Sunday, December 31, 2023

December 31

Thank you to all the artists for colouring & warming this Christmas season. Thank you visitors. Thank you for your comments & tips. See you on the other side. Stay safe.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Belgian Christmas

Just a few hours before it's Christmas, right on time to discover two very original songs from young people from around the Conservatory in Antwerp. First one is 'Alone For Christmas' bij the Dutch-Belgian duo Eva Mareen and Julia Rosenhart. These two girls perfom as duo with a bit of electronic equipement, in Dutch we would call them 'kleinkunst', meaning its part music and part a bit of theatre or cabaret.  Their Xmas song has a great choreography and lots of (ugly) Christmas sweaters.

The other song by Blond feat Rendier has lyrics in Flemish and is sung from out of the viewpoint of Maria. It ends with a fine electronic dancebeat and also the video is intriguing. Vrolijk Kerstfeest!

More Christmas Americana

Over to our correspondent in the field of all things Americana (country, bluegrass, blues, soul, r&b, etc), mr Ton 'T55' Ensing. Short notes on four great songs:

You might know Gary Louris as the main man from legends The Jayhawks, the band he started with Mark Olson in the mid eighties. After Olson left the band Louris kept on releasing records with the Jayhawks - the last one being XOXO in 2020. In 2008 he made his first solo-record, Vagabonds - a sign that there was a musical life after the Jayhawks.

The solo records allowed Louris to experiment with sounds and genres besides the alt country and americana for which the Jayhawks are known. The experimentation and genre-hopping takes a festive corner with the release of his first christmas single. It’s a tune called ‘Christmas In The City’ and it’s vintage Louris. Lots of harmonies, a joyful piano, a string quartet, an acoustic guitar, a melodious bass and a drumcomputer. Beatlesque, one might say. I wouldn’t be suprised if it turns up on a future movie soundtrack. A lovely tune.

Another unexpected christmas track is ‘Snowglobe (2023)’ from Dean Owens, who also happens to be a harmonies-man. In the past he recorded with Latin Americana giants Calexico, amongst others. His solowork earned him praise from fellow Scots - authors Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh are fans. He recorded the original version of Snowglobe more than a decade ago. ‘Snowglobe (2023)’ is a cute little tune about life in a snowglobe. Not exactly the place where you want to be. "Empty days / silent nights / all is still / all is white / loneliness falls with the silence of snow.” Surrounded by festive cheer may be great for some people but not for Dean, who has only one wish: get me out of here.

Caleb Nichols has no problems with snowglobes. He just released a three track EP called ‘So This Is Crimble”. Beatle fans immediately know what this is all about: Beatles christmas! The EP open with a christmas track originally released on Caleb’s album Let’s Look Back, released in october: ‘Christmas, California’. A poppy tune with a just a few bells and whistles - preparing the listener for things to come. Then there’s ‘Crimble Medley’ - a medley of christmas’sy covers of Beatles classics and solo-Beatles tunes. See if you can recognize the originals.

The last track on the EP is the second original track. It’s called ‘I Fell In Love On Xmas Day’. An acoustic track with the usual ingredients. Sleighbells, an acoustic guitar, a faraway choir - accompanying the artist and his girlfriend on their way to her parents house. It’s not a joyfull ride. They pass a plastic snowman on his face, passed-out on someone’s lawn. Misery shows up in many forms but christmas is a great time to make up and fall in love again.
Finally there’s the legendary Grey DeLisle again. Her second Christmas song this year (first HERE) is called ‘And It’s Christmas Time’. Written by Joey Simeone of The Bellfuries, who wrote the song a couple of years ago but didn’t get around to record it just yet. ‘A super sweet version’, he calls it. And it is. Violins, sleighbells, tambourine, a soft bass, an acoustic guitar and the sweet vocals of Grey herself. "When all your tears become a snowstorm / while it takes form / you need to stay warm”. And we all know that christmas gives you plenty of warmth, do we. "Open up your heart and receive it, ‘cause it’s Christmas time.”

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Stubby's Stocking Stuffers 2023

You know the drill. Stubby makes a mix. He stuffs it with stuff you probably missed this year (I know I did). Great songs, recent, some from the past. And you get until January 7 to download, from HERE.

