Wednesday, December 06, 2023

It's Doggy Time Again

We already had quite some dogs barking around here at our blog. But let's add two more brand new songs to that: 'Poodle Christmas' and 'Husky Dawgs'.
First: Tante Wilhelm is from Frankfurt, Germany and they sing an odd English with a strong German accent. They hate the weather this Christmas, but luckily play the ukulele very well. The band's name is a pretty curious one and so is the song with even more curious climate critical lyrics.

Second: Kitty Fitz teamed up with Symbol Soup ánd her husky for a seasonal song this year. They are a bit more satisfied with the weather than Tante Wilhelm, because "Me and my husky pull a sled through the snow". A plain and simple Christmas song full of dog love.

Even more Office Christmas Parties

Yesterday there was this post on pen pin, looking for love at a Christmas office party. It ended with the question why there are so few other good songs on this theme. But boy, was I wrong. Get ready for some screamingly out of hand or otherwise special parties. 

Let's kick off with blog regulars Vista Blue, who went on this theme in 2015. They got an iPod at the party, but: "Things are worse than they were before, I took a quick trip to the liquor store". Nuff said.
Next up is Office Christmas Party (an update of Merry Xmas Everybody) by Goddammit Jeremiah. Let's pretend we're having fun.

Weirdness galore at Neil Hamburger's Office Christmas Party from 2007.

This one's so sweet ... "Last week I asked to borrow your stapler, just to feel your hand in mine". But don't let yourself be misled, because "And now the party’s here. We’re standing with our beers by the pool table, and you're holding hands with our manager even though your facebook status says that you’re single."
So sad, so beautiful, what else could we've possibly expect from a track that derives from an album with a title like this: 'It's Going to Be an Awkward Christmas, Darling'. Merry Christmas Helen Arney.

Christmas Underground (thanks!) came up with this one: 'One Turkey Sandwich' by Vom Vorton and I quote "Well, the night goes on and the drinking increases, and some poor decisions are made ... though it doesn't get too unbelievable to not be relatable."

The Davenports recorded this beautiful 'Whore for the Holidays' in 2005 and it's about, in short, an office slut. Can't put it in a better way.

Let's speed up a little for this one. Soft Pretzel from Philadelphia hopes to kiss somebody at the Christmas Party, so all dreams come true. Cool danceable indie track.
Lowering from London hits it where it hurts in his review of the Christmas party, because "No-one wants to hear about next year's financial plans. They want to get drunk, cut loose and dance to Wham. They can't relax until you get up and go. That's the loneliness of the CEO". Spot on acoustic track.

Love Hotel doesn't live up to its name in their 'Office Party Tonight!', as they sound quite angry and noisy for two minutes.

Plastic Jeezus from Bournemouth, came up with this bright and cheerful track, full of bells, ukulele and smooth singing, but beware: "Tina, the cleaner, Was dancing so dirty, She couldn't have been obscener, While Ruby, the newbie, Is sat on Hector's lap, And she's rolling up a doobie."

The Santa's Boys wish they were at an office Christmas party with Michael Scott (from the NBC sitcom The Office). They do it in a poppy, electronic way with lots of auto-tune.

The Teen Reynolds end this series by now with an awesome, raunchy track ánd video with drunken speeches, boobs being photocopied, champagne drinking out of shoes, guns being showed and many more. 1965, a Christmas year to remember. 

Merry fucking Office Christmas Party Everybody! 


Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Quimorucru - Christmas is supposed to be wonderful

Clearly with a Gaspesian flavour (think quaint fishing villages), Quimorucru, a French play on words that means 'who would have believed me?', plays some great Québec Christmas music, with the traditional feet tapping on a plate while playing. However, they are not in any mood to deal with Christmas, jokingly.

Our hero's wife is happy that the family is coming over but hates the perfume cloud of the women with way too much make up on and the idiot brother-in-law that drinks hitting on some aunt. There's also the kids that think Père Noël (Santa) brought them gifts, but our guy got left with nothing but empty pockets.

