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Los Campesinos! have established themselves as one of the most reliable purveyors of fine indie Christmas tunes. With songs such as “Kindle a Flame In Her Heart,” “A Doe to A Deer,” and the beautiful cover of the traditional song “The Holly and the Ivy,” every song they had done was so good that had these been the only songs Christmas songs they ever released, I would feel fortunate. Released as mp3s (I thought there was a Heat Rash release, but I can’t find it) in the past few years, each Los Campesinos! release has been both surprising and spectacular. Thus, when I saw on Stubby’s site that Los Campesinos! was going to release an entire Christmas EP, I was over the moon. Expectations were high… and they were met. The new track, “When Christmas Comes” is just as interesting as their previous originals, and unlike anything else that has been released this year. The other new original “The Trains Don’t Run (It’s Christmas Day)” has a slower pace and a more dour vibe. It may be a downer, but a satisfying one. Finally, the cover of Mud’s “Lonely This Christmas,” is by far the weakest on the record. Los Campesinos! originals are so much better that the contrast becomes quite stark – why even bother with a (modern) cover when your songs are so much better?
I do hope for a volume 2 somewhere down the line. Los Campesinos! rule!
Bottom Line: At times glorious, at the very least extremely listenable all the way through. Extra points for the vinyl, as well as the cheap price! 5/5
Buy: Bandcamp | Bandcamp Deluxe Edition
One of the most anticipated releases (for me) this year is Daisy Digital‘s charity compilation, It’s Coming on Christmas 2. She just released the lineup of bands, and it includes a NEW Slow Club song, as well as tracks from Summer Camp, Shy Nature and The Districts to name a few (there are a TON of bands on this list). I’m damn excited, and can’t wait to hear it. While it may be coming out too late for this year’s mix (for me at least)… I’m going to have an eye on next year for sure. More to come on this release as it develops.
Be sure to check out last year’s compilation as well – all proceeds are donated to CoppaFeel! a charity that helps breast cancer awareness, educating young people on the importance of checking their boobs regularly and knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
UPDATE: There is now a deluxe version available as well, with 3 additional tracks, outtakes, bonus photos, and a PDF booklet. And they both come out on December 10th!
It was December 24th, 2012, and San Francisco’s Carousel released an indiepop gem of a Christmas tune on their Facebook/Soundcloud. So, it probably never made a mix that year. That’s a tough time to have a song drop, and it may have even gotten a little lost in the shuffle for 2013. In a cursory search on Google, I don’t believe it popped up on any of my Christmas-bloggin friends last year, though I did not look terribly hard (sorry if I missed you). Therefore, I bring this to the masses for mix-consideration in 2014. Electro indie pop at its finest, I do enjoy this little song. Classic Christmas subject matter (all I want is you) with a great beat.
Bottom Line: While their official feed has taken down the link, you can listen to it below and those who are motivated enough, will certainly know how to grab it. 4.4/5
Yes, Blackwatch Studios and Fowler VW are coming back again this year with another local, Oklahoma Christmas compilation! The first track has surfaced on NewsOK, and its smoooooooth. Ryan Lindsey of the excellent indie rock band Broncho, leads it off with “The Naughty List.” Its an 80s jam with a sleazy side, and I’m sure it’ll add that little bit of sexy hilarity to your mix. “You look into the mirror in panties with the whiskey / you might as well engrave your name into the hall-of-fame / of the naughty list.”
The whole thing will be up soon (Dec. 12), and if you live locally, they will be giving away free VINYL copies around town, and also plan to have a free Christmas party! Know anybody in Norman who can get me a copy? DETAILS HERE
Bottom Line: Fun fun fun. 4/5
Damn! It is ramping up huh?? Columbus, Ohio’s Nick D’ & the Believers soulful “Christmas in the City” is a really solid Christmas tune. I really enjoy the harmonies, and find the lyrics simple and honest (always a plus). I don’t know how much more I need to say… its got a great vibe. Listen.
