Dollar Signs – Another Sad Holiday (2017)

Dollar Signs - Another Sad Holiday

No Time Records
Buy: Cassette (3 left as of posting) | Digital

Charlotte, NC’s Dollar Signs have taken a detour from their usual punk rock aesthetic, and channeled the Mountain Goats for the profane and fantastic Christmas EP, “Another Sad Holiday.” Each of the two originals (“Caroler” and “Selfish Christmas”) are chock full of bitterness, but in a bizarre twist, also express a tangible warmth that is undeniable. The third track is a cover of the Tom Waits’ classic “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis,” which is a song I do very much enjoy. Dollar Signs’ version feels as though it is sung with a smile, which gives it a wholly different feeling than any version I’ve ever heard. Can’t say I prefer this angle, but it is certainly a unique and interesting take. This EP will most certainly find some fans out there. Bonus – If you are quick, you can still grab one of the 30 cassette copies they pressed!

Bottom Line: “Another Sad Holiday,” Dollar Signs’ loving, smirking approach to Christmas was a refreshing palate cleanser for this world-weary Christmas blogger.

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Pre Nup “War, On Christmas” (2018)

Pre Nup - Oh Well

Jigsaw/Debt Offensive Records
Buy: US-Jigsaw (CD) | Canada-Debt Offensive Records (CD)

“We’re doomed for sure. / Apocalypse creeps closer every year. / Keep this in mind, / we’re all fucked. / At least it’s Christmas time.”

THE DARKEST TIMELINE CONTINUES!

Here is Calgary’s finest with a FUCKING AMAZING indie pop jam that I cannot get out my head. Pre Nup come out swinging with fuzzed-out perfection, while name checking the illuminati, pretending the chemtrails are Santa’s sleigh, and highlighting a government plot to foment carnage. You know, the perfect appetizer to the oncoming meltdown Christmas season.

Bottom Line: Sharpen your knives, this Christmas feast is going to be bloody. Pre Nup have thrown down the Christmas gauntlet, and bloodied a few noses in the process. (Heads up, this song is a hidden track on the CD version of their debut LP, Oh Well.)

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la-goons – Krampus EP (2017)

la-goons - Krampus EP

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp (NYOP)

Illinois’ la-goons have dropped a tight, two-track single that is absolutely worth your time. The garage/punk energy of “Krampus” and “(Mid)westy” have a understated quality that I haven’t quite heard all season. Each song has a midwestern bitterness that is given some levity by the fast beat and lo-fi production. Or more simply, it’s a punk rock aesthetic – some angry shit that puts a smile on your face. Truly enjoyed both tracks, and I think you might too.

Bottom Line: These Illinois goons strike a win for those who hate the cold, which is everyone at some point, no matter how much you like snow.

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Three for Silver “Our Rest Has Come” (2016)

Three for Silver Christmas

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Stubby hipped me to the excellent Portland trio, Three for Silver, when they released the fantastic Three Stones for St. Stephen in 2015. They are back once again, with a less ambitious release (1-song), but certainly with an eye towards the same level of quality. Three for Silver sound like a balkan-Tom Waits, and their style of junkyard folk-punk is a unique seasonal treat. Written in a recent snowstorm when the band had nowhere to go, you can feel the warmth of their studio come through in the production. A lovely antithesis to the dour news of the past few days, this is like a warm cup of coffee when you desperately need one.

Bottom Line: Three for Silver hit me at the right time, and hopefully you’ll find something here too.

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Gloss “Gifts Received” (2015)

Gloss - Gifts Received

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Minneapolis’ Gloss have made the best Joy Division/New Order Christmas song of the year all time! From the baseline, to the vocals, to the lyrics, Gloss have hit the nail on the head when it comes to writing a dark, pulsing, disturbing Christmas song. Sonically, this song is most certainly a departure from the Captured Tracks-esque indie rock of their Front Porch debut, which I loved. Team this track up with the MONEY track, and you are looking at a very gloomy, awesome, Christmas mix.

