Buy: Bandcamp (Free!)
There isn’t much info about Moonfire Mountain beyond their short bio, which lets us know that the band contains Harry (from Bear Driver!), Cassie, Jon and Rich. Thankfully, this crew got together and covered Yoko’s “Listen, the Snow is Falling” with dreampop brevity, which I always appreciate. They also tackle “Christmas” by Florence Dore (which they mislabel as a Posies cover). Their instrumentation is what makes this song; I think I hear a theremin! The EP’s finisher is a rocking version of Big Star’s “Jesus Christ.” I particularly like the harmonies on the chorus, and the rough edges of the guitar work. All in all, three super-solid covers for less-covered songs. I sure wish that more folks would give up on Last Christmas, Christmas Time is Here, etc, etc, and branch out. Universe… make it so.
Bottom Line: One of these three, great Christmas covers just might scratch that Christmas-mix itch for you.
Buy: Bandcamp (Free!)
(The rest of this review is an aside. Up there… that is my one-word review. Pennsylvania’s The Stargazer Lilies have taken the dreamy Galaxie 500 cover and thrown on a glamour shot-shimmery sheen to this John & Yoko classic. This also provides all you mixmasters with a shoegaze version that comes in under 5 minutes! Perhaps you had forgotten that the wonderful Galaxie 500 version clocks in around 8 minutes…a bit long for me. Also of note, The Stargazer Lilies also have a new record coming out Nov. 1, Occabot, produced by Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow!)
Bottom Line: This song’s soothing glow eased my wordy proclivities… (sort of).
Buy: iTunes | Amazon MP3 | Amazon.uk MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3
Taken by Trees‘ Victoria Bergsman penned one of the best almost-Christmas songs I’ve ever heard; the Concretes’ “Lady December” remains one of my absolute favorite seasonal (almost-Christmas) songs of all-time. So I was delighted to see she dropped yet another almost-Christmas song today with “Holiday.” The song is less about this seasonal holiday, and more about being able to take your friends and family, shut off the outside world and take a personal holiday from reality. A very nice sentiment, indeed, which only becomes more vital when she describes the reason why she wrote this song (from The Line of Best Fit):
“I felt that I had been quiet for far too long and wanted to say something -that you can flee away for a moment with your loved ones and shut your eyes so you don’t have to see that freak who is leading the US, where I am living currently,” Bergsman adds.
“Just give yourself some rest from all the crazy news that has been spitting you in the face for that last year. Take a moment and be kind to yourself and the people you love, focus on what is beautiful and important in life.”
A-f*ing-men Victoria. This song not only has the kind of sentiment that I appreciate, it also highlights the dreamy indiepop that I’ve come to love from Victoria. As she readies her new record for 2018, pop on “Holiday” and take solace in the quiet comfort of those you love… if for just one moment… as the dumpster fire waits for you on the other side.
Bottom Line: Victoria has taken a moment to remind us that we all deserve a break, cloaked in a dream-pop prayer.
Silber Records / VeniVersus
Did you wake up, as I did, wanting a super chill version of Low’s “Just Like Christmas,” sung in Italian? You did? Well, that works out well for all of us, as Vittorio Veneto’s Lullabier has realized our dream with the leadoff track on his wonderful new EP, 2512. The novelty of hearing this classic song in Italian is not the only draw to the song – the laid-back indiepop orchestration is absolutely beautiful. However, it is the small, but significant, addition of the cabasa (at least that’s what I think they are using – the hand percussion), that evokes a crackling fire and draws out a warmth in this song that I don’t think I have heard before. The other tracks are also excellent – I enjoy the layered spoken word of “Natale A Serravalle (Silent Night),” and the English-language “White Dizziness” is understated and gorgeous. Lullabier has made some wonderful choices, and is very much on my radar now, and I hope yours as well.
Bottom Line: Italy is on the board with this stellar cover by Lullabier, whose warm, beautiful orchestration and production has extracted new qualities from an already beloved song.
