Pulled Apart by Horses “Merry Christmas Everyone” (2014)

Pulled Apart by Horses - Merry Christmas Everybody

Too Pure Singles Club
Buy: 7″ Vinyl @ NormanRough Trade, Piccadilly, Banquet or Action Records

Pulled Apart by Horses has taken this Slade song that I am normally pretty bored with, and ripped some shit up. I don’t know if you can rock this song out any harder without losing the melody. I especially love when they layer the vocals, with one voice screaming while the other sings. I’m trying not to use any more profanity, but this song makes you want to swear. This is the a-side to the DZ Deathrays track, and while I can’t find it digitally yet, it is available for preorder from all the fine retailers you see above.

Bottom Line: Fresh, fucking urgent take on a “classic” song. 4.8/5

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The Garlands – Christmas Song / I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You 7″ (2013)

SNOWFLAKE 2 The Garlands front cover 600px

Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club
Buy: 7″ Vinyl | 7″ Vinyl Bandcamp | 7Digital MP3 (US) | Amazon UK MP3

The Garlands‘ contribution to last year’s inaugural Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club is a perfect indie pop Christmas single. For the uninitiated, the SCSC format is 7″ records with an original A-side, and a cover B-side. The Garlands A-side, “Christmas Song,” is as beautiful as anything they’ve ever done. These Swedes can do English-indie pop better than most native speakers. I find myself liking it more with every listen – there is this part where the tone takes a somber dip, and damn I love it. The B-side cover of Claudine Longet classic is equally pretty, as they somehow found a way to pour more sugar on an already sweet song. Claudine would be proud.

You can still pick up this release, but there are only 500, so I’d get it sooner than later.

Bottom Line: Indiepop Christmas at its finest. 4.6/5

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The Explorers Club “Christmas Must Be Tonight” (2013)

The Explorers Club - Christmas Must Be Tonight

EC Records / Burger Records
Buy: Free!

Philadelphia’s The Explorers Club released a gem of a cover last year, picked up by a number of my fell0w bloggers-in-Christmas, but worth highlighting once more for its general level of excellence. This is a faithful cover of The Band’s original, so nothing much has changed. However, this version does differ in subtle ways, best experienced during the chorus where they inject just enough energy to fill that gap I (personally) feel in the original.

Bottom Line: The Explorers Club took a great song, and upped the ante. 5/5

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UPCOMING: A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sketch For Winter I: New Christmas Classics (2014)

A Sunny Day in Glasgow “New Christmas Classics”

So, when I tweeted at A Sunny Day in Glasgow the other day, kindly suggesting that they make some more Christmas tunes… I received a cryptic response:

They were NOT joking. Jump on this quick – there are only 300 of this, the first in a series of cassettes by Geographic North, with four bands taking on winter themes. A Sunny Day in Glasgow has gotten the ball rolling with Sketch For Winter I: New Christmas Classics. I only wish they had contacted me first – thankfully I got one! GET ONE NOW!

Tracklist: 
1. Shut Your Mouth, It’s Christmas
2. Saturn Pulls Me Apart (Death of the Unconquerable Night)
3. Fantasia on Xmas (From Vaughan Williams)
4. The Strange Presents of Idols (Merry Christmas!)
5. All I Want for Christmas Is You (This is Peter McCallister, The Father Version) [Mariah Carey cover]

Naive Thieves & Summer Twins – Christmas With Naive Twins (2010)

Christmas With Naive Twins

Self-Released
Buy: Free! | Also Free!

Way back in 2010, Naive Thieves and Summer Twins, two LA/SoCal-based bands, teamed up for a 2-song Christmas release, Christmas With Naive Twins. The result is a lovely little piece of indie-rock Christmas that sounds like Little Joy & Local Natives got together to record some seasonal sounds. Both “Holiday in the Sand” and “What Better Time than Now” have a timeless feel, contemporary, but harkening back to a 60’s feel at times. These tracks really are something special that should be heard by more people. While it was posted on the Summer Twins Bandcamp page at one point, it no longer resides there, nor on the Naive Thieves Bandcamp. I’ve tried contacting them through Bandcamp and Facebook multiple times, but to no avail. I, for one, would love to pay them a few bucks for FLACs, but for now we’re going to have to settle for the free downloads that still exist on Soundcloud. Thankfully, they are high-bitrate MP3s.

Bottom Line: Both tracks are superb. 4.8/5

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Psst. There are free mp3s over here.

Sleepwalkers – Merry Christmas (2013)

Sleepwalkers Christmas

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Richmond, Virginia’s Sleepwalkers have made a fantastic indie rock Christmas EP, and you should listen to it. In fact, it was their DEBUT release. Every track is strong, their production is top-notch, and they wrote their own damn songs. To my ears, its as if the Strokes met the Shins, decided to write a Christmas EP, and did it f*ing well. I may be partial to the VERY Strokes-esque “Christmas Morning,” but all the tunes are great. Pay attention to the spelling, the subject matter is quite different than the last post.

Bottom Line: Hey Sleepwalkers, how about you make this a tradition? 4.8/5

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The Weary Band “Christmas Mourning” (2011/2014)

The Weary Band - Christmas Mourning

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Years ago, I found the track “Christmas Mourning” while doing research into whether a different band’s “Christmas Mourning” was an original song – and while theirs turned out to be Julian Cope cover, the Bristol-based Weary Band‘s original stayed with me. They have re-recorded it for 2014, with all sales going to the Bristol-based charity Survive. It’s a melancholy song, with lyrics like “We’re older now / Old and blue. / How many wishes of yours came true?.” It’s grounded in a reality that gives it power, and perhaps if you take a listen, you’ll feel the same.

Bottom Line: There is something beautiful here. 4.8/5

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Ice Choir – Pure Holiday (2014)

Ice Choir - Pure Holiday

Cascine
Buy: 7″ – Norman (UK) – Saki (US) – Juno (UK) – Amazon UK | Boomkat FLAC

This is the kind of stuff I love – thanks Stubby. Ice Choir, with their shimmering 80s sound, offer up two Christmas tunes that live in another world. This synth Christmas gem will make all your friends wonder “Who the hell is this?” as they rattle off “Tears for Fears!” or “Spandau Ballet!” You shall cooly say, Ice Choir of course. Fronted by Kurt Feldman, former frontman of the Depreciation Guild and current drummer for the always-excellent Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Ice Choir has taken the sounds of yesteryear, mashed it up with a bit of modern chillwave, and created a 7″ whose digital bliss will take you away to a Christmas of big hair, bright colors, and Club Med.

Bottom Line: Not 100% how it’ll fit on my mix, if it will at all. But I really appreciate how great & how different it sounds than most everything out there this year. 4.7/5

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A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Xmas Mixer (2013)

A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Xmas Mixer

Self-Released
Buy: Free!

This 3-song Christmas EP was released on Christmas day last year – so I’m guessing this is the first time that they may be finding their way to a Christmas mix, unless you were REALLY late last year. Xmas Mixer features three members of A Sunny Day in Glasgow, each taking a song and running with it. First, there’s Jen, who sings the awful “Christmas All Around” from Love, Actually. You know, the song that the washed up rock singer is pimping? Well, she does it quite well, for it being a generally awful song! Second up is Annie, who picks “The Holly and the Ivy,” which has become a song du jour in recent years. She strips it down, layers some vocals with what sounds like cello, then adds some fluttering digital bits, all to a beautiful result. Finally, Adam supplies a synth version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which I honestly can’t get into. Midi Christmas has never been my thing, and never will be. But hey, I’m not you!

Bottom Line: Lets see… Two solid tracks? Check. Free? Indeed. 4/5

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