Houston’s Deep Cuts… I just want to say, damn this song is good. “Advent Ansiedad” (translated Advent Anxiety) twists the charm of the holiday season into seeing patterns in the lights, hearing terrifying noises on the rooftop, and receiving mysterious letters from people who somehow know where you live. The premise is perfect, the lyrics are clever, and the music is amazing. I picked it up on the Tape Deck the Walls charity comp put out by Chill Mega Chill Records – so there is that option too… either way, you need this song in your life. Edit: Looks like it is no longer on Deep Cuts’ Bandcamp, so go to the comp above.
Bottom Line: A short, sweet review for a perfect song. Sorry for the love-fest lately… but you know… its hard to write about stuff you’re not crazy into, unless you spent a bunch of money on it. 5/5
No Chaser Records
I know, I’ve been doing some housecleaning, posting some songs that did not come out this year. Well… that’s ok, because this site is as much about what’s coming out this year, as it is about the great stuff that has been hidden in the past. Frontier Folk Nebraska are not a folk band and are not from Nebraska. So who the fuck are they? They are, simply said, a badass rock band from Kentucky. Some of the influences they point to are Sleepy Jackson, the Replacements, Uncle Tupelo and Guided By Voices amongst others… and I would have to agree (to a point). I mean… Sleepy Jackson? I haven’t listened to that first Sleepy Jackson record (Lovers) in a good while, and while I don’t hear a drop of that influence on this 7″, I’m psyched that they like them enough to be mentioned. I loved that record! Those other bands… much more in line with the sound of FFN.
Now to the record: Both tracks on this 7″ are fantastic – the hearty singalong “Ho Ho Ho & Away We Go,” with drinking, theft and lighthearted debauchery mixing together to wish us all a merry fucking Christmas. You can’t help but want to be there. The flip side find FFN at New Years, and “Happy New Year” takes it’s Replacements meets GBV vibe and tears through a rough New Years morning. Love the music, especially the guitar interplay. These songs are all wonderfully conceived and executed – truly stellar tracks from front to back.
Bottom Line: How this band has not sold out of their 275 copies of random, multicolored 7-inch vinyl records is an absolute mystery to me. 5/5
Buy: Burger Records (Colored LP/LP/Cass) | Bandcamp | Amazon.UK (LP/Dig) | Amazon.DE (LP/Dig)
Ex-Vivian Girls’ guitarist/singer Cassie Ramone has announced a new Christmas covers album, Christmas in Reno, and it has been shouted out from the rooftops of Pitchfork, Stereogum and the meat-and-diary-free Brooklyn Vegan to name a few. I also tweeted about it. Thus, I doubt this is news to anyone. However, should this be finding you today, on a day when writing about Christmas music seems pretty damn inconsequential, maybe it’ll bring you some happiness, and that’s worth something. 10 covers, with some cool choices (Run Run Rudolph) and some terrible ones (Wonderful Christmastime), I’m really interested into hearing how this lo-fi Christmas comes together. “Run Run Rudolph” has a chilled-out, shimmering vibe, which makes it extremely enjoyable. I truly love the music, as it tickles the part of me that absolutely love Real Estate, and that would be the biggest RIYL if I were to go down that path.
For those interested in picking up this record, the preorders have begun. Burger has the colored & regular vinyl, as well as their classic format, cassette. Amazon also has the cassette and an LP listed (for cheaper than Burger), which I assume its the black vinyl. Amazon around the world is also listing the LP, so I’m not guessing the black vinyl is going to be ultra-limited.
Bottom Line: I’ve only heard one song. So no.
Big Beard Christmas
Natalie Prass has gotten a ton of press lately for self-titled debut record, getting Pitchfork’s much-hyped “Best New Music” label, amongst other praise. Before the all the hubub, Natalie was a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, and one who did not appear to shy away from Christmas tunes. Digging around on the corpse of MySpace, you can find tunes from a live, holiday show from 2008, Big Beard Christmas. There are six tracks there, and they are all pretty good, but the one I’m obviously singling-out is Natalie’s wonderful cover of “White Christmas.” Natalie takes this classic, and makes it her own. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed “White Christmas” this much in years.
Also of note from 2008, Natalie laid down “No Better Time,” a proper, original studio Christmas track on Holiday Noise Vol. 3. Its a nice, jazzy song Stubby wrote about back in 2010, when it was released on the always-interesting Indiecater Records compilation. While I do like it, and certainly prefer originals, I wish Natalie’s vocals weren’t so far in front of the music. It bothers me enough that I can’t fully commit to the song.
