The Fools / The Fools

The Fools “Dear Santa” (2016)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

How about some lo-fi indiepop for your earholes? Perhaps some barking and a dash of saxophone? Does that sound nice? Well, have I got the Christmas song for you. Seattle’s The Fools released their self-titled debut earlier this year, and it has a lovely, goofy little Christmas song nestled within its tracks. “Dear Santa” is whimsical and precious, but look out… there’s a dark side. Keep listening.

Bottom Line: The Fools have been petting a little bunny… and you know what happens when you pet the bunny too much. Fun! Hot top: it’s a name-your-price for the entire record.

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Cerise

Cerise “St. Nick” (2016)

Self-Released
Buy: Stream | Bandcamp?

Well hi there. Nice to see you all. Stubby’s been telling me about this other awesome dream pop tune, so I thought I’d send another one back.

Chicago-based Cerise is the tip of what promises to be a healthy schedule of Christmas in July June tunes. I’ve had this on my radar for a good while, and could have posted about it a month ago, but then you might have expected too much from me, such as additional posts (shame on you!). Cerise dabbles in what I would equate as the dark edges of Beach House-meets-Cure-meets-Mazzy Star. That’s just a quick, off-the-cuff comparison, one which I may tweak as the heat leaves my brain and I can think once more. Did I mention it is hot out? I don’t have the same access that Consequence of Sound has, and while the lyrics aren’t completely disguised, they can be tough to make out at times. Obviously, she name-checks St. Nick, as well as snowflakes, and jingle bells feature prominently. However, it will likely come as no surprise that this is not a Christmas song.

From the Consequence of Sound article:

“I was thinking about a relationship once that turns into a deal, so that each will get what they want but only to sell the relationship off with it,” Cerise tells Consequence of Sound of the song. She captures this by playing with lyrical opposites of joy (“Awaiting St. Nick/ And family glory”) and despair (“Run away to abandon/ Snowflakes and soirees”).

 

I’m in. I love this kind of ambiguous stuff. The record will released real soon – June 24th! It’s just a matter of time until there are tracks on her Bandcamp page… but I’ll be buying the vinyl!

Bottom Line: Dark, beautiful dream pop that will cool down your hot summer nights.

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Gloss - Gifts Received

Gloss “Gifts Received” (2015)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Minneapolis’ Gloss have made the best Joy Division/New Order Christmas song of the year all time! From the baseline, to the vocals, to the lyrics, Gloss have hit the nail on the head when it comes to writing a dark, pulsing, disturbing Christmas song. Sonically, this song is most certainly a departure from the Captured Tracks-esque indie rock of their Front Porch debut, which I loved. Team this track up with the MONEY track, and you are looking at a very gloomy, awesome, Christmas mix.

Bottom Line: Jingle bells, deep synth lines and clashing guitars… Merry Christmas!

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Sol Cat & Kansas Bible Company - Father Christmas

Sol Cat & Kansas Bible Company “Father Christmas” (2015)

Self Released
Buy: Stream

I have a title in mind for my blog this season: The year Jim wrote about the same bands he wrote about last year. Don’t fret though… I’m actually pretty pumped about it. Apparently, I’ve stumbled across a bunch of bands that want to put out great Christmas music every year! So my happy hunting this morning ended quickly, with yet another fantastic cover by Sol Cat & Kansas Bible Company, the Kinks’ “Father Christmas.” This is the third time these two bands have gotten together for a seasonal hit, beginning with 2013’s “Wonderful Christmas Time” and 2014’s “This Christmas,” which you may have learned about here! Once again, they have infused a modern Christmas classic with youthful energy and fantastic production. They make small, but wonderful choices, both their phrasing and instrumentation to make this a particularly great version. I also appreciate the fact that they don’t want a machine gun

Bottom Line: Perhaps my favorite version of “Father Christmas” from the past 5 years. Realllllly digging this.

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aquatic-slime

Aquatic Slime “Winter” (2014/2015)

Self Released
Buy: Soundcloud

Aquatic Slime have awoke from their winter slumber… and released all the Christmas tracks they’ve had piling up since 2006! There is even this curious track… which they abandoned because it was deemed “too slow/terrible drums.” Well… lets think about this. I do not agree with it being too slow; It’s slower track, but Aquatic Slime have great instincts, and it works quite well. I’ve come to expect a certain sound from Aquatic Slime, and had someone played this track, with the plinking electronic flourishes, organ synths and beautiful female vocals, I probably would have been able to peg it. Granted, there is something that happened in the drums/production that appears to have caused some clipping, but fix that, and you’ve got a winner.

I look forward to checking out all the other tracks that Aquatic Slime dropped too! Some intriguing titles too: “A Rave in a Manger,” “God Rest Ye Badass Gentlemen” – Awesome!

Bottom Line: I hear ya Aquatic Slime, and I understand why you did what you did… but throw a new coat of paint on this baby and you’ve got a new car!

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MONEY

MONEY “A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic’s New Year” (2015)

Bella Union
Buy: Soundcloud (Live version is free!) | Band Site

So sometimes, while searching for Christmas songs, I stumble upon a band that transcends the holiday season, and enters into my everyday listening. I can think of many examples of this in fact, it’s a significant bonus to this particular obsession. So, while on a night of keyword searching on blogs I dig, I came across Manchester’s MONEY. They are raw emotion and the soaring music, channeled through Tom Waits (not necessarily literal voice, but the voice), all the while not feeling contrived and wholly genuine. I’m somewhat obsessed at the moment.

Their new album, Suicide Songs, comes out January 29th… and they have released some preview tracks. First came the spectacular “The Night,” which I cannot recommend enough. The most recent track is a live version of a deeper album cut, which I’ve been been particularly eyeing (and tweeting at the band about!), “A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic’s New Year.” This is the track that really had me thinking Tom Waits – you can imagine Tom growling through this song beautifully.

and i’ve wasted all my time
on cocaine at christmas
and bottles of wine
and i’m as happy as a child
because you don’t have to ask me why

Darkness can sometimes bring you down, somehow MONEY’s travels in the darker corners of life can give you shivers – the good kind. I hope at least one or two of you agree… and preorder their new album. I do hope they have signed copies left after Christmas, when I might have some money!

Bottom Line: MONEY have channeled the very best of Tom Waits to create a new drunk, Christmas classic. They could not be kinder by releasing this beautiful live version for free on Soundcloud – even a WAV file!

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a Drift - Merry Christmas

a Drift “Merry Xmas (War Isn’t Over) (2015)

Jean Luc Tobine’s Offical Fan Club
Buy: Bandcamp

French indiepop band a Drift have just released what one might call a “response song” to John Lennon’s classic, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” While the original has a hopeful choir of children, this wonderfully acerbic new Christmas song resigns itself to reality, while wishing you to embrace your loved ones at Christmas, cause they’re all gonna die. This is a commentary on our current state, biting sarcasm dressed up in a beautiful indiepop robe.

War is not over but we’re not gonna fight,
so merry, merry Christmas.
Corporations won’t save us from the climate disaster,
so merry, merry Christmas.
Share your love with your friends,
cause sooner or later they’re all gonna die.
La lala la la lala la,
so merry, merry Christmas.

I think this song goes along quite well with the beautiful and poignant Sondre Lerche song from earlier in the season – for those who wish to add a bit of politics to their mix, as I often enjoy to do.

Bottom Line: Beneath the handclaps, a Drift highlights the reality, and one might argue, the futility of our current world situation. Love it.

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