Too-ra loo-ra loo-ra: Christmas Lullaby covers

Fairytale of New York isn't the only Christmas song the recently passed Shane MacGowan wrote, with his band The Popes, he released 'Christmas Lullaby' in 1996.

On this site, I found background info on the song:
Shane "borrows" the music for the verses from "Lucy" a tune written by Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld, and Roland Wolf and released on Cave's "The Good Son" lp (1990). Shane sang it on the "It's a Wonderful World" single he and Cave released together in 1992 (Nick does a pretty good cover of "Rainy Night in Soho" on the same release). The chorus is lifted from the song "Too Ra Loo Ra" by James Royce Shannon (1881-1946) and premiered in Chauncey Olcott's production of Shameen Dhu ("Black-haired Jimmy"). It was popularized by Bing Crosby in the movie Going My Way (1944), a flick which won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and a Best Actor nod to Crosby.

I searched for a bunch of nice covers, and found these:

Irish ska. Yep. And it works:
For the 1998 compilation 'Zo, Dit is Kerst', Dutch singer Peter te Bos (of Claw Boys Claw, who recorded THIS xmas original) sang Shane:
Just released, from a cool compilation, this acoustic version by Jeremy Porter & the Tucos:
Violins only:
Damn fine version by Weeping Willows:

More covers of Beau Dommage's '23 décembre'

Sung by one of Québec's most iconic bands, Beau Dommage's '23 décembre' ('December 23rd') is a 1950s neighbourhood portrait of pre-teens off from school until January 7th. It references working-class shops, hockey and Québec traditions, like having a nativity scene under the Christmas tree at a time when the Catholic church still had a firm hold on French Canadians. The band sings about snow, jokes about pictures of naked ladies (sex and religion go hand in hand) and mentions New Year's Day, making it a New Year's song as well.

The mural in the picture is the cover of Beau Dommage's eponymous first album, which features '23 décembre', and is located in Montréal behind 6760, rue de Saint-Vallier, which is where the band started their career. This address is also part of the lyrics in 'Tous les palmiers' ('All the palm trees').

Since I know many of you can't make heads of tails of the lyrics, here's part of it in English:

Sometimes, I want to go and have a talk with her
Star Fairy can I have another hockey stick?
I lost mine, I'm such a dope
I traded it for pictures where there's nothing to see
Just a girl from the back hiding her butt with her hands
23 December, 'Merry Christmas, Mister Côté'
'Hey kiddo, we'll see each other on January 7th'

Does this actually exist in any other language? I doubt it, but if you know of one, let us know! Here's an old live version of '23 décembre' by Beau Dommage. Everybody knows the lyrics!

Here's a live guitar-and-song version by Star Académie (French 'The Voice') contestant François Lachance that made a Star Académie Christmas album: Here's an odd, mellow version by Montréal's Gabrielle hb

Friday, December 22, 2023

So-Fi's new Xmas video

For all ye non-Dutchies: So-Fi (who was one of the stars on the first Christmas A Go Go evening in Paradiso) makes a seasonal video every year, with help from her dad. All these clips are HIGHLY charming, and that is counting the songs. This year, she wrote a song about peeking through curtains and watching all the colourful trees, and feeling warm inside:
Maar laat het gordijn wat langer open
Want m’n ogen laten niet los
But please leave the curtains open a little longer
For I just can't look away

Daho & Jade

In France it's big news: French new wave/ pop  idol Etienne Daho made a Christmas song - in French. Great! It's part of an extra Deluxe edition of, 'Tirer La Nuit Sur Les Étoiles - Only For You', his last album which came out this summer.  It's quite a sober song, but it grows on you.
Daho made his album with help from Unloved, a trio featuring Irish DJ David Holmes, probably best known for their cover of 'This Strange Effect' in the series Killing Eve. Singer Jade Vincent recently made a Xmas single; both sides have happy lyrics, but morose (yet sultry), gothic, 50s music. It's out on vinyl, but only 50 copies!

old punks never die

After almost 50 years in The Damned, their guitar player Captain Sensible can still surprise us. In 1983 he made the cult Xmas single 'One Christmas Catalogue'.

