Saturday, November 30, 2019

Monte


Found this on Loud Women, this is the one original track (as in: self-written) on Monte's Christmas EP, with LOUD versions of seasonal classics like O Come Emanauel and Fairytale of New York (nope, not singing the 'faggot' line here). It's all about hooks, hooks, hooks with this power trio. If you like your yule up to eleven (like we do), this is your band:

Surf's Up


Ever since The Ventures released their wonderful Christmas album, there's been a stream of yule infused guitar instrumentals. Latest sprout on the tree: Yuletide Ride, by California's very own Blackball Bandits. They release this original track on a 7-inch, together with a starts-slow-but-picks-up-pace-version of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. All the details HERE.

NO GIFTS FOR NAZIS

Title says it all. To quote the mission statement of the band, and the label: "For the queers, by the queers. no sexist, no racist, no transphobic, no homophobic, no apologist bullshit tolerated." Loudest, punkiest Christmas message of the year.

(h/t to CU)

Friday, November 29, 2019

WORLD PREMIERE: Santajan & the Shanties

OH YES WE DID! Here's the THIRD world premiere of the season folks, another Dutch track, and another good'un. It's Santajan (Yes! He of Sleigh Shakers fame!) and his great choir of Shanties, singing about the fate of a men's choir on Christmas Eve. And who's that as the snow angel, her voice bright 'n clear? It's none other than FAY LOVSKY, the legend! Whatta season, people, whattaseason. Oh, and if yer in Holland on December 22nd, go HERE.

All proceeds (it's on Spotify, it's everywhere) go to Soundsofchange.org

Tom Brusky

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This sounds like a long lost country Christmas classic, but it ain't. It's an original, and written and recorded recently by producer/singer/songwriter Tom Bruskey, and he 'painstakingly engineered and mixed to reflect the distinct sonic characteristics' of country music in the early 1960s. He did that too for four other songs on his Christmas EP, representing the 40s, 70s, 90s and nowadays. Tom got help from several guest vocalists - his duet with Dawn Jones could've been recorded by George Jones & Tammy Wynette. If only.
About 'Santa, don't sneeze', Tom writes: "Inspired by the AM radio-optimized Bakersfield sound of the 1960s with a little Western swing (and accordion!) mixed in, this whimsical song is about a boy who is so determined to get a new bike for Christmas, he implores Santa Claus to stay healthy so that he doesn't risk missing his ever-important, annual sleigh ride."
Listen to all the tracks HERE

Big Stick


This is something special. Leftfield (mmmm...outfield is probably more on point) rock band Big Stick made a Christmas album:
Big Stick's John Gill says, "I honestly never thought I'd write a Christmas song, but I felt compelled to share the story of what happened to me at the age of five. There was even a photograph taken (featured on the record cover) to prove the slightly humorous, though somewhat heart warming childhood story, of the day when my folks took me to the local shopping mall and I wound up sitting on what was a visibly 'Sauced Up Santa's' lap."
Hence, the title track "SAUCED UP SANTA" that's featured in both regular and extended versions on this, Big Stick's first ever Christmas themed EP release. Gill adds, "When the photo of me sitting on an extremely inebriated shopping mall Santa's lap surfaced in my family photo album many years later in my life, I simply had to write a song about it. I activated my memory banks to recall that distant December day of my childhood and put it into song." The song isn't a derogatory diss of the intoxicated Santa, rather, it's more of a song expressing grace, forgiveness and humility, highlighting the fact that despite Santa being “sauced up,” he was still as friendly and jovial as his alcohol-affected faculties would permit.
Gill explains, "It's not meant to be a judgemental song, it's more of a heartfelt, sentimental Christmas song, telling of a time when I recall the innocent joy of that day, the warmth of my family, the loving congeniality and a feeling of harmony and peace.” Big Stick's Yanna Trance and John Gill agreed that since "SAUCED UP SANTA" is reminiscent of a childhood memory, it would only be fitting to add a touch of aural authenticity by assembling a choir of children to perform on the song's choruses. Yanna is credited with conducting and coaching the children's choir.