When everybody has f***ed off and the kids have gone to bed, our hero has some wine with his wife and Christmas starts up again. Aah.

Be sure to check out their swinging older material like Le gin de la vieille usine ('The gin from the old factory').

Tears on the tinsel

Face it. Christmas isn't all falalalala and jingle-ing, ring-ting or tingle-ing. Heck, a lot of Christmas hits are about longing for better times, warmer homes, nicer persons and/or saving tears. This year, there are A LOT of songs that, if you look closer, it's easy to trace, the track of the tears.

I'm not recommending anything, but but the other day I was suggesting the title 'It's December First And Everyone I Know Is Dying' for a Christmas mix. A referral to the first line of 'It's Not Like the Christmas Films' by Sunflower Thieves. That's a duo, Lexie Carroll and Laurie Illingworth (plus some little helpers). About the season and the song, they say: "It’s dark and cold and can feel incredibly lonely, unlike the picture perfect Christmas scene all the old songs and films show it to be. The bad news on the TV doesn’t go away for Christmas, and neither does any sadness you may be carrying with you."

Sunflower Thief Lexie Carroll has a reputation for writing beautiful unfestive Xmas songs. Take 'Christmas Day', from 2022: we all get older, but nothing ever changes on Christmas day; the small talk, the jumpers, the sifting through the old photo albums and making plans that fall through:
This year, Lexie came out with 'Winter's coat', that has a little more light on the edges, but isn't exactly a party starter: Was our tree always so small/God do I feel old/The same jokes we'll hear/Same time next year
If at this point there isn't a tear rolling down your punch, this might do the trick. Matilda Mann, what a voice, sings a true weeper: Darling tell me/You'll come get me/Say you'll make home/Christmas isn't Christmas alone. Love the strings:
A song 'about making mistakes, never learning and feeling everything very deeply', how's that for not feeling the Christmas spirit?
New year, and it's not getting better if you believe Dutch talent Faye Ven:
And this year, we already posted the tinseled tears of Anna Vaus, Lily Williams and

pen pin is looking for love

They are famous, or perhaps rather infamous: the Christmas drinks at work that got out of hand. But Jeni Magana and Emily Moore, who together form the indie pop duo pen pin from sun drenched L.A., California, are looking forward to it with a special reason: they're looking for love!  
From the 'sadly overlooked last year, but shouldn't be unheard' category comes this funny little Christmas song full of delicate sleigh bells. In 'Office Party' pen pin wants something really specific from Santa: a work crush. Maybe John, who always brings the coffee, or maybe someone else? But no, unfortunately all the men at work are already married. It results in a song that may have somewhat sad lyrics, but they turn it into a great kinda beachy track, fresh and fruity and with a touch of surf and melancholy. 

And isn't it strange that there aren't many more Office Party Christmas songs? If you know some, drop 'em in the comments please and maybe our chief Themed Posts at CAGG can bake a new post out of it. 

pen pin Insta here, their X over there.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Short Notes

UK indie band Little Red Ambulance are the good guys. This song (below) is their 11th annual original Christmas offering, raising money for a specialist cancer diagnostic center in Cornwall, and an air ambulance service for Cornwall and Scilly.

For this year, they let out their inner boyband personae. It's so catchy you might wanna seek out one of those old mouthmasks they lay around from the COVID days. LRA like their seasonal songs peppered with some laughs:
The song can be dowloaded from, and streamed on all the major platforms.

Talk about laughs, this song by Brit band Volk Soup was described by Martin/Stubby on The La as "it’s kind of like listening to a warped record at a speed that’s slightly off." Which fits the song, that IS about a Perfect Christmas.
Here’s what singer and lyricist Harry Jones has to say about ‘A Perfect Christmas’: ‘The desire to write a Christmas song was admittedly a cynical one. But the song itself is far from cynical. The primary reason to write a Christmas song was to potentially, at a long shot, achieve a number 1 hit. To be able to sit back on our royalties every year and have this once in-a-lifetime hit fund our entire careers.
That said, I didn’t want to write an anti-Christmas song or an ironic Christmas song. Not because of the lack of commercial prospects but because I do enjoy the season. I enjoy being with family, not working, giving and receiving. I like being with people who are enjoying all these things too."

