Buy: Good Luck!
Many moons ago, Swedesplease hipped me to this wonderful, odd little Christmas tune. The anti-christmas lyrics, the rough-around-the-edges vocals, the sparse guitar arrangement and beautiful horn interplay have placed this track solidly in my own personal “classics” collection. I now find myself wanting to learn more about the band in question, Oh Sweet Music. So, after some basic research, which takes some serious digging, I have come up with a few items I believe to be (relatively) true. First, the band is fronted by a man of the name of Magnus Nordström. This turns out to be quite a popular name in Sweden, and has thwarted my attempts to find him on Facebook. Secondly, he was also in a band called Piotor. Each of his bands appear to only have MySpace pages, and they haven’t been attended to in years. Thirdly, he recorded on Canarie Records in Sweden, and appeared on a Series Two Records compilation in the US. Canarie Records appears to be long-gone, and Series Two stopped releasing records in 2010. What I would give for an e-mail address, simply to thank him for the songs (I’ve found about four Oh Sweet Music tunes still available around the net), and perhaps suggest a Bandcamp page where his music can live on with high fidelity downloads and a few bucks in his pocket.
So, I throw out in to the ether, Magnus Nordström, please create a Bandcamp page for your old recordings. I will buy them.
Also, it appears that everyone thinks this song is called “Oh Sweet Christmas,” rather than “(Fly Away For) Christmas,” as it was originally titled (or so I assume… based that it makes sense from the lyrics, and is titled such in the earliest instance of the song being posted.)
Download the song here – I found a link that was still live!
Bottom Line: An interesting original with a rough edge, sung by Swedes who, try as they might to fight it, have quite an ear for pop music. 5/5
Melbourne’s Kite Club first came to my attention via their recent profile on The Line of Best Fit (a wonderful music blog if you don’t already read it). So, I headed over to their Soundcloud page, pressed play, and began to do some work. While listening to their 2010 EP Esoterica, I heard jingle bells. “Royal Gums” is an oddball of a Christmas song… one that I would really love to know all the lyrics to. If I am not crazy, it begins as such: “Gorgonzola on Rye, made the Christians cry.” I really want to know these lyrics. This track sounds like it would be a great compliment to a Parenthetical Girls’ Christmas release… so if you like that vibe, you’ll like this one too. I’m about 95% sold that it will be on 2013’s mix. Oh, and its free for download on their Soundcloud page!
Bottom Line: Really interesting, could claw back that .5 to be a classic… just give it time. 4.5/5
Bladen County Records/Merge Records/Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp! (well, for 2 of them)
The Love Language make some fine indie rock in Raleigh, NC… and in the proud tradition of their fellow Raleigh-ites, The Rosebuds, have some incredible Christmas tunes.
In 2008, the Love Language released “White Christmas” on a (now long-lost) download-only comp put out by Bladen County Records. However, this is not your parents’ “White Christmas.” You can’t get much darker than “Santa bring my baby to me / I’m gonna hang myself from a Christmas Tree / But all the ones that I’ve bought / They’re only six feet tall.” So… be prepared… and also be ready for some fantastic music. This song sounds amazing. — EDIT: This was also released as “White Christmas/Black Fetus” by the Light Language, a meeting of the Love Language and the Light Pines! I don’t know how I just discovered this link!!
2010 saw the Love Language move on from Bladen County Records, and head for the bright lights of indie-rock powerhouse Merge. It also marks the first year of (what I really hope is) a yearly tradition of last-minute Christmas songs released to the Raleigh-centric (duh) blog NewRaleigh.com. “Gsus” is a fantastic groove, one that made its way onto my 2011 mix and remains a personal favorite. It was recorded by Stu and BJ, with voicemails from the band members who were out of town – which sounds odd, but totally works. YOU NEED THIS.
The Love Language released “Christmas in Toyland” to NewRaleigh.com last year… also in the nick of time (Dec. 23). Another great song… a bit of a slow-burner, but very well worth it. Check it out.
My fingers are crossed… and I’ve been checking The Love Language’s FB and NewRaleigh.com for the past few days, hoping for another late Christmas gift from one of the great composers of indie rock Christmas classics.
Bottom Line: Free downloads of fantastic original songs. 5/5
Download 2011’s “Christmas in Toyland”
I am officially obsessed. This is 100% guaranteed to be on my mix next year. Jonti’s “Christmas Worm” appears on Stones Throw’s new Stones Throw vs. Serato II LP, and while I really don’t quite have a clue what the Serato II tone accomplishes, the b-sides are a compilation of Stones Throw artists… including this fantastic gem. I am considering the $40 simply to get a high bitrate version of this song. Fight it Jim, fight it.
