Thermos Grenadine “Christmas Cowboy” (2022)

Self Released
Buy:
Bandcamp (NYOP!)

You know how sometimes you love something… and you absolutely know that most people are going to think you are just fucking bonkers? Let me introduce you to “Christmas Cowboy” by Thermos Grenadine, a five-foot-tall, synthesizer-playing animatronic orange dog. Well… Thermos Grenadine could very well also be Richmond, Virginia’s Lil Ugly Mane, as they appear on stage together and he sounds a good bit like Lil Ugly Mane. Known as a pioneer in what has become known as Soundcloud rap, Lil Ugly Mane is eclectic, with influential early underground rap records, and recent releases that steer closer to indie rock. The Thermos Grenadine moniker appears to be more synth-based (obviously, as this is the chosen instrument of the giant dog) and is absolutely fascinating, confusing, and weirdly wonderful. I couldn’t get past the lyrics… they are like fly tape, to which I’ll likely perish. My favorite bit follows…

When I was four / I fell off forty horses one-by-one / they stepped on both my hands.
I gave my mommy / fifty basset hounds / and they burned down every acre of her land.
I’ve got Egypt in my pheromones / I’ve been to Cairo on a plane
Potato chips are in my pockets / but I’m here still playing possum with my brain.

Bottom Line: This thing is bonkers and I love it. There is no way this is an actual Christmas song. But hey, it counts. Dem’s the rules.

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Noise to the World 2: Converse Rubber Tracks Holiday Music (2014)

Noise to the World 2

Converse Rubber Tracks
Buy: Free!

Converse is at it again! Noise to the World 2 dropped, and while the Soundcloud play count suggests otherwise, they snuck by me once more! Well, for 2 days or so at least. This one is looking HOT! Four of the six tracks have dropped, with two more coming tomorrow (DUM DUM GIRLS with an ORIGINAL SONG!).

For starters. The GRMLN track, “Before December (You’re Alive)” has a great vibe that any self-respecting indie rock fan will enjoy (hi, I’m one of those folks). I love the programmed beats with the acoustic guitar. GRMLN’s got a new record out, as well as some great covers on their Youtube channel – check them out.

Deer Tick have written yet another Christmas tune, “White Havoc,” though the melody is crazy familiar. Fuzzy guitars, dark lyrics and instruments that sound as though they are battling for space – love it. When are they just going to bite the bullet and write an fuzz rock Christmas classic record?

I’ve got to say – These Rubber Tracks releases seem to seek out and find great rap Christmas tracks. The Michael Christmas track, “Pleasant Winter,” has a great backing track. I love the mix of nostalgia and getting some – there’s something real there. IamSu! Feat. HBK CJ & 1-O.A.K. bring us “Next Season,” while not terrible, is unfortunately not my vibe. The production, with the autotune and the tin-ny programmed beats are certainly a rap convention… but not one I tend to be attracted to.

The final two tracks are just about as different as you could get. Torreblanca & Iraida Noriega’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is the only non-original song on the release… and while its quite nice, the only part that I really got into was towards the very end. The vocals & the music swell in an unexpected way, which was quite nice. The Dum Dum Girls‘ electro-pop “On Christmas” strikes me as a natural progression from the sound of their last album, Too True. Synths dotted that album, lying just under the Jesus & Mary Chain guitars… they just went full-electro on this.

Bottom Line: An even stronger showing than laster year’s generally excellent Noise to the World. 4.6/5

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Noise to the World: Converse Rubber Tracks Holiday Music (2013)

Converse Noise to the World

Converse Rubber Tracks
Buy: Free!

How did this thing slip by me? And how did this slip by my fellow Christmas bloggers? This would be like missing the Target comp of years ago, in that it is packed with “indie” bands with a  large corporate backer – so how did it make a noise in a few music publications but never come across my googling? Noise to the World is seven tracks of varying styles, but all with a certain level of quality where I don’t hate anything – it’s truly listenable. As an added bonus – there appear to be vinyl copies of this out there somewhere.

We’ll run down the release track-by-track, as it is a short release and each one is worth a note. Roxy Roca offers a funky original that elicits the imagery of a picturesque Christmas, but not without you. Warm Soda (the band that really made me excited to hear this) mines the same fertile ground of Roxy Roca, and many bands before, with their “Without You By My Side.” Their power-pop delivery takes the melancholy lyrics and lifts it up enough with the music to not feel like a dirge. The two songs are so similar in their main thesis, yet so very different in the approach, tone, lyrics and delivery that the only thing that ties them together is “without you.”

Fresh Daily and Black Spade contribute a surprisingly strong Christmas rap song with “Holiday ’93.” I don’t normally get into a hip-hop holiday, but this track is not only enjoyable and is perhaps the best song on the record. They don’t make it a joke, like so many other Christmas rap songs, and their attitude and lyrics strike me as very much in genuine & nostalgic vein of Ahmad’s “Back in the Day,” which is very welcome.

Mother Merey & the Black Dirt take the holiday staple, “Run Run Rudolph,” and deliver a wonderful, country-noir song that is just downright refreshing. They make it their own.

Workout’s “Jingle Bells” is the most-skippable track on the release for me, for two reasons. First, Jingle Bells. Second, pop-punk is just not my bag. However, they become very listenable by exuding a sense of humor about the whole thing, and being so damn short. Kudos.

The She’s “December Tide” is another in a recent wave (pun!) of surfin’ tunes. I can’t recall such a melancholy surfing Christmas (well, winter) tune in a very long time. This song is the kind of indie-pop that I’m quite receptive to, and would gnaw at any pop-punk fan… we are just different species, you and I. I especially like the end of the song, with the layering of the vocals… if you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know how much I love a good ending.

Finally, Low Fat Getting High’s “Deck the Halls” will please the headbanger in you. They do “Deck the Halls” hardcore and fully commit. Not normally my thing, but oddly, not unlistenable. Had it ended at 1:40, I would have liked it a bit more.

Bottom Line: Wow. Pretty excellent all the way through. Free, with super-high-res MP3 download. Quite listenable and at times downright fantastic. Pleasantly surprised, and certainly recommended. 4.4/5

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