Make Like Monkeys

Make Like Monkeys “Xmas Time W/ U” (2016)

Self Released
Buy: Stream

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.

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Los "Big Surf"

Los “Christmas In D” (2016)

Grande Vague Musique
Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon MP3 | Vinyl (shipping from Canada)

How about some surf/power-pop from Québec for your hump day enjoyment? Los‘ released Big Surf on October 7th, their LP follow-up to the EP Small Surf, and snuck a Christmas song on the end! “Christmas in D” has me recalling the feel and sound of Mojave 3 at their most poppy, which isn’t necessarily very poppy, but more a mid-tempo, atmospheric, country-twinged dream pop scenario. I’m thinking this through as I write it, so bear with me. I’m really feeling a healthy dash of Pernice Brothers too, especially with the dark lyrics and the vocal layering. “All is well, you never can tell / If heaven is a place to sell / if loving is a wishing well / pulling you under” Los has some nice turns of phrase here, highlighted nicely with multiple listens (so listen!). Los has delivered a complex and interesting Christmas song, perfect for a place like Christmas Underground, and poison for a Christmas party. Hey… that would be a good tagline for this site!

Botton Line: A complex song stylistically, lyrically, and emotionally. Los has my vote! #twomoreweeksofhell

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Cocktails - The Most Wonderful Time (For a Beer)

Cocktails “The Most Wonderful Time (For a Beer)” (2012)

Father/Daughter Records
Buy: Bandcamp

I apologize for the language; I’m apparently quite fond of profanity in 2015.

San Francisco’s Cocktails are the perfect follow-up to that Pupppy track – they are both on the same label, Father/Daughter Records, and they both recorded drunk Christmas tunes. Shit really appears to be hitting the fan – girl is gone, transmission is busted, life has kicked them in the nuts. “I don’t hear the children singing / I don’t hear the sleigh bells ringing / Its the most wonderful time / Its the most wonderful time / for a beer.” The contrast of the shit situation with the upbeat, happy chorus makes for a great, interesting song from what could easily have been a throwaway with a good title.

Of note, Cocktails also appear on the Bay Bridged 2014 Holiday Compilation, previously talked about on the always-influential Stubby’s House of Christmas. Check it out – its another great power-pop Christmas song for your earholes.

Bottom Line: Clocking in at 2:07, shotgun this beer onto your mix if you want to pick up the pace. Maybe see them live with Wild Nothing on May 22nd too4.5/5

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A Wonderful Christmas Time

Jolene Films presents A Wonderful Christmas Time (2014)

Tiny Teeth Records
Buy: Free!

This is a two track free download of tunes from A Wonderful Christmas Time, an improvised (yes… improvised!) film coming out in the UK soon (Already On Demand, in theaters Dec. 12). The two tracks they’ve put on Soundcloud are pretty great. The Lovely Wars‘ “The First Noel” is a great, modern take on a song that is usually pretty straightforward; their vocal choices really set this version apart. Jon Windle‘s title track, “A Wonderful Christmas Time,” is a lot of fun. Upbeat, cooky, and everything you’d want from a powerpop Christmas tune. To top it off… the artwork for this digital single was done by Rob Taylor from Los Campesinos!

Bottom Line: Two great tracks for zero money? YES! 4.8/5

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCggNo-xQDI]
Very Sorry Christmas Front Cover

The New Mendicants – A Very Sorry Christmas 7″ (2013)

XPT Records
Buy: Limited 7″ | iTunes | 7Digital MP3

Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers/Scud Mountain Boys), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Mike Belitsky (The Sadies) have created an alt.country/power pop supergroup called The New Mendicants, and are looking to release their first full-length LP on January 28. This would be news in itself, but the fact that they also released a limited, white vinyl 7″ entitled A Very Sorry Christmas Eve is the reason why I write this post! Joe has a history of some Christmas-related songs in the past (see SMB’s “A Ride” and another that I can’t put my finger on), but nothing so explicitly so. Thank goodness it finally happened! “A Very Sorry Christmas” is a fantastic song, the perfect bummer for the humbug in your family (which would be me!). But as with any Joe Pernice project, its a bummer that sounds beautiful while sucking out your soul. As for the B-side, “A Very Sorry New Years,” is the exact same song, just adjusted for New Years Eve. Oddly hilarious to have done so.

Bottom Line: If shipping from Canada wasn’t SO EXPENSIVE, I would rate this higher. I honestly don’t know when I’ll be able to afford it. Why I am telling you about it before I have the chance to own it… I have no idea. Perhaps the world will have some cosmic justice and I’ll get a copy. 4/5

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