How is your Christmas mix coming?

How is your Christmas mix coming?

Photo shoot done. 20-30 songs on the shortlist. Waiting on a 7″, a CD from Spain, and very open to something new and incredible. My constant listening is keeping me from writing here – cruel timing – I know.

How about you?

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Christmas Tree Island cover

The Rosebuds – Christmas Tree Island (2012)

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes

Few modern bands have had as much success writing enjoyable Christmas tunes as the Rosebuds have. I have hunted down their Christmas offerings on more than one Raleigh-area compilation, and am extremely happy to have a bunch more songs to sink my ears into.

My expectations were high, and they were roundly met. The two tracks I was familiar with, “I Hear (Click, Click, Click)” and “Oh It’s Christmas” are standouts (of course), but so are a good number of the new (at least, to me) cuts. The moody, saxophone-heavy “Xmas in New York” is truly exceptional. The sorrowful “Thru That Door,” also has some fantastic saxophone parts, that if not done so well, would be cheesy. “Melt Our Way Out” may be my new favorite – great music, and wonderful lyrics.

There are only a few tracks that I’m not too into, as I tend to enjoy the Rosebuds the most when the tempo is quicker. Another word of caution – the lyrical content of the record is largely melancholy. So… perhaps not party music – but its probably better than your party music anyway.

Bottom Line: A wonderful effort. I hope this (sort of) compilation does not signal an end to them writing Christmas songs. 4.5/5

LISTEN:

Lilac Time cover

Pelle Carlberg “Soon After Christmas” (2008)

Labrador Records
Buy: CD (You need the CD to get the download!)

Pelle Carlberg is one of my FAVORITE singer/songwriters… I am particularly fond of his two most recent solo records, In a Nutshell and Lilac Time. So, I dutifully bought them, enjoyed the hell out of their witty wordplay and to my amazement… there is a bonus… a hidden bonus to be found.

I encourage you to first look up Pelle Carlberg, or just groove to the songs below. If you like what he’s putting down, then you should go buy a copy of Lilac Time. If you read the liner notes carefully, you’ll find a link that shall lead you to three additional songs. One of those tunes… a wonderful cover of Stina Nordenstam’s “Soon After Christmas.”

You might imagine… when I found this… I jumped out of my seat, punched a waterfall, and smacked a leprechaun. It was damn exciting.

I will not post it here, and I beseech you to not post it anywhere once you hunt it down yourself. Lets actually buy some records. Lets put a few bucks in Pelle’s pocket. He has a family, and he is a full-time musician. The album is 100% worth it… throw in a ultra-rare Christmas tune that you have to search for… and you cannot beat it.

Bottom Line: The album itself is fantastic, and the Christmas song is wonderful. 5/5

LISTEN:

Another Grey Christmas 2 cover

Another Grey Christmas 2 (2008)

Willamette Week
Buy: CD OOP | Stream

The second in a series by Willamette Week’s Local Cut section – this is the first one that I’ve actually held in my hands. Only available in Portland and (briefly) online, the Another Grey Christmas series compiles local Portland bands doing both originals and covers… as so many other cities do. What Portland has in their favor though… is that its Portland. They’ve got a bunch of great bands just chilling out, waiting to record something amazing.

There are some solid tunes on this disc, with the perfectly passible indie folk rendition of “Winter Wonderland” by A Weather, a stripped down “Silver Bells” by Run on Sentence with Mike Midlo, and a delicate “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” by Laura Gibson. There are some good originals here too – Future Historians‘ “Family Tree” is a darker take on the holiday season, and the lyrics have a wonderful sense of reality to them – something you don’t normally get from a Christmas song.

The best song on the disc is Dolorean’s cover of the Dolly Parton classic, “Hard Candy Christmas.” Slow, sparse and haunting at times – this is not your mother’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” And best of all… they posted it on their website for download.

Definitely check out the rest of the series… but be forewarned, they do not let you BUY anything but vol. 4 & 5. I had to call a boutique in Portland to get ahold of #2… actually purchased their in-store play copy. And I’ve never seen one go up on eBay either.

BOTTOM LINE: Some solid classics are covered, with one strong original. 3.6/5

LISTEN:

Free Music - A Carpark Record (cover)

Free Music – A Carpark Record (2011)

Carpark Records
Buy: LP

Class Actress. Dan Deacon. Cloud Nothings. Three Christmas songs on a free record (from select indie stores last year) that had me on the edge of my seat.

Too bad I don’t like any of them. The Cloud Nothings track is purely instrumental… not something I normally look for with a Christmas tune, though if it were compelling enough, not something I’d rule out. The Dan Deacon tune samples animal noises… which makes it (in my estimation) unlistenable. The Class Actress cover of “Silent Night” is acceptable… but I just don’t like that song on a mix. If it ever makes the cut, it will be because someone did something truly unique with the song that makes me enjoy it.

The non-holiday songs are generally great. Shortest review ever.

Bottom Line: If you create a Christmas mix based strictly on the hipness of the band and not the song, this LP is for you. The following number score is holiday-song specific and does not reflect the generally excellent non-holiday tunes. 1.3/5

LISTEN:


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-XL-3ntI20]