Converse Noise to the World

Noise to the World: Converse Rubber Tracks Holiday Music (2013)

Converse Rubber Tracks
Buy: Free!

How did this thing slip by me? And how did this slip by my fellow Christmas bloggers? This would be like missing the Target comp of years ago, in that it is packed with “indie” bands with a  large corporate backer – so how did it make a noise in a few music publications but never come across my googling? Noise to the World is seven tracks of varying styles, but all with a certain level of quality where I don’t hate anything – it’s truly listenable. As an added bonus – there appear to be vinyl copies of this out there somewhere.

We’ll run down the release track-by-track, as it is a short release and each one is worth a note. Roxy Roca offers a funky original that elicits the imagery of a picturesque Christmas, but not without you. Warm Soda (the band that really made me excited to hear this) mines the same fertile ground of Roxy Roca, and many bands before, with their “Without You By My Side.” Their power-pop delivery takes the melancholy lyrics and lifts it up enough with the music to not feel like a dirge. The two songs are so similar in their main thesis, yet so very different in the approach, tone, lyrics and delivery that the only thing that ties them together is “without you.”

Fresh Daily and Black Spade contribute a surprisingly strong Christmas rap song with “Holiday ’93.” I don’t normally get into a hip-hop holiday, but this track is not only enjoyable and is perhaps the best song on the record. They don’t make it a joke, like so many other Christmas rap songs, and their attitude and lyrics strike me as very much in genuine & nostalgic vein of Ahmad’s “Back in the Day,” which is very welcome.

Mother Merey & the Black Dirt take the holiday staple, “Run Run Rudolph,” and deliver a wonderful, country-noir song that is just downright refreshing. They make it their own.

Workout’s “Jingle Bells” is the most-skippable track on the release for me, for two reasons. First, Jingle Bells. Second, pop-punk is just not my bag. However, they become very listenable by exuding a sense of humor about the whole thing, and being so damn short. Kudos.

The She’s “December Tide” is another in a recent wave (pun!) of surfin’ tunes. I can’t recall such a melancholy surfing Christmas (well, winter) tune in a very long time. This song is the kind of indie-pop that I’m quite receptive to, and would gnaw at any pop-punk fan… we are just different species, you and I. I especially like the end of the song, with the layering of the vocals… if you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know how much I love a good ending.

Finally, Low Fat Getting High’s “Deck the Halls” will please the headbanger in you. They do “Deck the Halls” hardcore and fully commit. Not normally my thing, but oddly, not unlistenable. Had it ended at 1:40, I would have liked it a bit more.

Bottom Line: Wow. Pretty excellent all the way through. Free, with super-high-res MP3 download. Quite listenable and at times downright fantastic. Pleasantly surprised, and certainly recommended. 4.4/5

LISTEN

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Wheels Fargo and the Nightingale

Wheels Fargo and the Nightingale “The Christmas Presents’ Blues” (2014)

Part Records
Buy: 7Digital MP3/FLAC | Amazon UK (CD)

First off, isn’t it great having Stubby back? Secondly, how about some Italian rockabilly/bluegrass for your holiday season? Wheels Fargo and the Nightingale have released a new record, At the Hayride!, with an original Christmas tune to boot! For those looking for a country-feel for your Christmas mix, look no further than these imports (and I stress import- its not out in the states!). One of the originals on their new record just happens to be “The Christmas Presents’ Blues,” and its a solid piece of work. The song is simply about those presents that just don’t go right – shoes don’t fit, names are misspelled, and so forth. This would be for the yodeling cowboy in your family, most certainly.

Bottom Line: I will grade this as one should a wine – and let it be reflective of the qualities of the style it was written in, not necessarily how much I enjoy listening to it. While this sound is not necessarily along the lines of my own personal taste, it is done well and exudes an earnestness that I appreciate. Unfortunately, it loses points for not having an easy means to buy it as single track. 3.8/5

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Mark Kozelek Sings Christmas Carols Cover

UPCOMING: Mark Kozelek – Sings Christmas Carols (2014)

So, its not out yet, and you can only hear two tracks (see below), but it was made official overnight (in that you can now preorder it)… that yes, indeed, Mark Kozelek’s first stab at a true Christmas record will be coming out November 4th. The preorder is live. It is real and it is limited. Those unfamiliar with Mark, or more likely, those with that little bit of familiarity with Mark, may say – hey – he has 2 other Christmas albums! No, no… they are just deceptive titles for live shows with minimal Christmas representation. So, be sure to purchase this new album, not White Christmas Live or Little Drummer Boy Live if you want the full thing.

All that said – I’m looking forward to this. This is certainly an album that will be heavily reviewed by major publications, and could very well be the indie-christmas-du-jour release (unless Sufjan releases another). However, I don’t have my hopes too high up – as the only tracks I’ve heard aren’t quite my bag, but that’s just my personal prejudices toward really religious tunes during Christmas (I understand the irony). I do very much love Mark, Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters though…

The CD version has begun showing up at other retailers (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Amazon UK), but if you purchase direct from Caldo Verde, you get a bonus CD, Mark Kozelek: The Kids – Live in London. In addition, there is also a vinyl pressing that has popped up. The numbers are in, and its official – red, green, black and white editions will all be limited to 500 copies each. The red is available exclusively from Caldo Verde (and its live now… likely for 24 hours or so), while the green, white and black are already available for preorder on Bull Moose’s website, as well as on Amazon (Edit: I don’t think any Amazon copies actually shipped – they kind of suck for limited stuff).

Sings Christmas Carols:

  1. Christmas Time Is Here (Listen via Stereogum)
  2. Do You Hear What I Hear
  3. 2,000 Miles
  4. O Come All Ye Faithful (Listen below or listen at this link)
  5. O Christmas Tree
  6. Away In A Manger
  7. Silent Night
  8. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
  9. What Child Is This
  10. I Believe In Father Christmas
  11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Listen via Stereogum)
  12. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  13. The First Noel
  14. The Christmas Song

Proper review to follow, of course.

LISTEN:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXOhzykofK4]