Forest Creatures - Was That Christmas?

Forest Creatures – Was That Christmas? (2017)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

I don’t have much time, as I have to work this Saturday, and I’ve just got a few minutes to get this down. Forest Creatures are a Vancouver band of folkies who have put together two (yes, TWO) whole records of RIYL Sufjan Stevens Christmas folk music. When I say “RIYL Sufjan Stevens,” it is both a compliment to the taste level, as well as a hint that this record is going to have a dash of Jesus for sure, but not heavy-handedly so. The production is outstanding, warm and layered. They mix it up with covers (“I Heard the Bells”) and excellent originals (“Christmas Like I’ve Never Felt”), each one done beautifully. This is a cohesive, beautiful record that you could put on and enjoy all the way through, which can be VERY hard for a Christmas album to achieve.

Bottom Line: Forest Creatures have come in from the cold, Canadian winter to warm our hearts with lush, indie folk.

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Lab Coast "Yule See"

Lab Coast “Yule See” (2016/2017)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp (NYOP)

Originally released last year on Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada VII, Calgary’s Lab Coast have generously re-released this killer track on Bandcamp for our FLAC-downloading fun! This is one of the most interesting approaches to a Christmas song I’ve heard in the past few years. There are no cliches, no “baby, please come home,” rather, the narrator is wondering why they are still loved. Many of you have likely felt inadequate, when faced with someone who loves you more than you think you deserve. “How did I become the apple of your eye? / I don’t know now.” So he walks around, thinking, “Would you still love me as I am / It’s not 1993 / I’m so broke I might as well / wrap myself under your tree.” It’s a powerful song, wrapped up in 2:06 of RIYL Real Estate-indie rock. This is pretty much written for my sensibilities, and thus, here we are. Enjoy.

Bottom Line: This is short enough, interesting enough, and rocking enough to (spoiler alert) make my mix. Maybe yours too! Now with extra FLAC-goodness!

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Fast Romantics from 2010

Fast Romantics “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (2010)

Self Released
Buy: Stream

Originally released as a Youtube video back in 2010, the Fast Romantics managed to put together a wonderfully upbeat, profane (my mix is gonna have lots of swearin!) version of the classic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” which I had been trying to hunt down for a good while – even messaging the band at one point. How I never found this Soundcloud stream from Aporia Records, is beyond me. But alas! It is now mine! The Fast Romantics, for those unfamiliar, are a wonderful indie rock/pop band from Toronto. The early lineup you hear in this delightful Christmas song is clearly fantastic – the groove, the keyboard melodies, the driving bass – it is so damn good. The latest lineup retains two original members, and the recent additions (and the new record, American Love) are fantastic. (Also check out FR member Kirty’s self-titled solo record, it is beautiful.) I would love to hear the new version of Fast Romantics tackle a Christmas song… just sayin…

Bottom Line: The Fast Romantics’ version of this classic Grinch tune is the best one I’ve heard – resurrected from the past for your listening pleasure.

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Mellow Fellow and Floor Cry - New Year's Eve

Mellow Fellow and Floor Cry “New Year’s Eve” (2017)

Self Released
Buy: Stream | Bandcamp (soon?) |

Mellow Fellow, a bedroom-pop genius from the Philippines (who it appears, Soundcloud was invented for), teamed up with Manitoba’s wonderful Floor Cry for a lush tale of a sad, sad New Year’s Eve. The chill vibe, and the beautifully layered instrumentation nearly lets you forget that this song is pretty devastating. The fractured relationship plays out as both parties have a full realization of their roles – she knows that she loves him, but only shows it when convenient, and he won’t take the emotional strain anymore. A late night call that remains unanswered on New Year’s Eve, dressed up with some beautiful performances and production. Highly recommended.

Of note, Floor Cry is no stranger to holiday tunes – I’ve attached her covers of “White Christmas” and “Wonderful Christmastime” (please, everyone, stop covering this) to a playlist. Both are available on her Bandcamp as well.

Bottom Line: A beautiful downer – right up my alley.

