Sam & Julia “Catching Up With Christmas” (2017)

Sam and Julia "Catching up with Christmas"

Self Released
Buy: iTunes

Sam & Julia are a folk/americana duo from Amsterdam, whose love of old June and Johnny duets can be felt in this wonderful country-Christmas song. “Catching up with Christmas” starts off with a music box melody, but quickly transitions to slide guitar, upright bass and that easy country rhythm. The song was almost too pretty for me to get into, and on first listen, didn’t know how I felt. However, the ending of the song veers slightly towards some psych-rock inspired vocals, and it completely works! Subsequent listens have endeared me even more to this song – so if it sounds a bit too pretty for you at first, give it another shot and you may be surprised. Of note, they also made a great Wham! inspired video, so check that out too!

Bottom Line: Sam and Julia have crafted a beautiful country-Christmas duet that certainly grows on you.

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The Wild Raspberries “Snow” (2017)

The Wild Raspberries

Self Released
Buy: iTunes!

The Wild Raspberries, who already put out two absolutely beautiful Christmas songs the past two season, are back once more. Continuing what is already an incredible day of releases, “Snow” is the leadoff single to a mini-Christmas album, Be Merry Be Bright, slated to be released next week. So, consider this to the first of two December 2017 posts about the Wild Raspberries, because you’re gonna hear about them again. With “Snow,” the Wild Raspberries pull out the big guns, a beautiful overlay of Keez and Hannah’s vocals throughout the entire song. In their earlier single, “A Christmas Song,” the meeting of their voices was the part that just destroyed me. Now, it is as they decided to just give me the straight dope, from start to finish. With “Snow”, the Wild Raspberries maintain their gorgeous melodies, floating vocals, and taste level that can only be described as impeccable. I cannot wait for next week to see what else is in store – even if it is just a proper download of all three (known) season tracks, I’m pumped.

EDIT: 5 tracks! Looks to be four originals and one cover! WAHOO! Link above!

Bottom Line: The Wild Raspberries are the dessert on what has become the best day for Christmas tunes (and poetic justice) so far this year.

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The Wild Raspberries “Together On Christmas Day” (2016) and “A Christmas Song” (2015)

The Wild Raspberries

Self Released
Buy: Stream

First off… big, big shout out to The Christmas Chaos Radio Show for hipping me to this fantastic new Dutch band, The Wild Raspberries. How they snuck past the Christmas music radar that I have eternally pointed at northern Europe, I have no clue. Their 2016 track, “Together on Christmas Day,” isn’t even their first seasonal rodeo; They are now two years into this seasonal tradition! And yes, I’m going to say tradition in the hopes that they will continue putting out these gorgeous songs. To describe these songs is to close your eyes and imagine what an amazing Mojave 3 Christmas album might sound like. I consider this a huge compliment, because I own every single Mojave 3 record, and to remind me of them… specifically the best moments of them… is huge. On both these tracks, the Wild Raspberries’ ethereal vocals and the ringing guitar lines lead to some beautiful fingerpicked lyrical imagery:

From Together on Christmas Day: “Cause it’s a long way home and I miss you / It’s been a long time since I’ve kissed you / but all the roads lead to be with you / so it’s all ok / we’ll be together on Christmas day.”

From A Christmas Song: “On Christmas day / I fell asleep next to the fire / In my dreams you called my name / You never changed / you held my hand and I believed you / when you said ‘all is ok'”

Each song has its own moment that made me sit up and marvel. There is the moment in “A Christmas Song” when Keez’s vocals join Hannah’s (goosebumps), and then there’s that initial guitar line that joins the opening synth in “Together on Christmas Day” (beautiful) – each solidifying these songs as essentials in my seasonal repertoire. Perhaps you will find your own, different moments… because there are many more to choose from. The Wild Raspberries are worth your time, and hopefully in the future, your money. You can support them by listening on Spotify as we all await whatever they have in store.

Bottom Line: The Wild Raspberries have created some spectacular Dutch dream folk Christmas tunes that you really need to listen to.

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Beans & Fatback “Tonight Girl I’m Coming Back Home (X-Mas Edit)” (2010)

Beans & Fatback "Tonight Girl I'm Coming Back Home"

Excelsior Recordings
Buy: Stream

The Netherlands’ own Beans & Fatback have just dropped a (I stand corrected – thanks Christmas A Go Go!) have a Christmas edit of “Tonight Girl I’m Coming Back Home,” and its a rocking, bar-band R&B good time. While it wasn’t originally a Christmas song, it very much works in the “Coming home for Christmas” milieu. They’ve even adjusted the lyrics very slightly to place it at Christmas, and it works perfectly. Check out this tune, then go down the rabbit-hole to their other stuff – its really pretty great.

Bottom Line: Solid Christmas R&B that could easily find a place on your mix. Points shaved off for no obvious way of purchasing or downloading this great song! 4.6/5

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UPCOMING: Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club (2013)

Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club

I will no doubt be talking more about this upcoming project as it unfolds, but just to wet your appetite, a repost below from their website, with handy hyperlinks to the featured bands. Thank you Robert for sending this my way, and best of luck with this AMAZING project.

From snowflakes-christmas-singles.blogspot.nl

In November, the four singles of the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, edition 2013, will be released.

All singles come in a full colour picture sleeve on white vinyl, limited to 500 copies. On the A-side, the singles will have an original, on the B-side a cover.

On the first single, London folk/blues duo Smoke Fairies, joined on violin by Neil Walsh, sing about how celebrating Christmas with friends and loved ones makes one feel at home in their ‘Simple Feeling’. On the flipside they do a haunting and beautiful rendition of ‘I Wonder As I Wander’, a Christmas carol written by singer John Jacob Niles, based on some lines of a folk song he once heard a little girl sing in a small village in Appalachian North Carolina.

Stockholm, Swedens’ indie poppers The Garlands have rearranged and rerecorded their ‘Christmas Song’, prevously released as a download only in 2008, for the second single. This Chrismas love song has the sound of the swinging 60s, with bells, piano, sweet harmonies and all. Their cover of ‘I Don’t Intend To Spend Christmas Without You’, written in 1967 by Margo Guyan for French actrice, singer and dancer Claudine Longet, is a perfect fit with their original song, has the same hip 60s vibe, but still with a indiepop bite.

The third single has chamber popband The Miserable Rich from Brighton with an uplifting original, ‘Everything You Want’, in which singer James is out to buy a Christmas present for this lover and finds himself – and the present – with friends in the pub at the end of the day. The Miserable Rich cover the antiwar protest song ‘Stop The Cavalry’, written and made into one of the most loved Christmas songs from the early 1980s by Jona Lewie.

Surf pop band The Silhouettes from Amsterdam are featured on the fourth single. The Silhouettes have written an very Christmas sounding song, about looking forward to sit with your lover ‘Under The Mistletoe’. They back it with a surf version of the Christmas standard ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane and first sung by the legendary Judy Garland in the classic 1944 musical ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’.

Pre-orders going up later this month!
Check http://snowflakes-christmas-singles.blogspot.nl/ or http://www.facebook.com/Snowflakes.Christmas.Singles for updates!