The Wild Raspberries, who already put out two absolutely beautiful Christmas songs the past two season, are back once more. Continuing what is already an incredible day of releases, “Snow” is the leadoff single to a mini-Christmas album, Be Merry Be Bright, slated to be released next week. So, consider this to the first of two December 2017 posts about the Wild Raspberries, because you’re gonna hear about them again. With “Snow,” the Wild Raspberries pull out the big guns, a beautiful overlay of Keez and Hannah’s vocals throughout the entire song. In their earlier single, “A Christmas Song,” the meeting of their voices was the part that just destroyed me. Now, it is as they decided to just give me the straight dope, from start to finish. With “Snow”, the Wild Raspberries maintain their gorgeous melodies, floating vocals, and taste level that can only be described as impeccable. I cannot wait for next week to see what else is in store – even if it is just a proper download of all three (known) season tracks, I’m pumped.
EDIT: 5 tracks! Looks to be four originals and one cover! WAHOO! Link above!
Bottom Line: The Wild Raspberries are the dessert on what has become the best day for Christmas tunes (and poetic justice) so far this year.
First off… big, big shout out to The Christmas Chaos Radio Show for hipping me to this fantastic new Dutch band, The Wild Raspberries. How they snuck past the Christmas music radar that I have eternally pointed at northern Europe, I have no clue. Their 2016 track, “Together on Christmas Day,” isn’t even their first seasonal rodeo; They are now two years into this seasonal tradition! And yes, I’m going to say tradition in the hopes that they will continue putting out these gorgeous songs. To describe these songs is to close your eyes and imagine what an amazing Mojave 3 Christmas album might sound like. I consider this a huge compliment, because I own every single Mojave 3 record, and to remind me of them… specifically the best moments of them… is huge. On both these tracks, the Wild Raspberries’ ethereal vocals and the ringing guitar lines lead to some beautiful fingerpicked lyrical imagery:
From Together on Christmas Day: “Cause it’s a long way home and I miss you / It’s been a long time since I’ve kissed you / but all the roads lead to be with you / so it’s all ok / we’ll be together on Christmas day.”
From A Christmas Song: “On Christmas day / I fell asleep next to the fire / In my dreams you called my name / You never changed / you held my hand and I believed you / when you said ‘all is ok'”
Each song has its own moment that made me sit up and marvel. There is the moment in “A Christmas Song” when Keez’s vocals join Hannah’s (goosebumps), and then there’s that initial guitar line that joins the opening synth in “Together on Christmas Day” (beautiful) – each solidifying these songs as essentials in my seasonal repertoire. Perhaps you will find your own, different moments… because there are many more to choose from. The Wild Raspberries are worth your time, and hopefully in the future, your money. You can support them by listening on Spotify as we all await whatever they have in store.
Bottom Line: The Wild Raspberries have created some spectacular Dutch dream folk Christmas tunes that you really need to listen to.
Buy: Bandcamp (NYOP)
I’m going to do my best to use Google Translate and not make a complete ass of myself. Following the fantastic find that Lie in the Sound had with Jägermeister’s Merry Jäger Christmas, I bring you Argentina’s Polvo Bureau and their new Christmas compilation, POLVO DE ESTRELLAS (Un disco navideño compilado por Polvo Bureau). From the chillwave, Wild Nothing-esque Mi Nave with “Ojos Cuadrados,” to the indie rock Camaleón’s “Fuegos Artificiales,” there are some great-sounding tunes on here. Again, I don’t speak Spanish, but I know great sounding music when I hear it. The dream-pop of Queridas’ “Brillen” is ethereal and spectacular. I just want to put headphones on and walk down a snowy street with my eyes closed. The Spanish language version of Joni Mitchell’s “River” is not just fantastic because it’s the first time I’ve heard it in Spanish, but Superflan’s version shines because of the electro-pop touches they put on it. The lead out on Yuliett’s “Tanto Fuego!” Beautiful! This release is damn special, and I’m so very happy to have happened upon it tonight.
