Sunday, December 15, 2019

Trentemøller - Silent Night

Trentemøller loves Christmas.
No wonder when you're from up North, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Silent Night is his 2019 Christmas treat. "I chose Silent Night as it has such a beautiful melody that, for me, sums up the whole vibe of Christmas. Originally it was a lullaby and since I became a dad, Silent Night made so much sense to me especially as it’s my girlfriend Lisbet Fritze who sings on it."
Nuff said.

(And here a beautiful old one by Trentemøller, On a Cold Christmas Night)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Christmas at Denny's


What's the saddest Christmas song ever written? There are kitschy weepers like Christmas Shoes and Faith in Santa. Country big shots like Johnny Cash singing Ringing the Bells For Jim, Loretta Lynn's Christmas Without Daddy and Santa Can't Stay by Dwight Yoakam. I've made a playlist (see HERE), including Prince, John Prine and A Girl Called Eddy's version of The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot.

While searching for sad Christmas songs, I bumped onto 'Christmas at Denny's' by Randy Stonehill. And I think this makes a very good candidate for the title 'Saddest Christmas Song Ever'. If you're unfamiliar with 'family restaurant chain' Denny's, you'll get a pretty good picture of just how sad a place it is during Christmas. Unlike the weepers mentioned earlier, Stonehills song is dramatic and sentimental, but as a seasoned storytelling artist (he's been active since the early 70s, up there with James Taylor) he keeps the balance just right. With lines like: 'and I'm dreaming about/a silent night/holy night/ when things were alrightand I'm dreaming about/how my life could have been/if only, if only, if only', the songs plays all the right heartstrings and glandula.

I saw just a few covers, and this great rendition. This comment below the video, 'I've come here every year around Christmas to listen to you sing this. I've done this for many years now actually & it's become one of my holiday traditions, I guess. You do a fabulous job on this song and sound really good. I realize this video is 10 years old but I'm hoping you still perform this song as you just do it so well', is very relatable.

Love to hear what your favourite Christmas weepers are.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Films

I'll just leave this here. It's only on YouTube and Vimeo, and a real soon on Christmas Underground's new Xmas Mix. It's....unbelievably good. And over 10 years old.

Swampmeat Family Band

Thanks Rich, for the tip. Folk/country-infused Swampmeat Family Band from Birmingham, UK, says about this track:
"So we recorded a Xmas track in August which was weird but it actually turned out pretty decent. So much so that PNKSLM offered to put it out for the festive season. Ollie our manager suggested we up the good will factor so our wonderkid guitarist and art guru Tommy Hughes designed a killer Xmas card that has a download of the track included...
We're gonna hock these at our Xmas show on Dec 20th at The Castle & Falcon and they will also be stocked at a few local record stores and dive bars. All profits will go to Birmingham homeless charities so hopefully we can do a little bit with our Xmas ditty to help a few folks out during what can be a shitty time for far too many."

The Magic City Trio

It Will Soon Be Christmas Day (edit) from the magic city trio on Vimeo.


Christmas is all about nostalgia, as y'all are well aware. A day or so ago, I posted a track by a C86 band, and here's another one. Well, sort of, 'cause The Magic City Trio's Frank Sweeney used to be a member of The June Brides. And he uses 'a couple of themes from C86' in this song:

Gianmarco Cilli


Sometimes people, aware of this blog but unaware of the richness that we call 'Alt Christmas', ask me: what makes a good Christmas song? I smile, handcomb my beard, put down my glasses and say: well, a good Christmas song contains a holy trinity: bells, lyrics about events in the past and/or a feeling of nostalgia, and a mention of Christmas. Like all-time greats like White Christmas or The Christmas Song (chestnuts etc), in the best Christmas songs there's a desire, a longing, a need to be or do something else than what you're doing at the moment.
I don't know mr Gianmarco Cilli, a Philly songwriter and singer. Jim CU tipped me on this song by Cilli, who played with member of The War on Drugs on his recently released album. But Cilli knows my rules for a Good Christmas Song. Check it out:

Sidenote: of course, there are HEAPS of solid Christmas songs that don't have bells (Beau Jennings' ultra-brilliant The Christmas Light springs to mind).

