No, not the bloated, overrated show produced by HBO, which was subsequently cancelled. Rather, everyone has a friend or family member that is damn near impossible to shop for, whether because they have everything they want or because they’re incredibly boring and in need of a hobby. Either way, the holidays are the perfect time to gift that special someone with their own hobby — help them start a record collection. Turntables can be purchased for cheap online or at a number of local retailers, and local spots like Cactus Music, Heights Vinyl and Vinal Edge offer affordable vinyl options, particularly of the used variety. Everyone has their own musical tastes, but with vinyl being back in fashion, those looking to start or expand a collection won’t lack for options. Even modern-day pop stars like Taylor Swift and Adele have begun releasing their latest albums on vinyl. CLINT HALE
HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION
In the past year I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time fawning over the beautiful binding of this unruly publication at various book stores. As a Hamilton fan and a noted coveter of pretty things, I couldn’t help but be drawn to this book. Sure, the selling points are easy: Painstakingly annotated lyrics, essays on every aspect of production, and huge, full-color stage photos. But the mass of this object, the feel of its pages, and the overall quality of all things Hamilton to make this a worthy addition to any coffee table. My copy is on my nightstand, where it is one of the first things I see as I wake up and go to sleep — just like it deserves. ERIC SMITH
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APOCALYPSE: A BILL CALLAHAN TOUR FILM
Typically, I would be remiss to endorse an item that's a part of the Record Store Day promotion. While getting patrons to support local record shops is certainly noble goal, more often than not these "exclusive reissues" are mediocre cash grabs by major labels that clog up pressing plants and delaying the releases of better albums by smaller labels. However, this year's Black Friday has one in particular worth waking up early for (two counting the special vinyl release of “International Player’s Anthem,” but if you're on this site you don't need to be told to buy that). The release in question is a DVD/live-album combination from one of the country's eminent songwriters, the always enchanting Bill Callahan.
The artist who used to record under the moniker Smog has put out some of the strongest works of his 25-plus-year career in the past decade, with 2011's prescient, thoughtful Apocalypse serving as a personal peak. Callahan's songs are full of deadbeats and wanderers, but he never lapses into cliche, instead imbuing his tales with poise and grace. This live release comes from the tour behind that album, and whether you're a diehard fan or a novice, this release is an essential Black Friday grab (but don't too many of you buy one, I need to make sure I get a copy too). DAVID SACKLLAH
Why not make this Black Friday Black Metal Friday? Black Metal is the second album from New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends Venom; this 1982 release gave name and birth to the early Norwegian black-metal scene and also has inspired thousands of death metal and thrash metal bands for years up to this very day. On Record Store Day Black Friday the album will be released as a picture-disc version featuring the original, classic, creepy goat-man album-cover art from bassist/singer Cronos. Along with Cronos, the album features the entire classic Venom lineup including Mantas on guitar and Abaddon on drums; every metalhead should include Black Metal in their collection and the Venom sound is so raw even the punks will appreciate it. “Don’t Burn the Witch” and “Countess Bathory” are among the record’s blackest scorched-earth numbers. DAVID ROZYCKI