Friday, December 02, 2022

Dougie Poole

I first heard Dougie Poole on this fantastic tipsy 70s AM Radio track by Drugdealer. That slightly unsteady voice, a crooner who had just one too many, it fitted lyrics like 'Wine and liquor pouring down your drain, it settles on your brain, what a great escape'. His solo work, described by Pitchfork as to 'smudge and slip between the boundaries of AM-gold country and the wry modern observations of rapscallions like Father John Misty' (spot on, by the way), is very, very good. Cosmic country for days like these.

I had missed that Dougie released a FAN FUCKING TASTIC original Christmas song last year, in which he 'brings together two country music traditions: the Christmas song and the tequila drinking ballad. The song tells the story of the morning after a Christmas party—when the presents have been opened, the bottles have been drained, and the friends have all gone home. It's looking like a long year until the holidays come around again.'

I heard Cancun Christmas Morning as the b-side to the (digital) single on Spotify that was released last week, a cover of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. A song that sounds like it was written for mr Poole. The melancholy is enhanced thanks to the piano and the pedal steel guitar, and of course, that voice. I love that voice. If that voice was a country I'd go and live in it.



More Dougie? Listen to his brand new single, from his upcoming album, HERE.

Let me finish with a comment under one of his Christmas singles: 'I'm patient and I can wait, but the disappointment would be palpable if we don't get a Dougie Poole Christmas album sometime in the next decade...' I'd say, end of 2023 isn't too soon. Come on Dougie.

Gaspard Royant, Maxwell Farrington

What a release day this is! So many great Christmas songs today. And now this one.

We know Gaspard Royant of course from his instant Xmas classic Christmas Is Back In Town (HERE), Maxwell Farrington has become a more household name because of his clever, updated seasonal album with Yann Olivier (original HERE, new version HERE). Together (whoo those voices blend so well), plus producer Le SuperHomard, they made this poptastic duet. This ROCKS.

Short Cuts

A lot going on today Christmasmusic wise, so let's round up a few faves:

Hannah Barberas! What would indie Christmas be without this lot?! They recorded three songs for a compilation AND a lathe cut 7-inch vinyl single (only 50 made). Go to their Bandcamp page. This song is so charming:
That compilation where Dancin' Santa by Hannah Barberas is on, is A Very Cherry Christmas #16. We still have to digest this MASSIVE compilation. You can here snippets of the 27 tracks here:
Got this great tip from Jim/Christmas Underground, synthesized Christmas covers by Gemma Cullingford - in the vein of Human League, Thompson Twins et al. This almost unrecognisable Mud-cover is great:
Speaking of Mud, that was a glamrock band, and as you know, we dig Glamrock Christmas very much. A few days ago, I posted a big Slade-cover post. This just released cover by all-girl Slade-coverband Slady is a nice addition:
This is FUN, a rework of the cold wave track 'Warm Leatherette' by the Normal, for all you goth-xmas celebrations: The Normal track was also covered (rather spectacular) by Grace Jones

Dutch swing king Wouter Hamel (featured HERE before) released a very cool Christmas track today:
Wouter Hamel croonin' colleague Dennis van Aarssen recorded a full album with mostly originals in Rat Pack style. This is the lead single:

Hotel Books a.k.a. Cam Smith on Silent Night


The amount of Christmas releases is starting to pick up steam by now. Obligatory covers everywhere, but luckily enough surprising new tracks too. Festive, wild, funky and sentimental and many, many compilation albums. One is better than the other, but almost always there is something beautiful to discover. That's also the case on 'Happy Holidays, I Still Miss You', but one track towers over all the others: 'Christmas Eve Until I Leave' by Hotel Books. Cam Smith is a spoken-word poet and frontman of the band Hotel Books, really has something to say and sounds a little like the American equivalent of Mike Skinner from The Streets.

I loooove this track so much, the best Silent Night ever imho.
And don't forget to take a close look at the lyrics.


Partly this compilation was released earlier in 2016, but there are some tracks added for this years re-release. Click here for the full compilation.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Ne Pas de Machine

If you're a frequent visitor of this blog through the years, you know we love(d) That Band from Holland. They're featured on this blog since 2009 (HERE) with their funny, clever, heavily accented tracks, switching musically between indierock, exotica and sad ballads.
Not sure what happened around 2017, but all of a sudden there were two bands: The Non Traditionals (TNT) and Ne Pas de Machine. TNT kept releasing Christmas EPs every year like clockwork, Ne Pas de Machine seemed less productive, but hey, this year they're releasing a new track! And as ever, the ole Band from Holland magic is sprinkled all over this like powdered sugar on an oliebol.