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Xmas Supergroup!

A Christmas record from Clem Burke of Blondie, Eliot Easton of The Cars, Wally Palmar of The Romantics, Andy Babiuk of The Chesterfield Kings! Gee, that looks like a great line up. They are the Empty Hearts and made this incredible catchy song 'It's Christmastime' on the A-side and a great Bo Diddley like 'Joyful Noise' on the B-side.  Incredible punk-rock&rol single! Spotify says this track was released in 2016, Discogs isn't sure about the release date, and now there's a Bandcamp link and a vinyl version (see BC).


And watch this great video, with very bad sound, shot during the 2017 Hollywood Christmas Parade.

7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night 2019

Do you remember Simon & Garfunkels '7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night' from 1966? Now there is a remake, with the newscaster reading recent news about subjects as sexting or about people like Trump. The song is made by the singers Phoebe Bridgers and Fiona Apple. With Matt Berninger from The National. The profits of this project will go to the American movement Planned Parenthood


UPDATE:
We stand corrected (see comments), as Stubby taught us, this is certainly not the only S&G xmas song. There's this one:

And this one:

And this one:

Zip-Tie Handcuffs


Ah yes, that's what was missing this year, a really down'n dirty rawk'n roll Christmas original. Enter 'Santa's a Creep' by Zip-Tie Handcuffs, who hail from Boston Mass. and their track is punk as f. For fantastic.

Stacey Randol


American singer-songwriter Stacey Randol 'resonates well with fans of Sheryl Crow and Fleetwood Mac', which means that this song is pretty mainstream, with a nice sunny vibe thanks to that electric piano. It seems that they hadn't quite figured out how to end this track, so they kind of just stop playing. However, Stacey has a very pretty, slightly husky voice. Way more standard than usual on this blog, but nice nonetheless:

Robert Sekula


Thanks to @stereo for the tip, this solo single by Robert Sekula, singer of C86-band 14 Iced Bears. TBH, I'd never heard of this band, but this tender, twee single is very sweet 'n indie. There's no Santa Claus, apparently.

NPK

THIS is the kind of song for which this blog's been created, over a decade ago. NPK made a funny variety on 'All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth', this is the track your xmas mix needs to lighten the f up.

Soulpersona & Princess Freesia


Mmmmm....hey baby. Looking mighty fine in those furs. Oooh, those horns! Horn-y! (Giggle). Why don't you get reeeeeal comfortable right here next to me. Weather outside is frightful, but inside it's warm, W-A-R-M-mmmmmmmh...

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Amelia & Maddy

I'm stealing this from Under the Radar:
Throw on your best novelty earrings and ribbon your Secret Santa, it's time for your punishing office Christmas party at the local bowls club, and the latest cut from Amelia & Maddy is here to save the day. Described as an Italo disco track, 'Hot Christmas' puts a twee, romantic spin on the anxiety of compulsory BBQs in sticky hot weather. Created by Tāmaki Makaurau dream duo Amelia Berry (Amamelia, Fimo) and Madison van Staden (Moody.V and the Menstrual Cycle), 'Hot Christmas' came about when Berry admitted her desperation to write a Christmas song and lyric writer van Staden had three rules: "It has to be about how hot it is. It has to be about awful work Christmas parties. It has to be about when you have a BBQ on a bowls green.". Berry has also hinted at an array of exciting Amamelia developments in the new year and an EP in the works. Get excited for what's to come, and know you're not alone with the Office Christmas Party Blues...

Rick Buur

Remember Kerstlied 1 by Rick Buur, a Dutch translation of this Robert Earl Keen track? Well, Rick got the xmas spirit again this year and made another translation of a Keen-song. The result; 'There's a barbie doll in the gravy bowl', is a depressingly awesome seasonal story.


