Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy 2020



Thanks for all your visits, posts, suggestions, lists, corrections. We hope you had a great Christmas season, as we did. See y'all in November.

Here's a nice song to start the new year:


And HERE's a link to a Sylvester Songs playlist on Spotify.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas

...and if that is the case, then there's a song for you, just for you:


This track is new to me, but DARN, is it one of the great alt x-mas tunes.Harvey Danger was an alternative rock band from Seattle, formed in the early nineties who called it quits in 2009. On Bandcamp, there's a 2010-version by HD-singer Sean Nelson, and what seems to be a cover (tho the singers sound alike) by Philadelphia's The Sugarpills:





This is a cover by The New Switcheroo:


Live version by Harvey Danger HERE

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Bestest Christmas Songs of the 10s - results

A while back, I asked via social media and this blog, for your list of the 20 bestest Christmas songs of the decade. I received about 15 lists and scattered songs; so much different tracks, it's nearly impossible to make a solid ranking. The song that got the most mentions was 'That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!' by Sufjan Stevens, followed by 'My & My Baby (Spend Christmas With Me)' by The Faithettes. Both fine songs. EDIT: Although, as Stubby has just mentioned in the comments, Sufjan's from 2003 so cannot be named in this list. Hmmm. Let's settle for this great song then.

Anyhoo, to make the most of out all your submissions, I decided to post ten submissions that I either forgot all about, hadn't heard of, or/and were just too darn good to pass. They're all from 2010-2019, suggested by readers of this blog.

First up, this song (suggested by David and Dan) by Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick (of The Long Winters), about that uncle that probably everybody has, and don't want to invite to Christmas dinnner. It's funny, it's catchy and I forgot all about this album the both of them made in 2012 (tho I posted a song from it):


Larry unearthed this gem of a French rockin' tune by Sugar et Tiger, a French band that now seems defunct. Cool video too, HERE.


Swedish songstress Annika Norlin is part of Hello Saferide, and thanks to Wouter and George I now know she recorded an album this year, with Jens Lekman. This track is about the song Silent Night, and what it does to a preacher and a performer.


Thanks to Cor, I became familiair with this track by Australian phenomenon Kate Miller-Heidke (yep, this Kate):


Thanks David, for reminding us all about this glorious track by The Heathen & the Holly:


Martin/Stubby came up with A LOT of great tracks, like this one from 2011:


Poppunk from Hey Monday, suggested by George:


A very tender song by Chely Wright, from an EP I seem to have missed in 2018 (thanks Stuart, loved that David Mead song too):


Very nice list from TapeMixTape, including this great stop-motion clip by Nat Jay:


And this would be on my own Top 20 list. Holland's own A Balladeer, singing beautifully how he hates Christmas:

Monday, December 23, 2019

valhalleluja it's christmas

Heavy Metal, Christmas, Odin, Tolkin, Ikea, Lovecraft: 'Valhalleluja' is Nanowar of Steel's personal take on modern days Norse Mythology, where alongside Odin, Thor and Loki also the greatest Swedish heroes of our age - Beddinge, Kivik and Knopparp - are sitting in Valhalla. It's a great pagan video, but the song is also out on 7 inch single.



Observer readers' alternative Christmas playlist

Quite an honour, to contribute to the Observer Readers' Alternative Playlist in The Observer newspaper. With a link to the blog. Hello new readers! In that list, songs by Miles Davis, The Fall, Tom Waits, Paul Kelly, Shane McGowan (nope, not that one) and, as you can see below, the only song from this year, by Telekinesis:

Christmas A Go Go

The things you learn from having a blog like this...there's an instrumental rock band from Singapore who made an Christmas EP in 1966 called Christmas A Go Go. And it's on YouTube. And it's just lovely!

Christmas at Applebee's

If you're looking for a themed Christmas playlist, you might consider selecting songs about eating (alone) in not very cosy restaurants at Christmas Eve. Suggested selections: Diamond Rugs' classic "Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant", Jeremy & the Harlequins' upbeat rocker "A Chinese Restaurant on Christmas", the magnificently depressed "Christmas at Denny's" by Randy Stonehill, the loud guitar bursts in "24 Hour Diner (Closes at 10 on Christmas Eve)" by Joseph Husak or the very British "Christmas Dinner Microwave Meal for One". Or the song posted below, "Christmas at Applebee's", from the latest Sons of Old Town Christmas compilation.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Stubby's Stocking Stuffers 2019



You know the routine: we all make Christmas mixes (CU's here, Amelia's here, Ronny Hammond's here!) and then Stubby takes the biscuit. Over two hours of alt. Christmas music, with the hits of this year and the cream of the crop of yesteryear. Download it from HERE. And see THIS if you want to know more about tracklist, the exclusive song and more context. Hurry up, cuz January 5 it will be all gone.

