Favorite song you found this year?

I have lost my headphones. Thus, no new posts (likely) until I return home. But I am curious, what was your favorite song you discovered this year? Perhaps tweet at me at @xmasunderground or leave a comment here.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Ellen and the Escapades “Christmas Time” (2014)

Ellen and the Escapades - Christmas E.P.

Self Released
Buy: Free!

Ellen and the Escapades released on of my favorite Chrsitmas songs of all time with “By the Fireside” on the For Folk’s Sake 2012 release. So, to have “Christmas Time” pop up in my Soundcloud feed is well… like Christmas! Any reader of my blog will know that I love a short Christmas song, and this one clocks in at 1:24! This tight package may be small, but it holds a diamond. Their originals are just so good… it really makes you wish they would commit to a full LP. “Christmas Time” does lack the groove that I loved in “By the Fireside,” but apples can taste just as nice as oranges.

Bottom Line: Ellen and the Escapades do it again! 4.5/5


Jess and Frank Charlton “Give Me the Love” (2014)

Jess and Frank Charlton - Homemade Holiday Vol. 5

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Los Angeles’ Jess and Frank Charlton are on their fifth volume of Christmas releases, and this one is pretty great. Granted, I’m only talking about one of the 2 songs, but that’s because I’m trying to cram in a couple posts while out of town at my inlaws. “Give Me the Love” is quite a nice pop Christmas song. It certainly doesn’t deserve the “comedy” tag they’ve given it. Jessica wrote this little song, a song of sweetness and simplicity. The production is pretty great for what I imagine to be a bedroom operation. Kudos, please keep it up!

Bottom Line: For two crazy kids who just love Christmas, you’ve outdone yourself. 3.9/5



Sleepwalkers “Under the Christmas Tree” (2014)

Sleepwalkers "Under the Christmas Tree"

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Richmond’s Sleepwalkers are going full Brian Wilson on their new Christmas track, “Under the Christmas Tree.” Though if their Bandcamp tags are to believed, they looked to much lesser bands for inspiration, such as N’Sync and Smash Mouth. I’ll leave it to you to decide…

Bottom Line: Brian Wilson would be proud. Lets support the so that they keep this lovely tradition going. 4.3/5


Sweet Tempest “Snow” (2014)

Sweet Tempest

Self Released
Buy: Stream

So, someday when Copenhagen’s Sweet Tempest officially put out their record… I will be the first in line to buy it. This is the kind of stuff that makes me love Christmas digging – when you find a band that you can love all year long. While I could talk about how much I love “Bones,” or “My Boulder,” the song in question here is “Snow.” I don’t know if I can sufficiently say how much I love this song. All I needed to hear is the intro to know I wanted it to be a centerpiece of my mix. That banjo (thats what it sounds like to me) as it meets the drums… damn. Just listen. I have high hopes for the next few months, as the band seem to look to winter for inspiration… and I could use another beautiful Sweet Tempest song for 2015’s mix.

Bottom Line: While not a Christmas song, it fits my guidelines with its winter imagery. And had it not fit, I would have rewritten my rules. No download… but they were extremely kind to me. 5/5


Parker Lewis “Merry Christmas” (2014)

Parker Lewis "Merry Christmas"

Self Released
Buy: Free!

Parker Lewis (Emil Johansson) is one of my favorite Swedish Christmas music songsmiths. In fact, it was the Christmas tunes that got me in the door far enough to buy his latest record, and that’s all in Swedish (which I don’t speak – and its wonderful). Now, Emil has recorded a number of Christmas originals and covers in the past, so when he posted that he was sending out 10 CDr to a lucky few who responded to a FB post the other day, I got crazy excited and e-mailed immediately, asking if it might be Christmas songs. While it turned out that I was not one of the ten lucky recipients, he did not seem to suggest anything about a Christmas song in his response to me. Little did I know he had a Christmas song in his back pocket. “Merry Christmas” is a melancholy little song. The first line sets the tone. “I’m in love with you / even though you don’t call me anymore.” Don’t despair, while the melancholy remains, some wonderful lines sneak into this song that clocks in at barely over 2:00. For example, I really like the line “and I wished for impossible things each Christmas / none of which come true / So this year, baby / I wish for you.” Check it out for yourself, and especially check out his older Christmas songs if you haven’t already. I’ve included the ones I could find on Soundcloud in the box below, but there’s a cover of “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” and “All Alone on Christmas” out there too.

Bottom Line: Great melancholy indiepop Christmas if that’s your groove. Now with a download!! 4.1/5


Cleaners from Venus “Glammy Little Christmas” (2014)

Cleaners from Venus "Glammy Little Christmas"

Soft Bodies
Buy: Bandcamp

So, unfortunately, this post is going to be pretty minimal. I’m still fuming about it from a couple days ago… when WordPress somehow ate it. My apologies to the Cleaners from Venus.