More tracks to follow!

Alex Northrup

Sixties-style rock'n roll, by Rochester-based Alex Northrup. Ol'fashioned, so this must be good:

Beau Jennings

Our spirit animal over at Christmas Underground wrote a great review of Beau Jennings' Christmas album. I heard it this morning, biking to work. And 'The Christmas Light' really struck a nerve. 'You can only summon up the ghost/You can only sing the song', he concludes his beautiful ode to his mother, who passed away. One of the greatest seasonal songs this year:

The Courettes


HELL YEAH! Fuzz, whoop-dee-doo girl vocals and wall of sound production: this is right up our alley! Brazilian-Danish raaawk duo The Courettes (finally) released their Christmas song. I remember seeing this last year (on Spotify) but was unable to listen to it. It was danglin' there, just out of reach. But whoah, all worth the wait! Think Ronettes, think Raveonettes. Think celebrating Christmas in a damp cellar, with beernuts and beehives.

Do try the flip on this vinyl 7-inch too!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Sleeping at Last

Sleeping At Last is the moniker of Chicago-based singer-songwriter, producer and composer, Ryan O’Neal. Every year he comes up with at least one Xmas song. In 2016 he put them all together on the LP/CD Christmas Collection. This year he surprises us with a very original choice: 'Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep' a beautiful song written by Irving Berlin. It's sung by Bing Crosby in the film '.White Christmas'.

Uncle Billy

Kevin Andrew Prchal is an American singer-songwriter who was featured earlier on this blog, with his great, twisted Christmas songs. Twisted in a sense that he, or better, he and his songwriting partner Nate Erickson, tilt the usual subjects or themes in a Christmas song. 'Where My Naughty Boys?' is a song about Mrs Claus, and what she does when Santa's is away. 'December 26th' is about the "special, empty, hollow, kinda feeling", after all the laughter, caroling and wrapping paper is gone.
Prchal & Erickson now operate under the Uncle Billy moniker; 'Uncle Billy' is a nod to the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Their new song is yet another really great seasonal tune. Immaculate, very well crafted. This time from the standpoint of a dog, with no clue about the festive season but LOVING the trees. Very very good.



Please give it up for The Hot Breath

An original take on Last Christmas. Not an easy feat, but recently Lucy Dacus and LCG & the X pulled it off. And now there's The Hot Breath, and band featuring singer Mariya May, whom we featured a short while ago. They say this version is 'dream soul', which means a lotta reverb and a undeniable groove. It's not on Spotify (yet), so not in this playlist of more than a 100 Last Christmas covers. RIP George Michael, your legacy is preserved.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Work Drugs

Hat tip to Zach Malm, who flashed us back to the Christmas track by US synth pop duo Work Drugs. There's two seasonal songs in their catalogue, by the way, and they both sound cool enough to remind y'all to take a listen:

Smile & nod


More on Thomas HERE

Hard Candy Christmas covers


So, Dolly Parton's version of Hard Candy Christmas shuffled by, and I felt like making a Spotify playlist with covers (HERE, Tracey Thorn's verion is the bestest). And then I thought, what's on Bandcamp?
Turns out, A LOTTA versions of this xmas classic. Most are neat renditions, acoustic, nothing special. But here are a few versions that differ from the usual:

How'bout a discofied version:


Wouldn't necessarily say this is a good version, but different it sure is. Sounds like it was recorded inside of a bouncing ball:


Boom! Clap! Boom! Clap!


Turn up the synth! No, turn it up louder! LOUDER!