This is the original:

Prairie Files


Maybe not the best sung new Christmas track of the season, but a funny video and a lot of heart. It's on Bandcamp too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Weed & Dolphins

You wanted the weird? You GOT the weird. Weed & Dolphins hail from Minsk, Belarus, and this track was, apparently, inspired by a trip through the sewage system in their hometown. How you get from below the streets to Christmas trees, I really can't tell, but it involves synths and 80s gloom. Have a listen:

The Lilac Time

Very cosy alt rock song by British band The Lilac Time. A song about life, really, the ups and downs:
And I'm so glad you came to me
And saved me from stupidity
Every day is Christmas Day
Ever since you came my way

The Murrays

The Murrays are a husband & wife indie folk-pop duo. Credo:"Making music our dog hates since 2012". None other than the great Stubby tipped me on this EP.

I guess it's Indie Folk Rock, and all the tunes are about a minute long, but the lyrics are nice and twisted. Check this one:

There also a cool video:

Monday, December 09, 2019

Shoegaze xmas

It's difficult to hear but 'Please Come Home For Christmas'  is really a Xmas track, on a white 7 inch, released by Old Bad Habbits a young indie-pop label from Athens, Grece. This loud, shoegaze-like song was made by Cristoph Mark, an American who lives in Seoul, Korea.

Eenzame kerst

Dutch Amsterdam based, singer-songwriter Lucky Fonz III, does not look very happy with the perspective of the holiday season. Together with writer Alma Mathijsen and poet Daan Doesborgh he made this funny and sad song. Digital only, and released by Top Notch Records.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Kraftwerk Kristmas

German synth pioneers Kraftwerk never released a Christmas song, but Shedwerk got in the Weihnachts-mood behind his computer and thought up this tribute:

Christmas Reapers

There's something odd about this compilation. It's a pretty standard affair of easy listening versions of well-knows seasonal standards. Odd name, tho: Christmas Reapers. Then all of a sudden, this track shuffles by:

It's like a big bird shitting on your just-washed classic car. Is it a joke? Meant to be funny? Now, I'm all for screamo-versions of Christmas songs, but tucked away on this compilation is just...weird. Or maybe these Italian dudes are pranksters?

It gets weirder, 'cause thanks to the comments, I now hear that this is not a track by Radar Is Radar Spelled Backwards, but by Reuben:

cover Xmas

Two very known Christmas songs covered by young and more commercial artists, but still worthwhile to have a listen to in this blog.
First 'Last Christmas' done by French electropop trio Hyphen Hyphen.
Next one: 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' by 32 year old Canadian electrosoul singer Lights. She is currently on tour with Deadmau5.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

christmas with the monkees

The Monkees were an American popband in the sixties, who also figured in their own TV-serie. Although two out of four members aren't alvie anymore they did relase a seasonal album in 2018: 'Christmas Party'. This year, on Black Friday, they released a double single 'Christmas Party Plus!' (green & red vinyl), with four songs. From which only 'Unwrap You With Christmas' is on their album. This song is written by Andy Partridge (XTC), who does is own version  of the song elswhere on this double single.

Tom Waits

Happy Birthday, Tom Waits! 70 years old today. His 'Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis' is one of the greatest non-Christmas tracks that turned into a Christmas song (like Joni Mitchell's 'River' and Jona Lewie's 'Stop the Cavalry').


More versions? But of course:












And of course:

A Strange Japanese Affair

William Roscoe Mercer (1927-2000) aka Rosko, was a very known American FM radio-DJ. His voice pops up on a very strange Japanese singleロスコ* ‎– サンタはどこだ. And even stranger he sort of raps in French: 'Ou Est Pere Noel'. The song is a remake from 'Shaft In Africa' a funky song from 1973. So here we have  a very strange combination: a Japanese single, with an American voice, singing in French!  This is what  Discogs knows about it.

Bluesy rudolph

Chuck Berry released 'Run Rudolph Run' in 1958. It was the B-side of his big hit 'Merry Christmas Baby'. It was written by Johnny Marks, who also wrote 'Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer'. Now American rock-blues singer-songwriter Samantha Fish, from Kansas, comes out with a nice bluesy cover on 7 inch, available with two different colour motives. It's backed by a sort of country-blues version from Phil Spector's 'Chrismas (Baby Please Come Home)'.