Now he's back with some old punk friends from The Damned and Johnny Moped in The Sensible Gray Cells. They created this great and jolie anti Xmas song:'A Stupid Xmas', with an even greater video:

Another former punk, John Robb from the Membranes and now a resepected journalist, rereleased his Xmas single from 2008, made under the name Goldblade. It has been newly mixed bij Youth and the parts of  Poly Styrene and sax player Laura Logic (both X Ray Specs) are more prominent now:
Is Lenny Kaye an old punk?  No. Better... he's a proto punk. He played with Patti Smith and gave us the great garage punk compilation 'Nuggets'. 'Santa's Knee' is not a raunchy song as you might expect but a slow and a bit jazzy song. But worth to give it some more listenings, because it has been long since we heard something new from him:

Les Rats d'Swompe, a true Christmas party

"Les Rats d'Swompe came together to introduce people to the sound of the traditional violin, the call and response songs and the musicality of yesteryear. Based in Ottawa, they are five plaid lumberjacks who take the stage to fuse elements of rock, traditional, pop and punk. A high energy act that will make you want to sing and dance."

Their seven-song EP called 'Pause Gorgée Vol. 1' (roughly, 'Take a Swig Break Vol. 1') is a swinging party and a great recent example of traditional French Canadian music you'll here on the radio at Christmas time in parts of Canada.

Call and response songs are meant to involve everyone at a party, such as the elderly that can't always get up and dance, but do enjoy singing along and clapping. The song 'Dondaine la Ridaine' is a classic example of a response song that is difficult to 'answer', but the more you hear it, the better you get at it.

When the band sings the words 'tam ti de lam' in any of the songs, that's called a 'reel à bouche, or 'mouth music reel', the goal of which is to imitate the sound of a violin. Yes, if you feel like much of the EP sounds a bit Irish, Scottish and French music all mixed together, you'd be right.

'Orange Blossom Special' is an instrumental that takes off mid song, while 'Voilà le Père Noël qui nous arrive' ('Santa Claus is coming') starts off with a sample of the mother of all French Canadian recording artists, La Bolduc, which was the backdrop for a old post, entitled A True Holiday Story.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Year list time!

Christmas Eve is nigh and the well of really good original 2023 Christmas songs is more and more running dry. The right time to take stock and see which Christmas songs stood out this year. Completely arbitrary as always, but here we go: it's year list time! 
1. The Slow Clock ft. Amarins - Christmas In A Bottle
2. Marike Jager - Love Me One More Night (It's Christmas)
3. Clean Pete & Tim Knol - De Mooiste Tijd Van Het Jaar
4. Bony Macaroni - December 25th (The Morning After)
5. Silent Runners - Baby I'm Cold Inside

1. pen pin - Office Party
2. the content (braden rapp) - Xmaseves (Merry Christmas, Now I'm Leavin')
3. Pomme - _dec carte de noel
4. UPSAHL - Snowglobe
5. Swansea Sound - Santa Bail Me Out

Hors catégorie: the extended version of Mark Lohmann's bloody honest and vulnerable kinda Christmas song 'Doornroosje'.

1. Double Cream (DeWolff & Dawn Brothers) - Christmas On The Moon / Steal Away (on Christmas Day)
2. néomi & Will Knox - Christmas Song
3. Clean Pete & Tim Knol - De Mooiste Tijd Van Het Jaar
4. Have I Weather - The Best Christmas
5. Stippenlift - Alleen Kerst Met Stippenlift

1. Peaness - Kiss Me Sweet Pea
2. Darling West - Lights
3. Losvii - Santa's Medicine Blanket
4. Sunflower Thieves - It's Not Like The Christmas Films
5. Second Hand Orchestra - Fairytale of New York
 1.⁠ ⁠The Sensible Gray Cells - A Stupid Xmas (7”)
 2.⁠ ⁠Fred Schneider & The Superions - Santa Je T'aime (LP: Destination Christmas!)
 3.⁠ ⁠Grizzly Bird - Hermes (YouTube)
 4.⁠ ⁠Charlie and The Tropicales - Christmastime Again (LP: Presents for Everyone!)
 5.⁠ ⁠Maurizio & Dandolo - Natale In Tangenziale (7”)
 6.⁠ ⁠Monsieur Paul Et Les Solutions - Surfing Santa Claus (LP)
 7.⁠ ⁠Cosmic Shuffling - Xmas Ska (7”)
 8.⁠ ⁠Casta ft. Alfred Banks - My Favorite Thing (The 12 Beats of Christmas (2023)
 9.⁠ ⁠Stippenlift - Alleen Kerst Met Stippenlift (Spotify)
10.⁠ ⁠Second Hand Orchestra - Fairytale Of New York (LP: So This Is Christmas)

Short Notes (cont.)

