Tramgirl with Les Bicyclettes de Belsize “An Eighties Christmas Song” (2014)

Tramgirl Christmas

Self Released
Buy: Stream

So, Fireflies retweeted this intriguing link. The artist is Tramgirl, (aka Edine), who is part of the Hong Kong indiepop duo The Marshmallow Kisses. The Tramgirl project “creates bedroom karaoke pop with worldwide musicians,” and in this instance, the song is with Charlie Darling of Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (who also has a seasonal release this year… more to come on that). Its a classic indiepop Christmas song – sugary sweet music with a dash of longing. If this is a vibe you like, then this is is certainly a highlight of the holiday-indiepop genre.

“count the days and the hours and the minutes till sleep time
climb the stairs say your prayers every boy and girl goodnight
don’t be scared show no fear when you turn off the light now
when you wake no escape from your dreams I’ll be there
I will be there”

Bottom Line: A fine example of indiepop Christmas done well. No download though! 3.9/5

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IndianGiver “Naked Feet” (2014)

Indian Giver "Naked Feet"

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

There must be something in the water in Oklahoma. First, there was the saucy “The Naughty List” with Ryan Lindsey from Tulsa’s Broncho. Now, there’s Oklahoma City’s IndianGiver with “Naked Feet.” The song tells a story of some… sexual exploits while home for Christmas. It begins with this verse – “When I was walking through your childhood home, / with my palm in your palm. / You said, ‘Come and fuck me in my mothers bed, / with your tennis shoes on.’ / Naked feet on the hardwood floor, / we we danced around to the / carolers singing at your door / with all the lights down.” That’ll be one for the grandkids! Everything about it is pretty wonderful – from the groove, to the vocals, to the lyrics – it does not disappoint. I do love finding songs that don’t quite fit the nice Christmas mold, thanks Don’t Need No Melody for posting it many months ago.

EDIT: It appears they changed their name to Wildlings. Hopefully they will rebrand their old material and repost it, so that it does not disappear into the abyss of time.

Bottom Line: These boys from Oklahoma continue to spice up our Christmas with this name-your-price single. 4.8/5

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Dean Wareham – The Lagniappe Sessions (2014)

Dean Wareham "The Lagniappe Sessions"

Aquarium Drunkard
Buy: Free!

Aquarium Drunkard & Dean Wareham gave us an early Christmas present yesterday with two seasonal tracks. Dean Wareham, of course, is of Galaxie 500 / Luna / Dean & Britta, and most recently released his self-titled solo record. For those just getting into this Christmas mixin’ hobby, there’s some great holiday stuff out there from his past – such as Luna’s “Egg Nog” and Dean & Britta’s holiday 7-inch, He’s Coming Home.

Dean covers of Eddy Arnold’s “Christmas Can’t Be Far Away,” and this an inspired choice, for both his voice and for his lovely instrumentation. His cover of “Stille Nacht” has two verses in the original German, and a third cribbed from a rewritten verse by The Only Ones. He also brings Britta in on some background vocals, which is always appreciated. Dean makes interesting choices here, and the result is an excellent alternate version of this ol’ chestnut to fill out your mix.

Bottom Line: I’m quite happy to have Dean back in the (sleigh) driver’s seat. 4.6/5

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Delicious Clam Records presents Delicious Christmas (2014)

Delicious Clam Christmas

Delicious Clam Records
Buy: Bandcamp

Delicious Clam Records‘ first release is Delicious Christmas, a 6-track (largely) Christmas compilation benefitting the Sheffield homeless teenager charity Roundabout.

Best Friends totally knocked it out of the park last year with their original, “When Christmas Comes.” Hopefully starting a tradition that will continue for many more years, they offer yet another Christmas song, a cover of Macca’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” Yes, I know. Truly awful song. So, what does one do with a turd, but dress it up in new clothes and make you believe that its a Baby Ruth. Best Friends have succeeded in convincing me that I just stepped in chocolate – I dig it. They have an attitude that exudes from their music that I enjoy enough for me to probably like a version of Little Drummer Boy, should they attempt that awful song. 

Pjaro’s cover of East 17’s “Stay Another Day” isn’t really a Christmas cover… it’s a Christmas #1 cover. So… I’m not really going to talk about it.

Radical Boy‘s cover of Shakin’ Stevens’ “Merry Christmas Everyone” mixes it up enough with a punk rock edge. To start, I do dig this song – and they do make it their own. I would have done without the hardcore cookie monster growl at the end… for me, it makes the song funny, and I suppose I wasn’t looking for funny.

Pet Rock‘s cover of “Walking in the Air” from The Snowman is one of the more rocking versions I’ve heard. I wasn’t expecting to hear any crunchy guitars on this track, and there they were. Certainly the only version of “Walking in the Air” that you might want to put on a more rocking-out Christmas mix.

“Have a Very Misfits Christmas” is a deceptive title for a cover of “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Its a solid, punk rock version of the oft-covered classic. The only thing holding it down is the fact that so many people cover this song.

Avida Dollars‘ “I Am The Christmas Ghost” is the only original on this release, and it is quite an interesting tune. What other Christmas song do you know that has “hide all your nazi gold” in the lyrics. It starts slow, then turns into an old school Oi! punk/hardcore song. I wish I could make out more of the lyrics, because what I can make out has me intruiged.