It's on Bandcamp too.

UK's Candy Strypers were brought to my attention via the mighty Santapalooza. He unearthed this tv-dinner of a Christmas song:
Rejoice! This jinglejanglin' band just released a brand new, well, jinglin' janglin' Christmas song, that is a highlight on anyone's mix:
Luvleelou from Canada released a Christmas song that (to me) brings back late 90s vibes, in a Sixpence Non The Richer kinda way. Bubblegrunge, is the term they use themselves. Luvleelou;s a duo, Jeremy & Veronika, and I love the slighty depressed lyrics in this song: 'Christmas is sad again this year/I don't know why/But I don't mind/Being the one who's left behind'. Great glistening sax solo too.

Simon Kearney ft. Gabrielle Shonk - Until Christmas

What sounds like a warm and romantic duet by Simon Kearney featuring Gabrielle Shonk is in fact quite the opposite. 'Jusqu'à Noël' ('Until Christmas') is about a relationship that won't last the winter. It's really over, but thanks to the 'miracle of Christmas', they'll put up appearances for grandma's sake and pretend for a little while longer. Then they'll 'throw each other in the trash' and maybe stay friends. Ayoye! (Ouch, in Québec French).

Multi-intrumentalist Simon Kearney loves rock, pop and having a good time. He's known for covers of great Québécois acts and collaborations, like this number. Gabrielle Shonk rarely sings in French having an English-language career and a Juno Award (Canada's Grammys), but she can and it's lovely.

Mat Lombardi & Friends

As I am writing this, it's early Sunday morning, my little boy is watching cartoons on tv and I'm enjoying myself with the Christmas album Mat Lombardi & friends made. While listening, I was thinking of how to describe this. As a quilt, maybe? A patched up carpet of various styles (blues, rock, a symphonic 8 minute suite, piano instrumentals, a rock opera), with serious intent and pure uncut fun? Guess that's it.

Take the 'reworked classic' Baby It's Cold Outside, a song that got a bad rep in the #MeToo days because it was considered to be a promotion for (date-)rape. Mat & Kelly Campos (I guess) turn it into a song about two parents who, with the kids away, want to turn the night into something special. Well, he seems to be very anxious to shovel snow while she just wants to relax, man.

This songs, almost 7 minutes long, brings back the prog rock opera days of ELO and Queen (with a smaller production budget, that is) and is a detailed account of an epic battle between Elves and the Dutch (?) originator of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas.
And that's just two songs. Check out the snowfall soundtracks on piano, the charming, slightly adapted version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and the good fun of Do I Hear Santa too. This is the stuff that this blog craves for in the season, really.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Mal Blum's Xmas Eve

There are probably few evenings that are more dreaded and looked forward to than Christmas Eve. Mal Blum also has a few things to confess to their lover. About that baby they stole from a manger in the front yard after drinking too much whiskey, for example.
Mal Blum wrote this awesome track already when they was sixteen, but has luckily decided to re-record and release it. A nice slow starting indie rock song, full of regrets, in which everything seems to turn out fine. At Christmas Eve of course. 

Mal Blum Insta here, X over there.

Driving home with Yndling

Christmas songs also come in all sorts of guises. It's not that if there are no sleigh bells, church bells or other typically Christmassy sounds involved, that it can't be a true Christmas song. This enchanting 'Let's Have a Celebration' by Norwegian singer Yndling is a good example of that. No falalalas and rumpumpumpums where the treetops glisten, but a story about that special feeling when you're on your way home for the Holidays, packed in a smooth and a seductively sung dreampop Christmas track to slowly but surely fall in love with.
This track is one of seven at 'Local Love', a Christmas EP.  

