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Jen and Stu over at Emotional Response Records have a well-known affinity for Christmas music. They released a bunch of records as Boyracer (including a wealth of Christmas tunes – google em), as well as two recent Christmas Comps, and they continue with this latest split by Terry Malts and Kids on a Crime Spree. As they said in the writeup of this 10″, they snatched a couple songs out from underneath Slumberland Records’ (TM & KoaCS’s usual label) watchful eye and luckily for us, one of those songs is a Christmas song! Kids on a Crime Spree’s “The Saddest Time of Year” is a great, lo-fi indiepop jam about desperately needing your love at Christmas. There is a beautiful simplicity to the main thesis of the song: “It’s the saddest time of year / and I want to make it clear / you’re all I want and / always, like the setting sun, / and always, out of everyone.” A perfect palette cleanser if your mix has gotten a bit too optimistic and cheery… not quite a dirge, but not quite happy. Delicious! (and thanks to Bennett for the tip!)
Bottom Line: Kids on a Crime Spree have slipped a great lo-fi Christmas song under the Christmas tree, and a bit early too!
Ok… so I pretty much just chose one song, because to tackle the whole thing would be overwhelming. There are 20+ songs on Make Like Monkeys’ Soundcloud account – some covers, and lots of originals. Not many have over 50 listens, and for these most recent ones… I was the first tick on the counter. “Xmas Time W/ U” is one of 6 new tracks released overnight, each one with the same 60’s influenced, lo-fi power pop treatment. I wish I knew more about MLM, but truly, Soundcloud is it – no other social media to be found. Simply said, the songwriting and production are certainly more interesting than most milquetoast Christmas releases, and especially for you power-pop folks, you may just find what you’re looking for here.
Bottom Line: Make Like Monkey’s Christmas output is certainly worthy of many more listens. There is some really solid stuff here.
Los Angeles’ lo-fi trio Adult Books snuck a Christmas song onto their Demo 2011 release, “When the Lights Go Out on Christmas Eve,” and its a grower (for me, particularly). On first listen… I wasn’t hooked. It took me three listens, spread over a few weeks to get into this track. But you know what? Those kinds of songs often last for me. I really like the production, and if the EP title is to be believed, it’s only a demo. The simple instrumentation – the fuzzy vocals – it all creates a great atmosphere. I especially like the layered vocals at the end.
Of note – Adult Books also just put out a 7″ EP on Box Bedroom Rebels. BBR is one of my favorite labels of the past year, and their releases normally sell out extremely quickly. Fortunately for you, they still have some of the Adult Books EP, and it comes with lots of fun extras. Certainly check it out if you’re curious.
Bottom Line: A fantastic lo-fi Christmas tune. 4.4/5
This cassette (and download) release from 2013 somehow snuck by me. Its a small release with largely originals… exactly what I’m normally clawing through the internet to find.
“Wyoming County”, the Scott Rankie song that leads off the release is quite nice – sparse, with a solid, pained vocal. If this was an example of things to come, I would have been very pleased. However, like any Christmas compilation, this release ends up all over the board. The following track, Kevin Marlis’ “Saturday Slay” is a noisy, psych mess (though, in a good way), and I can’t quite hear the Christmas connection whatsoever. Other tracks are lo-fi indiepop (Songs by Thom’s “The Colours of Christmas”), 50’s pop-inspired profanity (“Jeffzilla’s “Christmas Song”), and what appears to be fuzzed-out karaoke (White Widow’s “When Santa Clause Gets Your Letter”), to name a few. It kept my interest, which I don’t say for a lot of Christmas comps… but I can’t say I really loved it.
Bottom Line: I found this comp to be unique, and at times, quite interesting. I have a feeling like some of you might find something else in these songs – that and the name-your-own-price on Bandcamp is encouraging. 3/5
Who the fuck is this guy? I can’t find shit about it. (Oh wait, here he is!) Oh, by the way, this review will be as NSFW as the record. “Christmas is a Bummer” is a hilarious, lofi, fucking fun record about not having a girlfriend at Christmas. This isn’t fucking rocket science, it’s bitching about that, and pretty much only that, for 4 songs. And you know what, I liked it. It was well done, funny, fast and short. I particularly liked “Christmas Eve,” which begins with “i wanna get kissed under mistletoe / but i’m a huge pussy and everyone says no / there’s nothing that special about tonight / but i wish i was smooching a girl that i like.” HA! The chorus is pretty damn catchy too. I’ll let you find that out for yourself. Now go find that dark place in your mind and rock out.
Bottom Line: This thing is the fucking shit. 4.5/5