Continuing our short notes on new(ish) songs:

Joni Mitchell's River in Norwegian, gentile & jazzy? But of course: From the second Christmas album by Jul På Sunnmørsk, with self-penned songs, traditionals and more translated Xmas classics. Easy listening jazz, with a prominent harmonica (Toots Thielemans vibes) and lovely vocals.

From 2022, this powerpop track by Newyorkers Movie Movie, that because of the twanging guitar sounds a little like Pretenders' Kid.

Could be that Deer Tick thought, well, the two oddball bluesy Xmas tracks we released in 2010, we can't do better than that. So let's just cover a Darlene Love track, with an accordion. We don't know. Could be.
Melbourne's Department of Creative Affairs release a Christmas song every year from 2016 on, and somehow they were never featured on this blog. They change style every year, from indie soul to country to (this year) Ramones-y pop punk:
From 2018, but I heard it on this recent compilation, Houseghost with a loud rawking winter song:
Brand new, this ultra short, anti-gift statement by Dutch visual artist and and former member of the band Cords, Marc Fabels:

Wednesday, December 20, 2023


This new Christmas song from Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul is actually not new, but a cover of their own track HAHA, which was on their massive successful debut album Topical Dancer from 2022.
Charlotte and Bolis stated about HOHO at the socials that their "goal is to finally throw Mariah Carey off her throne and to annoy generations to come!". That sounds like a promise and that's OK with us. So let's start the annoyment right here, right now!

Charlotte Adigéry Insta here, Bolis Pupul Insta here.
Shared X account here.

Five more short notes

The flow of Christmas songs on platforms such as Bandcamp and SoundCloud seems almost endless. But it still remains a good search for what is really worth it.
Five short notes. 

Ryann Barnes from California starts her song delicately with piano and acoustic guitar that transition into a calm beat and soundscape, while her snow-soft, slightly hoarse voice sings about waiting for Santa. Because she still believes. On Christmas Eve. (Too bad it stops so suddenly, we weren't done listening yet.)

As long as you do it convincingly, it doesn't have to be complicated and Mother May I has understood that well with this uncomplicated Christmas banger. The power lies in the simplicity. This is an updated version of a song from 1994 (!).

The Winter Sounds recorded 'Ghosts of Christmas Present', a Christmas EP with poppy eighties synths and electronic beats. This one, 'Christmas Eve, 1988', is catchy, festive and just short enough to not get boring.

From the Christmas compilation album of the Lila School of Bands ("Launching Future Rockstars") in Auckland, New Zealand, this fresh indie banging pop track (with no Xmas connection, 'sfar as I can hear) from the youngsters of Bittersweet.

And finally, for those who love Christmas, polka, schlager, blues, ska, country and sleigh rides (and let's be honest: who doesn't), there is Howard Alan (well, Giant Saint-head honcho Howe Gelb really) and his Lowrey Organ. An entire album, in fact. And an update of last year's album, with the same songs (but better sound quality).

Natalie Byrns - Christmas in bed

Awarding-winning folk music singer-songwriter Natalie Byrns from Montréal, Québec, has a Christmas song from 2013, 'Noël sous les draps' ('Christmas in bed'), that is still as fresh as new snow. The idea is to avoid all the hassle of Christmas until January third by hiding under the covers. The song starts with a serious tone, but then takes a happy turn.

Byrns is half of duo Ancolie together with Anik Bérubé. She also sings in many musicals in English and French (Fiddler on the Roof, Mamma Mia!) and has been around for quite some time.