In 1978 Keith Richard (Rolling Stones) did a crazy version of 'Run Rudolph Run' and released it on single has his first solo record! Here's a version where you can hear both  Chuck and Keith.

so here it is: merry xmas

We all know this song: 'Merry Xmas Everybody' by Slade. In 1973 alone it sold over a million copies. Although it's a relatively young song it's a real classic, especially in the UK. Former Slade drummer Don Powell (age 73) has written a nice song about the impact of 'Merry Xmas..'.He recorded it with his band full of rock veterans: Don Powell's Occasional Flames. And what a crazy rocking seventies song, about Slade singer Noddy Holder, it turned out to be: 'It Isn't Really Christmas Until Noddy Starts To Sing'

christmas in a small town

They call themselves an 'Harmonic Alternative Folk' duo: Flagship Romance (Shawn Fisher & Jordyn Jackson) from somewhere in North- America. On their seasonal semi-acoustic 7 inch they sing about the charms of a Christmas in a small (American) town: "no shopping mall no traffic at all" ! Sounds romantic, this nice original christmas song.

Portable Radio

Saw this EP over @ Stubby's Stocking Stuffers (LINK), and this track (below) really caught my ear. Yes, it's bubblegum pop, it's Beach Boys-y and it's 90s harmony indie rock (think Fountains of Wayne), all of which I really dig. So thanks Stubby, again, for spotting the good ones:

Jennifer O'Connor

Borrowing this from The Autumn Roses:
Illuminated by light from Elliott Smith, poetic and reassuringly honest, it’s a story told with sweetness and hope. “Merry 4 Christmas” is the serene and sympathetic new and seasonal single from Nyack, New York’s Jennifer O’Connor.


Friday, December 06, 2019

Kelly Finnigan

The best blue-eyed soul voice of the moment, made a FAN TAS TIC Christmas single! WOOOOOOOO

Ramones Christmas



'I want new Ramones songs (for Christmas)', is one of the highlights of this Christmas season. Of course that wish isn't gonna come true, but new Ramones covers songs, yes, those we can get.
Take the brilliant Young War (remember?), who just released his version of the classic Ramones seasonal track 'Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight).

I searched for more versions of this song, and found quite a few::
From 2019 also, this blue-eyed, maximum r&b version:


Live blues version:


Surf rawkin' version


Sweet piano-version


Acoustic indie pop version:


Weepy version (really good):


Little Steven & Bruce Springsteen:


Steady Holiday


Steady Holiday was off my radar for too long, but all of a sudden Dre Babinski (= Steady Holiday) lit up on my screen, thanks to her oh-so-sweet original 'Always Christmas' single. Gentle, great lyrics (as many great xmas songs, it's set in summer, thinking of winter) and it tickles the right senses, thanks to that delicate voice. I missed her earlier seasonal tracks, a cool 'Christmas time is Here' version, and a track with Matt Pond PA I found (of course) on Christmas Underground.

Dusty Winds

Dusty Winds sounds a bit wobbly on his Christmas single (two tracks), but if you sing about Santa taking hits from your bong, you're excused, right? Funny country-ish xmas tunes, we're all for it. Plus, FINALLY, the answer to the age old question:
We took a hit and got real lit
I asked why he got high
He laughed and said kid use your head
Now you know how reindeer fly



The other track is kinda nice, Phil Spectorian Wall of Christmas-sound, but the tokin' track is better.

The bestest Christmas Songs of the Decade (2010-2019) - more suggestions

Until December 15th, you can send us your list of the 20 bestest Christmas songs, released between January 2010 and today, to help us decide what is the bestest Alt. Christmas song of the decade. Comment below, or send your list to Dringendgeval@hotmail.com.
Here's a few suggestions from the recent past:








Thursday, December 05, 2019

ANC4

Phil Spector's Christmas Gift For You album is a gift that keeps on giving. Take this track by Swedish powerpoppunk band ANC4. With a title like this, the booming drums, the bells, the riff - it's Ronettes all over again. Which is nice, 'cause come on, those were the days, and when it comes to Christmas, it's the perfect style.

