Buy: Bandcamp (Digital/Vinyl)
I’m not often one for instrumentals, nor have I ever really featured any dub/reggae/etc on this site. But hey, there are really no rules on Christmas Underground – I just gotta like it. Mato is Thomas Blanchot, a French percussionist who has been making some really fantastic dub records under the moniker of Mato since 2006, my favorite being his reinterpretation of Daft Punk’s Homework. This year, he’s releasing a 7″ on the Paris label Stix Records, fashioning a dub treatment of “Jingle Bells” (which you can preview now) on the A-side, with “Sleigh Ride” on the flip. I could totally see it being a great fit at a Christmas party… so while it might not fit on my largely indie rock/pop-centered mix, this Mato vs Santa Claus record is most certainly worth your time.
Bottom Line: Dipping my toes in the dub shallows… who knows what other cool records are out there to pull me farther in!
PDXMAS is back for its third installment since its debut in 2009. Those old tracks from 2009 & 2010 can also be found on their revitalized Bandcamp page. As I recall, when I originally hunted the PDXMAS comps down, they had a full, standalone website. They then disappeared, then reappeared on Bandcamp with a very incomplete tracklist – but everything appears back now. The third installment benefits a charity, as most of these local comps do, specifically Mercy Corps NW. This fact leads me to want to talk up the compilation a bit more than I likely would. Honestly, I find most Christmas comps so hit-and-miss, that I would equate baseball batting averages as comparable (as in .300+ batting average is stellar). PDXMAS 2014 however, just can’t get above that Mendoza line. There are some notable names on here, Typhoon being perhaps the most recognizable outside the Portland, OR area. Their take on “Silent Night” is just fine, but certainly nothing to write home about. The lone standouts (for me) are Ben Darwish‘s soulful “All I Need,” and Timmy Straw‘s mournful “Hard Times.” There are certainly other songs that were fine, just not many that spoke to me. I am most certainly not the final word on taste, so please judge for yourself. I have been known to be wrong… I remember when I didn’t quite get Father John Misty. Then, one day I did, and my world became better for it. Perhaps a song lives on PDXMAS that I’ll come back to, and truly love.
Bottom Line: There are a few special tunes on here, and its for a good cause. Listen for yourself and support some local Portland communities. 3/5