Bottom Line: I might lack the language skills to fully understand these songs, but our common language of music has sweet talked me tonight.
Buy: Stream | Bandcamp?
Well hi there. Nice to see you all. Stubby’s been telling me about this other awesome dream pop tune, so I thought I’d send another one back.
Chicago-based Cerise is the tip of what promises to be a healthy schedule of Christmas in
July June tunes. I’ve had this on my radar for a good while, and could have posted about it a month ago, but then you might have expected too much from me, such as additional posts (shame on you!). Cerise dabbles in what I would equate as the dark edges of Beach House-meets-Cure-meets-Mazzy Star. That’s just a quick, off-the-cuff comparison, one which I may tweak as the heat leaves my brain and I can think once more. Did I mention it is hot out? I don’t have the same access that Consequence of Sound has, and while the lyrics aren’t completely disguised, they can be tough to make out at times. Obviously, she name-checks St. Nick, as well as snowflakes, and jingle bells feature prominently. However, it will likely come as no surprise that this is not a Christmas song.
From the Consequence of Sound article:
“I was thinking about a relationship once that turns into a deal, so that each will get what they want but only to sell the relationship off with it,” Cerise tells Consequence of Sound of the song. She captures this by playing with lyrical opposites of joy (“Awaiting St. Nick/ And family glory”) and despair (“Run away to abandon/ Snowflakes and soirees”).
I’m in. I love this kind of ambiguous stuff. The record will released real soon – June 24th! It’s just a matter of time until there are tracks on her Bandcamp page… but I’ll be buying the vinyl!
Bottom Line: Dark, beautiful dream pop that will cool down your hot summer nights.
Buffalo’s Applennium have now released wonderful Christmas songs for two years in a row, and we can only hope there’s another coming in 2015. I’m getting antsy to write about the tracks… so here we go.
2013’s release, “Just this Christmas,” begins as the kind of song that my wife would roll her eyes at, as I have an affinity for a Christmas dirge, and she does not. “Santa, don’t bring me some silly toys / unless I can stomp on them. / No child could imagine the emptiness / of lack optimism.” Dark! But really beautiful. The music is a blend of indie rock, folk and alt country, pretty much hitting three favorites in 3:30. The song is not all dark clouds, though: “This holiday just made me believe / that there’s still hope in me.” Melancholy with a glimmer of hope? I’m hooked. (And its a free download on Soundcloud!)
2014’s effort, “Is It Christmas,” is nearly the polar opposite to “Just this Christmas.” “Tonight, begin to trust / begin to take less than you must / let go of sorrow / let in the good.” The music is soaring, echoing through the night and shimmering out of the speakers. As the track builds, the mandolin flutters into the background and the layered vocals float over the music, and you think, “Low would kill to have written this song.” Such wonderful production to a tremendous song. Loving it.
Bottom Line: These songs have grown on me over the past weeks or so, which is the mark of a winner. Everything about these songs, from the writing, to the music, to the production – truly exceptional. Check out their non-seasonal songs too – you won’t be disappointed. 5/5 (You readers seem to like the rating system.)
So, when I tweeted at A Sunny Day in Glasgow the other day, kindly suggesting that they make some more Christmas tunes… I received a cryptic response:
They were NOT joking. Jump on this quick – there are only 300 of this, the first in a series of cassettes by Geographic North, with four bands taking on winter themes. A Sunny Day in Glasgow has gotten the ball rolling with Sketch For Winter I: New Christmas Classics. I only wish they had contacted me first – thankfully I got one! GET ONE NOW!
1. Shut Your Mouth, It’s Christmas
2. Saturn Pulls Me Apart (Death of the Unconquerable Night)
3. Fantasia on Xmas (From Vaughan Williams)
4. The Strange Presents of Idols (Merry Christmas!)
5. All I Want for Christmas Is You (This is Peter McCallister, The Father Version) [Mariah Carey cover]