Applennium “Just This Christmas” (2013) / “Is It Christmas” (2014)

Self Released
Buy: Stream/Free

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.)

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UPCOMING: A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sketch For Winter I: New Christmas Classics (2014)

A Sunny Day in Glasgow “New Christmas Classics”

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!

Tracklist: 
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]

A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Xmas Mixer (2013)

A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Xmas Mixer

Self-Released
Buy: Free!

This 3-song Christmas EP was released on Christmas day last year – so I’m guessing this is the first time that they may be finding their way to a Christmas mix, unless you were REALLY late last year. Xmas Mixer features three members of A Sunny Day in Glasgow, each taking a song and running with it. First, there’s Jen, who sings the awful “Christmas All Around” from Love, Actually. You know, the song that the washed up rock singer is pimping? Well, she does it quite well, for it being a generally awful song! Second up is Annie, who picks “The Holly and the Ivy,” which has become a song du jour in recent years. She strips it down, layers some vocals with what sounds like cello, then adds some fluttering digital bits, all to a beautiful result. Finally, Adam supplies a synth version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which I honestly can’t get into. Midi Christmas has never been my thing, and never will be. But hey, I’m not you!

Bottom Line: Lets see… Two solid tracks? Check. Free? Indeed. 4/5

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