Oihana & Tamu – Figuritas de Star Wars / Por fin Navidad (2019)

El Nébula Recordings
Buy: Bandcamp

This time of year is always insanely busy. My day job keeps me working late into the night, and then I need to find time to write on this blog, and until that magical moment when it is done, work on my mix. With that, I apologize for the lack of content. You all demand content, and I need to deliver-ish. Thankfully, sometimes you get an easy one, hand-delivered to you and absolutely wonderful. Our friends over at Popcasting and El Nébula Recordings have released a new seasonal single by Oihana & Tamu. You may remember Tamu from the fantastic 2017 release, Cantan a la Navidad, which is SOMEHOW still available on vinyl – GO GET IT! Tamu (Tamu Tamurai) and Oihana (Oihana Herrera) are prolific members of the indiepop/indie rock/psych scene in Pamplona, Spain, and if Christmas is what it takes to bring these two together, then Merry Christmas, everyone. It only took me about 15 seconds to realize that I was going to love this release, but get past those first 15 seconds and you’ll get into all the sonic decor. Each side is drenched in beautiful dreampop synths, with their voices blending beautifully on the A-side, “Figuritas de Star Wars,” which is about the anticipation of Christmas, and waking up to new Star Wars figures. (Let’s just say Santa bought a bunch of Lego Star Wars for my 6-year old… I’m feeling this one big time.) The B-side, “Por fin Navidad” (Finally Christmas) features Oihana on vocals, and is pulsing with beauty. The song is about her love coming home for Christmas, and her promising to not let go. This release is destined for many future mixes (hi Tutti Time!)… no doubt about it.

Bottom Line: Dreampop perfection delivered by Pamplona’s best.

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Tamu & J’aime – Cantan a la Navidad (2017)

El Nébula Recordings
Buy: Bandcamp (Vinyl/Digital)

This day can’t get any better. (That is a challenge to you, Universe!) Our friends over at @Popcasting hipped me to a project he’s been working on, and what do you know? It is FANTASTIC. Granted, I have very little idea as to what is being said, but I do recognize a “navidad” here and there. You see, back in high school, Spanish was my best subject when we tried out foreign languages, but there were lots of cute girls taking German, and thus, Deutsch! Alas, I remember very little, as I use Google Translate every time I visit Lieinthesound.de! The first track, “Without You There’s No Christmas (Sin ti no hay Navidad)” has a classic feel, with jangly guitars and a strolling beat. The guitars ring out, evoking a country-feel at times, and I totally dig it. “Christmas without You (Navidades sin ti)” sounds much more contemporary, with beautifully layered vocal melodies and some absolutely stellar guitar accents. The ending builds in a mist of reverb, voices rising from the background to join the fray, leading to a beautiful payoff. As an added bonus, those readers who love some good xmas vinyl will be happy to buy (quickly) one of the 250 copies they just got in. Tell em Christmas Underground sent ya.

Bottom Line: A fantastic single – front to back – from our friends at El Nébula and @Popcasting. Perfecto!

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A Christmas Chin para ti, Vol. 02 (2013)

Chin Chin Records Vol. 2

Chin-Chin Records
Buy: Bandcamp | CD

How the heck do I write this review? I am using a Bandcamp page to give me translations of the titles… so I have at least a clue of what they are singing about. I should cite the Spanish language titles, rather than the English titles – this I know. But now I’m jumping back between two pages for 36 tracks of fantastic Spanish garage rock/indiepop Christmas tunes – and it is feeling quite overwhelming. So, I think I may take the pressure off my shoulders, do a very shallow review, but let you know that THIS IS AWESOME. I largely have NO idea what they are saying, but I don’t care. There are a few that I know, such as The Fraukettes Spanish cover of “I Wish It Was Christmas Today,” which is absolutely lovely. Then there is Ooby & Dooby’s “Uvas o lentejas,” which Google translates to “Grapes or Lentils,” yet sounds JUST like “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Really, this record is all over the place. Perhaps if I understood Spanish, I might have some criticisms of the lyrics, or perhaps I’d like it even more! There are two English-language tracks on here too – check out the moody “Seasons Greetings” by Leather & Lace.

Bottom Line: I have no idea what they are saying, but I like the groove on 75% of these super-short Christmas tunes. With a name-your-own price on Bandcamp, and a reasonably priced CD version (with beautiful artwork), how could you go wrong? 4.5/5

LISTEN

Fantasia De Navidad (2002)

Fantasia de Navidad cover

Siesta
Buy: Discogs (CD) | Amazon.uk (CD)

If you want an entire record of very, very, very pretty indie pop, then Fantasia de Navidad is for you. I find very little fault with the efforts of these Siesta recording artists – they have pleasant music, and interesting lyrics. There is also a calypso? thread that runs through the record, popping up into the forefront at times. There It is perhaps a little too pure indie pop for what I am looking for on my own personal mix (or to subject to party guests). I am just not that skinny and beautiful, while somehow melancholy and well dressed, to pull it off.

Of particular note, Admiral Achilles’ “East of the Country” (at certain times) sounds like it could very well be Elvis Costello in disguise, perhaps going indie pop in between his Burt Bacharach and country music phases. Their second track on the album, “Christmas,” sounds like Mark Kozelek… specifically with his vocal phrasing, as well as the general tone. I can’t pin that band down…

This one is tough to come by… to read more about it, check out Siesta’s discography.

(A quick afterthought – this CD comes in a regular version, as well as an ultra-limited, wooden CD case version with the cover impressed upon it. Crazy.)

Bottom Line: Do you LOVE indie pop? If you do, add 2 points on to my score. 2.8/5