I like the family comments in the background of this song: 'When do we get to meet your boyfriend?' and 'So, your new boyfriend, when are the babies coming?', which many people have to deal with at Christmas. She was also asked 'Can we have Christmas at your place this year?' when trying to get some peace and quiet at the chalet in July. Time to hide under the covers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Lonely Christmas Nights with George Baker

Brandon is an American living in the Netherlands. He's a photographer and writer. Recently, he tweeted (x'd?) a picture of a Christmas album by George Baker. An exchange followed. Long story short; he wrote an extensive review of that 1978 lp for this blog:

Once upon a time, I was a late night DJ on KWVA, a college radio station in Eugene, Oregon. It was the late ‘90s, an era when used record shops were plentiful and well stocked with a variety of bizarre LPs that had passed repeatedly through their stacks. Somewhere in a closet in my parents’ house in Portland, my collection of about 100 of ‘em is mouldering, some with multiple stickers marking their declining value as they were sold and resold in stores up and down the West Coast.

Originally released for the holiday season of 1978, George Baker’s Another Lonely Christmas is the sort of album I’d probably have bought for a buck or two in the House of Records back in the ‘90s, a store literally in an old house a few blocks away from KWVA’s studio. There’s Baker on the cover, dressed like a recently divorced weekend weatherman on a third tier news channel. He’s all on his own in an empty restaurant, it’s presumably Christmas night, and he’s staring forlornly off camera, glass of wine in hand, too melancholy to bother with the plate of bread, turkey, and cheese beside him.

It’s a cover that makes a promise to the listener: “Within this sleeve you will be provided with a not insubstantial amount of overly sincere, premium AM radio sappiness, the sort of thing a DJ just as depressed and lonely as Baker is on the cover would slap on around 10:30 on Christmas Eve before taking another swig off a bottle of Wild Turkey.”

I would have paid as much as five American dollars for this album in the ‘90s. Hey, for me, that was a lot back then.

I came across Another Lonely Christmas Night in the front window of the Record Palace in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and took a photo to remind myself to pull it up on Spotify at a later date. I did so during a train ride down to Leiden on Friday night. I was expecting something along the lines of John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas, maybe with a hefty sprinkling of The Carpenters’ Christmas Portrait.

Baker’s album is that, but so much more. He definitely swung for the fences with the opening track, ‘Christmas Morning.’ It’s an instrumental number with a ‘70s brass section, a pan flute, and even synths. It’s the sort of thing Ron Burgundy probably would have put on his hi-fi at some point if Anchorman had taken place during the holiday season. Sure, Baker may be lonely, but he’s not down for the count, dammit!
Another Lonely Christmas Night doesn’t reach those same heights during the remainder of its running time, but Baker’s cover of ‘Silent Night’ is a syrupy wonder and his voice sounds like it was briefly possessed by the recently deceased spirit of Elvis Presley on ‘Dreams.’ With his Dutch accent creeping in, it’s definitely a Christmas curio. And just try not to boogie a bit when the disco grooves of ‘The Hallelujah Song’ kick in. Baker was born Johannes ‘Hans’ Bouwens and is perhaps best known for Una Paloma Blanca and Little Green Bag, the latter was included on the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack.
Is this Christmas album a recording by a Dutch singer doing his best to conjure the souls of crooners like Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, and Hall and/or Oates? Yes. C’mon, he chose ‘George Baker’ for his stage name, a heartland nom de plume so generic it wouldn’t look out of place on a feed store in Nebraska. ‘If you’ve got a show pony in need of a grooming kit, you’ll find it at George Baker’s!’

The back cover of Another Lonely Christmas Night features a black and white photo of Baker in a leather jacket, once again on his own, this time on a platform in what at least appears to be Amsterdam Centraal around 3 AM some long ago December eve.
And maybe that’s the best time to listen to this album as we march into the middle of the 2020s; a late night ride through the heartland of the Netherlands in the dead of winter. Pull it up on Spotify, dream of Dutch Christmases long, long ago, and stare out into the distance.

Fun facts: the album was released with an alternate cover (see here), maybe because the original sleeve wasn't appealing to Christmas music lovers enough. This 1978 album isn't GB's only involvement in Christmas music, 7 years ago he recorded a single with German Schlager band The Cappuccino's. Watch here.

