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In 2004, El Perro Del Mar was pretty much only known to the outside world as that singer who shared a split 7″ with Jens Lekman. Thankfully, things have changed in the past decade, and Sarah Assbring (her real name) has released a handful of wonderful, critically acclaimed and challenging records. One of her very first releases (her second if I am not mistaken) was a Christmas CD-R on the Swedish Hybris label. Limited to 200 copies, this CD-R had a fantastic A-side in “Oh What a Christmas!” and an equally enjoyable B-side with “Shake it Off.” Only one of those tunes was Christmas-related, I’ll leave it to you to guess.
“Oh What a Christmas!” has since become somewhat of an indie-christmas classic, showing up on the wonderful It’s Not Like Christmas… and of course, countless 8tracks mixes. This attention is well deserved, as the song is pretty wonderful – the music harkens back to the drum beat of 60’s pop, while layering on her ever-so-distinctive vocals to create a great 3 minutes of Swedish retro-pop. Of note, in 2009, she dipped her toes back into season fare with Auld Lang Syne – and really puts the El Perro Del Mar stamp on that old chestnut as well.
Bottom Line: If you aren’t turned off by her voice to start with, then this song is likely for you. 4.5/5
Like my fellow friend-in-Christmas Stubby, I too believe that the Swedish country-punk band, The Linedance Fever, have recorded one of the most wonderful and original versions of the oft-covered Wham! classic, “Last Christmas.” I have included a few covers of this song on my mixes in the past, each one quite distinct from the other… and this version joins the Erlend Oye version as the best that you can find. (They also have another Christmas tune, 365 Days of Christmas, and I may review that at some point… and I do hope they make some more.)
Bottom Line: A gem. If you have any taste, you’ll think so too. 🙂 5/5
Marsh-Marigold (EP) / Siesta (Compilation)
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Associated with the wonderful Acid House Kings (in that they share one member), Red Sleeping Beauty
were active from 1992-1997 are recently back in the swing of things with a new track (a cover) on the bonus disc of Alpaca Sports’ debut release. For those, like me, who have followed that Swedish indie-pop rabbit hole down a good ways, this is good news.
Red Sleeping Beauty, like the Acid House Kings, dabbled in a seasonal tune on their first release. Amazingly enough, both songs were titled “Christmas,” and were released in the same year (1992) on the same record label (Marsh-Marigold). However, one song is significantly better than the other – and my (unfortunate) distaste for the AHK song left me with quite low expectations for the RSB tune. I was, however, quite pleasantly surprised. Red Sleeping Beauty recorded a perfectly fine indie-pop Christmas tune, very much in the style of the genre, but with a nice bed of fuzz to build the male/female vocal interplay upon. Originally released on their 1992 debut EP, Pop Sounds, it is much easier located on 2000’s Siesta singles compilation appropriately titled, Singles.
Bottom Line: Solid indie-pop from Sweden gets my vote. As I live with this tune some more, it might get a few more points… we’ll see. 3.9/5