The Grapes & Friends “One More Christmas” (2021)

Self Released
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It is that time of year when our sexiest Christmas heroes emerge with a sexy, sexy jam to lip-sync awkwardly at your significant other. Yes, the Grapes & Friends are back, slinking around the room with “One More Christmas.” This song has everything: wrapped human Christmas presents, crescent rolls, bearskin rugs, fax machines, promenades… what else can you want? Normally I’m also plugging their live show, but it has already past! Which is both terrible and wonderful… terrible if you could have gone and missed it, and wonderful in that it actually happened this year! Though I must say, it was quite fun to attend virtually last year. Perhaps normal life is returning, one funky, sexy, hilarious Christmas song at a time.

H/T to Randall Anthony, for hipping me to their new song!

Bottom Line: If you like what the Grapes are cooking up, you’re gonna to like this steamy pot of Christmas a whole damn lot.

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Bek Sarkoezy “New Year” (2021)

Self Released
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It is almost time for Christmas… perfect time for an early New Year song! How about a stone-cold perfect New Year song? One written by an Australian perhaps? I certainly did not see that one coming…

Sydney’s Bek Sarkoezy maintains Australia’s 2021 Christmas Underground dominance, a trend which I am both tempted and taunted to maintain, by dropping this perfect song, “New Year,” in June of all times. Where do I begin with this song… the part where Bek sings “I just wanna go home,” and the horns kick in – that right there is magic. There are so many great lines too – “I wonder if this mess is the best that I can be.” Such a simple thought that we’ve all pondered, but perhaps not in such a perfect way before. There is so much to love in this song, that you really just need to listen to it… and buy it.

Bottom Line: A highlight of 2021 indeed. Bek Sarkoezy, I’ve got my eye on you.

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Andy Clockwise “Collect Call to My Baby” (Merry Christmas) (2012)

Self Released
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Soundcloud (FREE!) Apparently no longer downloadable…

Australian ex-pat Andy Clockwise (aka Andy Kelly) is a recent discovery for me, but most certainly a welcome one. Andy’s very excellent Christmas song “Collect Call to My Baby (Merry Christmas)” evaded me for 9 years… which is quite a feat for such a great song. From the very first moment, the groove will get you handclapping along – that is unless you’ve been drinking too much to keep the rhythm, as this song has a heavy pour of booze and would fit perfectly in with Christmas A Go Go’s recent “Drunken Christmas” series. “Collect Call” sounds both retro and modern at the same time – sharing production choices with the 60’s classics while being lyrically more playful than anything that would have been pressed to wax back then. I wouldn’t change a note in this song, and there isn’t much room to tinker when it comes in at about 3:20 – most certainly in the sweet spot for Christmas tunes. Hell… I loved this thing enough to have it feature on this year’s Christmas mix!

Be sure to check out Andy Clockwise’s regular music as well, it is extremely good. When I was listening to this song a bunch a while back, I would catch myself happily listening down his Soundcloud feed. So, please partake, as you are encouraged to get a little drunk on Andy Clockwise too.

Bottom Line: You never know what you are going to find when you are digging around Soundcloud… sometimes you find gold.

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Lost Cat “Winter Wonderland” (2021)

Lolipop Records
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Who are you Lost Cat? You are a three-piece rock band on Lolipop Records… you have an Instagram… you have covered “Winter Wonderland” with your own impenetrable wall of sound. Adding to the mystery, Lolipop Records initially released an unattributed version of this song on Soundcloud a month or so ago… Mystery (and general lack of specific information) aside, this cover of “Winter Wonderland” has pretty much taken what you love about the Darlene Love version and turned up the fuzz to an eleven. It is like adding a finishing salt to your favorite food… just delicious.

Bottom Line: Lost Cat’s fuzzed-out “Winter Wonderland” hits the spot.

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Laurie Shaw – Snow Day EP (2021)

Self Released
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Kenmare, Ireland’s Laurie Shaw has packaged an absolutely lovely little Christmas EP with two Christmas songs, a Springsteen cover, and another song that might be appropriate for another date-specific mix, “Graduation Day.” We are going to briefly chat about the two proper Christmas songs, which are both stellar. “Snow Day” is a stroll of a song, which will feature on Laurie’s upcoming LP, The Great Southern. It is equal parts beautiful and ragged, similar in feel and style to my beloved Wave Pictures. “Christmas in Kenamre” is a gorgeous portrait of Christmas in a small town. Babysitters, conversations, memories, family, Christmas tv, and frozen lips kissing… the little details are truly wonderful.

Bottom Line: In a year where I embraced more pop sounds than I usually do, Laurie Shaw’s slow, emotional and beautiful songs bring me back home.

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Hans Pucket “I Don’t Know What To Get You For Christmas (Do I Really Love You​?)” (2021)

Self Released
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Well, this is just a delight. Wellington, New Zealand’s Hans Pucket come in with this fantastic song and make me wish I hadn’t just made, handed out, and shipped 85 copies of my yearly Christmas mix. Well… be rest assured, this song about questioning whether you really love someone because you can’t think of what to get them for Christmas is going to be on next year’s. First, I love the angle they came at this song from; I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered a Christmas song wrestling with such a question. THEN they add in those horns and I pretty much lose my mind. So… is your mix not quite finished? I’m jealous as shit.

There is a 7″ lathe cut of this amazing song (with a B-side I am not able to sample yet), but it does appear to be exclusively for New Zealanders… as their Facebook page and the shipping prices suggest.

Bottom Line: I do know what I want for Christmas… and it is this lathe cut. BLAST, such a good song.

