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

Memory House Digital Fire Digital Burn

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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The Strange Echo “Just Like Christmas” (2015)

Self Released
Buy: Stream

Wait a tic! This isn’t a new Computer Perfection song! Let me introduce you to The Strange Echo. It appears that this is a CP side-project, or a new project, or something of the sort. Either which way… it is being released under “The Strange Echo.” You’ll recognize the title no doubt – it’s a cover of Low’s classic, and my person favorite of theirs, “Just Like Christmas,” but with the little eccentricities that make a Computer Perfection (or… Strange Echo?) song! While I do prefer a CP original, a solid cover of a great song with electro-pop touches will most certainly tide me over till next year.

Bottom Line: Very solid cover of a truly wonderful song. That Detroit crew can really do some quality indiepop Christmas. Perhaps they should get together with the Fika/Allo Darlin’/Sunturns crew next year… do some tunes across the Atlantic…

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UPCOMING: Indie for the Holidays, An Amazon Original Playlist (2015)

Indie for the Holidays cover

Amazon
Buy: Stream

Amazon has announced a follow-up to their (IMHO) “meh” 2014 playlist, All is Bright. Their playlist was expansive, 43 songs, and with such a wide scope, there was no way that they were going to make this indie grinch happy. Too many expected covers from too many a coffee-shop friendly artist. This year, however, Amazon has tweaked their formula, and decided to curate a more adventurous playlist. The first song, Sondre Lerche & Jherek Bischoff‘s “Surviving Christmas” is presently streaming exclusively over at Stereogum. Its lovely throwback production is unsurprising, as I feel Sondre has been moving toward crooner for a years now (certainly not a bad thing – he’s great!). The lyrics are most certainly poignant, while sometimes remaining playful – Frank Sinatra would be proud. I am, however, very curious what electropop wildcard YACHT‘s track will be like, or serially grumpy Guided by Voices frontman Bob Pollard‘s What Begins New Year’s Day.” Rogue Wave have tried their hand at Christmas tracks before, as has (to a lesser extent) Langhorne Slim. There are also some newcomers (to me), such as Irish singer/songwriter SOAK, Seattle folk-pop band Ivan and Alyosha, and Swedish gothic pop singer Anna von Hausswolff that all have interesting biographies that make me want to hear more. I am most definitely intrigued, and hope that something great will come out of this for my 2015 mix. The entire playlist will be released on November 20th, so until then… just gotta wait.

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EDIT: I’ve added all available (free) streaming songs to a playlist.

Superfuck Numero 2: Spécial Noël (2014)

Superfuxxxmas Songs

Superfuck Magazine
Buy: Superfuck Zine | Bandcamp

Hi Everyone. Missed me?

All hail Christmas Chaos for hipping me to this release. Superfuck magazine is a self-published zine from Paris, and their second issue is extra-special (in this guy’s eyes) Christmas edition. There is a CD-R attached, and it contains 16 seasonal tracks from French artists (I haven’t verified EVERY artist is French… but from my spot checks… highly likely). So many of these bands are so under-the-radar that I couldn’t even find a link for their site…
EDIT – Yes, they are all French artists – thanks Superfuck Magazine for the clarification!

There are some gems on here though – I’m a huge fan of “The Tree is Made” by Milk and Fruit Juice. It is a very solemn acoustic number, but when the electric guitar flourishes enter, the song shimmers.  Certainly a downer if you judge the lyrical content (death), but if you like that sort of thing, you will love this.

There are some upbeat songs on here too… for sure. “Silence in Your Mind” by Wonderflu is a great indie rock tune, and while I can’t quite make out the lyrics enough to hear the Christmas connection – I’ll take their word for it.

“The Gift” by Edam Edam has punk rock spirit, a speed, and a crassness that I appreciate. “Can I kiss your ass / Like its for Christmas?” Fuck yes.

(BTW, Sugar & Tiger‘s excellent “X-Mas Babe” is on this comp too)

There are also a bunch of great instrumental tracks, ranging from the criminally short chimes and claps of “Bruschetta” by Orouni, to the wonderfully glitchy “Some Girls Under to the Snow” by MUDD.