Christmas A Go Go Spectacular (2)

So, how was it?

The second edition of the Christmas A Go Go Spectactular in the Amsterdam Paradiso had all the classics. Joni Mitchell's River, on solo piano, by Stephanie Struijk. A very tender Feliz Navidad with a fraction of Silent Night, by Will Knox & néomí. Pogues' Fairytale of New York, aptly crowned by our host Santajan als 'the best Christmas song ever written', in a rowdy version by Ro Halfhide & his henchmen. Introduced by Ro as the 'the family members everybody says about: 'oh no, not them again!'. There was Melanie Ryan with a very cheerful Rocking Aroud the Christmas Tree. And, on solo banjo, Lo! How a Rose e'er Blooming by the ever brilliant S.Lois.

And there were other classics. Marike Jager kicked off with Come Together by The Beatles, 'because nobody really knows what the song is about, so it might as well be Christmas'. Milène van der Smissen had us all grasping for a tissue with her fantastic rendition of Coat of Many Colours by Dolly Parton. Not a Christmas song, no, but with the Christmas spirit allright. And we had Rick Buur and his personalized and translated versions of classics-to-be Christmas at the Airport by Nick Lowe, and a fantastic and very up to date Kerstmis op het Binnenhof, his take on Steve Earle's Christmas in Washington.
And then, after Melanie Ryan (pictured on the left) had us all smiling with her own Christmas songs, after Marike Jager had us al in awe with her hurdy gurdy, that played the music of a song she wrote after a tale told by Tim Burton. After Stephanie Struijk made us all think back to that first overwhelming love when she debuted a fresh new Dutch Christmas song on nót spending Christmas together with the love of your life, and Ro Halfhide had us all in marmelade skies with his psychedelic new Xmas song. And after néomi & Will Knox had us all choked up with their fantastically sung Christmas Song, after all that, it was time for The Slow Clock.

Harmen Kuiper, Slow Clock-mastermind, promised us a 'karaoke/playback' performance, and a remix of his song Christmas in a Bottle. Enter Marieke, dressed in a bright red body suit, a Japanese coat and red boots. She struck a pose. And another. And another. While all the time Slow Clock Christmas songs were playing. With movie quotes in between. And yes, there was that remix, also with the 'Gloria in excelsis deo' chorus that lights up Christmas in a Bottle.

And then, it was over. That was it. A classic ending to a classic evening.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Silent Runners

Some Christmas presents are unpacked a little late at our office, because this one was already released on December 8, but what a treat it is!
Silent Runners from Amsterdam were founded in 2015 and have since been steadily building an impressive oeuvre that has its origins in eighties synths and electronics with post-punk influences. Too intense to label them under coldwave, too melodic and clear to simply label them only as darkwavers though.
And now for the first time a Christmas track, with lyrics mashed-up and heavily inspired by Christmas song lyricists as Frank Loesser, Sammy Cahn, Chris Rea and Paul McCartney. Combined with musical references such as New Order and Nasmak (famous, influential Dutch band from the early eighties), all this results in a surprisingly good Christmas song that, although not very uplifting in theme, still warms us passionately. So cold, but yet so good, let's hope it's the start of a long lasting annual band tradition. A good dose of Gluhwein will do the rest. 

Insta here, their X over there.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Local Love cassette

Local Love is a Christmas compilation, on cassette (one available here, if you're quick) and the streaming platforms, featuring bands from Italy, Denmark, US of A and elsewhere. Christmas music with a relaxed vibe, no cold winds, just a T-shirt and jeans. We posted the Yndling song earlier, and I'd like to highlight Losvii as well. I'm such a sucker for this yacht rock on a budget, it's like cruising Highway One in a cheap rental, but with the sight, sun and view, you think you're in a white Ford Mustang, top down, with your hair slicked back and those wayfarers on, baby.

Pondertone, in spite of it all

CAGG Team loves to feature Dutch artists making Christmas music - Clean Pete, The Heck, Rick Buur, Non-Traditionals, Fay Lovsky...and that's just a handful of fellow Dutchies that shone on this blog.