Dreampop version, kinda nice:


Marilyn Manson called, he wants this demo back:


Slip into something more comfortable, whilst I poor you a Christmas cocktail:


Christmas = emo


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

PIQISQ


"Kayley Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik are Inuit style throat singers performing ancient traditional songs and eerie new compositions." The girls released an album earlier this year, and now there's a Christmas EP. Their style sounds very tough on the vocal chords, somehow it reminded me of the grunts and moans in Kraftwerk's 'Tour de France', combined with Björk-like chirps. It sounds probably odd for ears used to western pop music, but once you get into this, it's really beautiful. And eerie. And, you have to agree, you never heard this carol sung like this:

Dvon

Found this song on Soundcloud, written and recorded by Dvon. He's a producer from Atlanta, GA, and on his SC-profile you can find seventies-fied (it that's a word, think Toto, think yacht rock) covers of Prince and Force MD's, plus a couple of Christmas songs. I really really like that suggestion of slick production. Plus, Dvon has a knack for a good hook. Check it out:

Monday, November 25, 2019

Papa Beach Boys

Our friend from Snowflakes Christmas Singles discoverd this crazy 7 inch by George Faulkner. He wrote a long story about it (read it here.) Faulkner once was the singer from a couple of indie rock bands in the New York area. He's a big Beach Boys fan. But not only of the Wilson brothers, who were in the band, but also from their father Murry Wilson (1917-1973). For a short while, until 1964, he was the Beach Boys manager. But he was more known as a songwriter. He wrote more than 50 songs for other artists, but wich never became big hits. He recorded only one album himself. For this 'Murray Christmas' single George Faulkner recorded 'Happy, Happy Holiday' (from 1952), with help from the famous Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu, Bob Mould) and Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs). On my version of the single is a sticker that says: Absurdly inspired sunshine pop. So it is!

A Blackwatch Christmas vol. 9

The ninth Blackwatch Christmas compilation is on Spotify, and features really good tracks. Twiggs! GoldenFace! Go try it yourselves. Samantha Crain does a cover of John Denver's Christmas for Cowboys. She did a cover of that track seven years back, too, and that sounded a little less spooky. Go HERE

And I think this track on the new Blackwatch-comp is the greatest:

AHO

Found this song whilst scanning Soundcloud. I know nothing about the singer (of Korean descend, as it turns out, see comments), who posted a few (I guess) self-written songs and a bunch of covers (that Corinne Bailey-Rae cover is solid). This Christmas song sounds like a home recording, has the right melancholy vibe and and reminds me of Allo Darlin'. Try it:

Friday, November 22, 2019

Snowflakes Christmas Singles club


One of the highlights of the Xmas music season are the original and brandnew releases of the Amsterdam based label Snowflakes Chrsitmas Singles. Since 2013 they did release 3-4 singles every year. This winter they come up with their seventh edition of snow white 7 inches. Us And Them is a Swedish folk duo. They do a song of their own and a sweet cover of ‘Winter’ from Tori Amos. Rockband Livingmore come from Los Angeles. They do an acoustic version of the old (1934) seasonal song ‘Winter Wonderland’. Last 2019 single is from Parisian trio Superbravo with singer Armelle Pioline (formerly in the band Holden). How I adore those sometimes dreamy French vocals. Listen to their own song ‘La Nuit’ and their version of the Jacques Prévert poem ‘Chanson Pour Les Enfants l’Hiver’, once also recorded around 1950 by Les Frères Jacques. For vinyl and Christmas lovers an absolute must these snow white gems, released in an edition of 320 copies!

Dad Legs


I just bumped into this great Christmas song from 2015, sounding a bit like a bratty Pavement. Cool lyrics, great energy. Didn't find it on Christmas Underground or Mistletunes (but Stubby might've posted about it, can't find it tho). Hear!

Jewish Family Christmas Tree

Can't go wrong with a song title like this, can you? Listen to the lyrics! Love to hear the other songs that Jonathan wrote for this EP.

Doveman & Anais Mitchell

Hat tip to Christmas Underground for spotting this grandiose cover of 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day', a poem from the 1800s set to music. Probably best known in the version of Bing Crosby, or this gorgeous cover by The Civil Wars. Doveman, who once covered the whole Footloose soundtrack (100 points in my book) asked playwright/singer Anais Mitchell to join him on this Sufjan Stevens-like, rich version. Love it.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

J-Pop Christmas

Japanese singer Soleil, aged 16, made a Xmas 7 inch: 'Twinkle Heart', written by Ijichi Hiromasa (who writes songs for J-pop band Speed). On the B-side is a (non-Xmas) track by Yellow Magic Orchestra. Big news in Japan is that Soleil will stop performing because she want to focus on het study. Her last live-show will be a Christmas event on december 22 in Veats Sibuya.