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Christmas Mix 2021: This is Just a Modern Xmas Song

How do you top the worst year you can recall? How about one that is marginally better! But hey… the year isn’t over. I have faith that humanity can really fuck it up in the next three weeks. With that, I present this 17th edition of my yearly Christmas mix to soundtrack the end of days. These mixes are never really finished in my head. I’m already rearranging it, kicking off a track or two, and replacing them. If only I could pull a Kanye and have it change from day-to-day. Wait, scratch that. I don’t wish being Kanye on anyone, especially myself. As for the contents, the mix is (as always) quite international. If I counted correctly, only 10 of 23 artists featured here are from my home country. I love that about this process… since good Christmas music is so hard to find, you really have to dig around absolutely everywhere, and you just never know where you’ll strike gold. One also should never expect my mix to be a roundup of what was good this year, as I truly do not care when a song came out. Is the song amazing? Great, it will make a mix someday… when it just feels right. I simply want to codify them into my life, so that I can easily revisit them whenever I need to. Songs… scents… small items you hold on that aren’t worth a dollar to anyone but you… These are just a few things that unlock the holidays for me every year, and thus I submit my time capsule of future nostalgia, This is Just a Modern Xmas Song.

1.Tino DrimaI Wish That it Was Christmas
2.Big Society feat. Ada Grace Francis(Won’t Be Home For) Christmas
3.Andy ClockwiseCollect Call to My Baby (Merry Christmas)
4.Billy NomatesChristmas is for Lovers, Ghosts & Children
5.The Little UnsaidFine World (When You Can Look It in the Eye)
6.Gold BabyLooks Like a Cold, Cold Winter
7.Hiss Golden MessengerHung Fire
8.Boat WaterMerry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
9.RegalLove Your Christmas
10.Christmas AguileraAll I Want is You
11.Cherry GhostBlue Christmas
12.Deep CutsComatose Come Christmas
13.Marcos y MoldurasLa de Navidad
14.FLTY BRGR GRLEx-Mas
15.Now, NowLonely Christmas
16.Self EsteemAll I Want for Christmas is a Work Email
17.Brooke AnnibaleChristmas, Happy You’re Here
18.Jeremy WarmsleyDecember
19.Bek SarkoezyNew Year
20.Stevie & the ScroogesLonesome Christmas Blues
21.SaintsenecaThe Wandering Star
22.Daði FreyrSomething Magical
23.YACHTChristmas Alone

Shame “Baldur’s Gate” (2021)

Shame "Baldur's Gate"

Dead Oceans
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London post-punk band Shame has a solid history of excellent Christmas tunes, a legacy that they really jumped right into alongside their debut record. I covered their excellent version of “Feliz Navidad” back in 2018, and would still love to hear the holiday flexi for “Tinsel Gate,” sent with early preorders of their last record, Drunk Tank Pink. This year’s selection, “Baldur’s Gate,” isn’t a celebration of Christmas, but more a snapshot of a holiday past from frontman Charlie Steen… I’ll let him describe:

‘It’s another Christmas classic. It’s about a period of time in which I’d regularly be trekking up to the streets of Edinburgh to see an ex-partner. These are some of the thoughts I’d have when I’d be leaving Waverley station, en route back to London in the winter nights.’

The deeper the song goes, the more I’m into the groove they have created. Certainly not your standard holiday release… which is what this blog is kinda about. Enjoy!

Bottom Line: Shame is a killer band during all twelve months of the year, and “Baldur’s Gate” only reinforces this.

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Corvair “Under the Tree” (2021)

Self Released
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It is the coldest day of the year so far, at least where I live. Hopefully writing about this warm little song, “Under the Tree,” by Portland’s Corvair will thaw out my fingers…

For those uninitiated with Corvair by their excellent single from last year, “Flannel Pajamas” (which also appeared on WIAIWYA’s 24), they are a “super duo” with more than twenty albums between them. Brian Naubert (Ruston Mire, Tube Top, Pop Sickle, The Service Providers) and Heather Larimer (Eux Autres – who have an indie-classic Christmas EP) put out a full-length LP earlier this year, the self-titled Corvair, and with two holiday releases in a row, are nicely positioned to be one of our indiepop Christmas yearly heroes. Corvair mines one of my favorite Christmas veins in “Under the Tree,” nostalgia. Those songs where you are sitting in front of the fire, thinking back on Christmases past… that is a box I routinely check. The chorus presents this wonderfully, as the tempo picks up and they sing, “When we were young, reckless and dumb, / the gifts were all free. / Now I’m tired and I’m leaving it under the tree tonight.” Looking back on your youth and past relationships with an equal sense of love and regret – that’s kind of what I get from this song. “Dreaming away that Christmas Day could just fill me with something new / Without you this place is so cold.” This song is one of those beautiful, emotional songs that I continue to be drawn to, hook, line, and sinker.

Bottom Line: Corvair’s Christmas songs keep getting better and better.

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Blackaby “Plastic Mistletoe” (2021)

Hand in Hive
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“Jesus soap will wash away your sins.”

The latest holiday track to pop up on all the “regular” music blogs that deserves attention is “Plastic Mistletoe,” a wonderful, touching, and hilarious new track from Blackaby. Grandpa sleeps through the holiday scene that develops around him, all with a wonderful indie pop/rock vibe. Super-solid and most certainly mix-worthy, with all proceeds are directed to the Refugee Community Kitchen – so buy it!

“His teeth hanging loooooooooooooose.”

Bottom Line: Blackaby’s smooth seasonal submission certainly succeeds smashingly. Thus ends this year’s “fun with alliteration!”

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