EDIT:
OK, so Michel just explained it to me. That Band from Holland is no more. Michel works uder several monikers: Ne Pas de Machine, Monsterbieb, Left Handed Orchestra and Stylophonic workshop - the latter released an instrumental Christmas album last year, THIS one.
Former TBFH-compadre Eric releases as St Polaroid (a trio), Vriend and the aforementioned The Non Traditionals.

Late Night World Premiere: Clean Pete ft. Judy Blank


Announced on their own Insta as 'next friday Christmas angels coming your way', but already tonight as a late night world premiere on CAGG!
For their second Christmas single this year (first one here), Clean Pete enlisted the help of fellow angel Judy Blank, who herself already released two Christmas tracks this year too (there and there).
And it almost threatens to become monotonous when talking about the Dutch Christmas Queens, but with 'Solovlieger' they manage to fire another Christmas classic in the making at us. An intro with a variation on the Jingle Bells theme kicks off a moody song that slightly desperately seeks solace with Santa Claus, the only man who truly understands them. Judy, normally singing in English, also sounds soft as red velvet in Dutch and is a perfect addition to the Clean Pete sound.
What a nice present it would be if Judy would still fly in at the Clean Pete Christmas shows. Dear Santa, what presents have you bought, I've been so good this year... 

More Clean Pete on CAGG here.

Les Poppys, anti-war at Christmas time

‘Non non rien a changé’ (‘No, no, nothing’s changed’), a French music staple, is both an anti-war song and a Christmas song. It protests against the Vietnam war, specifically from the vantage point of a child. The boys sing about wanting peace at Christmas, but see war on television, asking why that is. Les Poppys also have another hit Christmas song, ‘Noël 70’, with a poetic parlando at the beginning by lead singer and soloist Bruno Polius-Victoire, the face of the choir (back row, right on the record sleeve above).

In 2010, Les Poppys lost a law suit against French music giant Universal (formely Barclay). The parents signed a deal with choir leader Jean Amoureux who didn’t bother giving these inner city kids any money whatsoever for performing. Later in life, Les Poppys wanted to see some money for all their hard work, but long story short, nothing has changed, as the kids from the ‘hood got shortchanged.

‘Non non rien a changé’ has been translated, covered and adapted too many times to list here, so feel free to comb the Internet to find your favourite version. Need an updated version? There's always Les New Poppys, a new generation of boys taking up the mantle. Why no girls? Les Poppys emerged from a boys choir established in 1946. Today, girls write their own songs, and this blog is full of examples. Here are Les Poppys live on French television. Polius-Victoire’s younger self says that after Noël 70, we’ve noticed, that no, no, nothing’s changed. Out of the mouths of babes comes truth and wisdom.

Corvair

Corvair to the rescue! Another GRAND new Christmas tune. Official release is Friday, enjoy now!


From the press-release: 'The song describes a holiday that comes at the end of (yet another!) difficult year, with a narrator who is torn between cynicism and surrendering to the Christmas spirit.
Corvair’s Heather Larimer says of the song: “Brian and I are both unabashed Christmas dorks. We love it. The rest of the year we are borderline misanthropes, but we just give ourselves over completely to hope and beauty at Christmastime. The song is about that internal tension. How you can be such a cynical adult, but it’s still impossible not to see Christmas with the eyes of a child.”

Larimer: “The song was inspired, like all of our Christmas songs so far, by Omaha where I grew up. In Omaha, you desperately need Christmas and all of its glowing lights by the time December rolls around. The landscape is frozen solid and everything’s colorless and harsh. But that just makes all the earnest un-ironic Christmas decorations so much more magical. They feel pretty miraculous among that bleakness.”

The song is also Corvair’s playful counterpoint to The Sonics’ Don’t Believe in Christmas, a garage rock song Naubert grew up with because his father’s band The Galaxies shared a (now-iconic) Christmas album with their Northwest contemporaries The Sonics and The Wailers where they all played on each other's songs. Naubert says, “When I was a kid we played that record in my house nonstop the whole season, and it seemed so tough of The Sonics to make fun of Christmas among all of these very sincere holiday songs. I thought of them as the bad kids on Santa’s list. So this is my anti-contrarian tribute to them.”


Earlier Corvair Xmas releases:

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Shybits ft. Eddie Argos


When the bio talks about "Berlin-based post punk garage rock", interest is quickly aroused. Shybits is a multicultural trio with members from England, South Africa and Italy and today they have teamed up with Art Brut's singer, Eddie Argos to release a fresh, snotty and especially very British Christmas song as if they have never done anything else before.

Shybits Insta


Not the first time Eddie Argos was featured on a Christmas song with (mostly) German musicians:

The Heck (again)

In 2021, we had our ears shot to oblivion by the rawking sound of Klazienaveen proud boys, The Heck. Now, they release a bright 'n shiny vinyl 7-inch with Bad Christmas, and two new tracks. One's on Bandcamp, the other one only on Spotify, oddly enough (will keep checking). This is ESSENTIAL stuff if you like yer Xmas songs dirty 'n damp. If you want that 7-inch, you gotta be quick tho!


