The latest collection, in a long series of excellent indiepop Christmas releases, finds Charlie Darling’s Les Bicyclettes de Belsize in full-album form; Twelve more songs to add to an already large and excellent catalogue. On “Every Christmas Eve,” Charlie seems to be channeling a Clientele vibe, which is most certainly up my alley. “Bad Christmas Cover Version” and “Andy Partridge (From XTC)” have some of the fantastic band references that I’ve loved in previous LBdB classics like “A Very Indie Christmas.” The shared secrets and upbeat groove of “Under the Mistletoe” nicely blends sweet and saucy to create a warm feeling of nostalgic holiday romance. There truly are a lot of nice moments on The 12 Days of Christmas, which shine even brighter the more you believe in indiepop Santa.
Bottom Line: Les Bicyclettes de Belsize add some indiepop gems to their already substantial chest of Christmas tunes.
Cherryade Records and DJ, music promoter and fellow alternative Christmas music fan Gareth Jones have done it again, for the twelfth time to be exact! Which, might I say, only makes them one year behind me (I’m coming on 13 this year!). This latest collection of indie Christmas tunes is only available to 200 lucky souls, as they only license the tracks to sell physical copies, and when they are gone, they are gone. And while you can often hunt down many of the tracks on Bandcamp if you miss out, think of all the work you are going to have to do hunting down 25 songs just to preview them. THEN, on top of that, paying about $25 do download each one, instead of the killer £6 price tag on this nice little package. Some highlights (for me) include Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (whose 2017 Christmas EP, Christmas Revisited, reimagines some tracks off his 2016 Xmas record), Marble Gods (also featured here on CU), and that leadoff single from Shrill Fit, “It’s Been A Shitty Year (So Give Me All Your Presents).” I’m all for bitter Christmas songs – and Shrill Fit’s indie rock jam certainly scratches that itch.
Bottom Line: Well, not a real review, as I have yet to receive my record yet – but you can’t beat the price, and I’m pretty excited that I barely know any of the bands on there. Discovery is why I do this gig…
Buy: Bandcamp | Stream
Charlie Darling of Les Bicyclettes De Belsize is what one might call a purveyor of fine indiepop Christmas tunes. He is so adept at it, that I imagine him running a small shop, selling Christmas songs a la carte to his walk-in traffic. His current seasonal project is an Advent calendar, to which he is releasing a song a day on Soundcloud. Did he write 24 new songs?? No, not exactly, but he has 10 and he did re-record his excellent older Christmas releases! So new versions! You may recognize #2, which was featured on Christmas Underground last year. Charlie tipped me off to today’s release, as it was going to be a new one. “Christmas Card 1983” is a wonderful piece of Christmas indiepop, and I love it simply for its dreamy atmosphere groove, and the brass colors are fantastic. However, what left me sitting here listing to this song a few times in a row was personal realization I stumbled into. I often have to fight the urge to throw a bunch of downers on my mix, as I tend to find darker music more complicated and fulfilling. I especially worried about this year, as I am not in the best state when thinking about the future of my country, nor the world. But I don’t think I have to worry about my mix… I am sitting here medicating with glimmering nostalgia, rather than drowning melancholy or anger. “Christmas Card 1983” most certainly scratches that itch, with mixtape Christmas presents, buying records at HMV, and old movies. I can’t wait to hear the rest of Charlie’s project, even if there is a downer in the bunch. I think I can take it, thanks to “Christmas Card 1983.”
Bottom Line: Pure indiepop Christmas wonderfulness. As always with indiepop, it may not be your taste… but those who like it, will very likely love “Christmas Card 1983.”
London’s Les Bicyclettes de Belsize have released a curious little single, where they take two different approaches to the same song. The first version, “The Advent Calendar (Countdown to Christmas),” has a more upbeat feel, and the sound is fuller than the more sparsely arranged “The Advent Calendar (by candlelight).” The track itself is quite lovely – and I really like the bits of A Christmas Carol that they intersperse into the song. While some of the production bells and whistles are missing from “by candlelight,” it also remains quite nice – Your choice of which track to include would certainly be based on the tone you wish to set.
Bottom Line: An excellent indiepop Christmas original, in two flavors! 4.4/5
So, Fireflies retweeted this intriguing link. The artist is Tramgirl, (aka Edine), who is part of the Hong Kong indiepop duo The Marshmallow Kisses. The Tramgirl project “creates bedroom karaoke pop with worldwide musicians,” and in this instance, the song is with Charlie Darling of Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (who also has a seasonal release this year… more to come on that). Its a classic indiepop Christmas song – sugary sweet music with a dash of longing. If this is a vibe you like, then this is is certainly a highlight of the holiday-indiepop genre.
“count the days and the hours and the minutes till sleep time
climb the stairs say your prayers every boy and girl goodnight
don’t be scared show no fear when you turn off the light now
when you wake no escape from your dreams I’ll be there
I will be there”
Bottom Line: A fine example of indiepop Christmas done well. No download though! 3.9/5