Soft Speak Records
Limited Vi nyl | Bandcamp | Limited Vinyl Repress
Chris Farren released the absolutely wonderful Like a Gift from God or Whatever digitally last year, and its unique songwriting and fantastic production made it a quick favorite in the CU household. This year, Chris and Soft Speak Records decided to wrap a bow on the record and give it to us again. But… what a bow! A limited vinyl release!
100 on gold vinyl, 270 on red vinyl, and 30 handmade editions (only to be sold at The Fest in Gainesville, Florida this upcoming weekend). However, the story does not end there. There is a wonderful vinyl-only bonus track, “Cold Front,” featuring Pet Symmetry‘s Evan Weiss and Into It. Over It. Melancholy seeps out the of every crack in this Christmastime memory. For new readers… Christmas melancholy is something that I’m most certainly a sucker for. The song builds slowly, setting the stage – “The dead of winter, / the streets covered with salt. / I’m in the front yard, / wondering where you are. / The lights shine brighter / when you’re around. / The snow stops mid-fall / and avoids the ground. / The congregation ends the prayer. / Somebody told me it was not my fault / Somebody was wrong.” The music lifts and we go back to a time that was filled with love. The emotional roller coaster that is Christmas, wonderfully reflected in a song.
Oh, and all proceeds benefit NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. So buy a record, support a good cause, and get this awesome bonus track.
I have been so, so, so busy lately. I really wanted to write about this earlier, when there were more versions of the vinyl available, but alas… there is only red left. But take heart! At least there is SOMETHING left.
EDIT: Just announced today (November 6, 2017) – Randomly-colored vinyl repress of 500 copies!
Bottom Line: Chris Farren can write a bonus track for me any day…
just make it available for those who can’t grab one of the 400 copies and I’ll give back that .1. 4.9/5 5/5 (I keep my promises – available for download now!)
Buy: Band (LP) | 7Digital FLAC/MP3 | Amazon UK MP3
Proto-indie rock legends the Violent Femmes returned in April of 2015 with a new EP, tantalizingly titled Happy New Year. Originally a Record Store Day release, the LP (and download) is now available everywhere! Simply said, the song is about how the year has been ruined by January 1, so next year will be the happy one. It has a classic Violent Femmes sound, and comes in at under 2 minutes. Certainly something to consider when crafting your 2015 mix.
Bottom Line: While I liked it, I did not LOVE it. However, it could certainly find a place on your mix, if the mood was right. 3.9/4
Cassette | iTunes | Amazon.uk
Lo-fi indie fuzz pop. That’s my stab at explaining London/Brighton’s Dog Legs. They have an edge and a sense of humor that immediately grabbed me. April saw their latest release, Holiday E.P., and mixed into the shotgun silliness that is Dog Legs, were two songs that could be considered Christmas/holiday tunes. “Holiday” leads off the release, and this song, more-so than any other on the release, has a much more traditional lyrical structure. You know… verses, choruses, those things. Some of their songs, such as “Ice Cream Cone” are pretty much one sentence of fun. Its got a great sound – certainly a contender for my mix. The second prospect is the much sillier “Xmas Cookie.” Great music, fun, certainly silly – it all depends on what your mix needs. Too much heavy stuff? Lots of yearning for lost love and childhood? “Xmas Cookie” might snap you out of it.
Bottom Line: I really dig this whole release. I wish I could find a place where “Xmas Cookie” was also available, because it appears that iTunes/Google Play/Amazon.uk only have a 2-song single version with “Holiday.” Sorry that the cassette is gone too – with only 100 copies, it was not going to last long. Perhaps if a groundswell of interest amasses from my extremely influential underground Christmas music blog, they will repress. So, all four of you dedicated readers, contact Soft Power Records and beg. I will update the post if any additional options develop. 4.6/5
Milwaukee’s Breadking Records first release is a 4-track, winter (and Christmas) themed E.P…. released this February! The lead-off track, “On A Quiet Winter Night” by Hello Death is a beautiful weaving of three voices, a cello, guitar and brandy. J.E. Sunde‘s “Rest in the Everlasting Arm” blends layered vocals, sparse notes and waves of electronic instrumentation; truly a break from the norm while remaining in the folk genre. Boom Forest‘s take on “The Holly & the Ivy,” is yet another excellent stab at a recent cover du jour. It’s quite atmospheric, as the instruments ring and seem to hang in the air. Christopher Porterfield bats cleanup on the E.P. with my favorite track on the release. Porterfield may be better-known as frontman of the Milwaukee-based folk band Field Report, but with this solo track, he leaves the genre behind to rock out a bit more. “Christmas Ghost” is a stone-cold lock for my 2015 mix. The driving beat, the shimmering keys, the booze… sign me up.
Look for this release to be released on cassette later on in the year, but for now, you can buy each single track on Bandcamp.
Bottom Line: Solid all the way through… this truly lives up to the label’s intent. 4.8/5
“When I was growing up, every other Christmas or so, my mom would forget about a really awesome present and randomly find it some months later. It would always be one of the sickest gift and have a lot of thought and love. Please accept this release as a very late present on behalf of all of us at Breadking.”
Buy: Cassette | Bandcamp
I love a grimy Christmas as much as the next guy, and Pupppy’s “Puking (Merry Christmas)” is as grimy as it gets. The smell of New York permeates this song – as Pupppy’s brand of “twister folk jangle pop” spins a tale of a drunken train ride home on Christmas eve.
“Twisting thought and bending time, / your soul weeps inside your mind / as you puke up all of that red wine / in the morning time. / But there you stand on both legs / feel the snow your head.”
It begins with an alt.country twang, then moves towards the dirtier qualities (no synths, no beats, no shimmery guitars) of indie rock as it progresses. The song would certainly help keep your Christmas mix from being too family friendly, and I consider that a good thing.
Bottom Line: I love a slightly fucked up Christmas song, and Pupppy fucks some shit up quite well. 4.5/5
Well, I got tweeted at earlier this month – which is always a treat for a niche music blogger.
I immediately began listening to the new Faye & the Scrooges Christmas track, much to the dismay of my wife. I mean really… who could live in my house and be sick of Christmas music. Well… perhaps the dog isn’t sick of it… I haven’t asked him yet.
“X M A S” has a bit of a “Terrible Presents” groove (their wonderful song from a few years back), but the subject matter makes perfect sense for this festive band. Each year, this group of friends gets together and records a Christmas tune to share on Christmas eve at the pub. It makes wonderful sense that they might document these holiday shenanigans in song. Too many jager-bombs the night before (no doubt while passing around their new song) leads into a food and drink-filled Christmas day. This is the kind of Christmas day that I also look forward to, but mine doesn’t usually have a good beat.
Bottom Line: F+TS remain one of the best Christmas pop bands out there. 4.3/5
This post has been edited for the 2015 remaster.
Dublin’s Blades Club‘s “What You Get Me (For Christmas)” is one of the best rocking out Christmas tunes I’ve heard this year. Originally released on Youtube back in 2012, you can now get a remastered, high-res FLAC download on Bandcamp! Blades Club has channeled the best parts of the Strokes, blended it with surf vibes and great lyrics to create an absolutely wonderful Christmas song. So, I would recommend a quick listen, then fork over a euro and support Blades Club!
Bottom Line: Simply said, fun rocking out Christmas tune. 4.8/5