The Aux - christmas isn't funny anymore

The Aux – Christmas Isn’t Funny Anymore (2016)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp (NYOP)

The Aux have released a really nicely produced, lo-fi Christmas EP the past two years, and can usually be counted on to have one of the most profane and funny releases of the season. This year is a bit different – the profanity is there, but as the title suggests, there is a bit of a shift. The first two songs are both really well written, introspective struggles with life and the season. Trying to find comedy in a year like this leaves you with a lot of those “it would be funny if it weren’t true” situations that can be hard to take. The third track, “all i wanted for christmas was my fantasy football super bowl,” brings out the clever bitter lyrics that I’ve come to expect from Mike. I feel for this song… I lost out on my fantasy football super bowl last year after a Thursday POINT ADJUSTMENT after I had specifically benched my defense as to not have one of those dreaded -1 weeks… DAMN IT. Heh. The final track is the obligatory cover the classic Wham! track, “Last Christmas,” but with way more fucks than usual. The autotune works really well on this track too, and has a great ending, “This song is fucking repetitive and this is the end.” Ha! About time someone cut that song off.

Bottom Line: The Aux are always a refreshing listen, even when the entire song is bitching about something. I do hope that Mike finds some inspiration for next year, and I share his hope that 2017 will be in improvement on what was a supremely unenjoyable year.

A City Without Snow

A City Without Snow (2016)

Middle Class Cigars
Buy: Bandcamp

Singapore’s Middle Class Cigars has released, from front to back, one of the most enjoyable compilations I’ve heard this year. A mixture of Books-esque spoken word folktronica, indiepop, lo-fi folk and downtempo chill-out music, the production value is uniformly excellent, and the taste level is on-point. If I had to pick out a track or two to highlight, for me it would be the lovely “A Song to Sleep to” by Ferry, and the dreamy “0212” by Cosmic Child.  You could put this album on, and not have to skip any horrible tracks… which in the Christmas-music world is a RARITY. Most certainly worth a listen – and for those in the US, it’s only a dash above $10 to have the limited edition cassette (ed. of 50) shipped from Singapore!

I found their description both useful, and endearing.

Music plays an important part in the season of Christmas, as we sing along to the carols written years ago, it still remains as powerful as ever.

With contributions from 9 Singapore-based musicians, A City Without Snow is a Christmas compilation album consisting of seven original songs and two renditions of classics. Born from different emotional perspectives of the season, each composition is a musical vignette of a uniquely Singaporean Christmas.

A City Without Snow is Middle Class Cigars’ proudest release thus far, encapsulating a collective dynamic of warm and intimate sounds of which the label thrives in.

Bottom Line: Just a pleasure. A pleasure. A pleasure.

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The Fools / The Fools

The Fools “Dear Santa” (2016)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

How about some lo-fi indiepop for your earholes? Perhaps some barking and a dash of saxophone? Does that sound nice? Well, have I got the Christmas song for you. Seattle’s The Fools released their self-titled debut earlier this year, and it has a lovely, goofy little Christmas song nestled within its tracks. “Dear Santa” is whimsical and precious, but look out… there’s a dark side. Keep listening.

Bottom Line: The Fools have been petting a little bunny… and you know what happens when you pet the bunny too much. Fun! Hot tip: it’s a name-your-price for the entire record.

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Cassie Ramone - Christmas in Reno

UPCOMING: Cassie Ramone – Christmas in Reno (2015)

Burger Records
Buy: Burger Records (Colored LP/LP/Cass) | Amazon.UK (LP/Dig) | Amazon.DE (LP/Dig)

Ex-Vivian Girls’ guitarist/singer Cassie Ramone has announced a new Christmas covers album, Christmas in Reno, and it has been shouted out from the rooftops of Pitchfork, Stereogum and the meat-and-diary-free Brooklyn Vegan to name a few. I also tweeted about it. Thus, I doubt this is news to anyone. However, should this be finding you today, on a day when writing about Christmas music seems pretty damn inconsequential, maybe it’ll bring you some happiness, and that’s worth something. 10 covers, with some cool choices (Run Run Rudolph) and some terrible ones (Wonderful Christmastime), I’m really interested into hearing how this lo-fi Christmas comes together. “Run Run Rudolph” has a chilled-out, shimmering vibe, which makes it extremely enjoyable. I truly love the music, as it tickles the part of me that absolutely love Real Estate, and that would be the biggest RIYL if I were to go down that path.

For those interested in picking up this records, the preorders have begun. Burger has the colored & regular vinyl, as well as their classic format, cassette. Amazon also has the cassette and an LP listed (for cheaper than Burger), which I assume its the black vinyl. Amazon around the world is also listing the LP, so I’m not guessing the black vinyl is going to be ultra-limited.

Bottom Line: I’ve only heard one song. So no.

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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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christmas-underground

Christmas Underground (2001)

bumbleBEAR/Planting Seeds Records
Buy: Good luck!

It was only a matter of time until I reviewed the inspiration for my blog’s title. Christmas Underground was a 2001 release by Planting Seeds Records & bumbleBEAR Records, with the 30+ tracks (some are just greetings) shared by both their indiepop/lo-fi rosters. I wish I could say that it was the gem that I was hoping it would be. The main reason I hunted this comp down was the slight overlap with Kindercore Records Christmas 2, one of my absolute favorite Christmas records of all time. When I say slight, I truly mean slight – I think one band overlaps, The Wee Turtles. Their track, “By Golly, They’ve Dehydrated Christmas,” is one of two tracks that I can come back to. The other is The National Splits “Let’s Wrap Each Other,” which is a frolicking song that begins with “My nose just started to bleed / and there’s grass stains on my jeans / aw, there’s your red and your green.” I just like the attitude that comes off that song. Bugs Eat Books also contribute “Waiting on the Sun,” which has a nice atmosphere and contains the title amongst its lyrics. The rest of the album has some somewhat passable originals and traditional songs (which I normally find quite boring), but it also has some stuff that I just can’t listen to for more than 15 seconds.

Bottom Line: Could be the victim of high expectations – I can admit that. That doesn’t change the fact that I just don’t enjoy most of this record.  2.3/5

LISTEN

The National Splits – Let’s Wrap Each Other