One of Benoît Pioulard‘s labels, Ghostly International, offered up three free tracks for Christmas way back in 2005, one of which was the wonderful track “Rays in the Tallow,” by Michigan’s Benoît Pioulard. If you are unfamiliar with his work (its a stage name, do your research if you are so inclined), then there is a lot out there for you to get into. This particular track is well within his style: beautiful, melodic, haunting and effecting. So take particular pleasure in glory that is this, the long-lost Benoît Pioulard Christmas track, “Rays in the Tallow.”
Merry Christmas, Everyone.
Bottom Line: Pure beauty. 5/5
So, I am not sure as to whether I’ll have a chance to post today or tomorrow. Likely, these are the last 2 days that anyone might care to read this blog… but it also happens to be two days where I’m at my parents house with my newborn child. There is lots of chasing babies and visiting. So, we shall see if I get any time. Be sure to check out my blogroll on the right to keep up with those who are ACTUALLY posting right now.
Too Pure Singles Club
Buy: Please don’t buy them all before I get some money together.
Wow. Garage rock Christmas heaven with Seize the Chair and Best Friends. I had seen this 7″ posted here and there, but hadn’t had a chance to really listen to it yet. I will not waste any more of your time – the listen links are below.
Bottom Line: HOLY $%^&. One of my favorite Christmas releases. 5/5
Well thank you so much Bob and the Christmas Chaos Radio Show! I have been buying Wild Nothing records ever since his first Summer Holiday 7″ , and boy am I happy to find this pop into my life. Wild Nothing takes this fantastic Captain Sensible song and really makes it their own. Their Empty Estate-era synth-heavy production definitely works for this tune. Certainly one that I would love to get ahold of someday… how about it Wild Nothing?? Add a download link of a WAV file? Yes… I ask for the moon.
Bottom Line: Wild Nothing needs to cover more Christmas tunes. 5/5
“Lights on the Tree” is an excellent little tune by Raleigh, NC’s Eston. Brought to my attention by Stu from the Love Language (who lent his production skills, synth and backing vocals to the track), its warm production is a pleasant change from the largely emotional Christmas songs I’ve been writing about (and loving) lately. The lyrics are quite good too. My favorite part comes in the last verse:
Now you’re hardly gonna know so the day comes and goes mostly goes
feel it from your bed when your wrapped up in red,
Now your toes unfroze so that’s how I told you it goes
round and round the tree there for you and for me.
I love a song with a good ending.
Bottom Line: Great original tune, a free download, and it never hurts to have one of indie rock’s most accomplished Christmas songsmith’s fingers in mix. 4.4/5
Buy: Limited 7″ | iTunes | 7Digital MP3
Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers/Scud Mountain Boys), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Mike Belitsky (The Sadies) have created an alt.country/power pop supergroup called The New Mendicants, and are looking to release their first full-length LP on January 28. This would be news in itself, but the fact that they also released a limited, white vinyl 7″ entitled A Very Sorry Christmas Eve is the reason why I write this post! Joe has a history of some Christmas-related songs in the past (see SMB’s “A Ride” and another that I can’t put my finger on), but nothing so explicitly so. Thank goodness it finally happened! “A Very Sorry Christmas” is a fantastic song, the perfect bummer for the humbug in your family (which would be me!). But as with any Joe Pernice project, its a bummer that sounds beautiful while sucking out your soul. As for the B-side, “A Very Sorry New Years,” is the exact same song, just adjusted for New Years Eve. Oddly hilarious to have done so.
Bottom Line: If shipping from Canada wasn’t SO EXPENSIVE, I would rate this higher. I honestly don’t know when I’ll be able to afford it. Why I am telling you about it before I have the chance to own it… I have no idea. Perhaps the world will have some cosmic justice and I’ll get a copy. 4/5
Adam Arcuragi has a number Christmas tunes… and every damn one is excellent. He has been on 2 of my mixes, and this one narrowly missed making it onto this year’s (strictly a flow thing). It will remain the in the hopper for 2014…
This version of the oft-covered “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home),” has just what I look for in a cover – originality in interpretation. He re-imagines it with much darker production, slowing it down and finishing with a beautifully emotional last chorus. Hey, its short too. I always gotta love a short one, especially when its slowed down.
Bottom Line: I will likely write about Adam’s other tunes, but if you are so inclined, hunt down “The Belgian” and “Christmas Song.” This man needs to put out a Christmas record. 4.7/5
I awoke to a pleasant surprise in my mailbox, a new Christmas record from DUOVER! They had mentioned that there was something in the works… but time was fleeting, and I wasn’t quite sure it was going to be this year. This band is one of those underrated Christmas songsmiths who (while they don’t make a record every year) fill their records with originals, ALWAYS a plus in my book. Their voices work so well together, especially when dealing in nostalgia, as in “The Ghost of Christmas Past.” There are some other standout tracks, such as the uptempo “Wintertime Blues,” and the “subdued “It’s Your Turn,” certainly worth your time and money. I do hope that we get to see the other .5 next year!
Bottom Line: Another excellent addition to their already strong Christmas catalog. Extra points for original tunes. 4.4/5
Behind Sapphire are an experimental pop band from Vancouver, Canada, also known (to me) as the Sweden of North America. What is it about cold climates that breed such excellent, interesting pop music? From the Broken Social Scene of Toronto, to the many odd and wonderful bands of Montreal, Canadian cities are just rife with fantastic bands. I will include Behind Sapphire amongst them, and their circumstances are certainly impressive. Still unsigned, they have released 2 EPs, one full length, toured China (got detained in China too!), and have a production value that any signed band would love to have. “Diamonds” is the title track off their first EP, and I am billing this track as one of the more challenging songs on my 2013 mix, The Third Eye Santa. The vocals, the lyrics, and the movements that the song goes through are not for a mainstream pop radio audience. This is one of those tracks that I could see your family members skipping by, but could somehow become your secret, favorite song.
Bottom Line: For your more adventurous listener, perhaps those who enjoy the Parenthetical Girls Christmas tunes. 4.8/5
Snowflakes Singles Club
Buy: Snowflakes SC | Bandcamp
Not breaking any news here, but good songs sometimes need a little cheerleading before someone will listen. One of my favorite tracks from this season has been The Miserable Rich‘s “Everything You Wanted.” It is one of those songs that took me a few listens to absolutely love, but those are the kind of songs that last. I particularly like the chorus, where the music rises and the horns come in. His voice has a great emotional quality to it, which I feel is just something you have – and can’t really learn.
This is just one of four releases from the Snowflakes Singles Club, an excellent new project that I hope we see more of next year. They still have some 7-inches left through the Miserable Rich’s Bandcamp, as well as over at Snowflakes SC (where there are a few sets with the now sold out Smoke Fairies 7″ still available).
Bottom Line: You need to invest a few listens. Then fork over your money. 5/5