Bottom Line: For a punk rock Christmas release, pretty damn strong. It’s only £2 and benefits homeless kids – I’d say that’s a bargain. 4.2/5

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Small Reactions “Santa Claus” (2014)

Small Reactions "Happy Christmas to Y'all"

Deer Bear Wolf Records
Buy: Cassette | Bandcamp

Small Reactions are a garage/indie rock band from Athens, Georgia, who happen to also share members with the excellent Slumberland band Gold-Bears. In November 2013, they recorded a 5-track cassette in the band’s basement, which the version of The Sonics “Santa Claus” comes from. The reverb-drenched vocals huddle next to the rocking organ in this faithful, fun & dirty cover. I can’t wait to hear what the other tracks sound like.

Merry Christmas to Y’all tracklist:

1. “Santa Claus” (the Sonics)
2. “Run Rudolph, Run” (Chuck Berry)
3. “Christmas Spirit” (the Wailers)
4. “Don’t Believe In Christmas” (the Sonics)
5. “Dancin’ With Santa” (the Trashmen)

These Merry Chistmas to Y’all cassettes have begun popping up in various places in the Atlanta area, gift wrapped and gratis. However, for those of us who cannot travel a couple hundred miles to hunt one out can pick one up on their Bandcamp page. Hot tip, (likely for a limited time) if you purchase a CD/LP, you get the cassette for free!

Bottom Line: Excellent version of an excellent song. Can’t wait to hear the rest. 4.6/5

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Sol Cat w/ Kansas Bible Company “This Christmas” (2014)

Sol Cat "This Christmas"

Self Released
Buy: Stream

Nashville’s Sol Cat got together with the Kansas Bible Company, and what came of this unholy union? Why a funky cover of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” of course! Sol Cat plays danceable indie rock, and the Kansas Bible Company looks to be about 15 members… whose critical mass and horn section undoubtably took this song to the next level. So, turn your speakers up, and close your office door. We’re getting funky.

Bottom Line: Shaved a few off because there is no download – but the fighting the funk is tough. 4.6/5

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Sleep Thieves “November Christmas” (2014)

Sleep Thieves "November Christmas"

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

I’m sure you’re going to see this track pop up a few more places, as it already has on Stubby’s Free List earlier this morning – so why not here too? Dublin’s Sleep Thieves have created a great, moody, synth Christmas song with their new track, “November Christmas.” The song’s verses trudge along with a deep synth bass, a flutter of melody and a beat you could set your watch to. So, when the tone lifts and the chorus swings in, it pushes you up just enough to pop your head above the water. It really is a great chorus, and worth the wait. Certainly a nice change of pace from the jingle bells that infiltrate most of the season. I would be fawning all over this track if it was just a tad bit more upbeat like their wonderful track “City of Hearts.”

Bottom Line: A dark electro Christmas song and done dark electro well. OH… and free. 3.8/5

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Charlie’s Hand Movements “Baubles” (2014)

Charlies Hand Movement " Baubles"

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp | Bandcamp

Wow. What a find. Charlie’s Hand Movements are Adam Gardner and Lance M Keelbe, two gents from Benfleet, England, and they have just released their second Christmas song in as many years. Now that you are introduced, I must say, “Baubles” is really beautiful. “I was your bauble / hanging from a tree / wrap me in tinsel / make me believe.” Some nice turns of phrase, some beautiful music, and excellent vocals to round out the package to make “Baubles” quite spectacular. “If we fall, we’ll shatter / but it don’t matter at all.” I love that lyric. Each listen gets better… and it’s free! So what are you waiting for??

Bottom Line: Love it. Great song, free download. I am pleased as punch. What a day of great Christmas songs. 5/5

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(EDIT) – they took down their own page for this song, so here is an embed of the Dismas compilation that it also appeared on.

The Magic Numbers “I Don’t Care If Its Christmas” (2014)

The Magic Numbers Christmas

Caroline
Buy: Amazon UK MP3

The Magic Numbers are a bit bigger than most of the bands I feature on Christmas Underground. They are not quite as well known in the states, so I’ll use that as an excuse to post here! They just announced a new Christmas single today, and its a good one. “I Don’t Care if it’s Christmas” is a classic “Christmas is awful since you left me” scenario, but they do it wonderfully, and with a fantastic chorus. “Honey honey, are we throwing this all away,” – great stuff. The songwriting is excellent, from the lyrics to the different motions and emotions the song travels through. I knew this was coming, but much thanks to Christian for the heads up that it dropped!

They will also be selling a very limited amount of vinyl at shows this week. So check their tour dates at the link above!

Bottom Line: Excellent melancholy Christmas done by a group of consummate, professional songwriters. 4.5/5

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If the song below doesn’t play, go to this link.

http://www.official.fm/tracks/9c3F?aspect=flat

and a live version…

Murder by Death – 2014 Christmas Cover Songs (2014)

Murder By Death Christmas Covers 2014

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Murder by Death just released a 2-song covers single to backers of their recent Kickstarter, and lucky for us, they are also offering up for purchase to those who had no clue such a Kickstarter existed! “Oh Holy Night” is done in such a beautiful fashion, with a cello that slips in and, if you are like me, has the ability to give you goosebumps. The other cover is “My Evergreen” by the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and the song is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an extremely faithful cover; they did very little to change the approach of the original, but the sound seems more rich and full. To me, this is now the definitive version of “My Evergreen.”

Bottom Line: Absolutely stellar two-song single. 5/5

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