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MC Paquin "Noël Song" (2016)

MC Paquin “Noël Song” (2016)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes

Montreal’s MC Paquin’s “Noël Song” is one of the more breezy Christmas tunes I’ve heard in a long time. Splitting time between solo work and being a member of the folk-pop band Jolie Jumper, MC Paquin’s finds the sweet spot between folk-pop and indiepop with “Noël Song.” The airy production, strolling beat, and lovely brass accents will leave you tapping your foot (unless you have no feet). Readers of this blog will know I normally gravitate toward the rougher edges of Christmas tunes, looking for those tracks that don’t quite buy into everything being perfect and snow-covered. However, lines like, “Drove all those miles just to leave them with a smile,” capture a particular sentiment that I just haven’t heard before… and I loved it.

Bottom Line: I’ve always known that Montreal is a hotbed for fantastic music, and MC Paquin has not let her city down. (However, her city let me down this summer when my car was stolen on the FIRST NIGHT OF VACATION. Booooo Montreal, BOOOOOO!)

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Los "Big Surf"

Los “Christmas In D” (2016)

Grande Vague Musique
Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon MP3 | Vinyl (shipping from Canada)

How about some surf/power-pop from Québec for your hump day enjoyment? Los‘ released Big Surf on October 7th, their LP follow-up to the EP Small Surf, and snuck a Christmas song on the end! “Christmas in D” has me recalling the feel and sound of Mojave 3 at their most poppy, which isn’t necessarily very poppy, but more a mid-tempo, atmospheric, country-twinged dream pop scenario. I’m thinking this through as I write it, so bear with me. I’m really feeling a healthy dash of Pernice Brothers too, especially with the dark lyrics and the vocal layering. “All is well, you never can tell / If heaven is a place to sell / if loving is a wishing well / pulling you under” Los has some nice turns of phrase here, highlighted nicely with multiple listens (so listen!). Los has delivered a complex and interesting Christmas song, perfect for a place like Christmas Underground, and poison for a Christmas party. Hey… that would be a good tagline for this site!

Botton Line: A complex song stylistically, lyrically, and emotionally. Los has my vote! #twomoreweeksofhell

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Memory House Digital Fire Digital Burn

Memoryhouse – Digital Fire, Digital Burn: Holiday Songs 2010​-​2015 (2015)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Memoryhouse has finally done it! They have compiled all the loose Christmas songs from over the years, packaged them together with a new, original tune (!), all for a low-low price that benefits rabbit shelters! I’ve previously many of the older Memoryhouse Christmas songs, so I’ll focus mainly on “Merry Christmas Babe.” The sweet electro-pop frames the scene of a snowy Christmas scene, wasting the day as it snows outside. However, nothing is as idyllic as it seems. There are some complicated feelings toward Christmas floating above these synthesizers.

You always hated christmas both, why do you have to be that way?
Made you wear your mittens and we skated all night on the lake.
There’s no other time of year we try so hard to be OK,
But since the roads are so bad, why don’t we stay in and waste the day?

Bottom Line: Memoryhouse have a great touch when it comes to Christmas songs, and this complicated, beautiful song only solidifies them as one of best out there.

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Atlaas "Feelings"

ATLAAS “Feelings” (2014)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Winnipeg’s ATLAAS have created a wonderful electro-pop Christmas song with their new song, and only second release, “Feelings.” Heather Thomas’ vocals weave through bouncing beats as she laments not being with her love at Christmas. Yes, classic lonely-at-Christmas fodder, but done with a funky backing track.

Bottom Line: ATLAAS makes longing for the one you love something you can move in your seat to. 4.6/5

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Behind Sapphire - Diamonds

Behind Sapphire “Diamonds” (2011)

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Behind Sapphire are an experimental pop band from Vancouver, Canada, also known (to me) as the Sweden of North America. What is it about cold climates that breed such excellent, interesting pop music? From the Broken Social Scene of Toronto, to the many odd and wonderful bands of Montreal, Canadian cities are just rife with fantastic bands. I will include Behind Sapphire amongst them, and their circumstances are certainly impressive. Still unsigned, they have released 2 EPs, one full length, toured China (got detained in China too!), and have a production value that any signed band would love to have. “Diamonds” is the title track off their first EP, and I am billing this track as one of the more challenging songs on my 2013 mix, The Third Eye Santa. The vocals, the lyrics, and the movements that the song goes through are not for a mainstream pop radio audience. This is one of those tracks that I could see your family members skipping by, but could somehow become your secret, favorite song.

Bottom Line: For your more adventurous listener, perhaps those who enjoy the Parenthetical Girls Christmas tunes. 4.8/5

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