Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy 2020



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

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


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

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas

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


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





This is a cover by The New Switcheroo:


Live version by Harvey Danger HERE

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Bestest Christmas Songs of the 10s - results

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Poppunk from Hey Monday, suggested by George:


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


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


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

Monday, December 23, 2019

valhalleluja it's christmas

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



Observer readers' alternative Christmas playlist

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

Christmas A Go Go

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

Christmas at Applebee's

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

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Stubby's Stocking Stuffers 2019



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

Clean Pete Kerstshow - Doornroosje, Nijmegen 21 dec


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

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

-> Lees verder (plus aftermovie)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Jazzboy

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

Xmas friends


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

Another christmas

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

Nancy & The Mysterious Visions

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

Hat tip to Christmas Underground

Thursday, December 19, 2019

instrumental electronic xmas

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Kraftwerk Christmas

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


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

The Vendetta Suite

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The 51 Bestest Christmas songs of 2019 (on Spotify)



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hannah Barberas

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

New on Kingfisher Bluez

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


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

Monday, December 16, 2019

Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada


The compilation we wait for every year, The Line of Best Fit's Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada. Northern artists who get in the Xmas spirit, and record (mostly) exclusive songs for a free downloadable comp. A few artists we know, like Kristian Noel Pedersen, Girlfriend Material and PIQSIQ, but most of the artists are new to us (me, to be more precise). This track by Nick Faye and Meghan Nash struck me as brilliant:

About this song: "Two Saskatchewan favourites get together for a seasonal tale of life on the road. Both Faye and Nash have had busy years, with Faye fitting in some festival shows as well as a visit to Zandari festival in South Korea and Nash, off the back of a Juno nomination for Contemporary Roots album of the year for Seeker, toured across Canada and Europe. The two even played together in Tallinn, Estonia, quite some way from there Prairie home.. Both have now returned home to work on new records.

As for the song itself, Faye explains: “The song explores a sad sense of longing and loneliness that musicians feel when they're on the road when they'd rather be home with their family and loved ones. It's especially difficult during important family events like Christmas. We were fortunate enough to have our friend Megan Nash sing on the track, and her vocal performance was top notch as always“

Lana Winterhalt

Saw this album on Cover Lay Down, a blog dedicated to folksy covers. They gushed over Lana Winterhalt's version of The Holly & the Ivy, which is very good indeed. But Canadian songstress Winterhalt also recorded a bunch of originals tracks. Storytelling with bells and guitar, in very fine form:

Surf School Drop Outs

Going back in time; in 2012 we featured 'Help Me Santa' by Danish band Surf School Dropouts. 'A great Beach Boys-inspired single', we said, short 'n snappy as ever. Later on, SSD released another Xmas single, this one, which we compared to The Walker Brothers. And now, the Dropouts slightly return with a free download of that first single. It's remastered, revamped, re-ignited, re-up. Re-turn to greatness, is what we say:

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.