Clean Pete Kerstshow - Doornroosje, Nijmegen 21 dec


(This concert review of Clean Pete's Christmas show goes in Dutch, sorry folks.)

In de afgelopen weken tuimelde bijna de voltallige Nederlandse (muziek)pers over elkaar heen om in superlatieven te spreken over wat we hier bij Christmas A Go Go! stiekem al jarenlang weten: Loes en Renée Wijnhoven delen gewoon de allerlekkerste Christmas treats uit.
De tweeling met de charmante Brabantse tongval weet muzikaal, maar zeker ook tekstueel precies de juiste Kerstsnaar te raken. Ze verstaan de kunst om de tristesse en blues die er onmiskenbaar ook om Kerst heen hangt, luchtig en vanzelfsprekend te mixen met hoop, humor en heimwee naar dat échte Kerstgevoel. Verloren en onbereikbare liefdes, hang naar een gevoel van, ja van wat eigenlijk en verlangen. Het wordt allemaal in maar liefst dertien nummers gevangen op hun heerlijke Kerstalbum Gloria. En ze doen dat zonder ook maar ergens te cheesy te worden of in gemakzuchtige Christmas bashing te vervallen. Want hoe tragi-komisch sommige teksten ook zijn, uit alles blijkt een oprechte liefde voor Kerst. Oké, een nogal obsessieve liefde misschien, maar daar houden we hier wel van.

-> Lees verder (plus aftermovie)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Jazzboy

Blood 'n Christmas. This is what you get when you cross The Revenant with Last Christmas:

Xmas friends


American artist Jeremey Waterman did it again. His label Friends Friends Friends Records released it's fifth annual Xmas compilation with all independent artists mostly from America: 'Last Chrsitmas Party On The Left'. Waterman, from Halifax, opens the bandcamp only compilation, with a cover from 'Time Of The Season' (from The Zombies). He also has one of his own songs on it, the semi acoustic 'Cheap Gold'.  The rest of the music is pop, rock and singer songwriter with only a few renditions of 'classic' Christmas songs, like Sprout does an acoustic version of 'Santa Baby' and there's also a nice acoustic version from 'Little Saint Nick' (Beach Boys) by Sam & Megan Churney.

Another christmas

This nice poppy tune comes from Adam Leonard. He lives in Londonderry, Northern Ireland and he looks  likely to be a singersongwriter. The profits of this song go to the homeless charity in Northren Ireland.

Nancy & The Mysterious Visions

The end is nigh (the Christmas season that is), but great songs are still being released. Like this British combo, who make psych-infused, T-Rexian Christmas boogie tracks. Here's one of two really really great songs:

Hat tip to Christmas Underground

Thursday, December 19, 2019

instrumental electronic xmas

Mark Peters from Wigan in the UK is a very interesting musician. He makes electronic music with Ulrich Schnauss and he is part of the band Engineers. On Bandcamp he just released a beautiful Xmas 4-track 'Winterland'. With instrumental versions of 'Jingle Bells' and 'Silent Night' and his own wonderful ambient-drone-shoegaze-minimal track 'The Box Of Delights'.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Kraftwerk Christmas

Earlier on, we posted a Kraftwerk Christmas tribute. Today, a krautrock inspired Christmas track. Then Zach Malm tweeted this to me. Kraftwerk releasing an xmas song is something that's been a fantasy for many, and I just found this VERY well executed Kraftwerk-y version of Stille Nacht:


Yes, I'm aware of Craig Ferguson's Kraftwerk skits. Nein, I don't think they're funny.

The Vendetta Suite

"The Vendetta Suite, aka Gary Irwin, who was in house engineer at David Holmes' Exploding Plastic Inevitable studio in Belfast and a some time collaborator with the legendary figure over the years. Holmes has already played these festive tracks on his NTS show, God's Waiting Room." Now THOSE are credentials. Gary was kind enough to share the festive EP he made for Hell Yeah Records, and the motorik track 'Christmas in Cologne' made a fine impression. Motorik is that driving rhythm, used in krautrock music (to quote Zach Malm: Tidings of Can, Faust and Neu!).
Can't think of another xmas track who referred to that style of music, and TVS made grrreat use of it.

