Los "Big Surf"

Los “Christmas In D” (2016)

Grande Vague Musique
Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon MP3 | Vinyl (shipping from Canada)

How about some surf/power-pop from Québec for your hump day enjoyment? Los‘ released Big Surf on October 7th, their LP follow-up to the EP Small Surf, and snuck a Christmas song on the end! “Christmas in D” has me recalling the feel and sound of Mojave 3 at their most poppy, which isn’t necessarily very poppy, but more a mid-tempo, atmospheric, country-twinged dream pop scenario. I’m thinking this through as I write it, so bear with me. I’m really feeling a healthy dash of Pernice Brothers too, especially with the dark lyrics and the vocal layering. “All is well, you never can tell / If heaven is a place to sell / if loving is a wishing well / pulling you under” Los has some nice turns of phrase here, highlighted nicely with multiple listens (so listen!). Los has delivered a complex and interesting Christmas song, perfect for a place like Christmas Underground, and poison for a Christmas party. Hey… that would be a good tagline for this site!

Botton Line: A complex song stylistically, lyrically, and emotionally. Los has my vote! #twomoreweeksofhell


Dylan Mondegreen - Ghost of Christmas Past

Dylan Mondegreen “The Ghost of Christmas Past” (2016)

Shelflife Records
Buy: Bandcamp | 7Digital | Amazon.uk MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3

If you know me at all, or read this blog, you know I have a particular affinity for Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, etc. To top it off, I also have a particular love for indiepop, as well as the Shelflife label. Thus, when I saw that Norwegian singer-songwriter Dylan Mondegreen had a Christmas-ish song, “The Ghost of Christmas Past,” on his new album, Every Little Step, I jumped in and gave it an immediate listen. While these are not going be big name checks that everyone will be familiar with (unless you read this blog), I found this particular track to share equal parts Pelle Carlberg and Jens Lekman. Dylan has a quality to his voice that matches quite well with Pelle, and the flute flourishes felt like the Bacharach-influenced tracks of Night Falls on Kortedala-era Jens Lekman. The songwriting is also very clever; It’s a song about visiting yourself as the ghost of Christmas past, and realizing that you’d do it over again. Certainly worth a listen!

Bottom Line: Solid indiepop that will please indiepop fans.


Skiiing "Holly"

Skiiing – Holly (2013)

Self-Released/Späti Palace
Buy: Bandcamp

On day two of my Skiing trip, we visit 2013’s Holly. Upon initial discovery, I nearly flipped out and thought the entire record was Christmas… but alas, I’m only going to point to two… two stellar tracks on this overall fantastic release. Let’s begin with “Skiing,” the eponymous second track on the album. Here, skiing is used as a metaphor for life, blazing paths and picking up (and staying with) friends. While this is not explicitly a Christmas or winter song, the imagery and the nostalgia evoked by looking to the past and relying on your friends certainly brings out the spirit. Similarly, the title track “Holly” is another metaphor song, this time for a false friend. However, the dressing of this song in this Ilex opens the door to a seasonal attachment – to use this particular metaphor (to me) grounds the time period the song takes place in as the holiday season. I know, I know… maybe a bit of a stretch on these two… but I’m flexible. I just like this band too damn much to talk myself out of this post.

If you are interested in picking up any of these Skiing releases, they are often only print runs of 100 or so… so if you are like me and like a physical copy of a disc/cassette, you’ll grab them sooner than later. Of note… Holly appears to be gone, gone, gone.

Bottom Line: Did you enjoy my attempts at Christmas-mix gymnastics? If you did or didn’t, I hope you join me in just enjoying the hell out of this band.


Skiing Generous Fire E.P.

Skiing – Generous Fire E.P. (2013)

Buy: Free!

Skiing have just popped onto my radar… in an absolutely massive way. This will be the first, of a few, posts about this superb band from Berlin. Frankly, I’ve only held out posting about this band until I could pick up a few releases that I knew would be hard to get after the massive interest generated by this powerful, taste-making blog. Comprised of “Everett Darling and his current, future, and ex-friends, family, and lovers,” Skiing have been releasing superb “post-adult contemporary” indiepop/rock since 2012, and how I do love those descriptors. They exude this wonderful, sophisticated sense of humor, which is one of many reasons why Skiing is such a pleasure. The Generous Fire E.P., released in 2013 as a Christmas present to the fans, is a hot 3-track E.P. with a loose connection to the Christmas holiday. While only one specifically name checks-Christmas, I see all the songs as taking place during the season.  From the aggressive DIY decorating of “Interior Design,” to a clever play on words and the disposability of Christmas presents in “26th December,” and finally the dark side of generosity in “On Me,” Skiing has created a wickedly short and concise piece of consumerism criticism that belongs at any slightly grumpy (me!) Christmas table.

