2016 Holiday Gift Guide – Music

Featured Gift Guide

Geek Culture is a many faceted thing with the term meaning different things to most geeks. This category highlights a few of the things related to music that we feel define us as geeks.

Beefy and Tanner–making nerdcore great again!Too Big To Fail, Part One
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Beefy
Price: $8
Purchase: Too Big To Fail, Part One

Nerdcore hip-hop has been noticeably waning over the past several years. What started out as a self-aware in-joke in the year 2000 and, against all odds, morphed into a genuine musical movement by the end of the century’s first decade has once again receded into the internet ether–only cropping up in the greater pop culture consciousness when Alex Trebek says something rude to a contestant. But that doesn’t mean amazing new work hasn’t continued to be released. Surely one of 2016’s best efforts was easily Too Big To Fail, Part One by Washington’s native son Beefy and eclectic Texas-based producer Tanner4105. Expertly blending slice-of-life musings with larger-than-life fantasy, Beefy continues to do what he does best: tell us amazing stories in perfectly-metered verse.

Masterful geek rock from Atlanta’s best.Dank Memes
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Snoot
Price: $7
Purchase: Dank Memes

Husband and wife duo Randy Garcia and Kayla Webb create a sort of high-energy, eclectic power pop that’s difficult to describe but easy to love. Their 2016 release Dank Memes, for example, runs the gamut from metallic crunch tones to sweetly layered harmonies to heartful throwback country. So is it bold punk that’s unafraid of a little production polish or sweet roots rock that treads the thin line between traditional sensibilities and progressive musical aggression? In truth, it makes no difference because what it really represents–regardless of form or fashion–is accessible, enjoyable artistry that’s sure to please even the most hardened muso.

The Spirit of Bowie Lives!Let All the Children Boogie: A Tribute to David Bowie
Suggested By: Jamie Greene
Mfg: Spare the Rock Records
Price: $11.99
Purchase: Let All the Children Boogie: A Tribute to David Bowie

Don’t let the “children’s music” label fool you. If you’re a fan of David Bowie, you’ll love this collection of songs. Check out our full review here, and add this one to your list. It’s the perfect (real or virtual) stocking stuffer!

I assume this was playing in the room where it happened.The Hamilton Mixtape
Suggested By: Anthony Karcz
Mfg: Atlantic Records
Price: 14.5
Purchase: The Hamilton Mixtape

How does a ragtag, volunteer Geek site in need of a shower recommend a hip hop/R&B album? When that album is based on the most popular Broadway musical of 2016, Hamilton. Besides being one of the most engaging, memorable shows of the past decade, creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has created an inspirational score that draws from all corners of the musical world–from the musical 1776 to rap artists like Busta Ryhmes. It seems that no matter what song you listen to, there’s something for everyone to connect to. That’s why The Hamilton Mixtape is so exciting for Hamilton aficionados. It’s one thing to hear Lin-Manuel say that he was inspired by Busta for the character Hercules Mulligan, it’s another to actually hear Busta riffing on the song that introduces us to the character in “My Shot.” The Hamilton Mixtape is full of these sorts of gems. Some of the songs introduced so far are straight covers by pop and R&B superstars like Sia and Kelly Clarkson. I find the songs that are “inspired by” such as “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” to be even more interesting–as they’re more collaborative efforts, using songs from the show as hooks for more modern themes. If you have a Hamilton freak on your wishlist, you’ll want to pre-order this ASAP… and then make sure they don’t just buy it themselves before you can gift it to them!

Winter Party! by Caspar BabypantsWinter Party!
Suggested By: Will James
Mfg: Caspar Babypants
Price: $9.49
Purchase: Winter Party!

Winter Party! is Caspar’s first holiday album full of plenty of songs to get your family through the holiday season. However, this isn’t the same old holiday album you’ve heard a bunch of times. While there are plenty old favorites on here like “Deck the Halls” and “Joy to the World,” there are also a bunch of completely original songs like “Candy Cane” and “Winter Party.” But what makes this album, in my opinion, one of the greatest holiday albums around is that all of the traditional songs have been secularized. You can read my full review for more details.

Vibes ear plugs for live music eventsVibes Acoustic Filter Ear Plugs
Suggested By: Anton
Mfg: Vibes
Price: $24
Purchase: Vibes Acoustic Filter Ear Plugs

Hearing is a delicate sense that we love to use, and often abuse. As avid fans of live music my wife and I have seen well over 100 bands this year, and in an effort to retain our hearing we have started using earplugs. A typical rock concert easily hits 100 db with some reaching as high as 120 and up. According to OSHA’s standards an acceptable duration for 100 db is just 15 minutes. You can mitigate this by retreating to the back of the venue, but that often isn’t enough.

So far I’ve tried about 6 brands ranging in price from the $1 foam plugs to these $24 Vibes. While most of the plugs designed for musicians or concert goers work well, I think the Vibes gave the clearest sound without dampening any one frequency too much. I’ll follow up sometime in the next month with a comparison of all the earplugs I’ve tried, but as of now, these are my favorites.

TMNT Headphones for you GeekKid

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Over the Ear Headphone
Suggested By: Anton
Mfg: Sakar
Price: $13
Purchase: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Over the Ear Headphone

Hearing is one of our more delicate senses and can easily by damaged by loud music. These stylish headphones are kid safe and cannot reach damaging volumes. There are a lot of other styles, including Wonder Woman, MLP, Batman and more.

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