It's Christmas Time Again (so leave me alone)

An anti-Christmas song every now and then keeps things in balance. This is a good, funny example:

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The 51 Bestest Christmas songs of 2019 (on Spotify)



Making a list, checking it twice, it's all about Christmas, right? So before we go to the bestest Christmas songs of the decade (thanks for all your submissions so far), here's a list of all the newbies released this year. You can find it HERE. The longlist (over 200 songs) is HERE.

This list isn't really ranked, but ten songs that stick out are:

Beau Jennings - The Christmas Light.
The best Christmas songs aren't about Christmas, but have a deeper meaning, a more heartfelt message. Beyond bells, spruce needles and stuffing your mouth with food, so to speak. Arguably the most touching Christmas song of the year is this one, a song Jennings wrote in honour of his mother, who passed away. Christmas is the time you miss dear people the most, as many songs state, but Beau states it better. An xmas song with a hint of bells, mostly just guitar, a voice and a deep meaningful story. To quote the mighty Christmas Underground: 'The warmth and love that emanates from that track is undeniable and can be found in the tone and pacing of the instrumentals as well. Beau’s motivation for creating this beautiful record is one of love, but also of loss.'

JD McPherson - Red Bows for a Blue Girl.
There wasn't a better Christmas album last year than JD's 'Socks'. Firmly rooted in ole time rock'n roll, McPherson and his band of merry men made a retro-yet-timeless masterpiece. This track is a leftover, that feels like a 5 star course.

Lizzie Weber - December.
Damn Fine Songwriting from Miss Weber. She says about this very gentle, melancholy song: Written in November of 2017, “December” emerged soon after Lizzie was married, and her husband was deployed for military service overseas. That separation caused her to reflect, as she said, “on the importance of togetherness, the value of the physical presence of our loved ones in our lives, and how that is truly the greatest gift.” And so is this song.

Kelly Finnigan - Heartbreak for Christmas.
Probably the best Christmas songs are about heartbreak. And if you sing like Kelly, it's very convincing that such an ordeal really hurts.

The Hengles - Wish It Was Christmas time
Of course, not all good xmas songs need tears 'n heartbreak. You can write an 90s indierock sounding anthem about the season to, as this Dutch band did.

Telekinesis - Christas Time Is Here (uhoh)
If Cheap Trick doesn't want to record your Christmas smash, you can do it yourself. With maximum effect. Catchiest song of the season.

San Scout - Christmas Number One.
I cried when I heard this one. And it felt good.

The Swampmeat Family Band - A Present For Me.
We all love Fairytale of New York, right? Well, Swampmeat Family Band wrote a great singalong song with about the same atmosphere. This sounds like a classic from way back, but it's brand new, and it really really good.

Uncle Billy - It's Christmas (I'm a dog).
By far the most original song of the season, Christmas from the viewpoint of a dog. 'What is this tree, why is it here?' Love this.

Liz Vice & Hannah Glavor - Refugee King.
The story of the flight of Mary, Joseph & the li'l one, right after the first Noel, is beautifully sung. Hallelujah, oh yeah.

The Hannah Barberas

Indierockers The Hannah Barberas strike again, with an EP of ramshackle (and I mean that in a good way) Christmas hits. Including a bettered version of their old 'Oh Santa Claus' and 'The Christmas Song' (the Chestnuts roasting one) redone. Headfirst into Christmas should be our theme tune for the next year(s). Thanks HBs! By the way, all proceeds are going to Shelter, a charity that helps the homeless and fights for people in bad housing.

New on Kingfisher Bluez

The ninth holly-jolly instalment of the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Village! Kingfisher Bluez is a Canadian DIY record label based in Vancouver. Since 2011 they release a seasonal 7 inch every year, with a different painting of wintery building on the front. So if you collect them you get a nice 2 dimensional miniature Christmas village on your mantle. This year they invited Club Sofa from Vancouver with 'This Hanukka' and Carla J. Easton and Eugene Kelly (of The Vaselines) from Glasgow with 'Christmas Eve Alone'.


That Eugene & Carla song was released earlier, on THIS compilation. Including another E&C-song, THIS ONE. And the Club Sofa song is also on Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada (see below).