late, great Charles Bradley, gets packaging befitting its title with this VMP Members Only edition, housed in an actual black velvet box. It also comes with a bonus album of stripped-down mixes of many of the LP’s songs, as well as a turntable slipmat, a 12”x12” booklet of photos, and a reproduction of his business card from his “Black Velvet” James Brown impersonator days.
One of the best album of 1996, The Fugees’ masterpiece and swan song The Score is an effortless blend of swagger, ambition, and alchemy with hit after hit. This VMP exclusive pressing comes on two black-and-gold split-colored vinyl LPs in a gatefold sleeve, and includes a bonus 7” with three tracks that had never been on vinyl before, plus a fold-out poster and an art print by Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle.
Like the animated special it soundtracks, Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy score to A Charlie Brown Christmas is a standard of the season — few pieces of music evoke the feeling of the first flurries of the year like the evergreen “Skating” while “Christmas Time is Here” wistfully tugs at heartstrings. Even Scrooges who hate Christmas music usually don’t grumble about this record. This Audiophile Edition of the album was cut by George Horn at Fantasy Studios and comes in a classic tip-on sleeve that replicates the original 1965 artwork.
Featuring Otis Redding, Booker T & The MGs, Carla Thomas, King Curtis and more, this 1968 album ranks up there with A Phil Spector Christmas Gift For You as a perfect slice of vintage R&B yuletide cheer. (Rolling Stone put it at #9 on its list of Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time.) Making things all the merrier, this reissue comes on red and green-spattered white vinyl.
Arctic Monkeys have come a long way since their charmingly raw debut, but it remains the instant classic it was back in 2006. The hits are still party starters, and plenty of the deeper cuts are even better. This Vinyl My, Please exclusive comes on grey translucent vinyl with black smoke, and though you have to be a member to get the album on its own, anyone can buy the $45 bundle (priced down from $49) that also comes out with the VMP book we mentioned above. The bundle is a pretty great gift for any record collector nerds in your life who also happen to get down with the Monkeys.
This three album bundle is pretty incredible, with St. Vincent’s still-omnipresent 2017 album MASSEDUCTION (one of our favorites of 2017), Mitski’s great new album Be the Cowboy, and an older album that fits nicely next to those two: Feist’s 2004 breakthrough Let It Die (home of her timeless single “Mushaboom” and more). Not only do these albums all have a similar appeal, they all come on exclusive colored vinyl. Feist’s is green, Mitski’s is red, and St. Vincent’s is blue and that one also has alternate yellow album artwork. At $70, you save a total of $18 that you would’ve spent if you bought each album separately. And it’s also the only way non-members can buy the VMP exclusives of the Feist and Mitski albums. (The St. Vincent album is available on its own to non-members.)
It’s officially the time of year where you’ll be hearing holiday music everywhere you go, and while some of it may be insufferable, the Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ holiday album is genuinely good holiday music that’s worth listening to any time of year. It was the last album she released before she sadly passed away in 2016, and while we miss her more everyday, hearing her voice on great albums like this one reminds us that her powerhouse pipes will always be eternal.
Beyonce went from being one of the great singles artists of the 2000s to being one of the great album artists of the 2010s, and while her 2016 album/film Lemonade may be her most currently iconic work, who could forget when she changed the game with that digital drop? Her self-titled album will go down as a generation-defining album, and it sounds as good today as it did when we got it as a surprise early Christmas present on December 13, 2013. Beyonce vinyl isn’t cheap, but Vinyl Me, Please currently has this one marked down from $37 to $24. Get it while the offer lasts.
The Gaslight Anthem came back from hiatus this year to perform their most loved album, The ’59 Sound, in full for its 10th anniversary. The album blended the sounds of the New Brunswick basement punk scene that birthed The Gaslight Anthem and the heartland rock of their NJ forefather Bruce Springsteen (who they went on to collaborate with), and while it resulted in many imitators, there’s still nothing quite like it. They’ve also got this 10th anniversary deluxe reissue of the album, which comes with “rare, unreleased and alternate takes, a photo book and 59-page book.”
13) Thou – Magus
The only metal album currently available from VMP (their special edition of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid is unfortunately sold out) also happens to be one of our favorite metal releases of 2018. And nobody loves limited editions on colored vinyl more than metal fans, so it’s also convenient that this edition of Thou’s great Magus comes on two rust colored vinyl LPs and is limited to 500 copies (so grab it before it also sells out). Magus followed Thou’s three 2018 EPs — each in a different genre (noise, slowcore, and grunge) — and it brought together all of the sounds the EPs experimented with, and went into other territory too. It just might be a modern metal masterpiece, and it’s worth hearing (and owning on vinyl) whether or not you’re a metalhead (as long as you’re down with screaming).
For their seventh album, and first for Sub Pop, 2005’s The Woods, Sleater-Kinney departed from the sound of their previous records and recorded their heaviest and hardest-hitting collection of songs yet, cementing their position as one of the greatest American rock bands. This amber pressing of The Woods is exlusive to VMP, and includes a “cut stump” etching on the fourth side.
New releases from Fiona Apple are few and far between – we’re still waiting (impatiently) for a followup to 2012’s The Idler Wheel… – but that means more time to revisit her previous releases, all of which have seriously held up. That includes her revelatory, instant classic 1996 debut Tidal, which sounds as vulnerable and vital now as it did then. It was never pressed in vinyl until 2017, when VMP made it available on two 180g black LPs, exclusively to members.
The National really came into their own with the release of 2007’s Boxer. It still ranks as one of their best albums, and it’s full of nostalgia-inducing musical moments that resonate with all the weight of the over ten years since it first came out, like the iconic twinkling piano of “Fake Empire” and the throbbing drums of “Mistaken for Strangers.” VMP’s exclusive version is pressed on a grey LP and comes with an exclusive clear 7″.
Head to Vinyl Me Please to order these selections and more.