Aquatic Slime

Aquatic Slime “Milestones (Another Year)” (2013)

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp

For a band who is not a band… this is one hell of a song. Hailing form Essex, Aquatic Slime’s only real internet presence is a Soundcloud account, which houses all their tunes for free download. The only place for additional information is Drowned in Sound, where they are a community member of the boards. Thus, in an oddly similar style to Faye and the Scrooges, Aquatic Slime is another yet-to-be-proper band that has snuck a great Christmas tune under the music radar; “Milestones” has 64 plays at the time of this publish, and likely 10 of those were mine. So give this electro-pop a spin, and feel free to let them know if you like it. Wonderful female vocals, excellent lyrics, and a certainly a different Christmas jam than you’re used to.

Note: I contacted the “band” to find out more: “We aim to make a Christmas track every year (past tracks include A Rave in a Manger, God Rest ye Badass Gentlemen, Ding Dong Merrily, I’m High…), but this was the first where we had a bit more originality. It was very fun to make too!” 

Awesome – so be on the lookout for this year’s track!

Bottom Line: Perhaps the best not-a-band out there. 4.8/5

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Hot Shorts - Xmas Single

Hot Shorts – Xmas Single (2014)

Self-Released / Cat from Japan Records
Buy: Bandcamp | Cassette

The Manchester band Hot Shorts has laid (first track-related pun!) some nice Christmas tunes on us with plenty of time to spare. Not trying to be taken too seriously, this 2-track release starts off with “Sex Christmas.” Here are the lyrics if you wish: “I wanna Sex Christmas / and I don’t even know what that means.” That’s pretty much it! The vibe is fun – heavy guitars, shouting, everything you’d hope from sexin’ it up at Christmas.

The second tune is pretty fantastic, and while I enjoy the cheekiness of the leadoff track, “I Don’t Even Want to Talk about It (This Christmas),” certainly satisfies my hunger for indie-rock Christmas tunes. I’m trying to find a good RIYL – perhaps Weezer if they hadn’t sucked for the past 10 years? Listen to it though. Its totally worth the 1:32 it runs…

Bottom Line: Two SHORT tunes, a name-your-own-price, and an opportunity to get a luxurious, double-sided artwork cassette tape? 4.3/5

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Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy: A Holiday Comp for the Kids (2013)

Analog Ghost Records
Buy: Vinyl/MP3 from label | Vinyl from JigsawCassette

What a lineup. Quasi. Rob Crow (of Pinback). The Music Tapes. Wooden Wand. Ida. Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy). Mike Watt (of the Minutemen/etc/etc). Certainly some indie heavy-hitters on this compilation, thus I would have expected this record to make more waves last year. I found it rather late in the season, too late for my mix no doubt, but don’t recall really coming across it very many other places either. I don’t know whether it was the rather generic title (Comfort and Joy) that pushed it down in Google results, or what might have happened, but this release deserves your attention! Limited to 500 copies on vinyl (and likely much fewer on cassette), proceeds from this release benefit the Covenant House, a charity that helps homeless youth across the country. Check out Analog Ghost’s Facebook page to see a pic of the nice letter that they got back after their first donation of proceeds.

I don’t normally provide tracklists, but I think you would benefit from this:

  1. Quasi – “Christmas on Credit”
  2. Rob Crow (Pinback) – ”Wasail Among Us”
  3. Joe Jack Talcum (Dead Milkmen) – ”Christmas Waltz”
  4. Human Hearts (Franklin Bruno) – “June is as Cold as December”
  5. David Ivar aka Black Yaya (Herman Dune) – ”I Fought the Lord”
  6. Golden Boots – “Mele Kalikimaka”
  7. Wckr Spgt – “The Ballad of Snowy Brown”
  8. Refrigerator – “Christmas in the Sun”
  9. The Music Tapes – “Let it Snow”
  10. Ida – “Heard it from Heaven Today”
  11. Nima Kazerouni ft Maston – “Dear Santa, This World is Strange”
  12. Wooden Wand – “Silver Bells”
  13. Outravez (Monotonix) – ”Banu Hoshech Legaresh”
  14. Jason Lytle (Grandaddy) – “Piano Fell Asleep In The Bushes”
  15. Mike Watt – ”The First Noel”
  16. Terry Riley – ”God Rest Ye”

I don’t want to get bogged down in a track-by-track rundown, so here are some personal highlights. Quasi‘s “Christmas on Credit” is one of those snarky Christmas tunes that I love. Rob Crow‘s “Wasail Among Us” dips more into the territory his hard-rocking side projects and really shakes up the record. David Ivar (AKA Black YaYa)’s “I Fought the Lord” is a great take on “I Fought the Law” and has some welcome harmonica. Even Golden Boots‘ “Mele Kalikimaka” is 100% enjoyable and their fuzzy baseline really does it for me – It may even be my favorite tune on the record. Nima Kazerouni ft. Maston’s “Dear Santa, This World is Strange,” has the echoey vocals, jangling bells, and general mood that you expect from a Christmas tune. While the pace is slow, it may find a place on your mix if your sequencing fits. I love the title & the general concept of the song.

There are really only a few tunes that I would skip by – the Mike Watt bass-only cover of  “First Noel” would be one. Something about the entire song being played ONLY on a bass… just not for me. With minimal clunkers, Comfort and Joy is a very welcome compilation that, certainly for the price, you should feel great exchanging your hard-earned money for.

If I am not mistaken, there is also a download card in the package as well. I ordered from the label last year, and they actually dropboxed me the tunes immediately. But I’m pretttttty sure there’s some sort of card in there too. Let me know if there isn’t…

EDIT: I’ve updated the “Buy” section – the record label has some more copies!

Bottom Line: Certainly enough here to be happy about. 4/5

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