Bottom Line: This is “White Christmas” done right. I could see this all over 2015’s mixes… if it hadn’t already found its way to you earlier. Since its from the wasteland that is MySpace, and from way back in 2008… I’ve taken the liberty of adding it to Soundcloud for everyone’s listening ease. Enjoy. 5/5
Amazon has announced a follow-up to their (IMHO) “meh” 2014 playlist, All is Bright. Their playlist was expansive, 43 songs, and with such a wide scope, there was no way that they were going to make this indie grinch happy. Too many expected covers from too many a coffee-shop friendly artist. This year, however, Amazon has tweaked their formula, and decided to curate a more adventurous playlist. The first song, Sondre Lerche & Jherek Bischoff‘s “Surviving Christmas” is presently streaming
exclusively over at Stereogum. Its lovely throwback production is unsurprising, as I feel Sondre has been moving toward crooner for a years now (certainly not a bad thing – he’s great!). The lyrics are most certainly poignant, while sometimes remaining playful – Frank Sinatra would be proud. I am, however, very curious what electropop wildcard YACHT‘s track will be like, or serially grumpy Guided by Voices frontman Bob Pollard‘s What Begins New Year’s Day.” Rogue Wave have tried their hand at Christmas tracks before, as has (to a lesser extent) Langhorne Slim. There are also some newcomers (to me), such as Irish singer/songwriter SOAK, Seattle folk-pop band Ivan and Alyosha, and Swedish gothic pop singer Anna von Hausswolff that all have interesting biographies that make me want to hear more. I am most definitely intrigued, and hope that something great will come out of this for my 2015 mix. The entire playlist will be released on November 20th, so until then… just gotta wait.
EDIT: I’ve added all available (free) streaming songs to a playlist.
Buy 7″: Amazon | Amazon.UK | Amazon.DE | Amazon.FR | Bull Moose
Stubby! I heard that Phoenix was the push behind the new Mike Love (god I hate Mike Love) Christmas tune… why the heck didn’t I do a cursory search to see if they were going to release anything??!! The realization of a Phoenix Christmas 7″ has pretty much made my day. I can’t wait for the Bill Murray Christmas special that it will, no doubt, feature in. Why? Cuz Sofia Coppola directed it!
Well, I’m excited, are you? I’m even excited, despite the fact that I believe its a Mike Love cover!
So… nearly all the listings have disappeared. Where did you go, Phoenix 7″? It’s back! Links above!
Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon.UK MP3 | Amazon.DE MP3 | 7Digital (US)
How in the world did I miss THIS track last year? Released on Andrew Bird‘s 2014 release, Things Are Really Great Here…Sort Of, this fantastic cover of the Handsome Family not only does the song justice, but makes it his own. Andrew’s phrasing led me to believe that I was actually listening to a different song in that first verse. This haunting, beautiful and tragic song is one of those songs that sticks with you. I almost feel like writing about it takes away from the impact it can have…. one last thing though: Thank god that Andrew has brought Tift Merritt into the fold; Her harmonies are truly gorgeous.
Bottom Line: Andrew Bird honors the Handsome Family, handsomely. 5/5
Gotta Groove Records
Gotta Groove Records is a fantastic pressing plant/boutique label in Cleveland, OH… and these fine purveyors of the little vinyl discs we all know and love also send out a Christmas 7″ to some friends and clients each year. 2013’s release had a whole mess of tracks! What a little, vinyl bundle of joy to celebrate the holiday with… wait a tic… did I use that turn of phrase because this song is about being a new parent? You bet I did. Couples Skate Only and myself obviously must become best friends (Hi Tim!), as we both: 1. Enjoy indiepop Christmas music and; 2. have at least one tiny child. Their contribution to the 7″ captures parenthood wonderfully in 2 minutes, while in the warm embrace of a driving indiepop electro beat. Love it.
If you’re interested in vinyl – they have 5 left (as of this posting), on random colored vinyl. Looks like you all liked the track as much as I did. They appear to be ALL SOLD OUT!
Bottom Line: Fantastic indiepop that I personally can relate to… but not quite sure about those without kids… but hey, I’m the one giving the number. 4.6/5
Just based on the titles, I knew I was at least going to like Niagara Balls. Then I heard them… and I was right! I do enjoy a slightly fucked up Christmas song, and “Don’t Be a Dick At Christmas” is exactly that. Not only does it have a good message, but throwing in some PG-13 language is refreshing in Christmas music! “I’m not saying / you can’t party / I’m just saying / Don’t be shitty.” Words to live by.
“Casual Racism at the Dinner Table” showcases once again Niagara Balls’ spectacular ability to lure me in with a great title. This is a story-song about Boxing Day that leaves no family member unscathed. The one truth that I can specifically relate to is that yes, everybody should like Michael Caine. Solid, but not as… charming?… as the first track, IMHO.
The final track, “Christmas ’96,” is a completely unexpected electronic dance track that samples Biggie’s classic “Juicy.” Most certainly apples to oranges. I dig it, just can’t find a compelling reason to consider it on a Christmas blog beyond the title.
Bottom Line: There’s some great stuff here. “Don’t Be a Dick on Christmas” will most certainly find it’s way onto someone’s mix. 3.8/5
Buy: Bandcamp | Discogs (LP)
Post-rock Christmas! This is for those folks who dig Mogwai, or even… though this is a bit more of a stretch, those folks who dug the Mark Kozelek Christmas record last year! Why Koz? Well, he’s putting out a record with Jesu early next year! And whaddaya know? They both have a Christmas record! I don’t know how I missed this for so many years. Honestly, in the places I search, I would have thought that this would have been much more prominently featured, if simply based on indie name-recognition. Released in 2010, and remastered a few years later, this EP comprised of one song and 3 remixes is a great example hard, yet cinematic post-rock Christmas song. Give it a listen, and if you fall in love, the LP is $40 on Discogs. That’s a bargain at $10 a song! Ha!
Bottom Line: Certainly not my usual fare – but I have to say I enjoyed it. I don’t foresee it on my mix, they never get this heavy, but I’m not here just to serve me. Well… mainly me. 3.8/5