Bottom Line: Jingle bells, deep synth lines and clashing guitars… Merry Christmas!

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Niagara Balls – Jingle Balls (2014)

Niagara Balls - Jingle Balls

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Just based on the titles, I knew I was at least going to like Niagara Balls. Then I heard them… and I was right! I do enjoy a slightly fucked up Christmas song, and “Don’t Be a Dick At Christmas” is exactly that. Not only does it have a good message, but throwing in some PG-13 language is refreshing in Christmas music! “I’m not saying / you can’t party / I’m just saying / Don’t be shitty.” Words to live by.

“Casual Racism at the Dinner Table” showcases once again Niagara Balls’ spectacular ability to lure me in with a great title. This is a story-song about Boxing Day that leaves no family member unscathed. The one truth that I can specifically relate to is that yes, everybody should like Michael Caine. Solid, but not as… charming?… as the first track, IMHO.

The final track, “Christmas ’96,” is a completely unexpected electronic dance track that samples Biggie’s classic “Juicy.” Most certainly apples to oranges. I dig it, just can’t find a compelling reason to consider it on a Christmas blog beyond the title.

Bottom Line: There’s some great stuff here. “Don’t Be a Dick on Christmas” will most certainly find it’s way onto someone’s mix. 3.8/5

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Superfuck Numero 2: Spécial Noël (2014)

Superfuxxxmas Songs

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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Glow Kit “Christmas Daze” (2012)

Glow Kit - Christmas Daze

Self-Released / Mastermind Records
Buy: Bandcamp

Well hot damn. After reading about this track on Snowflakes’ blog, I knew I had to (legally) have it. Hailing from Aarhus, Denmark, Glow Kit recorded “Christmas Daze” back in 2012 and released it on Youtube, followed by a very limited (24 copies) lathé cut 7″ by Danish label Mastermind Records. Supposedly it was a free download on Soundcloud, but I could never get it to work. HOWEVER, after contacting the band, they have been kind enough to finally set up their Bandcamp page! So, now you can legally download a MP3 (or FLAC!) of this fantastic indie rock Christmas song. Please keep in mind, while they are offering it as a free download, they would greatly appreciate a donation. All the money made off this song will help with the ongoing recording of their new album. Musicians need money to make records, and if we want to continue to get fantastic music, we’ve got to support them.

Bottom Line: Really, I love this song. You should love it too. 5/5

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Pulled Apart by Horses “Merry Christmas Everyone” (2014)

Pulled Apart by Horses - Merry Christmas Everybody

Too Pure Singles Club
Buy: 7″ Vinyl @ NormanRough Trade, Piccadilly, Banquet or Action Records

Pulled Apart by Horses has taken this Slade song that I am normally pretty bored with, and ripped some shit up. I don’t know if you can rock this song out any harder without losing the melody. I especially love when they layer the vocals, with one voice screaming while the other sings. I’m trying not to use any more profanity, but this song makes you want to swear. This is the a-side to the DZ Deathrays track, and while I can’t find it digitally yet, it is available for preorder from all the fine retailers you see above.

Bottom Line: Fresh, fucking urgent take on a “classic” song. 4.8/5

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DZ Deathrays “Lonely This Christmas” (2014)

dz deathrays

Too Pure
Buy: 7Digital (FLAC/MP3) | Amazon.uk MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3 | 7″ Vinyl

I knew I should have posted this days ago when it had 5 plays on Soundcloud – Blast! Kudos to you Christmas A Go Go! Australian punk/garage rock band DZ Deathrays‘ cover of Mud’s “Lonely This Christmas” appears to be one of (perhaps two) the seasonal selections from the Too Pure Records singles club (which after last year’s fantastic release, may raise expectations). They definitely rock the hell out of the song. This will certainly fit the bill for some punk/pop-punk Christmas music fans out there.

Bottom Line: Not quite there for my personal tastes, but remember, I’m a bit twee. 3/5

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