UPCOMING: Mark Kozelek – Sings Christmas Carols (2014)

Mark Kozelek Sings Christmas Carols Cover

So, its not out yet, and you can only hear two tracks (see below), but it was made official overnight (in that you can now preorder it)… that yes, indeed, Mark Kozelek’s first stab at a true Christmas record will be coming out November 4th. The preorder is live. It is real and it is limited. Those unfamiliar with Mark, or more likely, those with that little bit of familiarity with Mark, may say – hey – he has 2 other Christmas albums! No, no… they are just deceptive titles for live shows with minimal Christmas representation. So, be sure to purchase this new album, not White Christmas Live or Little Drummer Boy Live if you want the full thing.

All that said – I’m looking forward to this. This is certainly an album that will be heavily reviewed by major publications, and could very well be the indie-christmas-du-jour release (unless Sufjan releases another). However, I don’t have my hopes too high up – as the only tracks I’ve heard aren’t quite my bag, but that’s just my personal prejudices toward really religious tunes during Christmas (I understand the irony). I do very much love Mark, Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters though…

The CD version has begun showing up at other retailers (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Amazon UK), but if you purchase direct from Caldo Verde, you get a bonus CD, Mark Kozelek: The Kids – Live in London. In addition, there is also a vinyl pressing that has popped up. The numbers are in, and its official – red, green, black and white editions will all be limited to 500 copies each. The red is available exclusively from Caldo Verde (and its live now… likely for 24 hours or so), while the green, white and black are already available for preorder on Bull Moose’s website, as well as on Amazon (Edit: I don’t think any Amazon copies actually shipped – they kind of suck for limited stuff).

Sings Christmas Carols:

  1. Christmas Time Is Here (Listen via Stereogum)
  2. Do You Hear What I Hear
  3. 2,000 Miles
  4. O Come All Ye Faithful (Listen below or listen at this link)
  5. O Christmas Tree
  6. Away In A Manger
  7. Silent Night
  8. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
  9. What Child Is This
  10. I Believe In Father Christmas
  11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Listen via Stereogum)
  12. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  13. The First Noel
  14. The Christmas Song

Proper review to follow, of course.

LISTEN:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXOhzykofK4]

Hot Shorts – Xmas Single (2014)

Hot Shorts - Xmas Single

Self-Released / Cat from Japan Records
Buy: Bandcamp | Cassette

The Manchester band Hot Shorts has laid (first track-related pun!) some nice Christmas tunes on us with plenty of time to spare. Not trying to be taken too seriously, this 2-track release starts off with “Sex Christmas.” Here are the lyrics if you wish: “I wanna Sex Christmas / and I don’t even know what that means.” That’s pretty much it! The vibe is fun – heavy guitars, shouting, everything you’d hope from sexin’ it up at Christmas.

The second tune is pretty fantastic, and while I enjoy the cheekiness of the leadoff track, “I Don’t Even Want to Talk about It (This Christmas),” certainly satisfies my hunger for indie-rock Christmas tunes. I’m trying to find a good RIYL – perhaps Weezer if they hadn’t sucked for the past 10 years? Listen to it though. Its totally worth the 1:32 it runs…

Bottom Line: Two SHORT tunes, a name-your-own-price, and an opportunity to get a luxurious, double-sided artwork cassette tape? 4.3/5

LISTEN

Nickel Creek “Christmas Eve” (2014)

Nickel Creek - A Dotted Line

Nonsuch
Buy: 7Digital FLAC/MP3 | iTunes

So, this may likely be the highest-profile post that I put on this site. Nickel Creek are largely mainstream; They have won a Grammy, been on CMT, etc. etc. However, it is their proclivity for interesting choices, such as covering a Pavement song (“Spit On A Stranger“) on a major-label release, that gives me enough reason to bring them into the Christmas Underground fold.

After a seven-year hiatus, Nickel Creek returns with a record that also marks their 25th anniversary, A Dotted Line. This album has gotten rave reviews, as have their earlier efforts, and to my surprise, includes a Christmas tune. “Christmas Eve” is a breakup track, with lyrics by their guitarist, Sean Watkins. If you have a folk bone in your body, this is certainly going to tickle it. And if you truly love folk music, you are going to LOVE this song. The ending is pretty exquisite – their vocals – “Please darling wait / It’s not all over yet” – layering as the song descends… very much worth your time. No jingle bells whatsoever on this tune.

Bottom Line: Mainstream folk via an excellent band that are likely to be listened to for many years to come. 4.5/5

LISTEN:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5MfYLO200Q]