Marika Hackman - Wonderland EP

Marika Hackman – Wonderland EP (2016)

Transgressive
Buy: Vinyl | iTunesAmazon.uk MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3

Marika Hackman is no stranger to Christmas tunes – she’s been featured on Daisy Digital’s past two Christmas compilations, covering “O’ Come O’ Come Emmanuel” and Joni Mitchell’s “River.” The Christmas bug must have really caught her, as her new EP does not just gather together her previous efforts (it doesn’t in fact), but it has her recording a bunch of new covers, as well as some originals. The first track that has been teased out is an absolutely incredible original song, the synth sprinkled “Driving Under Stars.” I’m such a fan of this track. The vibe is perfection – just what I needed today. This is a stone-cold mixworthy track… I can’t even bring myself to get beyond it to talk about the other selections. One exception… “O’ Come O’ Come Emmanuel” is a new version, different from the charity comp version previously available, so all-new material! ALSO, vinyl vinyl vinyl! 300 copies are available via Transgressive, coming out on December 1st. So… pony up. In a related note… care to buy me one? 🙂 You can find my address in the Submissions section. Hehe.

Bottom Line: 30 seconds is all I need to fall in love. No joke. Likely you too!

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Blackwatch Christmas 6

UPCOMING: Fowler VW Presents A Blackwatch Christmas Volume 6 (2016)

Fowler Volkswagon
Buy: Bandcamp

The time is almost upon us for one of the best compilations out there to be released. The good folks over at Fowler VW and Blackwatch have been hard at work all year, whittling instruments from whole logs and carving black vinyl discs with an exacto knife in a pattern that would create beautiful music. That, or they’ve been recording a bunch of local Oklahoma folks to produce what has become a wonderful holiday tradition. The first track, a electro-pop cover of “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Prettyboy, just debuted on NewsOK, and as usual, it’s a strong start! I don’t want to go into too many details, as I wish to give NewsOK the traffic they deserve, but there is a Flaming Lips connection this year too! CHECK IT OUT!

Bottom Line: Haven’t heard it yet… but I’m pumped! Oh, and they are doing vinyl again this year – hopefully a few copies will end up on Bandcamp??

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Dylan Mondegreen - Ghost of Christmas Past

Dylan Mondegreen “The Ghost of Christmas Past” (2016)

Shelflife Records
Buy: Bandcamp | 7Digital | Amazon.uk MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3

If you know me at all, or read this blog, you know I have a particular affinity for Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, etc. To top it off, I also have a particular love for indiepop, as well as the Shelflife label. Thus, when I saw that Norwegian singer-songwriter Dylan Mondegreen had a Christmas-ish song, “The Ghost of Christmas Past,” on his new album, Every Little Step, I jumped in and gave it an immediate listen. While these are not going be big name checks that everyone will be familiar with (unless you read this blog), I found this particular track to share equal parts Pelle Carlberg and Jens Lekman. Dylan has a quality to his voice that matches quite well with Pelle, and the flute flourishes felt like the Bacharach-influenced tracks of Night Falls on Kortedala-era Jens Lekman. The songwriting is also very clever; It’s a song about visiting yourself as the ghost of Christmas past, and realizing that you’d do it over again. Certainly worth a listen!

Bottom Line: Solid indiepop that will please indiepop fans.

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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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Cerise

Cerise “St. Nick” (2016)

Self-Released
Buy: Stream | Bandcamp?

Well hi there. Nice to see you all. Stubby’s been telling me about this other awesome dream pop tune, so I thought I’d send another one back.

Chicago-based Cerise is the tip of what promises to be a healthy schedule of Christmas in July June tunes. I’ve had this on my radar for a good while, and could have posted about it a month ago, but then you might have expected too much from me, such as additional posts (shame on you!). Cerise dabbles in what I would equate as the dark edges of Beach House-meets-Cure-meets-Mazzy Star. That’s just a quick, off-the-cuff comparison, one which I may tweak as the heat leaves my brain and I can think once more. Did I mention it is hot out? I don’t have the same access that Consequence of Sound has, and while the lyrics aren’t completely disguised, they can be tough to make out at times. Obviously, she name-checks St. Nick, as well as snowflakes, and jingle bells feature prominently. However, it will likely come as no surprise that this is not a Christmas song.