Insta over there.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Alt Country Christmas

Guestpost! Mr Ton 'T55' Ensing himself, who delights us since a few years with his blogs on Americana-tinged country, lines up the recent countryfied Xmas releases of note:

The new single by Portland’s finest, The Delines, is called 'Christmas in Atlantis', and it’s vintage Delines. Great lyrics, a short xmas story by the great Willy Vlautin, sung by the exquisite Amy Boone. The family gathering around the christmas tree is getting out of hand before it even starts as the main characters arrive at the scene. An uncle in his tidy whities screaming at the tele, a nephew playing Grand Theft Auto in the basement, niece showing pictures of herself naked in a TripleX-way, making money without a proper education. Time to hit the streets in Atlantis and win some money in the casino!

Then there’s Grey DeLisle. The legendary country singer-songwriter and the voice of some 1500 cartoons, released some twentysomething singles this year. Most of them turned up on 'She’s An Angel', her first solorecord with original music in almost twenty years. An album full of old skool seventies style country songs. The first new track since the release of the album is an orginal christmas tune called 'Don't Make Her Christmas Wish Come True'. It’s not the first xmas tune she recorded - Santa’s On a Diet and a great cover of the traditional O Holy Night - spring to mind. She recorded the new tune with cowpunk/rockabilly star Rosie Flores. A cute little ballad about the man that might become the christmas present for either one of the singers.

Last up: hillbilly Martha Spencer. She takes a more traditional vaudevillian approach with her 'Cherry Street Christmas'. Bring on the brass and the honky tonk piano. Short, sweet, wham bam thank you ma'am.

Neon Christmas

Kitsch is part of Kristmas, of course. Come on. The key is the excess, the extravagance. You cán celebrate with just one small, naked tree and a tv dinner. But should you leave out all the lights, the ornaments, the silver and gold? Didn't think so.
This as an introduction to Wash Your Dirty Money With My Art, a Danish duo that I can find very little info about. Their SoundCloud is very extensive, with instrumentals, pop songs and three Christmas songs. One is called 'Merry Christmas James Blunt'. The most recent is this neon coloured, 80s reference grenade 'Xmas Love Affair'. On which one of the two WYDMWMA-guys does not hold back on the electronic drumbreaks:

Recently, I bumped on this Spotify playlist, called A Retrowave Holiday, with over 14 hours of neon coloured, 80s referencing, mostly electronic Christmas songs. Lots of covers (listen how The Northern Light out-80s Wham!), some originals. Including Dragon Inn 3, that was posted here too. And an artist called Miami Nights 1984, which is a great name that immediatly takes my brain to Don Johnson in his Ferrari on the Florida highways. Miama Nights 1984 released a Christmas EP last year, and if 'neon coloured' and '80s references' and 'electronics' are up your alley, you're in for a shoulder padded treat:

Châteaubriand - Keeping the tree lights on

From Montréal, Québec, Châteaubriand's slow brand of storytelling features some contemplative bittersweetness about Christmas. Imagine walking down a residential street in a town somewhere with nobody outside while fresh snow is falling, and you can hear it when you stop walking. That's where Châteaubriand lives.

Band member Julien Corriveau calls Châteaubriand's micro-album 'Laisse le sapin allumé' ('Keep the tree lights on') a melancholic look at Christmas. As for Nicola Morel, he explains that this time of year can be difficult and anxiety-inducing for some people.

Veteran mall Santa chimes in as well, and says 'I quit' in 'La lettre d'adieu du père Noël des Promenades du centre-ville' ('Mall Santa's goodbye letter'). He enjoyed seeing your kids grow up, but it's time to fly South for the winter. 'It's time for landscape mode instead of portrait mode.' It's a great story that puts me firmly at the flailing mall near my parents place in Québec.