Wisconsin Christmas compilation

'All proceeds from this album will be donated to The Milwaukee Rescue Mission to help in their effort to provide people with food/shelter/basic needs throughout the year.' That alone is good reason to buy this big compilation, but what's really great is there are some real gems on this versatile (metal to rap to introspective folk) comp. Aside from the covers (love that Christmas Eve Can Kill You version), these are some original highlights (some were released earlier):
John E. Swan, aka Dead Dead Swans, sounds like a down-and-out-Bruce Springsteen, and if he sings that you should not take the tree down because he's coming home, you know he's serious:
Powerpop trio Faux Fiction bluesin' their way through a tale about the reason why Santa did not bother takin' the trip to your stocking:
Christmas on the junkyard with Reynaldo Jenkins and the hailgurglin' voice of Steezy Wonder, yee-haw:
Reynaldo Jenkins is als responsible for this fantastic rawking Xmas track from 2014: 'Fuck the snow, I want some coke'

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Carol Ades


If there's a theme in the year's Christmas songs, it's that most are sung by singer-songwriters, that they sing folksy midtempo/slow tracks with personal lyrics. Fewer loud rockin' tracks than earlier, fewer weird/odd tracks. OK, so it's not even December yet, might be too early to call, but I'd say this year's batch is more mainstream than before. Jury's still out if that's a downside to the popularity of Christmas tracks. This blog thrives by odd-sized Xmas songs from the leftfield crop, so I'm not overly excited by this turn of events.
Which does not mean we can't cheer for a more mainstream, or should I say in this case: a gorgeous and solid Christmas track, especially when it's (in her own words, a 'Jewish Christmas vision'. Carol Ades sings about a family Christmas get-together with her 'newish lover', doing Christmas-y things:
Chevy Chase
Is driving on the screen
This snow makes New York feel like a small town
It's only been a few years since I came out
With you
I've never felt so me

I'd say 'Two queens in a king size bed' by girl in red is still the bestest queer Christmas song out there, if you allow an 50+ year old white heterosexual man to say this, but this track by Carol Ades, the way it's sung, the production - it touches a nerve, it really does. I'm not doubting for a second this song is very close to Carol's real life, and I feel happy for her while listening to it.

what christmas means


They call themselves ‘Garage rockers with a modern twist and shout’, Minneapolis trio Beebe Gallini. They have released a beautiful looking 7 inch flexidisc. With their own catchy and raw ‘You Ain't Getting Nothin’ and  a cover of ‘(That's) What Christmas Means To Me’. You might recognise that title.
This one is co-written, probably in the mid-sixties, by Anna, sister of Tamla Motown founder Berry Gordy and former wife of Marvin Gaye. You can order the Beebe Gallini single in various formats, even as a double single. Most of the formats includes a couple of extra download X-mas tracks. Have a look at their Bandcamp
'What Christmas Means To Me' has been recorded a lot. Best known version is from Stevie Wonder (1967). But also people like Paul Young, Hanson and Darlene Love have covered it. A recent version is by Gaia (december 2021).

Here are two other songs with a similar title: The Biscuit Brothers (2007) and Eddie Fisher (1952)



By the way: Beebe Gallini's guest vocalist Cindy Lawson released her own Christmas single as well this year, featuring an Orchids cover and this original:
If you order the Beebe Gallini flexi, you get a free download from these two Lindy Lawson tracks.

Santa Sorry

So we had the glitzy, religion criticizing showtune by Rocky Paterra earlier, and now this. This is as glitzy, as showy, but with weirder lyrics, 'in partnership with Baileys', and a freakin' OHRWURM as they say in Germany - a hookline you can catch a whale with. Both singers are based in Germany, it's basically Scissor Sisters with kraut & wurst added. I warn ya, you cannot get this out of your head for days:

What the HELL are these guys singing in the chorus?! 'Santa Sorry, I was naughty. How can I get off your lips/lists(??) Tell me what I have to kiss' (???) And that other line, does it go: 'Santa promise/I'll be your goddess/I just wanna take it slow/underneath the mistletoe' ??? Enlighten me. And if they do sing this - what are they on?!

Drenched in surf and xmas with The Surfrajettes


They describe themselves as a Psychedelic Surfing Combo, the Toronto Canada based Surfrajettes. And with "eyeliner as thick as their guitar strings" the four gals play us a festive new instrumental called 'Marshmallow March' and a neat version of (and here it is for the first time this year at CAGG) 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'... But don't let that put you off, and listen to these awesome tracks to get into a real good retro Christmas surf mood. The fantastic artwork will do the rest.