Bottom Line: Great song – Keep ’em coming. 4.5/5.
Tiny Teeth Records
This is a two track free download of tunes from A Wonderful Christmas Time, an improvised (yes… improvised!) film coming out in the UK soon (Already On Demand, in theaters Dec. 12). The two tracks they’ve put on Soundcloud are pretty great. The Lovely Wars‘ “The First Noel” is a great, modern take on a song that is usually pretty straightforward; their vocal choices really set this version apart. Jon Windle‘s title track, “A Wonderful Christmas Time,” is a lot of fun. Upbeat, cooky, and everything you’d want from a powerpop Christmas tune. To top it off… the artwork for this digital single was done by Rob Taylor from Los Campesinos!
Bottom Line: Two great tracks for zero money? YES! 4.8/5
I just got an email from matt pond PA, a band that I have followed for well over a decade. I remember being madly in love with The Green Fury in college, and it still holds up. Well, mpPA is holding a holiday contest of sorts, where they are requesting you to comment on Facebook with the next song they should cover. You simply post the suggestion, and tell them why. The post with the most likes by 12/12 will be the winner. They have started off the festivities by offering up a free, Christmasy download of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth).” All that is required is your e-mail address. Of note… unless I’ve missed something, I don’t believe I’ve ever noticed a synth in mpPA before. Interesting…
Bottom Line: Great song, done well. I’d say it has a good shot ending up on some of your mixes for sure! 4/4
Self-Released / Mastermind Records
Well hot damn. After reading about this track on Snowflakes’ blog, I knew I had to (legally) have it. Hailing from Aarhus, Denmark, Glow Kit recorded “Christmas Daze” back in 2012 and released it on Youtube, followed by a very limited (24 copies) lathé cut 7″ by Danish label Mastermind Records. Supposedly it was a free download on Soundcloud, but I could never get it to work. HOWEVER, after contacting the band, they have been kind enough to finally set up their Bandcamp page! So, now you can legally download a MP3 (or FLAC!) of this fantastic indie rock Christmas song. Please keep in mind, while they are offering it as a free download, they would greatly appreciate a donation. All the money made off this song will help with the ongoing recording of their new album. Musicians need money to make records, and if we want to continue to get fantastic music, we’ve got to support them.
Bottom Line: Really, I love this song. You should love it too. 5/5
Ample Play Records
Buy: 7Digital MP3/FLAC | Amazon UK MP3
For those looking for psych Christmas goodies, Cornershop’s Ample Play Records has a 2-song single for us. Given the challenge of following Ample Play’s excellent Festive Compilation EP last Christmas, this single by The Smoking Trees has lived up to expectations. Premiering tonight on Louder than War, the title track, “Round Christmas Time,” echoes “Why do you always love me more ’round Christmas time,” the kind of melancholy that any reader of the blog knows I dig. Throw an organ on there, and I’m in. The b-side, “Let the Psychedelic Lights of Christmas Shine” was previously released on the excellent aforementioned Festive Christmas EP, and will certainly scratch that psychedelic Christmas itch if you’ve got one. I would love to hear The Smoking Trees pick up the pace on one of these songs, just for fun. Throw a live version at us!
Bottom Line: Excellent psychedelic Christmas tunes continue Ample Play’s history of fine Christmas releases. 4.3/5
Wolves & Moons are a french band with an English singer, who offered up a lovely cover of “In the Bleak Midwinter” on their Facebook page on Christmas Eve last year. (Turns out it was on Soundcloud in Dec. 2012.) They chose Bert Jansch’s arrangement, which is simple, beautiful and short – and what a perfect choice it was. The arrangement, coupled with Richard Allen’s vocals, give this song a feeling of authenticity that the extremely sugary-sweet versions that I tend to find just don’t have. It may have been a free download on Soundcloud, as their profile page suggests, but there is a server error. So alas, you will have to get creative to fit this onto your mix, but I’ve got faith in you.
Bottom Line: Beautiful, short, with a feel of authenticity that is not found very often. 4.8/5