'Notre dernier sapin' ('Our last Christmas tree') is a deeper cut, with a melody that wraps like a garland around a tree.

A truck picks up the Christmas trees from the side of the road
I close the curtatins so it doesn't see mine through the living room window
It's not because I like Christmas that much
Or that I'm waiting for gifts to fall from the sky
It's because it's the only thing left
From our old teenage promises

Our friends over at Christmas Underground tipped us about this one! Merci!

Christmas A Go Go Spectacular

It IS the most wonderful time of the year! For the second time, the CAGG crew is gonna Christmasfy the Paradiso Upstairs Room for a party with spruce needles, coloured lights, ugly sweaters and red velvet hats. What we got in store, apart from dyanamic dj duo Natashka & Oscar? We-e-e-e-ll:

RICK BUUR, our blog troubadour, the man we love to call our Dutch desafinado hero. Because he might miss a note, but never misses your heart. Rick is on the blog since 2018, when he translated a Robert Earl Keen country Xmas classic. Ever since, he's been with us with, and FINALLY we're gonna see him (and his brother) live. Here's a blast from the past, a Nick Lowe cover: RO HALFHIDE, local Amsterdam hero, gangleader of the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild, producer. The guy who brings the sun, the guy who was on the blog in 2021 with a cool Christmas track, and who promised to write another classic. Oh, the anticipation. Here Ro sing his first Christmas song again:
MELANIE RYAN, Americana-influenced singer-songwriter with a million dollar smile, who's a Christmas fanatic and wrote her latest seasonal song with the Queen of Dutch Christmas, Judy Blank:

MILENE VAN DER SMISSEN & S.LOIS, we know S.Lois (we can call him Wijzte), because he made a lasting impression on last year's CAGG Spectacular with his blue grass trio. This year, he brings along Milène van der Smissen, with whom he tours the theaters with her Dolly Parton Tribute called Voor Mijn Part Dolly. So HELL YES there's gonna be some Hard Candy Christmas tonight baby.
S.Lois is busy as well. From today, December 1, he will do covers of his fave Carter Family songs on his Instagram Reels. And on YouTube you can find his version of this 17th century classic Christmas song that you might know in a version by or Sufjan Stevens:

néomí & WILL KNOX, the both of them recorded a wonderful, emotional Christmas song. He's a singer-songwriter from the UK, she's of Dutch-Surinam descent. They worked together, she was on the blog earlier this year with her wonderful song 'Garden', a Christmas-tinged song about her grandfather who suffers from Alzheimers. Together they will bring joy, and some tears.

STEPHANIE STRUIJK is a staple in the Dutch singer-songwriter scene for quite some time. Christmas-wise, she debuted on this blog in 2017 with a duet with Rob Dekay. We world-premiered her Dutch translation of 2000 Miles. Stephanie sings in English, but mostly in Dutch. For the Paradiso night, she promised us some Joni, some self-penned wintery tunes and lots of seasonal vibes. Here's Steph singing (translated) Pretenders:

MARIKE JAGER is a musical superhero. She can rock, she can be sultry, she can sing duets with Ron Sexsmith, team up with one of the beste Dutch drummers for a project, sing with orchestras and she can make records that will turn into life companions. AND she recorded her first original Christmas song, with a nod to Elvis and a male choir. A new video coming up, for now:

THE SLOW CLOCK = busy bee Harmen Kuiper, who has an impressive body of work (TEN ep's in 2020) but released his first, really gorgeous Christmas song this year. In the summer, of course. Sang with Amarins, 'Christmas in a bottle' is one of the indie xmas highlighst of this year:

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Sara Noelle

American singer-songwriter Sara Noelle has, with that last name, an obligation to record Christmas songs, one would say. She feels that way too, for years she's rejoicing us with seasonal tracks. This is the recent ethereal original, fresh as a pack of snow in the morning, and that angelic Noelle voice:
And while we're at it, these are the other self-penned songs:

This one from 2022 was voted as one of the 52 best New Xmas songs

Rest in peace, Shane MacGowan

It's official. Shane MacGowan, Pogues-frontman and co-writer of one of the greatest Christmas song in the world, ever, has passed away. There is a lot to digest, but a blog like this must pay tribute by posting 'Fairytale of New York'.
This song was covered M-A-N-Y times. We did one round up a few years back, see HERE.