Bottom Line: With each song coming in under 2:00, this fun-sized E.P. will start your anti-holiday season off with a bang! And what do you know… it’s free (obviously!).


Faye and the Scrooges

Faye and the Scrooges “Work Christmas Party” (2015/2016)

Buy: Stream

Faye and the Scrooges are back (with last year’s song)! “Work Christmas Party” has all the hilarity that you might imagine from a send-up of the the time-honored convention of the work Christmas party. What sets Faye and the Scrooges apart from others who tackle Christmas with humor, is their exceptional production and… well… general level of taste; They simply make wonderful choices. So enjoy this early (or would you call it late?) Christmas present, and have a wonderful, Faye and the Scrooges Christmas. And don’t punch the guy at reception.

Bottom Line: Faye and the Scrooges continue to amaze with their wonderful Christmas catalogue.

Thumper "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"

Thumper “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (2015)

Buy: Soundcloud (Free!) | Bandcamp (NYOP)

Somehow, this Dublin noise-pop band Thumper snuck by me last year… I have no clue how, but they did. Despite my best efforts scouring Bandcamp and Soundcloud, this solid, scuzzy cover of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” remained hidden in a corner of the net that I just couldn’t see. Thankfully, here we are, and Thumper have cooked up this nice slice of Phil Spector Christmas pie, using their own dirty pan. They add a sense of urgency to the song that you very, very rarely hear. Check out their other stuff… they have this huge, dirty sound that is f*ing great.

Edit: Also part of the A Co-Present Christmas compilation of Irish bands and featuring CU favorites Blades Club and Sleep Thieves. Gotta check that one out soon!

Bottom Line: An urgent, noisy treatment of a Christmas classic that just might make its way on to your mix this year. Hopefully they’ll decide to put another song in our stocking this year…


Jean Luc Tobine's Official Fan Club

Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club – Christmas 7″ (2012)

Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club
Buy: Bandcamp

My french is nonexistent, and Google Translate is only so good… so please bear with me as I try to relay information about this wonderful Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club (JLTOFC) Christmas 7″. JLTOFC began in 2011 to support and develop artists. If I understand correctly, JLTOFC is a nonprofit arts organization, with a radio program, music label, and theater and film production services. Of particular note, JLTOFC’s radio program is run on school holidays, and they ask participants to create a playlist of 5 tracks on a theme. The program would focus on songs of spring, summer hits, fishing songs, Halloween songs… and yes… Christmas songs. Perhaps this radio show was just the spark that began the warm fire that is JLTOFC’s wonderful musical offering, 2012’s Christmas 7″.

Christmas is truly one of the strongest 7″ Christmas compilations I have ever come across. Four tracks, each original and with an interesting point-of-view… I want more… I need more. It begins with the now-defunct All Cannibals‘ “Christmas Night.” I love every second of this song, from the rollicking music, to the earnest lyrics (“Christmas night / true and beautiful”), this song is undeniable. You can also find this track on my 2015 mix!

Trotski Nautique‘s “Noël Sapin” is a lovely slice of French indiepop, and while I have no idea what they are saying… the music is all I need to love this song. Is that a recorder I hear? If it is, that’s the best damn recorder I’ve ever heard in a song. Don’t let me scare you off… listen.

You Call It a Name veers into Weezer territory with the cheeky “I’ll play my next album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.” As with most of the songs on this release, I can’t quite make out all the lyrics well enough to quote them… but I don’t think I’m crazy to think that they might be writing to Santa Clause to be able to play their next album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. There’s some “kicking ass,” lots of rocking out… it’s good fun.

If you’re a reader of this blog from 2015, you may already be familiar with the wonderful a Drift. “It’s Christmas” is their first seasonal offering, and it’s quite a lovely piece of indiepop. “All these colored red white and green / it’s Christmas  / it’s Christmas / the whole house smells like tangerine / it’s Christmas / it’s Christmas.” A warm, fuzzy, indiepop blanket of a song to round out this incredible 7″.

With only 300 of these records in existence, there is no explanation as to why these are not already sold out. They sent me a lovely note with my order, and as it turns out… I’m the first person from the states to order it. While this does prove how stone-cold cool I am, this needs to be remedied. Buy the crap out of this. Throw a few bucks in and download it. Whatever you do… this needs to be heard and loved.

Bottom Line: I am most certainly a fan of Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club. Please, dear flying spaghetti monster Santa, deliver me a new Christmas release this year, or next year, or the year after that. I’m patient. I’ll wait.