I recently discovered that Seth Pettersen (who has been featured here before) is in yet another great indie rock/punk/garage band, this one known as Sweet Reaper. I’ve recently gone down the rabbit hole of all the affiliated bands of Sweet Reaper (Massenger, Franklin for Short, The Spires, VNLVX), and you know what, I liked them all. So it may be of no surprise that I’m also digging Sweet Reaper. The first proper record as a group, (if we don’t consider Seth’s solo record Sweet Reaper) is the nearly self-titled (hehe) Street Sweeper. Yes, wrap your heads around that one. On that record is this great, garage-punk holiday song, “Holidaze.” The vibe reminds me of the Moonhearts, and the lyrics are wonderfully standoffish.
NOBODYS HOME FOR THE HOLIDAZE
IF YOU’RE AROUND YOU MIGHT
FIND YOURSELF A BETTER WAY
TO GET YOUR MIND OFF
PACK YOUR BAGS FOR
ANOTHER STATE OF TIME
LYING IN MY BED
A BULLET IN MY HEAD
WHAT WAS THAT YOU SAID?
STAY AWAY AWAY AWAY FROM ME
I asked Seth about where this song came from, and to my delight, he responded! “The song is meant for people like myself who’s families don’t get together anymore and the magic of Christmas is gone. That time of year is always a bit melancholy for a lot of people so it’s based on that.” Dark, indeed, but come on, this IS Christmas Underground.
Now, while I could see the line “bullet in my head” as perhaps a little too much for some folks, especially considering the culture of violence we are living in… I remind you that this is figurative, not literal. It is still quite dark – it is meant to highlight the suicidal thoughts that loneliness at Christmas might bring, but not the act itself. Hopefully, that dulls the edges just enough to enjoy it.
Bottom Line: Should you need something to set a tone on your mix that suggests that this record is not going to be like the others they have heard, “Holidaze” may just fit the bill.
Buy: Burger Records (Colored LP/LP/Cass) | Bandcamp | Amazon.UK (LP/Dig) | Amazon.DE (LP/Dig)
Ex-Vivian Girls’ guitarist/singer Cassie Ramone has announced a new Christmas covers album, Christmas in Reno, and it has been shouted out from the rooftops of Pitchfork, Stereogum and the meat-and-diary-free Brooklyn Vegan to name a few. I also tweeted about it. Thus, I doubt this is news to anyone. However, should this be finding you today, on a day when writing about Christmas music seems pretty damn inconsequential, maybe it’ll bring you some happiness, and that’s worth something. 10 covers, with some cool choices (Run Run Rudolph) and some terrible ones (Wonderful Christmastime), I’m really interested into hearing how this lo-fi Christmas comes together. “Run Run Rudolph” has a chilled-out, shimmering vibe, which makes it extremely enjoyable. I truly love the music, as it tickles the part of me that absolutely love Real Estate, and that would be the biggest RIYL if I were to go down that path.
For those interested in picking up this record, the preorders have begun. Burger has the colored & regular vinyl, as well as their classic format, cassette. Amazon also has the cassette and an LP listed (for cheaper than Burger), which I assume its the black vinyl. Amazon around the world is also listing the LP, so I’m not guessing the black vinyl is going to be ultra-limited.
Bottom Line: I’ve only heard one song. So no.
Los Angeles’ lo-fi trio Adult Books snuck a Christmas song onto their Demo 2011 release, “When the Lights Go Out on Christmas Eve,” and its a grower (for me, particularly). On first listen… I wasn’t hooked. It took me three listens, spread over a few weeks to get into this track. But you know what? Those kinds of songs often last for me. I really like the production, and if the EP title is to be believed, it’s only a demo. The simple instrumentation – the fuzzy vocals – it all creates a great atmosphere. I especially like the layered vocals at the end.
Of note – Adult Books also just put out a 7″ EP on Box Bedroom Rebels. BBR is one of my favorite labels of the past year, and their releases normally sell out extremely quickly. Fortunately for you, they still have some of the Adult Books EP, and it comes with lots of fun extras. Certainly check it out if you’re curious.
Bottom Line: A fantastic lo-fi Christmas tune. 4.4/5
EC Records / Burger Records
Philadelphia’s The Explorers Club released a gem of a cover last year, picked up by a number of my fell0w bloggers-in-Christmas, but worth highlighting once more for its general level of excellence. This is a faithful cover of The Band’s original, so nothing much has changed. However, this version does differ in subtle ways, best experienced during the chorus where they inject just enough energy to fill that gap I (personally) feel in the original.
Bottom Line: The Explorers Club took a great song, and upped the ante. 5/5
Fletcher C. Johnson has a great pop sensibility, in a garage-rock sense of the word. “Merry Christmas” is the B-Side to his Happy Birthday 7″. It has a truly excellent groove – certainly a groove good enough to be in the running for a mix. Fun, happy lyrics that I genuinely enjoy (believe it!) with the kind of pretty (yet still dirty around the edges) production quality that I am a sucker for. I just have to get over the children’s choir that is low in the mix of the chorus. Certainly worth a listen… I’d imagine you could edit it down to not have such a long intro too…
Bottom Line: Certainly better than most, this tune is solid, though I’d be a much bigger fan if there was a childless version. Oh, and I’d love a download… anybody know if you get an MP3 or FLAC download from the actual 7″? It doesn’t appear to be so on Bandcamp… 3.9/5