The final track, “Christmas Boogie” by Jaromil Sabor and Prêcheur Loup, is a ramshackle jam that perfectly rounds out a night of Christmas tunes – loose, pretty, with slightly jagged edges. This one could certainly make its way on to a mix.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for an obscure French Christmas comp to impress your friends with, look no further. 1 euro (or more!) gets you 16 tracks, and there are some solid tunes here. 4.3/5

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ATLAAS “Feelings” (2014)

Atlaas "Feelings"

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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Kate Canaveral “Merry Christmas Everyone” (2014)

Kid Canaveral

Lost Map Records
Buy: Free!

Kid Canaveral are a Scottish indie pop band who weaseled their way onto my 2013 mix with “Low Winter Sun.” They also throw a Christmas party called “Christmas Baubles,” and are on their fifth year of this wonderful event. I say wonderful, but alas, I only imagine it is… since I can’t pop across the pond for every Christmas concert.

Kate Canaveral is one quarter of Kid Canaveral, and she has taken it upon herself as self-appointed “head of mainland operations” for Lost Map records to record and release a great little electro-indie-pop cover of Shakin’ Stevens’ “Merry Christmas Everyone.” I sure hope that Lost Map gives us a few more tracks for #Baublemas!

Bottom Line: Great choice for a cover – and certainly put her own mark on it! 4.5/5

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Carousel “Christmas Time With You” (2012)

Carousel

Self-Released
Buy: Stream

It was December 24th, 2012, and San Francisco’s Carousel released an indiepop gem of a Christmas tune on their Facebook/Soundcloud. So, it probably never made a mix that year. That’s a tough time to have a song drop, and it may have even gotten a little lost in the shuffle for 2013. In a cursory search on Google, I don’t believe it popped up on any of my Christmas-bloggin friends last year, though I did not look terribly hard (sorry if I missed you). Therefore, I bring this to the masses for mix-consideration in 2014. Electro indie pop at its finest, I do enjoy this little song. Classic Christmas subject matter (all I want is you) with a great beat.

Bottom Line: While their official feed has taken down the link, you can listen to it below and those who are motivated enough, will certainly know how to grab it. 4.4/5

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Aquatic Slime “Milestones (Another Year)” (2013)

Aquatic Slime

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp

For a band who is not a band… this is one hell of a song. Hailing form Essex, Aquatic Slime’s only real internet presence is a Soundcloud account, which houses all their tunes for free download. The only place for additional information is Drowned in Sound, where they are a community member of the boards. Thus, in an oddly similar style to Faye and the Scrooges, Aquatic Slime is another yet-to-be-proper band that has snuck a great Christmas tune under the music radar; “Milestones” has 64 plays at the time of this publish, and likely 10 of those were mine. So give this electro-pop a spin, and feel free to let them know if you like it. Wonderful female vocals, excellent lyrics, and a certainly a different Christmas jam than you’re used to.

Note: I contacted the “band” to find out more: “We aim to make a Christmas track every year (past tracks include A Rave in a Manger, God Rest ye Badass Gentlemen, Ding Dong Merrily, I’m High…), but this was the first where we had a bit more originality. It was very fun to make too!” 

Awesome – so be on the lookout for this year’s track!

Bottom Line: Perhaps the best not-a-band out there. 4.8/5

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Jonti “Christmas Worm” (2012)

Stones Throw vs. Serato 2

Stones Throw
Buy: LP

I am officially obsessed. This is 100% guaranteed to be on my mix next year. Jonti’s “Christmas Worm” appears on Stones Throw’s new Stones Throw vs. Serato II LP, and while I really don’t quite have a clue what the Serato II tone accomplishes, the b-sides are a compilation of Stones Throw artists… including this fantastic gem. I am considering the $40 simply to get a high bitrate version of this song. Fight it Jim, fight it.

Bottom Line: Hot damn! 5/5 (for the track… not a review of the actual album… which is crazy $$$)