El Perro Del Mar - Oh What a Christmas

El Perro Del Mar – Oh What a Christmas! (2004)

Hybris
Buy: Discogs CD-R | 7Digital MP3 | iTunes

In 2004, El Perro Del Mar was pretty much only known to the outside world as that singer who shared a split 7″ with Jens Lekman. Thankfully, things have changed in the past decade, and Sarah Assbring (her real name) has released a handful of wonderful, critically acclaimed and challenging records. One of her very first releases (her second if I am not mistaken) was a Christmas CD-R on the Swedish Hybris label. Limited to 200 copies, this CD-R had a fantastic A-side in “Oh What a Christmas!” and an equally enjoyable B-side with “Shake it Off.” Only one of those tunes was Christmas-related, I’ll leave it to you to guess.

“Oh What a Christmas!” has since become somewhat of an indie-christmas classic, showing up on the wonderful It’s Not Like Christmas… and of course, countless 8tracks mixes. This attention is well deserved, as the song is pretty wonderful – the music harkens back to the drum beat of 60’s pop, while layering on her ever-so-distinctive vocals to create a great 3 minutes of Swedish retro-pop. Of note, in 2009, she dipped her toes back into season fare with Auld Lang Syne – and really puts the El Perro Del Mar stamp on that old chestnut as well.

Bottom Line: If you aren’t turned off by her voice to start with, then this song is likely for you. 4.5/5

LISTEN

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Jens Lekman

Jens Lekman “I Don’t Know What to Do With This Information” (2011)

Self-Released
Buy: Stream

Its been a whopping week or so since I’ve written about Jens Lekman. What can I say, he’s top-5 all-time for me. However, this may be my last post about Jens for a good while, in that I don’t know of any other Jens’ Christmas tunes. Please feel free to correct me, and subsequently, make me forever in your debt.

“I Don’t Know What to Do With This Information” has only been performed live so far, with a very high quality version coming from a Maida Vale Session back in 2011. Such a sad song, not in the sentimental way that “Christmas Shoes” (BARF) is, but with a realism that brings it a little close to home, even if you haven’t specifically lived through something like that. Its called empathy and Jens brings it out well.

Bottom Line: So, so very sad. I can’t bring it over 4 because I just can’t listen to such a sad song over and over again. 3.9/5

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Jens-Lekman

Jens Lekman – Christmas in San Francisco (2011)

Self-Released
Buy: Free!

Lets get this ball rolling again.

This is the second of my series of Jens Lekman posts. What prompted me to so quickly dive back into the Jens Lekman catalogue? Well, he updated his website yesterday, and seems to suggest that he sold only 16 records last year. While I find this absolutely baffling, I would still like you to take a moment and discover Jens’ music if you haven’t already. If you are already a fan, you may be excited to know that he is presently accepting orders directly from his home for signed CDs at a “pay what you wish” price point, as long as you also cover postage. Normally I would jump all over this, but I already have all his records, and had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago and he graciously signed my 12″ of When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog.

Enough exposition about Jens and why he needs the support of those who love him, and those who have yet (but most certainly will) to love him. Back in 2011, Jens surprised us with a small present on his Smalltalk blog, a modest, 3-song zip file of holiday piano pieces he wrote in San Francisco back in 2005 – hence the title. They are all instrumental, but each quite lovely. Certainly a worthy pickup for its price: Free. Take that money you saved by not having to buy anything and buy one of his other records, for yourself or for a friend.

Bottom Line: Simple, thoughtful piano pieces from one of my absolute favorite artists. For the price, it cannot be beat. In the right context, I might even sneak it on to a mix. 5/5

Jens Lekman - USA October 2005

Jens Lekman “Run Away with Me” (2005)

Self-Released
Buy: Free!

So, this is the first in a series of Jens Lekman Christmas tunes I plan on posting. If you are familiar with the Swedesplease.net Christmas rundown, than you know and love this particular song already. If not, please do enjoy your first listen.

Jens Lekman released this little gem on the appropriately titled October 2005 : USA Tour EP. There are only 200 of these handmade CDrs out there, and one day I hope to be in that elite group. For now, I will have to settle for an MP3 (though I did suggest to his management that some of us would love a Bandcamp site). “Run Away with Me” starts off extremely strong – jingle bells and the driving beat that those familiar with Jens’ earlier, more uptempo work will absolutely love. The lyrics are also classic Jens. Since its a short song, I thought I might post them all:

What are you gonna do on Christmas Eve
Please don’t spend it with your family
I know you love your mommy
But she’s more like a mummy

She’s so empty,
She’s so empty
So run away with me

She’s so empty
She’s so empty
So run away with me

Yeah I know it’s been a bad year
And I can trace every tear
Back to your little life
But I can see a future for you and I

Because we’re not empty
We’re not empty
So run away with me

We’re not empty
We’re not empty
So run away with me now baby

If you make a mix that is at all along the lines of mine, then this song is either already on one, or NEEDS TO BE. What a weird, dark, beautifully orchestrated Christmas song.

Bottom Line: This is one of my favorites. I really, really, really need a higher source than the MP3 that Jens’ website offers. Anyone out there want to help a guy out? christmasunderground(at)gmail.com. 5/5

LISTEN:

[audio http://jenslekman.com/MP3/01%20run%20away%20with%20me.mp3]