Chance Wiesner

The text in our header says that this blog posts mostly Christmas songs, but we don't shy away from seasonal tracks. The good folks at Ten Dollar Record Company send us the link to Chance Wiesner's Icicles Bicycles, a Beck-ish track about, well, snow and bicyles. Good fun. Have a listen:

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Vista Blue

Stole this from Stubby's as well. The title of this track is as good as you'll hope the song would be. THIS IS A WINNER

Girlfriend Material

Toronto-based indie rock band Girlfriend Material (cool name) made a Christmas EP, again. On their Bandcamp page you'll find two more. GM delivers mixed bags. They write funny, offbeat tracks, but in some songs the urge of being funny ('Santa's Dead!') stands in the way of writing a good song. Still, the EPs are noteworthy. Fellow Canadians Sloan spring to mind as a muscial reference. Here this:

Paper Scissors, Sofia Talvik

I'm stealing a few posts from Stubby's Stocking Stuffers over @ Falalalala.com

"This might be a bit of a stretch (but aren't most of my analogies?), but, listening to "All Of Us On Christmas" by Paper Scissors, I kept imagining Simon & Garfunkel doing the vocals on "Incense & Peppermints". (As an aside, I did a cursory search to see if S&G had actually done "I&P" and was blown away by the Martin Denny version, which I'd never heard before. Just sayin'.)
Anyway, Paper Scissors are from Maryland and "All Of Us On Christmas" is their third annual Christmas tune. All of them free and all of them quite excellent Alt Psych Rock tunes, each in their own way. Any proceeds raised from these "name your price" tracks will be donated to The Church Mouse, a thrift shop and non-profit outreach center in Berlin, MD. The other mixes don't do anything for me (the "kids" mix is where they let their kids handle the vocals), but those primary tracks get a Stubby's seal of approval. YMMV."


"Sofia Talvik holds a special place in my Christmas music heart and she's been a part of my Christmas pretty much since the Internet became part of my Christmas (you can read a little about Sofia and I over at Stubby's).
Most years, Sofia looks at the lesser explored territory of the season...usually the darker side of the holidays. Her 2019 offering takes the tale of Krampus (Santa's evil counterpart who collects up the bad little boys and girls), updating the mythology to a "Christmas Train" which roars through the country, stealing dreams and lives. The music Sofia uses places me instantly in the 1800s, when steam engine trains ruled this continent. They were, then, both awe inspiring and frightening. As a depiction of Krampus must be. God help us all when Krampus gets computerized.
Don't forget that Sofia has a full Christmas album, "When Winter Comes", and her recent album release, "Paws of a Bear", is one of maybe three non-holiday albums I ever featured in 9 years at Stubby's."

The School

The guy or girl doing promo for Madrid's Elefant Records isn't holding back; The School's Christmas EP is just about the next best thing since sliced bread: 'Shouldn't Be Alone For Christmas goes back to the sound of girl-groups from the sixties, with Phil Spector’s wall of sound and the best arrangements, on one of the best songs with Harri and Liz doing a vocal call and response, and the whole group enveloping us with those celestial choruses.'And that's just one song on, we have to hand it to'm, a VERY interesting sounding EP. This track is the first of three, two others are following and we're damn sure we're gonna check those out the second they come online. Until then:

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Santajan & the Shanties, the video

(dutch) christmas reviews

Dutch speaking people might want to read the review of new Christmas music in the december issue of  Dutch music monthly OOR. If it makes you curious: all the titles are also mentioned on this blog!

