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MUSIC 

The gifts to brighten the spirits of the musically inclined people on your holiday list

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A TRIBE CALLED QUEST: WE GOT IT FROM HERE... THANK YOU 4 YOUR SERVICE

Some of the biggest music news of the year came when seminal rap group A Tribe Called Quest announced they'd be releasing their first album in 18 years. Longtime fans didn't quite know what to expect from We Got it From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service ($29.98 on vinyl, which is how you should buy it), considering founding member Phife Dawg (aka Malik Isaac Taylor) died from diabetes complications in March at just 45. Luckily, the album, which the crew is calling their final one, is nothing short of brilliant. We've still got Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White laying it down dirty. Of course their music has changed from the albums that made them famous in the early '90s, but their timeless tunes don't sound like any other rap album released this year either. What the Tribe has given us is a gift, one that includes the last tracks Phife Dawg ever recorded. (LAURA JOHNSON)

COLECRAFT GUITARS

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There aren't many luthiers here in Spokane; we're lucky to have Eben Cole in our midst. Owner of the Garland District's Cole Music Co. shop — which specializes in the repair of high-end vintage and boutique guitars, and is chock-full of goodies for the guitar or bass player in your life — for more than a decade, Cole makes electric instruments, amps and pedals he would want to play. Trained in the art of guitar-making by his father, Cole emulates some of the greatest guitars from the past century — electric guitars weren't invented until the 1930s, but those built in the 1960s and '70s are often considered the best. There are no automated machines used in the building process, and each instrument takes many hours to complete. Materials are American-made; even the toned wood is sourced from North America to craft a completely unique sound. For prices, inquire directly at colecraftguitars.com. (LJ)

PRINCE SYMBOL CAR DECAL

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When Prince passed away in April, the loss was felt deeply throughout the world. His legacy lives on through his music, and through an array of fascinating merchandise perfect for any fan on your list. Remember when the Minnesota musician announced that he had legally changed his name to a symbol, and people started calling him the Artist Formerly Known as Prince? Now you can get your very own Prince symbol car decal to decorate the back of your vehicle. Sold at the GeekEasy Etsy shop, each handmade sticker is made to order and can come in any color you see fit (we vote for purple) for only $4.99. Don't let anyone doubt your allegiance to the musical genius. (LJ)

DOVER QUARTET: TRIBUTE

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Classical music isn't all for the older generation. The Dover Quartet — dubbed the young American string quartet of the moment by the New Yorker — finally released its first album after eight years together. The classical group fittingly named the Mozart-filled album Tribute ($16 on CD) in honor of their mentors the Guarneri Quartet, who featured the same works on their debut album 50 years ago. The Dover Quartet, who originally met at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, attracted the chamber-music world's attention in 2013 by capturing all the major prizes at the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Since then, they've played nearly every important stage in the country and procured a residency at Northwestern University. The new album is as perfect for those wanting to get into the genre as it is for classical connoisseurs. (LJ)

ZOOTS BY BRANDNEWNOISE

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It's only the size of a couple of decks of cards, but this little gadget is a versatile recording tool that's easy to use. Handmade by a New York company and based on the African mbira — or thumb piano — Zoots ($90) has six metal tines affixed to a wooden box, and with the push of a button, you can record up to 30 seconds of melody. Toggle a switch and Zoots loops your recording. Turn the dial and you can shift its pitch up or down. There's even an output jack for further manipulation. Kids can goof around with it, and adults will surely find fun ways to incorporate Zoots into hobbyist or more serious music-making endeavors. (BEN SALMON)

GOOD CHEER RECORDS FAN CLUB

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When Blake Hickman and Mo Troper started Good Cheer Records in 2014, their aim was to document the Northwest's verdant DIY scene. They've done exactly that, and to the surprise of no one who's paying attention, put out a bunch of great records along the way. If you haven't heard Little Star, Cool American, Mo Troper, Sabonis or Floating Room, you should do that now. Here's how: For just $5 annually, join the Good Cheer fan club at goodcheerrecords.bandcamp.com. A single Lincoln gets you downloads of all past and future Good Cheer releases, plus 20 percent off orders. Bump up to $50 and you get all the above plus a cassette per month. Best deal in truly independent rock? Yup. (BS)

SOUNDBREAKING: STORIES FROM THE CUTTING EDGE OF RECORDED MUSIC

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This eight-part series is currently running on PBS stations, but it's so good, it's worth having in your personal collection. The basic premise: Making music and singing have been around as long as humans, but the ability to capture those sounds is a relatively new advancement that changed the world in ways we're still exploring and understanding. Featuring more than 150 interviews with industry giants (including Paul McCartney, Nile Rodgers, Brian Eno, Questlove, Joni Mitchell and more), Soundbreaking is a deep dive on the convergence of human artistry and recording technology, from the concept of the studio as an instrument to the rise of sampling and hip-hop to the future of the music-delivery format. Fascinating stuff. soundbreaking.com (BS)

TRANNY: CONFESSIONS OF PUNK ROCK'S MOST INFAMOUS ANARCHIST SELLOUT BY LAURA JANE GRACE WITH DAN OZZI

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Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace's life hits all of the rock 'n' roll biography watermarks: drugs, sex, band infighting, label squabbles, failed relationships and so on. And that's not even diving into the internal battle that's become the defining story of the vocal-cord-shredding punk rocker born Tom Gabel: her decades-long, deeply personal and painful struggle with transgender dysphoria before coming out as trans in 2012. In her memoir Tranny, Grace shares the highs and crushing lows of her self-discovery journey in diaristic detail that's as unflinching, brutal, and blunt as an Against Me! song. Hell, months before its release, Billboard had already named Tranny one of "The 100 Greatest Music Books of All Time." This anarcho punk is now a little less mysterious. Auntie's Bookstore, $28. (SETH SOMMERFELD)





POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING

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It's hard waking up each day knowing we live in a world where Lonely Island's uproariously funny musical mockumentary Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was a colossal box office bomb. But now you can get it on DVD for $25. Lampooning the modern pop scene with a vicious silliness, Popstar is an oasis of hilarity for music-loving comedy fans. Following Andy Samberg's out-of-touch Justin Bieber-esque Conner4Real as he deals with declining fame, strained relationships with the members of his old boy band, and an edgy up-and-coming rapper trying to take his place, the star-packed film parodies everything from Macklemore's "Same Love" to TMZ to absurd product tie-ins and iPod DJs. With an unrelenting joke density that crams four or five bits into every minute, the best lines will get stuck in your head like a pop song. (SS)

ANGEL OLSEN: MY WOMAN

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At this point in the year you might as well lean in to the beautiful side of heartbreak and anguish, and North Carolina singer-songwriter Angel Olsen has long possessed a rip-your-heart-right-out-of-your-chest voice that packs an emotional wallop, tremblingly expressing her lines of lovesick poetry. On her latest album, My Woman ($19), the raw edges of Olsen's folky rock tunes receive a diamond polish and come out sounding like glimmering pop gems. Whether begging to cut past the messy parts of romance on the undeniable single "Shut Up Kiss Me" or drowning in gorgeous melancholy on "Give It Up," this angelic diva croons our collective pain. (SS)

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