El Gato Roboto


Practice your Turtles-like 'pa-pa-pa-pa'-singalong qualities, you're gonna need 'm when listening to this track by Chicago-based El Gato Roboto. This track also reminds me of good ole' Kirsty MacColl, singer Jennifer kind of has the same timbre. Do try the other track too!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

It's The Most Wonderful HAIM of the Year


Ok, you're right, this one's not meant to be a Christmas track at all really. After all the three HAIM sisters are Jewish and celebrate Hanukkah in stead of Christmas. But hey, it's a song about angels in a metaphorical way and, Hallelujah it's such an awful beautiful track! And don't forget to check the video too. Imagine those sleigh bells yourself.

Speaking of Hanukkah and HAIM, next friday November 22nd Hanukkah+ will be released. This album contains Hanukkah classics and originals performed by artists such as HAIM, Jack Black, Loudon Wainwright III, The Flaming Lips and more.
HAIM's contribution is a cover of Leonard Cohen's "If It Be Your Will".

A Dualtone Christmas


Dualtone is a label in Nashville, probably best known for housing The Lumineers (hey-ho!), Amos Lee, June Carter Cash and Guy Clark. Artists on Dualtone play Americana, that amalgam of country, folk and rock. Since it seems that Americana is the style to go this year, A Dualtone Christmas brings together labelmates Lumineers, Amos Lee, and Mt Joy, to name a few, to play covers and originals. This track by Mt Joy, a band from Los Angeles, is one of the best tunes on that album. A downer, but a good downer:

Angry Snowmans

When it comes to punkified Christmas-tunes, there ain't no better than Angry Snowmans. They yulify obscure and well known punk songs, this time by Dead Kennedys and Adolescents. Love this Holidays in Cambodia-rearrangement:

More Angry Snowmans HERE
Oh, and by the way, if you, like me, ask yourself where you saw that cows head on the album cover before...it's THIS ONE

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Lucy Dacus

Probably one of the most covered Christmas tracks ever, 'Last Christmas' from Wham, is popping up at least one time this year too. But hold your Oh Noes! because the good thing is, it's quite a cool one. Indie rock darling Lucy Dacus from Richmond, Virginia is responsible for this somewhat disturbing and annoying speedy version.
Love it 'till Christmas, especially the spoken word parts and the hysterical ending.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Jagger Holly

With bandmembers named 'Ringo Moon' and 'Lennon Lee Roth', you know we're up in Marilyn Manson county when it comes to 'guess where they got their name from'. Music wise, Jagger Holly and his band differ from MM, they're fishing in the emopunk-pond where we also find Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. And they do hold up to those names, I must say. There's a few covers, but mostly originals here - don't be fooled by the titles. This 'Santa Baby' isn't the Eartha Kitt version:

Christmas with Nordpolen musikklubb

Great to read this: "Nordpolen musikklubb er et plateselskap som konsentrerer seg om julemusikk og skal gi ut en vinylsingel i 300 eksemplarer hvert år". You can find this text on the facebook of the Norwegian label Norpolen Musikklubb. Almost every year they release a Xmas vinyl single in an edition of 300. The 2019 single is from their Norwegian friends Remington Super 60 from Fredrikstad. Already in 2000 they released their first Christmas song: 'Christmas Song For Melanie'. This song is also included on their 'Christmas EP'. With three other songs, two from 2017 and one from 2006, an old favorite of mine 'Here Comes Christmas', a fine vocal popsong with bells and a catchy refrain!

Joli-Bois; Kristine St Pierre & Justin Lacroix


French Christmas tunes, we love those here @ CAGG HQ. Two examples from Canada. Joli-Bois is a female duo, who make folk- and country-tinged music with additional rock 'n roll influeces. They made a seasonal EP last year, and now returning that favour with a full album this year. All originals, as far as I can see.


Joli-Bois are from Quebec, Kristine St Pierre & Justin Lacroix are from nearby Ontario. Their Christmas album also has folk and country influecens, but is sweeter, more polished. Maybe a tad too mainstream for most CAGG-listeners, but nice nonetheless.