Peggy Sue


To be honest, when I say a tracklist containing 'Blue Christmas' and 'Jingle Bells' on a new Christmas EP, I usually pass. But when Jim CU passes you Peggy Sue's 'Surf Xmas', you gotta listen, right? And you gotta hand it to Jim - this is an interesting EP. When I think of 'surf', I think of the hard rocking Dick Dale-instrumentals (or this great recent album by Dutch jazzheads BRUUT!). Peggy Sue are more laidback, concentrating (when key members Rosa and Katy sing) on the vocals, instead of solos. No mean feat, to make worn out carols 'n Xmas pop really interesting. I really love that British accent in 'Jingle Bells', and that Phil Spectorian vibe.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize

When it comes to alt. Christmas songs, LBdB's Charlie Darling is a demi-god, a beacon, the one who shows us how it's done. Smart lyrics, great music, Christmas ain't Christmas without a LBdB song. And here's the new one. Only this guy can write an anti-Christmas song that sounds like a pro-Christmas song:

The List 2010-2019, Best Alt. Christmas Songs of the Decade


Making a list is mandatory at Christmas, and since we're near the end of the decade, how'bout ranking the bestest alt. Christmas songs of the tens? Songs released between January 1, 2010 and, well, up until now. Do you want to help us rank? Send us your 20 best alt. Christmas songs, in the comments below, or to Dringendgeval@hotmail.com. We'll count 'm, rank 'm and publish 'm. Please send that list before December 15!
If you want inspiration, check the archives of this blog, or Christmas Underground, or Mistletunes.com, or Stubby's, or yer favourite other blog. HERE's a Spotifylist with songs from 2012-2018.

Here's four suggestions:
From 2010:


From 2011:

From 2011:

From 2010:

Sam Phillips


In 2009, American singer/songwriter Sam Phillips released a (digital) Christmas EP called Cold Dark Night (CDN). That featured six tracks, two originals and four covers of well-known carols. Now, ten years later, the singer (you might remember her as Katya in Die Hard With A Vengeance, or from her wonderful Americana album Cruel Inventions) released an expanded version of CDN, called Cold Dark Nights, with 4 extra songs. The title track and It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas stick out as great original tracks, and she pulled off a truly great version of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and a moving instrumental for that last day of the year. Go to Bandcamp to buy.

(h/t to @t55)

My Son The Bum

Not from this year, but released a few years back, these twisted, rockin' Christmas songs by Brian Kroll, aka My Son The Bum. Along with the great songs come brilliant animated videos - seemingly inspired by Tim Burton, David Lynch and other odd minds. Time to resurrect! Especially the warped 'Flight Deck for Christmas' is great.




Holly carol candy

Three indispensable things around Christmas: holly, carol and candy! JD McPherson is singing about it. It's a great little rockabilly song from his very nice and successful album 'Socks', released last year. It's out now on a 'snowglobe' 7 inch. It's a Black Friday-Record Store Day Christmas single release with a limited edition of 1500. So you will be able to find it, if you're quick. The B-side is a newly recorded song called 'Red Bows (For A Blue Girl)', although I have not quite figured out what's so Christmassy about it.

merry luxmas

Lux Interior (1946-2009, real name Erick Lee Purkhiser) was the singer and founder of the punkband The Cramps. He and his wife, Poison Ivy, where big record collectors. They also had a big collection of Xmas 45's. Long ago Lux put together a cassette compilation called 'Jeezus Fuck, It's Christmas'. This crazy cassette served as a base for 'Merry Luxmas It's Christmas in Crampsville!' a CD out on Cherry Red RecordsOn it are 31 tracks, mostly unknown and obscure songs ranging from blues, rock 'n roll, doo-wop to spoken word. Plus lots of novelty songs, like 'Christmas In The Congo' by The Marquees or 'I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas' this time by 10 year old Gayla Peevey, recorded in 1953. But also this footstompin' Moonglows track:

japanese reggae christmas

This 7 inch looks and sounds like a crazy Xmas record. Inokasira Rangers are from Japan and their versions from 'Last Chrsitmas' and 'Wonderful Christmastime' sound like a really nice mixture of reggae, ska and rocksteady!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

The Non Traditionals

That Band from Holland is one of the recurring acts on this blog, under their Non Traditionals moniker they (traditionally) made a Christmas EP. You'll know what you get; smart, home-cooked indie pop. They've served up better tracks than the three presented here, I must say. No 'Santa must be daddy' here. Yet 'Simon Noman', about a guy with a grudge against the winter season ('I put stones in the snowballs') and people in general, is vintage TBFH.