Jean Luc Tobine's Official Fan Club

Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club – Christmas 7″ (2012)

Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club
Buy: Bandcamp

My french is nonexistent, and Google Translate is only so good… so please bear with me as I try to relay information about this wonderful Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club (JLTOFC) Christmas 7″. JLTOFC began in 2011 to support and develop artists. If I understand correctly, JLTOFC is a nonprofit arts organization, with a radio program, music label, and theater and film production services. Of particular note, JLTOFC’s radio program is run on school holidays, and they ask participants to create a playlist of 5 tracks on a theme. The program would focus on songs of spring, summer hits, fishing songs, Halloween songs… and yes… Christmas songs. Perhaps this radio show was just the spark that began the warm fire that is JLTOFC’s wonderful musical offering, 2012’s Christmas 7″.

Christmas is truly one of the strongest 7″ Christmas compilations I have ever come across. Four tracks, each original and with an interesting point-of-view… I want more… I need more. It begins with the now-defunct All Cannibals‘ “Christmas Night.” I love every second of this song, from the rollicking music, to the earnest lyrics (“Christmas night / true and beautiful”), this song is undeniable. You can also find this track on my 2015 mix!

Trotski Nautique‘s “Noël Sapin” is a lovely slice of French indiepop, and while I have no idea what they are saying… the music is all I need to love this song. Is that a recorder I hear? If it is, that’s the best damn recorder I’ve ever heard in a song. Don’t let me scare you off… listen.

You Call It a Name veers into Weezer territory with the cheeky “I’ll play my next album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.” As with most of the songs on this release, I can’t quite make out all the lyrics well enough to quote them… but I don’t think I’m crazy to think that they might be writing to Santa Clause to be able to play their next album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. There’s some “kicking ass,” lots of rocking out… it’s good fun.

If you’re a reader of this blog from 2015, you may already be familiar with the wonderful a Drift. “It’s Christmas” is their first seasonal offering, and it’s quite a lovely piece of indiepop. “All these colored red white and green / it’s Christmas  / it’s Christmas / the whole house smells like tangerine / it’s Christmas / it’s Christmas.” A warm, fuzzy, indiepop blanket of a song to round out this incredible 7″.

With only 300 of these records in existence, there is no explanation as to why these are not already sold out. They sent me a lovely note with my order, and as it turns out… I’m the first person from the states to order it. While this does prove how stone-cold cool I am, this needs to be remedied. Buy the crap out of this. Throw a few bucks in and download it. Whatever you do… this needs to be heard and loved.

Bottom Line: I am most certainly a fan of Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club. Please, dear flying spaghetti monster Santa, deliver me a new Christmas release this year, or next year, or the year after that. I’m patient. I’ll wait.

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Mark Kozelek sings Favorites cover

Mark Kozelek “O Holy Night” (2016)

Caldo Verde
Buy: 7Digital (FLAC/MP3) | iTunes | Amazon UK MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3

I consider myself a Mark Kozelek fan, and despite the challenges he continues to send my way, I still maintain this status. Thus, when a new Koz Christmas tune sneaks out, I feel obligated to make at the very least, a small mention of it. Mark gave us an entire Christmas record only 2 years ago, has snuck Christmas tunes on multiple live records, and he thankfully seems determined to continue to churn out little Christmas baubles for us to enjoy. “O Holy Night” appears on Koz’s latest, Mark Kozelek Sings Favorites, and simply said, it is quite lovely. The cover is certainly not a reinvention of the song (as I could somehow imagine Jose Gonzalez doing while not veering far from Koz’s guitar style), more so a faithful and lovely, traditional cover of this traditional song. The female vocal harmony provided by Mimi Parker (of the equally Christmas-loving Low) is that little bit of nutmeg that makes this eggnog tasty. Without Mimi, it might have been just a tiny bit… bland? Glad she is there.

Bottom Line: A tasty glass of eggnog, thanks to Mimi Parker of Low. Certainly not my standard fare – doesn’t hate on Christmas, doesn’t have any swear words – this one’s for you traditionalists out there.

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Totally Righteous Holiday Special (2015)

Chill Mega Chill / Very Jazzed Records
Buy: Bandcamp

Chill Mega Chill’s comp from last year, Tape Deck the Halls, had some real solid Christmas tunes, and largely originals! This past year was more of the same… WHICH IS AWESOME. This (hopefully) Christmas tradition is turning into one of the most interesting, original comps out there.

Totally Righteous kicks off with an extremely beautiful, somber song by Guess Genes that, had it been sung by Ryan Adams, would have turned Stereogum on fire. The collaged audio layer adds texture to the shimmering guitar and fluttering piano, and the vocals have a sincerity to them that makes you BELIEVE. Simply wonderful.

The Last Astronaut‘s “Street Lights” may not be as timeless as the Guess Genes track, but its modernity makes it a welcome addition to the Christmas cannon. The chorus is what makes this song really swing… but it makes me wish the whole song was like that!

Deep Cuts return for back-to-back Christmas Christmas classics with “Comatose Come Christmas.” This 80’s jam has the biting lyrics and sense of humor that I’ve come to love from Deep Cuts. I’m also partial to a nice drunken Christmas tune… and this song may get you contact drunk.

Grandwolves‘ “‘Zat You, Son Of God” is my first exposure to this great Houston band, and I’m going to need more. A great layering of male/female vocals amongst killer drums and some shrieking guitars provide the basis for some awesome turns of phrase: ‘Zat You, Son of God? / Asleep in the evergreen, / Next to an old tv. / Sharing your branch, with gold garland, / And a Charlie Brown ornament.” Indie rock Christmas at its finest.

Gangplans break out the drum machines and synthesizers to create their own warm cup of Christmas bitters with “Skipping Christmas.” Peppered with samples from It’s a Wonderful Life, this production duo have succeeded in making me feel warm and happy, nestled amongst their warm beats and dark lyrics.

Benjamin Andrew’s “For a Moment” for some reason makes me think of a stripped down Low – the layered vocals, the fingers squeaking on the metal strings. Bleak, beautiful and wrapped in a sweater.

LA’s Seaweed Salad scored a f*ing slam dunk with “You Won’t See Me.” Fuzzed out vocals surrounded by a cacophony of indie pop orchestration. I can barely hear what they are saying, but I don’t care at all; I loved the music too much to give a shit.

There are a few more tracks on the comp that I haven’t covered. Music is such a personal thing – what is one’s treasure is another’s trash. While none of the remaining tracks were trash whatsoever, they did not grab me nearly as much, despite some very intriguing titles.

Bottom Line: Well hot damn. There could be more than one track from this release finding its way onto my mix this year. Two years in a row, this label has just knocked it out of the muthaf**ing park. Please, while it is a free, name-your-price download, all proceeds go to Make-a-Wish. 

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