From the Consequence of Sound article:

“I was thinking about a relationship once that turns into a deal, so that each will get what they want but only to sell the relationship off with it,” Cerise tells Consequence of Sound of the song. She captures this by playing with lyrical opposites of joy (“Awaiting St. Nick/ And family glory”) and despair (“Run away to abandon/ Snowflakes and soirees”).

 

I’m in. I love this kind of ambiguous stuff. The record will released real soon – June 24th! It’s just a matter of time until there are tracks on her Bandcamp page… but I’ll be buying the vinyl!

Bottom Line: Dark, beautiful dream pop that will cool down your hot summer nights.

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Sweet Baboo “Don’t Be Alone (This Christmas)” (2015)

Moshi Moshi
Buy: BandcampMoshi Moshi (MP3/LP) | iTunes UK | Amazon.UK (LP) | Amazon.DE (LP)

Welsh artist Sweet Baboo is no stranger to Christmas tunes, having appeared on Bubblewrap Collective’s 12 Days of Christmas in 2009. I dug that track, but not nearly as much as this BEAUTY. To be officially released in February on the Dennis EP (named after Dennis Wilson no doubt), Sweet Baboo channels the best parts of the Beach Boys (the Wilsons) and lets us know that even Santa needs someone to call. The ending brings resounding joy in a wall of sound. Everyone needs someone to love.

Bottom Line: I think I’ve listened to this song about 15 times today. For one day only, available as a free download here. Still free.. now via Bandcamp. 5/5

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Fowler VW Volume 5

UPCOMING: Fowler VW Presents A Blackwatch Christmas Volume 5 (2015)

Fowler Volkswagon
Buy: Bandcamp

YES YES YES! After what I erroneously feared was an end to the Fowler VW/Blackwatch Christmas tradition (silent social media and a few bounced e-mails), I was kindly corrected by the wonderful folks over at Fowler VW that one was indeed in the works – and here it comes! The first track was just released, a fantastic cover of “Mele Kalikimaka” by Oklahoma City’s Horse Thief. The song has a great swagger to it, perhaps only matched by Golden Boots’ version from the Comfort & Joy comp. These Fowler VW/Blackwatch compilations get better and better every year, and this tracklist has me salivating. BRONCHO makes an appearance as a full band this year, along with Barcelona, Bronze Radio Return, Sherree Chamberlain, Jacob Tovar, Samantha Crain, Brine Webb, Sports and Hector Comancho. I truly can’t wait – and I won’t have to wait long, since the full release is supposed to drop later today!

For those who live in the Norman, Oklahoma area, Fowler VW will host a free concert and Christmas party Dec. 13 from 8 p.m. to midnight at Stash, 412 E Main St., in Norman. The first 50 people will get a free copy on vinyl!!

Bottom Line: Too soon to tell, but these guys are killer.

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Frontier Folk Nebraska - Drop the Ball, Waste Another Year 7"

Frontier Folk Nebraska – Drop the Ball, Waste Another Year 7″ (2013)

No Chaser Records
Buy: Bandcamp

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

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Cassie Ramone - Christmas in Reno

UPCOMING: Cassie Ramone – Christmas in Reno (2015)

Burger Records
Buy: Burger Records (Colored LP/LP/Cass) | 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 records, 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.

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Phoenix - All Alone on Christmas Day

UPCOMING: Phoenix – Alone on Christmas Day 7″ (2015)

Glassnote Records
Buy 7″: Amazon.UK | 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!

UPDATE: So… nearly all the listings have disappeared. Where did you go, Phoenix 7″? It’s back! Links above!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf_dgbBK25o%5B/embed%5D