The Cleaners from Venus are a legendary (to some), underground, proto-indie rock band, who had a slew of reissues come out in the past few years by Captured Tracks & Burger Records (amongst others I believe). Indeed, with such a long recording history, there has to be some Christmas tunes in their past, yes? Indeed sir, the wonderful “Christmas in Suburbia” is on Number Thirteen. Now, you can add one more to the list, “Glammy Little Christmas.” The lyrics suggest a recapturing of one’s youth, heading out for a glam Christmas. “There’s a cold wind in the doorway / and the weather’s more like Norway / and my platform heels are skidding underneath. / But there’s glitter on the paving / and your granddad’s come out raving / like he used to do in 1973.” That’s just the first bit, but you get the gist. Pair this what Glam Chops’ “Baby Jesus was the First Glam Rocker” and you’ve got a new mix theme going…

Martin Newell & Co. have a new record coming out in 2015 as well, on their favorite format of course (cassette!). So be on the look out for that at Burger Records, and elsewhere I’d imagine.

Bottom Line: Great song by an underground legend. How about a few more… hint hint. 3.9/5



The Aux – Christmas is a Bummer (2014)

The Aux - Christmas is a Bummer

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Who the fuck is this guy? I can’t find shit about it. (Oh wait, here he is!) Oh, by the way, this review will be as NSFW as the record. “Christmas is a Bummer” is a hilarious, lofi, fucking fun record about not having a girlfriend at Christmas. This isn’t fucking rocket science, it’s bitching about that, and pretty much only that, for 4 songs. And you know what, I liked it. It was well done, funny, fast and short. I particularly liked “Christmas Eve,” which begins with “i wanna get kissed under mistletoe / but i’m a huge pussy and everyone says no / there’s nothing that special about tonight / but i wish i was smooching a girl that i like.” HA! The chorus is pretty damn catchy too. I’ll let you find that out for yourself. Now go find that dark place in your mind and rock out.

Bottom Line: This thing is the fucking shit. 4.5/5


Miles Apart Records presents Christmas Small Gift Vol​.​ 2 (2014)

Small Gift Vol. 2

Miles Apart Records
Buy: Cassette

Lets continue this string of indiepop Christmas releases with an infuriatingly small run, cassette-only release from Japan, Miles Apart Records’ Christmas Small Gift Vol. 2. This release comes out tomorrow (Dec. 20), is limited to 300, and is only offering downloads to those who are fortunate enough to get ahold of one of the cassettes. First, I am well aware that the exchange rate + shipping costs will likely make this release not cost-effective for my Christmas mix needs. However, the collector in me keeps looking at it. Oh, and in case you are interested, yes there is a Vol. 1 that was only 150 copies (no download either) and very much sold-out.

Now lets get to the music. The release itself is quite nice. While I’m not as familiar with Japanese-sourced indiepop as I am with those from the US/Europe, the bit that I have been exposed to had lowered the bar (for me) when initially exploring this release. The music and the lyrics for Small Gift 2 quickly surpassed my expectations in just one listen, with a few tracks really standing out for me. Superfriends‘ “Million Miles Apart” is a nice little song that I’ve come back to a couple times… not terribly Christmasy, just referencing winter, but nice. Fandaze‘s “Big Socks” begins with a clip from Home Alone’s trailer, then swings into a classic indiepop sound, with shimmering guitars and hushed vocals. I am having a very tough time picking out lyrics though…

I doubt my description has you chomping at the bit to hear the whole thing (I feel I’ve done a terrible job with it), but this release is very listenable all the way through. It certainly ranks above many of the other indiepop Christmas comps I’ve come across. It may be sacrilegious… but I’d actually listen to this release than any Very Cherry one…

Bottom Line: Solid indiepop from Japan. However, why wouldn’t you allow Bandcamp downloads? I feel like its money left on the table. Navigating Japanese websites is challenging enough to make you scream… 3.8/5


Les Bicyclettes de Belsize – The Advent Calendar (Countdown to Christmas) (2014)

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize "The Advent Calendar"

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

London’s Les Bicyclettes de Belsize have released a curious little single, where they take two different approaches to the same song. The first version, “The Advent Calendar (Countdown to Christmas),” has a more upbeat feel, and the sound is fuller than the more sparsely arranged “The Advent Calendar (by candlelight).” The track itself is quite lovely – and I really like the bits of A Christmas Carol that they intersperse into the song. While some of the production bells and whistles are missing from “by candlelight,” it also remains quite nice – Your choice of which track to include would certainly be based on the tone you wish to set.

Bottom Line: An excellent indiepop Christmas original, in two flavors! 4.4/5