Made In Portland: Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Vortex Music Magazine

We all know our city is bursting with musical talent, but it’s also full of behind-the-scenes rock stars—the creators, makers and manufacturers of fine objects that enable and memorialize the craft of music. From gear to literature and film to furniture and accessories, if you’re looking for a locally made gift for the music lover in your life, we’ve got you covered.

Master microphone bricoleur Philip Graham likes to “collect old lady names” wherever he goes (no, it’s not weird that he keeps a list of people’s grandmothers’ names in his pocket notebook) because he needs those names for each exquisitely artisanal microphone he invents from found materials, including Edwina—“our most popular and versatile design.” Hand-wired and tested, she’s solidly built—from plumbing flanges and stainless steel bolts—with her head always on a swivel and intended for live vocal use, producing a warm, natural sound—just like any granny should. Ear Trumpet Labs' Edwina $499, Portland, Oregon

After touring with and mixing for local bands, front-of-house engineer Vitaliy Belonozhko knew he could provide better sound. He could make a customized in-ear monitor that not only sounded and looked better, but was also affordable. And seeing as almost every member of the 1964 Ears team is a musician, these NoPo sound engineers are confident that they deliver a wholly customizable experience with professional appeal. Northwest names Anthony Jones (Pink Martini), Farnell Newton (Jill Scott, Bootsy Collins) and the Blazers’ DJ O.G. One are fans, as are Earth, Wind & Fire. With some 32 colors, from natural to florescent to glitter, and faceplate combos that include metal, wood and iridescent options, the visual possibilities are almost infinite. Auditorily, 1964 Ears doesn’t skimp either, with each set tailored to a musician’s tastes—hearty helpings of bass for drummers and bass players or more mid- and high-frequency sounds for singers. Either way, crisp audio in your ears—rather than at your feet—provides a professional experience for any level of musician. 1964 Ears, $399-899, Portland, Oregon

Bruce Springsteen, possibly the musical name most synonymous with the American dream, has managed to stay more than relevant over the course of more than 40 years and 18 studio albums. Indispensably poetic, political and a champion of the proletariat, Springsteen resonates with audiences worldwide, including one local music scribe. With 20 Grammys to his name and some 120 million records sold, this adoration of Springsteen’s brand of Americana is widely held and exactly why ex-Oregonian journo Ryan White has been busy revisiting The Boss’ catalogue. Emerging with his first book, White’s exhaustive album-by-album account critically explores and chronicles each of Springsteen’s studio releases and is complemented by iconic photography (especially shots by the incomparable Eric Meola), including several previously unpublished photographs. Springsteen: Album by Album by Ryan White, $27.95, Portland, Oregon

Louisville post-rockers Slint—who have since been credited with inventing the entire genre—recorded a masterpiece over the course of four August days in 1990. While not commercially successful at the time—the band broke up before the album was even released—Spiderland has gone on to influence a slew musicians. Shrouded in rumor and mystery ever since, one man has been chasing Slint’s story since the early ’90s. And with the remastered release of Spiderland earlier this year, Portland-based documentarian, music video director and scenester Lance Bangs has finally unveiled his 90-minute documentary—full of unearthed VHS footage and interviews with all of the band members, plus the likes of Steve Albini, James Murphy, Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye and The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow, conducted over the years. Featuring friends, peers and parents that were there before, during and after the recording, Bangs says he’s “also unearthed some unseen, uncirculated footage from their few live performances as well as the writing and arranging of Spiderland.” And while the exclusive box set sold out quickly, you can still get your hands on a physical copy—black vinyl or CD (and you’d better go for the vinyl as the original CD pressing featured the warning: “This recording is meant to be listened to on vinyl”)—from Touch and Go Records, both of which include a DVD of Bangs’ Breadcrumb Trail. By Lance Bangs, $27 vinyl, $19 CD, Portland, Oregon

Yes, it’s true that Voodoo Doughnut Recordings only presses 45s that have one side “at least peripherally related to doughnuts.” And an entire year of limited release records (1,000 copies of each) that “enhance global doughnut awareness” adds up to enough for an even more limited-edition box set. Set to release exactly 300 black flocked boxes of The Singles Collection, the 13 seven inches—a baker’s dozen!—each come in a different color vinyl and feature original songs from 22 artists. From jazz and deep-fried boogie to comedy and yodeling, the 45s are also battered with plenty of punk alongside surf and garage rock, all made easily playable with a custom big-hole adapter while you enjoy “archival photographs of the early, truly weird days” of Voodoo, explains label head Jay Rubin, collaged together by poster man Mike King. Yet, the bacon on the maple bar comes in the form of the Baron Split—a splattered tricolor seven inch available only in the box set—featuring two rambunctious tracks with lead vocals by doughnut barons Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon (listen to a sample of the latter’s lead vocals below) bolstered by instrumental tracks from The Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers. Voodoo Doughnut Recordings’ The Singles Collection, $89.99, Portland, Oregon

Let’s face it: You have a problem. If you require the satisfying analog motion of flipping through LPs, you might be able to curb your addiction (and monthly gramo-expenditures) by simply investing in a Hi Phile Record Cabinet. Devised by garage rocker, mom and vinyl fanatic—not to mention ex-Wieden+Kennedy project manager—Tamar Berk, these sexy stands can comfortably house 500-plus records in two stackable pieces with no-tool assembly and a choice of black laminate, cherry blossom or bamboo plywood. Best of all, each one comes stocked with vinyl releases by Berk’s bands Paradise and The Pynnacles. Hi Phile Record Cabinets, $525-875, Portland, Oregon

Finding a good pair of reliable earbuds can be about as confusing as the tangled mess they inevitably become once you finally get them out of the packaging and into your pocket. Inexpensive options fall apart quickly, high price tags are more often indicators of steep marketing budgets than quality, and it can be difficult to come across a pair that actually fits the unique shape and size of your ear comfortably. Fortunately, Wilsonville-based headphone makers Sol Republic solves these problems with its line of Jax in-ear headphones. They include all the features of high-end earbuds—a flat tangle-free cord, three different sizes of rubber ear tips, an Apple-friendly microphone, a one-year warranty, color options aplenty, and an inline three-button controller that allows you to pause and skip songs on the fly—at a much lower price. Most importantly, these things sound awesome. Bass lovers will enjoy Jax’s impressively powerful low-end frequencies and everyone will appreciate the lack of distortion at all volumes—an impressive feat considering the affordable price tag. Sol Republic, $39.99, Wilsonville, Oregon

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