WORLD PREMIERE (2): STEPHANIE STRUIJK


Oh yes. First, there was The Hengles (HERE!), now there's Dutch folk lovely Stephanie Struijk, premiering her Dutch piano-version of Pretenders classic 2000 Miles on this blog. Steph's a friend of this blog, she loves Christmas music as much as we do, so we posted her earlier seasonal tunes before. Here, and here (when she was recording in English under her Stevie Ann moniker). This version of '2000 miles' will be on the platforms this Friday.
Translation was made by Daniel Lohues, who produced Stephanie's wonderful Dutch albums. Whaddavoice.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

IDKHBTFM

I Don't Know How But They Found Me (great name) is a duo, consisting of Dillon Weekes (of Panic At The Disco) and Ryan Seaman (of Falling In Reverse). They made a Christmas EP, with originals and this Brobecks cover:

Saturday, November 16, 2019

There Goes Another Year

Is Christmas more alive up north? And does it therefore bring us better or more authentic Christmas music? At least we can say that Magne Furuholmen from Norway (and keyboard player from popgroup a-ha) must have been extremely looking forward to this years Christmas, as he released his White Xmas Lies already the 25th of october.
Judge by yourself whether these 16 tracks were a good idea or not.

Limited christmas vinyl

Last year CAGG rang the bell about 'Christmas Reminiscences', the wonderfull seasonal album of The X-Misses, recorded in Nashville. Read here. This year they are back with the same album but on shiny black vinyl, in a limited edtion of 300. Listen and order here:

Friday, November 15, 2019

xmas punk

'Father Christmas' from The Kinks is an alltime favorite of CAGG. So any compilation with a cover of that songs must be great. Hence 'Punk Rock Christmas 2' (Cleopatra Records) and the follow up of the first 'Punk Rock Christmas' (2015). If you like nowadays punk than listen to bands like MDC, Naked Aggresion, Down By Law or Reagan Youth doing punky seasonal songs. It includes a great dedication to the best USA punkband: The Queers do 'Ramones Chrsitmas'. Also there's the great Johnny Thunders (1952-1991) doing 'Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer'. But first 'Father Christmas' by Parasites.

Charlie & the Tropicales


Hat tip to the great Stubby for spotting this first. We love latinfied Christmas tunes, and this album by Charlie Halloran is just lovely. It sounds vintage, like it's played from a 78 RPM record, but it's very 2019, and very cool. Mostly covers, this one's an original:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Spotify playlist

Yes, if the 2019 Christmas songs are on Spotify, they're in this playlist. Any songs missing? Holler!

It includes this fantastic new spiritual:

Jeremy & the Harlequins


Spending time in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas is the zenith of being lonely 'n blue - according to a few musicians. There's of course this classic ditty, there is this one, and this one, and now Jeremy & the Harlequins add their example: A Chinese restaurant on Christmas. Jeremy is a rocker in the Elvis/Jerry Lee-sense, his track sounds like it could be written by Gaspard Royant. Nice one, Jer!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

WORLD PREMIERE : THE HENGLES CHRISTMAS SONG

It's here people, officially out on Friday, but the premiere is here: Amsterdam jingle-jangle rockers The Hengles bring you Wish It Was Christmas Time, and we're bringing it to you, here, live. Think Posies, think Fountains of Wayne, think good ol' xmas time:


Loving the hell out of this!

Mael

Readers mail!
'Think Blossom Dearie mixed with Beth Hart and a French accent singing original Christmas music in English built across a wide range of styles, from blues to pop to jazz. Really nice production and I just love the vocal delivery. A couple of songs on the album don't quite feel like they belong on a holiday record, like Fear is a Killer or Overnight, but still worth a listen.' Thus says Stuart, CAGG-reader and Christmas music enthusiast. He's talking about this track:

Monday, November 11, 2019

An ideal christmas present?