We posted a lot of Pondertone (Americana from the city of Utrecht) on CAGG. The songs have depth and a clear message. For these dark days, we were kinda hopin' that Patrick & the guys would release a new addition to their impressive Xmas discography. But no. Instead there is a compilation of all seasonal songs. Patrick Tersteeg (= Mr Pondertone) wrote an extensive blogpost about the ins and outs of his tracks, and leaves us a not so cheerful message:

"Anyone hoping for a new Pondertone Christmas song this year will be disappointed. I'm sorry, I don't have anything to say this year that I haven't said before. Pondertone's 'new' Christmas album is literally old wine in a new bottle. For the artwork I used sketches that I found too depressing last year. The gray, pixelated image you see may appear to show christmas trees but what you see actually is a forest fire. Merry Christmas (in spite of it all) contains all 12 Christmas songs we have made over the years. Below I will share my thoughts on a few of my personal favorites from the album.

With the Christmas songs that I made with Roel Jorna (Gasoline Brothers, the Wrong Reasons) and many other friends, I tried to convey my mixed feelings about Christmas. It all started with Pondertone being asked to contribute a song to the Cover Club album Christmas Candy From The Netherlands in 2009.

As few people seem to remember these days, there had been a war in Gaza in January of that year as well. According to Wikipedia, the conflict resulted in 1,166 to 1,417 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths (including 4 by friendly fire). But apart from that, the tension in that part of the world has risen with the falling of the leaves, every year for as long as I can remember. Inspired by the classic Simon And Garfunkel song 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night, I decided to combine a rather classical arrangement, written by Tom Swart, of the ultimate Christmas carol Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht with one of the most haunting sounds ever produced by man ; that of alarm horns... And since this fall, all hell has broken loose in Israel/Palestine.
Apart from one exception, with every new song I tried to make critical comments on Christmas.
With Everything I Want For Christmas Is... from 2017, I dove deep into the apparent ‘conflict of interest’ between the consumerism that Oscar also sang about on one hand and Peace on Earth on the other. With help from our daughter Mien and her class from primary school, I let the children have their say.
On Christmas Just ain't Christmas I was joined by the Blue Grass Boogiemen. With this song, released in 2014, I tried to convey the feeling of loneliness, loss and regret that some people experience even more intensely at Christmas. The original version was made famous by the O’Jays, but I added extra verses to it. The voicemail message I wrote to serve as a kind of parlando bit still sends shivers down my spine.
In 2016 I thought I could still see the funny side of the advance of the far right in general and the election of Trump when I wrote Make Christmas Great Again. The first half of the song is based on a part of Who Took The Merry Out of Christmas by the Staples Singers. For the video I shot some material with a selfie stick, and videographer Tessel Schmidt combined it with loads of Christmas vlogs. To further the camp-feeling of the vlog parody, I had animated karaoke graphics made for everyone to sing along.
But in 2020 I saw the results of Trump's presidency, the neo-liberalist-conservative government in England and the globally advancing right-wing extremism and thought it couldn't get any worse. I wrote The Darkest Christmas Of All as a warning for Christmas to come if we went along with this...

For the video I made a montage of found footage of merry Christmases long ago with, among other things, images of concentration camps from the Second World War and the war in the former Yugoslavia, but also extreme right-wing manifestations in the years leading up to Christmas 2019. While editing the video I had tears in my eyes...
But it turned out that it could be even darker than the Darkest Christmas of All...
Despite the war in the Ukraine and the increasingly clear threat of an environmental catastrophe, last year I was able to scrape together my last inspiration and hope for the ultra-short song Merry Christmas (in spite of it all).

But this year I really couldn't do it anymore... As if things couldn't get worse and more short-sighted, the most important climate meeting this year was hosted by the largest oil-exporting country in the world. Now that Trump has a good chance of being re-elected and there is an ultra-right sex therapist president in Argentina, the government in Israel is extreme right, the government in England is becoming even more so and there is a far right government on the horizon even in the Netherlands. To say I am worried of what lies ahead is an understatement.
But still…

Merry Christmas (in spite of it all)"

You can listen to the entire album 'for free' on all streaming media. But you'd rather listen to it on Bandcamp, because there you can make a donation for our efforts.