Bonne Annee by Jean-Pierre Masseria

Jean-Pierre Masseria “Bonne année 1969” (1968/2017)

Finders Keepers Records
Buy: Bandcamp

I can’t even begin to explain who Argentinian-born, France-recorded, UK-reissued Jean-Pierre Bernard Massiera is, but I can say that this track from 1968, recently digitally reissued by London’s Finders Keepers Records, is pretty badass. The release, Bonne Année, technically contains two tracks, “Bonne année” and “Bonne année 1969,” but the first is so much slower and less interesting, and I really just wanted to yell about how much damn fun “Bonne année 1969” is. It is funky, it is trippy, it has off-mic screaming, a driving beat, one hell of a brass section, cackling and ho ho hos – so pretty much everything. It is, simply said, FUN.

Bottom Line: Would you drink water from the kitchen sink? Well no, but this kitchen sink, why yes I would.

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Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club

UPCOMING: Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, 2017 Edition

Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club
Buy: Bigcartel Shop

It may have been 85 degrees out (30 celsius for my international friends), but snow is in the air… as this past week or so has brought the announcement of the always-wonderful Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club lineup! For the uninitiated, the SCSC is a label that exclusively releases limited-edition Christmas 7″ vinyl singles, with the A-side being an original, and the B-side being a cover. Such a fantastic premise, and one that is realized beautifully by the hard work of our fellow underground-Christmas devotee, Robert.

This year’s crop is a doozy – starting with perhaps the biggest name to grace the SCSC, Bis! Bis have been releasing quality indiepop since 1994 (with a hiatus or two), and astonishingly enough… I think this may be their first Christmas release! How they missed releasing a Christmas single when they are both 1) an indiepop band and 2) Scottish, beats me. I just wrote about 2 Scottish indiepop bands last week!

Next up are the French garage-rock band The Limiñanas. Previously featured on Christmas Underground for their cover of “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home),” this year they are teaming up with Pascal Comelade for the deliciously-titled “Curse of Santa Claus,” as well as what I’m imagining will be an interesting take on “Silent Night.” Should be interesting!

Finally, St. Petersburg, Florida’s Seafang will lend their shoegaze/dreampop sounds to their original “Happy When it Snows,” as well as the Primatives’ “You Trashed My Christmas.” The Primitives cover could be great fit for Seafang – I’m curious how they’ll make it their own.

All-in-all, it promises to be another very strong year for the wonderful Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club. I hope you check it out, order early and often, and help keep this tradition going!!

Bottom Line: Being that I haven’t heard a thing yet, I can’t really say – but I most certainly can say that I’M EXCITED.

 

 

Jean Luc Tobine's Official Fan Club

Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club – Christmas 7″ (2012)

Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club
Buy: Bandcamp

My french is nonexistent, and Google Translate is only so good… so please bear with me as I try to relay information about this wonderful Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club (JLTOFC) Christmas 7″. JLTOFC began in 2011 to support and develop artists. If I understand correctly, JLTOFC is a nonprofit arts organization, with a radio program, music label, and theater and film production services. Of particular note, JLTOFC’s radio program is run on school holidays, and they ask participants to create a playlist of 5 tracks on a theme. The program would focus on songs of spring, summer hits, fishing songs, Halloween songs… and yes… Christmas songs. Perhaps this radio show was just the spark that began the warm fire that is JLTOFC’s wonderful musical offering, 2012’s Christmas 7″.

Christmas is truly one of the strongest 7″ Christmas compilations I have ever come across. Four tracks, each original and with an interesting point-of-view… I want more… I need more. It begins with the now-defunct All Cannibals‘ “Christmas Night.” I love every second of this song, from the rollicking music, to the earnest lyrics (“Christmas night / true and beautiful”), this song is undeniable. You can also find this track on my 2015 mix!

Trotski Nautique‘s “Noël Sapin” is a lovely slice of French indiepop, and while I have no idea what they are saying… the music is all I need to love this song. Is that a recorder I hear? If it is, that’s the best damn recorder I’ve ever heard in a song. Don’t let me scare you off… listen.

You Call It a Name veers into Weezer territory with the cheeky “I’ll play my next album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.” As with most of the songs on this release, I can’t quite make out all the lyrics well enough to quote them… but I don’t think I’m crazy to think that they might be writing to Santa Clause to be able to play their next album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. There’s some “kicking ass,” lots of rocking out… it’s good fun.

If you’re a reader of this blog from 2015, you may already be familiar with the wonderful a Drift. “It’s Christmas” is their first seasonal offering, and it’s quite a lovely piece of indiepop. “All these colored red white and green / it’s Christmas  / it’s Christmas / the whole house smells like tangerine / it’s Christmas / it’s Christmas.” A warm, fuzzy, indiepop blanket of a song to round out this incredible 7″.

With only 300 of these records in existence, there is no explanation as to why these are not already sold out. They sent me a lovely note with my order, and as it turns out… I’m the first person from the states to order it. While this does prove how stone-cold cool I am, this needs to be remedied. Buy the crap out of this. Throw a few bucks in and download it. Whatever you do… this needs to be heard and loved.

Bottom Line: I am most certainly a fan of Jean Luc Tobine’s Official Fan Club. Please, dear flying spaghetti monster Santa, deliver me a new Christmas release this year, or next year, or the year after that. I’m patient. I’ll wait.

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a Drift - Merry Christmas

a Drift “Merry Xmas (War Isn’t Over) (2015)

Jean Luc Tobine’s Offical Fan Club
Buy: Bandcamp

French indiepop band a Drift have just released what one might call a “response song” to John Lennon’s classic, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” While the original has a hopeful choir of children, this wonderfully acerbic new Christmas song resigns itself to reality, while wishing you to embrace your loved ones at Christmas, cause they’re all gonna die. This is a commentary on our current state, biting sarcasm dressed up in a beautiful indiepop robe.

War is not over but we’re not gonna fight,
so merry, merry Christmas.
Corporations won’t save us from the climate disaster,
so merry, merry Christmas.
Share your love with your friends,
cause sooner or later they’re all gonna die.
La lala la la lala la,
so merry, merry Christmas.

I think this song goes along quite well with the beautiful and poignant Sondre Lerche song from earlier in the season – for those who wish to add a bit of politics to their mix, as I often enjoy to do.

Bottom Line: Beneath the handclaps, a Drift highlights the reality, and one might argue, the futility of our current world situation. Love it.

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Superfuxxxmas Songs

Superfuck Numero 2: Spécial Noël (2014)

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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Wolves & Moons

Wolves & Moons “In the Bleak Midwinter” (2012)

Self-Released
Buy: Stream

Wolves & Moons are a french band with an English singer, who offered up a lovely cover of “In the Bleak Midwinter” on their Facebook page on Christmas Eve last year. (Turns out it was on Soundcloud in Dec. 2012.) They chose Bert Jansch’s arrangement, which is simple, beautiful and short – and what a perfect choice it was. The arrangement, coupled with Richard Allen’s vocals, give this song a feeling of authenticity that the extremely sugary-sweet versions that I tend to find just don’t have. It may have been a free download on Soundcloud, as their profile page suggests, but there is a server error. So alas, you will have to get creative to fit this onto your mix, but I’ve got faith in you.

Bottom Line: Beautiful, short, with a feel of authenticity that is not found very often. 4.8/5

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Sugar & Tiger - Noel Christmas

Sugar & Tiger “Noël Christmas” (2011/2014)

Atmosphériques
Buy: Amazon UK | Band’s Webstore | Amazon FR MP3 | Bandcamp

Sugar & Tiger‘s “Noël Christmas” has been around since 2011, but the song was not properly released until this year on their debut, Télévisage. An extremely fun tune, sung largely in French with some English in the chorus, these Parisians expertly straddle the pond. They list their influences as the Ramones, the Raveonettes and Phil Spector… so it makes perfect sense that they recorded a rockin’ Christmas song.

Bottom Line: Upbeat with that certain, I don’t know what (hehe) that makes me want to listen to it multiple times. If only it were easier to purchase as a single song! 4.1/5

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the liminanas rarities

The Limiñanas “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (2014)

Trouble in Mind
Buy: 7Digital FLAC/MP3 | Amazon UK | Amazon UK MP3 | iTunes

Get ready for a lovely slice of French garage rock from the duo known as the Limiñanas. This unreleased cover of Phil Spector’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” can be found on their new rarities compilation on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records, (I’ve Got) Trouble In Mind: Singles & Rare Stuff 2009/2014. They don’t stray too far from the spirit of the original (not a dirge to be found), yet their rough-around-the-edges delivery makes it feel like something new. Check it out, buy a copy and impress your friends.

If you find that you like their sound, and want to make a bit more of a commitment, you can even pick this up on vinyl. So, finger to the wind… how does it blow for you?

Bottom Line: I already like the song, and the Limiñanas give me that little bit extra to make this tune mix-worthy. 4.8/5

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Peaks "Love"

Peaks “Xmas Song” (2012)

Sober & Gentle
Buy: RoW (as in… not available in the US, barely available to the world)

Did you enjoy Cocoon? Because if you did, you may like Peaks. Why? Because its one half of Cocoon (Morgane Imbeaud) singing a song that has nearly the same name! Officially released on their debut mini-album, Love, this song was also promoted as a Christmas gift from Peaks last year. I do not believe it was ever available for free download though…

As you can imagine, the music is quite lovely. It is unavoidable for a band associated with Morgane Imeaud. Now lets take a stab at the lyrics… if you guessed dark, you guessed right! The song finds the lead character lamenting how wonderful it would be if they were still in love and stuck inside together, while crying that her love is not there and not coming back again. So bring that mix back down to earth with this fuzzy little Christmas dirge.

Bottom Line: You guessed it. I’m a fan. Loses points because of the extreme lengths you may have to go through to actually purchase this song. Sober & Gentle will not ship to the US, and I can’t find it on Amazon/iTunes. 4.2/5

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Cocoon All My Friends

Cocoon “Christmas Song” (2007)

Sober & Gentle
Buy:  iTunes | 7Digital MP3 | RoW

Santa Clause won’t come tonight.
He is never late.
The reindeer may have been shot in the skies of the USA.

For a long time I have been told lies.
Am I dumb?
Am I blind?
I am feeling so fine.
Oh so fine.

Now. If that is the kind of Christmas song you can get behind, then venture forth good sir, because I love this gloomy little song. The French duo Cocoon released this acoustic number on their suggestively dark All My Friends Died in a Plane Crash in 2007. The music is cheery, like you might find in an adorable TV commercial about a new eco-friendly car… then you listen to the lyrics and BOOM! Love it.

Bottom Line: A great song for those who don’t want Christmas to be all candy-canes and gumdrops. 5/5

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UytNeEa9G7s] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oQCoFy3LQA]