Bubble & Squeak “The Christmas Stick” (2018)

Moshi Moshi Records
Buy: Moshi Moshi | Bandcamp

Legends of Country/Boy Least Likely To impresario Jof Owen and Girl Ray‘s Poppy are both no strangers to fantastic Christmas tunes, so of course they decided to record one together!! I most certainly enjoy the way they describe it:

From Moshi Moshi:
Sweet and impossibly romantic, with a little nod to Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett and a cheeky wink to Nancy And Lee, the Christmas Stick is a misty eyed slacker pop masterpiece. It retells the story of a chance encounter on a lonely winter night between two strangers whose eyes meet across a bustling broadway before they’re both struck by a mysterious festive talisman and end up spending the rest of the holidays together and writing a Christmas love song all about it.

Bottom Line: This thing is silly and sweet.

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The Boy Least Likely To “A Winter’s Tale” (2017)

The Boy Least Likely To "A Winter's Tale"

Self Released
Buy: 7Digital (FLAC/MP3) | iTunes | Amazon.uk MP3 | Amazon.de MP3 | Amazon.fr MP3

The Boy Least Likely To have long been stalwarts in the indiepop-Christmas scene, releasing the beautiful Christmas Special LP back in 2010, compiling older Christmas singles alongside some fresh ones. (Boy I would love that on vinyl) In the following years, Jof Owen (half of the BMLT duo) created his indiepop-meets-country project, Legends of Country, which put out an equally spectacular, 2-song Christmas release in 2014, It’s A Long Way Back From A Dream. This year, after a cheeky response to a tweet I sent their way… I began anticipating a new track. December 1st hits, and viola! The David Essex cover, “A Winter’s Tale,” is a perfect blend of both sounds – the indiepop of Boy Least Likely To with the country of Legends of Country. The main orchestration is the Boy Least Likely To at their most lush, as the Legends of Country accents of slide guitar and fiddle bring the two worlds together beautifully. As with most indiepop, the music is upbeat enough to look past the melancholy, but those country accents do a wonderful job bringing you back down to the lyrics. “It was only a winter’s tale / just another winter’s tale / and why should the world take notice / of one more love that’s failed / it’s a love that could never be / thought it meant a lot to you and me / on a worldwide scale, / we’re just another winter’s tale.” It was certainly worth the wait.

Bottom Line: It sure is wonderful to have the Boy Least Likely To back in the Christmas game. Beautiful, melancholy indiepop, expertly crafted with love.

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Communist Daughter “Blue Spruce Needles” (2015)

Communist Daughter - Blue Spruce Needles

Self Released
Buy: Stream

St. Paul, Minnesota’s Communist Daughter certainly have a thing for sad, sad Christmas songs. They recently played a gig billed as “singing the most depressing Christmas songs they know.” YES! I like this band! Thankfully, they have recorded one proper, sad Christmas song with a lovely cover of The Boy Least Likely To’s “Blue Spruce Needles.” The male/female harmonies are absolutely perfect for the song, as if they were always meant to be there. Further delving into their choices – the slower pace of the song, the sparse instrumentation – Communist Daughter have made this song feel wholly different from the original and beautiful in its own right. I believe that TBLLT would have to agree…

Bottom Line: Communist Daughter may have covered a song., but they uncovered it’s true soul. How about a download? 🙂 4.7/5

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Legends of Country – It’s A Long Way Back From A Dream (2014)

The Legends of Country - Its' a Long Way Back from a Dream

Self Released
Buy: Bandcamp

This little gem has popped up last year on Stubby’s, and I really wish I had noticed the subject matter of the release earlier than I did (I’m on their e-mail list!!). The Legends of Country are the indie-pop/country hybrid brainchild of Jof Owen from The Boy Least Likely To. Jof’s voice can make any country song sound indie-pop, so no amount of twang can take the indie-pop heart out of these tunes. Both tracks feature seasonal fare: the title track “It’s a Long Way Back from a Dream” is a twangy tale that spins the story of Richie Burnett, world champion darts player, as he heads to defend his title on New Years Eve. The imagery is sad & beautiful, and when the trumpet enters the mix, the instrumentation engulfs you. It’s pretty spectacular.

While the A-side takes us on a New Years journey, the B-side brings us back home to Christmas. “From St. George to Snowflake” is another beautiful story-song that tells of a Christmas Eve car ride. The lyrics present a modest and beautiful tale of love and Christmas. Its not hard to place yourself directly inside the verses, and the warmth it exudes is palpable. Finally, there is a wonderful guitar line that shimmers throughout this song… and it gave me goosebumps. Lovely.

Bottom Line: The indie-Christmas pedigree could not be ignored, and astoundingly, the Legends of Country have exceeded my already high expectations with these two incredible tales. 5/5

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