Robbie Williams on Christmas A Go Go? Isn't that a bit too commercial and mainstream for this blog? I don't know. He has always been a sort of controversial figure. But he comes with a Xmas double-CD called 'The Christmas Present'. As I still haven't heard the album I will give him a little benefit of the doubt, whether he made the ideal Xmas present :-)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

satan vs santa

A tune that starts as the classic 1969 garage tune '96 Tears' (? & The Mysterians) must be a great and original Xmas track. It's the intro of a very dirty cover of 'Feliz  Navidad', mostly known by Jose Feliciano. You can find it on the 7 inch single 'Happy Holidays with Satan’s Pilgrims' brought to you by Hidden Volume Records. Satan's Pilgrims hail from Portland and on the B-side they put a loud and raunchy surfpunk version of 'Greensleeves'. Defenitely worth checking out.




Friday, November 08, 2019

The Hengles

Most of the time, we post Christmas songs, meaning songs about Christmas or at least mentioning Christmas, on this blog. But every now & then some seasonal songs slip through. Songs about December, the end of the year, wintertime. Enter Dutch band The Hengles, who recorded a song called Wintertime. The video was made by one of the daughters of the bandmembers (all veterans of the Dutch 90s rock scene, they played in bands like Jack of Hearts, Supersub, Treble Spankers). Their style is that jingle-jangle Big Star/Posies rock that's both very 90s, and very classic.
Now, the reason they pop up today, is that they also recorded a Christmas song - no, not this great track from last year, but a new one. And that one's gonna pop up next week, as an exclusive premiere. Get ready!


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Mariya May



From 2016, but neglected so far (by us, at least, and by Christmas Underground, who shared it with us) which is a crying shame 'cuz this track is magnificent. Portland singer Mariya May wrote a 50s, Cramps-y sounding Christmas track with maracas, reverb and bombshell-vocals that three years later still rattles our tree.

More Mariya (she makes dubreggae, neo-soul and folk, all great) HERE

Monday, November 04, 2019

Put a candle on top of your head

Can't hardly believe we never dropped this one before on CAGG, but we didn't. An incredibly great Christmas track (personal favourite) by good old Claw Boys Claw from The Netherlands. Recorded back in 1986 and it came with a very joyful video.  

''My sweetheart ran away with a ginger wine 
I think I'll go to bed at half past nine 
There is no one to pull the other end 
Of the crackers auntie Mabel sent''

Now if that ain't enough misery to get some real blue bells, what is?
 
Jingle Bells audio by Claw Boys Claw here.

popular but cool

There are a lot of Christmas compilations called 'Cool Christmas' (go and check Discogs). Most of them full of popular pop and/or rock songs. So 'A Very Cool Christmas' isn't very original as title. But it comes as CD and as a very cool double LP on green and red vinyl (on Music On Vinyl ). On it are 'contemporary' artists like Bob Dylan, Dandy Warhols, Bryan Adams or Brian Setzer. But also 'old', mainly soul songs, from people like Clarence Carter, Jackson5, Rufus Thomas or Aretha Franklin. Also this Marvin Gay song which I wasn't familiar with: 'Purple Snowflakes' . This seems to be a very peculiar song. It was written in 1965 under the title 'Purple Snowflakes'. But Marvin Gay had a hit with it in 1965 under the title 'Pretty Little Lady'. Only in 1992 it was rereleased on the Motown Christmas compilation 'Christmas In the City' with it's original title 'Purple Snowflakes'.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

A prog christmas

Lovers of old prog rock will be very happy with this compilation: 'A Prog Rock Christmas' (on Purple Pyramid Records). It's a nice christmassy album with surprising artists, mainly all known from famous bands who don't exist anymore. We have mucisians like Kasim Sulton (played with Todd Rundgren), Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), Geoff Downes (Buggles, Yes, Asia). Also Dutch flutist This van Leer (from Focus). He does a surprising version of Jethro Tull's 'Christmas Song'. First time I see a cover of this song. And than there is 'I Believe In Father Christmas' a typical English Christmas tune, written in 1975 by Pete Sinfield with Greg Lake (Emerson Lake & Palmer). Here it is redone by Martin Turner (from Wisbone Ash)