Junkie Thrown "Natten går tunga fjät"

Junkie Thrown “Natten går tunga fjät (The Night Sleeps Heavily)” (2016)

Self Released
Buy: Streaming on FB

Göteborg, Sweden’s Junkie Thrown is in the midst of a Facebook Advent calendar right now, and while the entries are not necessarily meant to be seasonal, she found herself compelled to create a new take on a old, Swedish language, Saint Lucia Day song. Saint Lucia Day is generally celebrated throughout the Scandinavian world, as well as in Italy, and signals the arrival of the “Christmastide.” While many different cultures recognize Saint Lucia Day, but Sweden has a particular way of celebration. Traditionally, towns, schools, and eventually (via a televised event) the nation chooses a girl to represent Lucia, and there are great processions, celebrations and caroling. However, this year there has been much debate, and public (one might say, racist) furor over a big company using a young black boy as Lucia in an advert. He subsequently became the target of cyber-bullies, culminating in his parents asking the company to pull the ad. This sounds like something that could happen… well pretty much anywhere; This is the world we are living in. Junkie Thrown has created a haunting version of a traditional, Saint Lucia Day song, with the words “Alla kan vara Lucia,” which means “everyone can be Lucia,” displayed throughout. A nice sentiment… and fuck racism.

Bottom Line: I love the meaning behind this song, and just as with 2014’s “Fairy Christmas Day,” it is beautifully performed.

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My Bubba "Champagne Drops"

My Bubba “Champagne Drops” (2016)

Cash Only / Tone Tree Music
Buy: iTunes | Amazon.uk MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3

The duo of My Bubba, previously known as the trio My Bubba and Mi, hail from those crazy Nordic states (Sweden and Iceland to be specific), which any reader will know are a particular hotbed of music that Christmas Underground both covers, and loves. To my pleasant surprise, their most recent single… is a one-off Christmas original! “Champagne Drops” is both fresh and new, as well as completely familiar, as it has suggestions of both “Unchained Melody” and “What a Wonderful World” in the cadence and melody that drives the song. This feeling of familiarity helps bring the song into an even more intimate experience. The vocals accentuate this intimacy, hushed but not whispered, as if spoken in a room so that others might not be bothered by their intrusion. “Feels like home when you dance me around / much crackling under the soles of our feet / a Christmas sound.” This cozy song demands a fire… and a bit of champagne.

Bottom Line: Sometimes I don’t go for the extremely pretty stuff… but the intimacy that My Bubba achieve in this song is undeniable.

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Christmas Day Care Choir Vol. 2

Crying Day Care Choir – Christmas Day Care Choir Vol. 2 (2015)

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

I awoke this morning to a lovely note from Sweden. The Crying Day Care Choir felt the love from around the world for the premiere of the first two tracks off their upcoming Christmas Day Care Choir Vol. 2, and decided to change it from “upcoming” to “released” – and one day early! You can find it on Bandcamp! Tomorrow, I’d imagine you can find it on Amazon, Spotify, etc… (but Bandcamp gives the band a bigger cut FYI). So you Christmas-mixers, your life just got easier, and perhaps you can finally finish your mix and relax. I would like to take a quick moment and share the Christmas message that CDCC has sent out with this release, as it projects the same warmth as their music, and sets the scene for you to imagine the cozy studio where these wonderful songs were born:

In the winter of 2013 we came up with the idea that we would write and record a Christmas EP. That time we were pretty late and recorded it in our living room. However, it should be mentioned that it was a success and that we managed to generate almost 2000 USD that we gave to charity. Two years later, we are now presenting “Christmas Day Care Choir VOLUME 2.” An EP with four newly composed Christmas classics that came about during a week full of mulled wine and gingerbread in our studio in Malmö. The album begins in an Irish Christmas party one would like lasted all year, via a desire to be able to keep Christmas in a small jar, a dream of a very special Holiday free from expectations, to then culminate in a hymn for the season. We have made the EP happy, warm and kind-hearted. Just as we think Christmas should be. With warm wishes, Crying Day Care Choir

I can’t imagine a year that doesn’t have its own challenges, its own war, its own famine or injustice. This world is a complicated and brutal one, and I have certainly felt its weight this season. Leave it to Crying Day Care Choir to find the beauty that we have all been looking for. The sheer joy of community, friendship and family that rise up from every harmony, every melody, every poignant lyric – it can snap you out of your stupor to appreciate what the season means. Volume 2 is a work of pure love, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Of special note, while it does require you to wait a few days to pick up the EP, between Dec. 13-19, CDCC will be donating all Bandcamp proceeds from their 2 Christmas EPs to the national Swedish radio charity for people fleeing climate disasters. However, for those who just cannot wait to grab Volume 2, just circle back and buy 2013’s Volume 1 on December 13th!

Bottom Line: There is no shortage of beauty on this collection of four new Christmas classics, but I encourage you to also revisit Vol. 1, as they are two of the strongest releases of original Christmas music I have had the pleasure of listening to.

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Christmas Day Care Choir Vol. 2

Crying Day Care Choir “Once a Year” (2015)

Self Released?
Buy: Bandcamp | Soundcloud (Free!)

The folk troupe Crying Day Care Choir have previously been featured on this blog, and will continue to be featured until the end of time. They have a second Christmas EP lined up to drop next week, and thankfully they have left a wonderful trail of breadcrumbs for us to gobble up until that time. Just premiering on the Swedish blog Beingblogged, “Once a Year” is the kind of wonderful Christmas song that I just LOVE to put on a mix. Not only is the music wonderful, but the lyrics are amazing. “Do a sleigh ride , next to a hayride, during Gay Pride in July

If I wasn’t feeling so damn poor… I want to buy their (nonseasonal) LPs so bad! RIGHT NOW! Please save me one!!!

Bottom Line: Perfect Swedish indie folk. That is nearly my favorite genre, done as well as any band could ever hope to.  (Its official, killing the rating system to give myself sanity, but damn this is good).

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Junkie Throw Christmas

Junkie Thrown “Fairy Christmas Day” (2014)

Self Released
Buy: Stream

When I’m solicited with a song… it has been my experience that the sender often has no clue what Christmas Underground is about, or what my taste might be. More often than not, it isn’t even a Christmas song… But enough blabbering from my grinch alter-ego. Yesterday I received an e-mail from someone who might actually have an idea of what I’m in to! Junkie Thrown, from my adopted hometown (cuz… I want to hang with Junkie Thrown & Jens Lekman, obviously) of Göteborg, Sweden, has written a beautiful, sorrowful, Christmas song about poverty and its contrast to the materialism of Christmas. In a season where I’m finding it hard to listen to happy Christmas music, and find myself searching for music with some deeper meaning, such as Sondre Lerche’s beautiful and poignant plea for Syrian refugees, Junkie Thrown’s sadness is cathartic.

Edit: Looks like this was originally released in 2014.

Bottom Line: Junkie Thrown’s voice is beautiful, the music equally so, and the subject matter meaningful. This is 2:31 that you, at the very least, will not regret; You may even love it.

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Våra barns julfavoriter - Julmusik för barn

Tvillingarna, Truls & jag “Får vi en vit jul då” (2014)

Alfie
Buy: 7Digital MP3 (US) | Amazon UK MP3

From the album Våra barns julfavoriter – Julmusik för barn (google translated: Our children’s julfavoriter – Christmas music for children) by Swedish singer-songwriter and frontman of Edson, Pelle Carlberg, and his family. I really have very little idea what they are saying, but I like Pelle enough to make mention of this particular track. The title of this song (Google translated) is “We Get a White Christmas When,” and Pelle’s voice and instrumentation make it a lovely little song. His kids sound great on here too, and I’m not normally a fan of children singing on my Christmas music. I wish I knew a bit more about what the heck they are saying though…

Bottom Line: I wish Pelle Carlberg made Christmas music for my English-speaking child. For those interested in hearing Pelle sing a Christmas song in English, buy his last record, The Lilac Time, and read the liner notes. 3.9/5

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Parker Lewis "Merry Christmas"

Parker Lewis “Merry Christmas” (2014)

Self Released
Buy: Free!

Parker Lewis (Emil Johansson) is one of my favorite Swedish Christmas music songsmiths. In fact, it was the Christmas tunes that got me in the door far enough to buy his latest record, and that’s all in Swedish (which I don’t speak – and its wonderful). Now, Emil has recorded a number of Christmas originals and covers in the past, so when he posted that he was sending out 10 CDr to a lucky few who responded to a FB post the other day, I got crazy excited and e-mailed immediately, asking if it might be Christmas songs. While it turned out that I was not one of the ten lucky recipients, he did not seem to suggest anything about a Christmas song in his response to me. Little did I know he had a Christmas song in his back pocket. “Merry Christmas” is a melancholy little song. The first line sets the tone. “I’m in love with you / even though you don’t call me anymore.” Don’t despair, while the melancholy remains, some wonderful lines sneak into this song that clocks in at barely over 2:00. For example, I really like the line “and I wished for impossible things each Christmas / none of which come true / So this year, baby / I wish for you.” Check it out for yourself, and especially check out his older Christmas songs if you haven’t already. I’ve included the ones I could find on Soundcloud in the box below, but there’s a cover of “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” and “All Alone on Christmas” out there too.

Bottom Line: Great melancholy indiepop Christmas if that’s your groove. Now with a download!! 4.1/5

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Red Sleeping Beauty

Red Sleeping Beauty “Merry Christmas, Marie” (2014)

Self Released
Buy: 7Digital MP3

Red Sleeping Beauty returned from a long hiatus earlier this year, which was wonderful news in my world. To top it all off, for their first new song in 17 years, they recorded a new Christmas song! “Merry Christmas, Marie” sounds like classic RSB. This is high quality indie pop, and for those who love 1990s-2000s indie pop, a gift from a above.

Bottom Line: Red Sleeping Beauty have returned, doing what they do best. 4.5/5

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Crying Day Care Choir - Christmas Day Care Choir

Crying Day Care Choir – Christmas Day Care Choir (2013)

Self-Released
Buy: Bandcamp

Last year the wonderful German blog Lie in the Sound pointed me toward this beautiful folk EP by Sweden’s Crying Day Care Choir. The two best tracks, “Christmas Day Care Choir (Falala)” and “First Christmas” bookend the release, and led to a very tough decision when considering which one to include on this year’s mix. I finally decided to add “First Christmas,” which surprised me. Sweet Christmas songs have never really been my forte, and this is most certainly the sweetest to make a mix. The song is grounded in a reality that I found beautiful, and try as I might, I was unable to talk myself out of adding it. It was just too good.

Bottom Line: Simple, beautiful folk music and harmonies from Sweden. 4.8/5

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SNOWFLAKE 2 The Garlands front cover 600px

The Garlands – Christmas Song / I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You 7″ (2013)

Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club
Buy: 7″ Vinyl | 7″ Vinyl Bandcamp | 7Digital MP3 (US) | Amazon UK MP3

The Garlands‘ contribution to last year’s inaugural Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club is a perfect indie pop Christmas single. For the uninitiated, the SCSC format is 7″ records with an original A-side, and a cover B-side. The Garlands A-side, “Christmas Song,” is as beautiful as anything they’ve ever done. These Swedes can do English-indie pop better than most native speakers. I find myself liking it more with every listen – there is this part where the tone takes a somber dip, and damn I love it. The B-side cover of Claudine Longet classic is equally pretty, as they somehow found a way to pour more sugar on an already sweet song. Claudine would be proud.

You can still pick up this release, but there are only 500, so I’d get it sooner than later.

Bottom Line: Indiepop Christmas at its finest. 4.6/5

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