Like Low, Corvair Premiere

Regular visitors know, we keep track of covers from Low's classic 1999 Christmas album. It's mostly Just Like Christmas that gets a touch up or a complete make over. But, as Portland-duo Corvair proves on their new, beautiful seasonal offering, other Low-originals are re-done as well. HERE is the update on Low-covers we posted last year, with links to even more blogposts.

Back to Corvair. Official release on December 1. From the press release:
Singer and guitarist Brian Naubert says of the decision to cover the song, “Low’s Christmas album, which was released in 1999, is one of my favorite holiday albums of all time. I’ve always been very interested in Christmas music, including making my own, but their record completely redefined for me what the genre could be. It’s so profound, there’s not one saccharine moment.”
Singer Heather Larimer says of the song, “I’ve been making Christmas music since my first band, Eux Autres. And I usually like to try to push the subject matter a bit dark. For instance, the first one I co-wrote (“Another Christmas at Home”) was about a dive bar in Omaha. But this year, it felt right to cover a Low song, one that is written deep inside the original Christmas Story. Even just the phrase ‘take the long way around the sea,’ with all of its sustained open vowels, is very poignant. It cracks your heart open to sing it.”
Naubert adds, “Our band owes so much to Low. They are the pinnacle of male/female harmonies, so inventive and stirring. Making this was especially important to me this year.” Good news: in 2024, Corvair will release an Xmas EP!

And now over to other Low Christmas covers we found, overlooked and loved recently (not posted earlier on this blog):

An Italian version:
Sounds like a slowed-down version of the original, but it isn't. It IS slow tho:
Ah, Braden Blake, purveyor of fine original Christmas music. And this charming cover:
Missed this one earlier, the analogue electronics vibe is cool
Intense version:
New, this slow, ethereal version:

Brad Byrd

"This year has been one for the books for the indie rock/alt country artist Brad Byrd: appearing at SXSW, opening for longtime friend Pete Yorn and recently completing a West Coast tour with Grammy-nominated songwriter and visual artist Joseph Arthur." 

Let us take the liberty of seeing his appearance on our blog as a highlight as well. After all, you have to tickle yourself a little. Challenged by a friend, Brad wrote this track a year ago on Christmas Day. It's a fresh and uplifting original, which contains the whole Christmas shebang of sleigh and church bells. And, for a change, it's a track with a positive and cheerful 'Let Love Win' vibe. Use it to your advantage. 

Brad Byrd Insta here, X over there.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Xmas in a bottle

Amsterdam based Harmen Kuiper usually plays in his punkband GDVRDGDVR. But he has a more melodic pop oriented side project The Slow Clock. This summer he released his second album ‘Inpretative Dancing’. On it a wonderful Xmas track which Dutch daily De Volkskrant described as "The first Christmas hit from 2023".  I specially like when the female singer, called Amarins does the 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo' part in the song.

On our Christmas A Go Go party in Paradiso (Amsterdam) on december 18, he will do a special concert with performance artist Marieke Coppens  And oh yes... he promised us a remix of this song.

There is another 'Christmas In A Bottle' song, by American band Nashvilains, recorded in 2022. But it has a totally different feeling.

Nicholas Burgess

Yes! Some fierce rock for the season, thank you Nicholas Burgess for pulling our strings with this end of year cracker. Doesn't Nick sound a bit like E from Eels? Anyhoo, this song is about 'apprehension we can feel about losing the old year when baby new year comes', and features a heavy heavy bassline and a cool hook. Christmas rock season has kicked OFF baby: