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
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
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
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
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