The Surfrajettes Twitter & Insta


Monday, November 28, 2022

A Very South Bay Xmas


Christmas time is charity time. A Very South Bay Xmas isn't just only a fine Christmas compilation album, it also raises money for the Love Like Lexi Foundation to "overcome childhood cancer with the power of LOVE", for the second year in a row now.
Featuring artists are MEGG, Chloe Fredericks, Mack Ogden, Kailynn West, V TORRES and Glow & the Dark with this lovely indie-pop track:

So go over there (and donate) for this years' second edition. Again only originals. 
And don't forget to check out on the first edition from 2021 with loads of great original Christmas tracks too, such as this one by V TORRES: 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

So here it is, Merry Xmas Covers, Everybody


November 7th 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of 'Merry Xmas Everybody', a Christmas Glamrock Classic if there ever was one. Played by Slade, set into greatness by the pipes of the beloved Noddy Holder, it's been inescapable around Xmas season since it's release. And rightly so - it's fun, it's a singalong, there's bells, it's got an incredible hook, it's not that loud so it fits any program/playlist.

I dove in the cover versions, and found out that most stay close to the original, sometimes with an added jazzy touch like in this version by Jamie Cullum & Robbie Williams, or they tried to take it down to a soft ballad.
I'm all for turning a song inside out when you cover it, but somehow, downsizing 'Merry Xmas Everybody' just feels...off(example).
I say; It's better to fire up the energy, emphasize the singalong part, make it as rawkous as possible.
Here are a few remarkable versions, kickin' off with the bestest (from 2020), in my opinion. Fast, LOUD, high octane (and altered, more snotty lyrics, LOVE IT, love the break, it's fantastic):
Second best, this sterling version that starts quiet, gets in a lo-fi Northern soul vibe and then EXPLODES:
Altered lyrics, you want? What a great version this (still) is, from 2017:
Posted here earlier in 2014, still good and energetic:
In the same vein, with some great rockabilly FX (2021):
Deep boomin' voice & wall of sound version (2021):
Skankin' on Slade. Yep, possible (from 2015):
Rancid Sheep set out in 2021 to make a bluuuuuurrrghhh-ingly ugly version, and passed with flying colours:
From the famed Snowflakes 45 series from 2020, this electronic, Pet Shop Boys-y version:
BANG THAT PIANO MAN! (Fromn 2009)
Not loud, piano-driven, I love the theatrical way it's sung, from 2019:
So indie-rock (think Feelies) it almost sounds like a parody, from 2013:
These guys made it sadder:
Did I miss a good, turned inside-out version? Please comment! Made a Spotify playlist with what I could find from this list, plus extras, HERE
From the comments, this haunting version by KIDS Alstarz from 2006:

Snowflakes Single Club 2022


The yearly Snowflakes 45s are up on Bandcamp, and of course, this great initiative (release two or three exclusive vinyl singles eery season) needs to be promoted here.
This year, songstress Annie Jay wrote a sweet, warm 'n tender (yet sad) song about Christmas memories. She also covered Blue Christmas, but this original is the best side:
To quote the website: 'California folk singer Annie Jay remembers how special Christmas mornings were to her as a child. It was a magical moment. When she got older, the mystery of Christmas slowly disappeared. But not everything is gone. There is still the gathering together with loved ones every Christmas. And there are still children who wake up on Christmas morning and feel the same excitement that she felt when she once felt as a child. Annie Jay sings it all in a soft and sweet voice that is very easy to fall in love with and accompanies herself with the instrument that she fell in love with: the banjo.'
From Germany, sisters-in-electronica Donna Regina wrote an original and made a cover - we dig the cover version of this Polish band.
From the site: ‘Christmas With You’, the B-side of the single, was originally written and recorded by Polish indie band Old Time Radio for their 2009 Christmas album 'Sketches For Another Christmas Songbook'. Donna Regina again goes for a minimalistic electronic sound, but also adds a certain melancholy to the song. Partly due to the synths that in places resemble the sound of an organ, an instrument that appeared on so many Christmas recordings from the 1950s and early 1960s. The love-hate relationship many people have with Christmas is perfectly laid down in the lyrics: “We watch the cartoons / We sing out of tune / Kiss by the fireplace / Listen to those horrible songs / Do we know / It’s Christmas time at all?”.

The Boy Least Likely To

Ever since this brilliant track, duo The Boy Least Likely To need to be on this blog, every year. And their seasonal song doesnt' disappoint (do they ever?). Sad, slighty hopeful, a nice nod to an old Xmas classic (this one), it's all you hope for.

New Ron (2022)

One of the highlights from 2020, New Ron's 'Christmas, Man' got remastered and put on the streaming services. It does sound (slightly) better than the earlier version. It's a nice reminder, in any way, for a Raspberries/Zombies-like, sunny harmony song.