The Natural Lines “Quiet Magic” (2022)

Bella Union
Bandcamp (NYOP)

The Natural Lines are an indie rock band helmed by Matt Pond and Chris Hansen whose debut EP, First Five, came out in October. While we wait for the full-length LP due in 2023, the band has given us the gift of “Quiet Magic.” First… let’s quickly take note of that name we might be familiar with here at Christmas Underground – Matt Pond. This new band rose out of his recent collaborations, and he felt it best to ditch the somewhat-eponymous band name to reflect the collaborative nature of this new setup. Now back to The Natural Lines, and this beautiful track, “Quiet Magic.” I love that the song gives all the weight and all the credit to the love he already feels. It is possible to dislike Christmas, yet comfort in your love for friends and family. The small moments of togetherness that he points to are so simple and beautiful, like in this passage:

If it’s real
Then I’ll take it
On the couch, with you
And the dog
Late at night
Quiet magic

Those quiet moments just enjoying the company of those you love… you don’t have to love Christmas for that.

I rather liked their own description of the song, so I’m going to share it here as well.

It might initially sound like a disgruntled yodel from the complaint department, but it’s far from it. It’s about the sensation that predates all celebrations — the love of family, the love of friends, the love of your life and the love of music. All I’ve ever wanted is the quiet magic of a love that’s real. (If that’s your thing, I hope you get some, too.)

Bottom Line: Simply beautiful.


MONEY “A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic’s New Year” (2015)

Bella Union
Buy: BandcampSoundcloud (Live version is free!) | Band Site

So sometimes, while searching for Christmas songs, I stumble upon a band that transcends the holiday season, and enters into my everyday listening. I can think of many examples of this in fact, it’s a significant bonus to this particular obsession. So, while on a night of keyword searching on blogs I dig, I came across Manchester’s MONEY. They are raw emotion and the soaring music, channeled through Tom Waits (not necessarily literal voice, but the voice), all the while not feeling contrived and wholly genuine. I’m somewhat obsessed at the moment.

Their new album, Suicide Songs, comes out January 29th… and they have released some preview tracks. First came the spectacular “The Night,” which I cannot recommend enough. The most recent track is a live version of a deeper album cut, which I’ve been been particularly eyeing (and tweeting at the band about!), “A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic’s New Year.” This is the track that really had me thinking Tom Waits – you can imagine Tom growling through this song beautifully.

and i’ve wasted all my time
on cocaine at christmas
and bottles of wine
and i’m as happy as a child
because you don’t have to ask me why

Darkness can sometimes bring you down, somehow MONEY’s travels in the darker corners of life can give you shivers – the good kind. I hope at least one or two of you agree… and preorder their new album. I do hope they have signed copies left after Christmas, when I might have some money!

Bottom Line: MONEY have channeled the very best of Tom Waits to create a new drunk, Christmas classic. They could not be kinder by releasing this beautiful live version for free on Soundcloud – even a WAV file!


Merry Christmas from Bella Union (2006)

Merry Christmas from Bella Union cover

Bella Union
Buy: Discogs

Back in 2006, I blogged about this great little 3″ CD I was picking up… and boy was I excited. I had a right to be. This tiny, 3″ CD packs quite a punch. Three tracks, all worthwile, highlighted by the absolutely splendid tune by My Latest Novel, “Outside it’s Christmas.” My Christmas mix had a bit of a Scottish flair that year – I believe it had Frightened Rabbit on it as well. Robert Gomez & Eric Pulido (both of Midlake) were at the height of their powers, and present an extremely enjoyable version of “Feliz Navidad,” one of two versions of the songs that I particularly enjoy. Devics haunting rendition of “Silent Night,” is interesting enough to not be a bore, though I probably would never include it on my mix… just because I don’t think the song fits what I’m going for.

This disc is nearly impossible to hunt down… don’t pay an arm & a leg, but give it a shot.

Bottom Line: Hunt down that My Latest Novel track, and you’ve got a surefire winner. 4.3/5

EDITDid My Latest Novel find my post and decide to upload it to their Soundcloud account? I doubt it… but it is rather fortuitous that it was posted there yesterday… and that does look my scan of the cover art! Be sure to listen to the song all the way through – the latter half is fantastic!