Bottom Line: Hot damn! 5/5 (for the track… not a review of the actual album… which is crazy $$$)
I wanted a quick post today, just to keep things rolling. So, I thought I’d dip my toes into the generally excellent back catalogue of Christmas tunes that The Aislers Set have amassed. Their most recent xmas release was 2010’s “Cold Christmas,” released too late for most to enjoy during that year. However, if you were lucky enough to come across it in early 2011, then you are in your second season of grooving to this indie-pop classic. “Cold Christmas” is good enough to be on anybody’s Christmas mix – I only wish that they would release it properly… on a site such as Bandcamp, so that I might have a FLAC. Hear me Aislers Set? I will pay for this… my $1+ is at the ready.
EDIT: They have taken my $1.29, as the song is NOW ON BANDCAMP (8 years after I wrote this review!)
Bottom Line: $1.29 is a bargain for FANTASTIC indiepop! 5/5
Hey folks – I’ve updated my review of Kitty Kitten Kristmas – the Stars in Coma have re-recorded the standout “The Frozen Spectacle” for their new record, and I’ve posted it there. An added bonus… they have it available for free on their Soundcloud!
DOUBLE BONUS: There is a new Christmas tune from the whole Kingem Records crew – “RELEVANT Christmas 2012” (Stars In Coma, Tiny Tide, A Nice Person). Its a solid tune… check it out.
Buy: CD (You need the CD to get the download!)
Pelle Carlberg is one of my FAVORITE singer/songwriters… I am particularly fond of his two most recent solo records, In a Nutshell and Lilac Time. So, I dutifully bought them, enjoyed the hell out of their witty wordplay and to my amazement… there is a bonus… a hidden bonus to be found.
I encourage you to first look up Pelle Carlberg, or just groove to the songs below. If you like what he’s putting down, then you should go buy a copy of Lilac Time. If you read the liner notes carefully, you’ll find a link that shall lead you to three additional songs. One of those tunes… a wonderful cover of Stina Nordenstam’s “Soon After Christmas.”
You might imagine… when I found this… I jumped out of my seat, punched a waterfall, and smacked a leprechaun. It was damn exciting.
I will not post it here, and I beseech you to not post it anywhere once you hunt it down yourself. Lets actually buy some records. Lets put a few bucks in Pelle’s pocket. He has a family, and he is a full-time musician. The album is 100% worth it… throw in a ultra-rare Christmas tune that you have to search for… and you cannot beat it.
Bottom Line: The album itself is fantastic, and the Christmas song is wonderful. 5/5
Buy: 7″ Vinyl | Saddle Creek MP3 | Amazon UK MP3
The Mynabirds‘ Christmas release, All I Want is Truth (for Christmas), is the perfect Christmas release. A Christmas protest song! A Zombies cover! The title track is lyrically interesting, musically engaging, and should be considered an indie-classic. The Zombies’ cover of “This Year will Be Our Year” sets the stage for future female voices (Memoryhouse) to cover this fantastic song.
For the collector out there, there are 200 on white vinyl, 300 on black vinyl.
I wish the Mynabirds would release a Christmas single every year.
Bottom Line: Both songs are FANTASTIC. 5/5
Buy: CD | 7″ | iTunes
I don’t have much time, so I grabbed a short one for this review. Happy New Year 2008 is out-of-print, and unavailable via Elefant, but still out there for purchase. Nothing really dates it 2008, so no worries about that.
Anyone familiar with the Elefant label will not be surprised by this indie pop groove. The School kicks it off with “Kiss You in the Snow,” which is a perfectly passable song. Light, happy and generally a good time. Coming in at 2:18, it is the perfect time – any longer and the saccharine sweetness might wear a bit… but they hit it well.
The second track by Helen Love is probably the one that you’ll come to with the highest expectations, if only for the title, “Joey Ramone Snowman.” Unfortunately, this is the worst song on the album. It sounds like a child is slightly autotuned… and the spoken-word-singing by a child is not only annoying, but ANNOYING. Sorry to be so brutal… but really. Its just not enjoyable.
Corazón contributes a song in spanish, which is quite appropriate for a spanish label. My Little Airport rounds out the disc with a song in Japanese, leaving only the twee-loving Swedes missing from this international celebration of the indie pop new year. With both tracks, the music is quite pleasant, but they don’t catch me as others have in the past. I don’t need to know what people are singing – if the music is engaging enough, that is all you really need. Not quite there.
Bottom Line: Cheap, but nothing truly amazing. The School track keeps this afloat. 2.6/5