Shelter Scotland Home for the Holidays

Home For The Holidays: A Christmas Songbook (2016)

Shelter Scotland
Buy: Bandcamp

I’ve been following the progression of this project for a little while now, and it is finally out. This MASSIVE compilation of Scottish/UK bands had their release party just a few days back, and I had no idea as to the extent of this collection. 37 tracks… 37 tracks… some of which you’ll recognize, such as “Cheap Gold” by Frightened Rabbit, or Allo Darlin’s “Will You Please Spend New Years With Me,” but there is still plenty of new stuff to discover here! And hey, I don’t think that Frightened Rabbit track was ever available as something other than a MP3. I seriously can’t take the time to give a full review of the entire collection, it’s just so massive (and so nicely priced!), but who knows… maybe sometime in July? So check out the likes of Broken Records, Kid Canaveral, Withered Hand, Sweet Baboo, This is the Kit, The Spook School, Jonnie Common, De Rosa, and many many many more.

Bottom Line: I’m six tracks in… and there is not a clunker in the bunch so far. And every sale benefits Shelter Scotland, which helps “over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness

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Elizabeth Morris - Athens

Elizabeth Morris “The Season” (2015)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Allo Darlin‘s Elizabeth Morris has released a 4-track EP today, Athens, and there is a special holiday treat for us at the end. Elizabeth describes “The Season” as “a song about trying to be a better friend at Christmas.” Indeed, it is just that. A touching song about a friends that you might not see because of time, distance or simply life, but have the kind of connection that is as important as family. I hope you all have someone like that.

Bottom Line: Beautiful as always, Elizabeth. On a side note, should I just rebrand Christmas Underground as an Allo Darlin’ fansite?

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Bill Botting & The Two Drink Minimums - It's Not Christmas Anymore

UPCOMING: Bill Botting & The Two Drink Minimums – It’s Not Christmas Anymore (2015)

Fika Recordings
Buy: Bandcamp

Fika Recordings has blessed us with yet another seasonal release this year! Bill Botting and the Two Drink Minimums’ It’s Not Christmas Anymore features so many folks from bands that I love, including: Bill Botting & Paul Rains (Allo Darlin’), Hannah Botting (Owl & Mouse) Darren Hayman (Hefner, Papernut Cambridge, amongst a million other bands) and David Tattersall & Jonny Helm (Wave Pictures). Look at that lineup!! Those are some Christmas music all-stars!!

The only track that you can preview is the title track, “It’s Not Christmas Anymore,” and it is fantastic. I wish I could go on a bit more about the track, but I’m at my inlaws, my son is running around shouting, and I need to let you know about this ASAP… cause there are cassettes, and only 100 of them. Had I gotten home before midnight last night, and not been gone all day, I would have mentioned this record earlier… So listen and BUY!

Bottom Line: Only heard one song, loved it and bought it.

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Geoffrey and the Livingstones

Geoffrey and the Livingstones – A Song is For Life and Not Just For Christmas (2013)

House vs. Home Records
Buy: Bandcamp

Geoffrey and the Livingstones have gathered their friends and recorded three indiepop originals for us this Christmas season. Their friend list is quite long, including members of Allo Darlin’, The Middle Ones, The Heliogoats, The Smittens, The School, Captain Dangerous, and the list goes on and on. I’d imagine that most of them are on the title track, “A Song is For Life and Not Just For Christmas,” because it is reminiscent of one of those “everyone takes a verse” classic Christmas tunes of yore. Its really a great little song, with some very odd lyrics for those of you who love that sort of thing (I would include myself in that category). “Christmas is the season / we miss old friends the most. / We’re not visited by wisemen, / we’re visited by ghosts. / But instead of kissing corpses / under the mistletoe, / lets raise a glass of eggnog / for a merry memorial toast.”

The other two tracks on the single are certainly the B-sides, but not to put them down, they are just of noticeably smaller scope. “Communist Christmas” is wonderfully clever, and will fit the bill for someone out there’s mix. I would post some lyrics, but you really need to experience them for yourself. “Little Donkey Kong” is a reimagining of “Little Donkey” as video game music. Not my thing, but hey, perhaps yours! It’s short, which is always a bonus.

Bottom Line: Hey, did I mention this is for charity, and totally worth the money? 4.8/5

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allo-darlin-7777777

Allo Darlin’ “Only Dust Behind” (2012)

WIAIWYA
Buy: Bandcamp

Allo Darlin’ have a long history of Christmas tunes. In fact their first-ever release was a Christmas EP. I may review that one day soon as well; we’ll just see how it shakes out. I am not hear to talk about the distant past, but the ever-so-recent release from 2012, their WIAIWYA 7″ from last December. The Christmas song that resides on the A-side is one of my absolute favorite of the past few years, “Only Dust Behind.” This is one of those tracks that I just always come back to. My only regret… that I was unable to get my act together to buy a vinyl copy. However, as consolation, a lovely FLAC waits for you at the link above. I will not bloviate any more, you really just need to listen to it.

Bottom Line: Simply said, wonderful. 5/5

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12 Days of Christmas cover

12 Days of Christmas (2009)

Bubblewrap Collective
Buy: CD | Bandcamp

The concept is intriguing. 12 bands were selected and given 31 days to write and record a song, each based on a particular day in the “12 Days of Christmas.” It was intriguing enough to compel me to preorder it many moons ago. As with nearly every single Christmas compilation, there is a WIDE variety of quality on this record. The tracks that rise above the rest are all female-fronted indie bands – one might think that I have a type. The first notable track is “Five Golden Rings from the Hi Five Kings” by The Rocky Nest. They have a great musical aesthetic – everything works well together. The second track I would like to highlight is “Silver Swans in NYC” by Allo, Darlin’ (Look them up – they put out a fantastic record this year). This was the one I was anticipating… and perhaps it was that anticipation that raised the expectations a bit too high. Its a lovely little song… but for some reason I wish it was a more fleshed-out production. There are a few other tracks on there that are ok, but largely, I was not a huge fan.

Bottom Line: So much potential, but not enough quality payoff. 2/5

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