Thursday, December 31, 2020

Bye 2020, happy 21


2020, that was quite a year, wasnt' it? Next year will be better, we hope. 2021 will also bring the 15th season of Christmas a Go Go, and we're gonna make sure that's going to be special. Details on that later. On behalf of all the writers and guestposters, thanks for stopping by, thanks for your tips and commments. Have a healthy new year. Oh, and tomorrow, a small bonus series starts!
Here are five kinda great covers of This Will Be Our Year (orig. by The Zombies):

Gentle, dilligent:
More joyous, uptempo:
From this year, with a slight jazzy, New Orleans touch:
Very minimal (guitar, rhythm box), but very charming:
RE VERBBBBBB:

Saturday, December 26, 2020

December 26

Three years ago I made a big post on Boxing Day tracks, yesterday I did one on December 25-songs. So why not find more songs about December 26th?
From this year, Micah Edwards does a soulful number on the day he does not like: 'One double two six/I can wait for you/No matter what I do/I'll wake up feeling blue'
Same vibe, but as a Tom Waits-ian piano ballad:
The song you could write when not everything you took on Christmas day is out of your bloodstream:
Pastoral ballad by a guy who didn't get a Lexus or diamonds, so he's glad Christmas is over:
Same vibe, but as a very happy folk singalong: 'I wish I could just sleep until December 26th, lalalala!'
Paul Dickinson talks in his sleep. Since 1986, he has documented this phenomenon with the aid of voice-activated recorders. The 'album' contains 99 'hits', everything he said is in a 12-page transcript. Fascinating? Odd, for sure:
Power pop about Christmas and not wanna fight tonight:
The Pissed Alpacas made 12 albums this year consisting of song that last about 40 seconds, about every day of 2020. On a punk beat. I kid you not. Calender core, anyone?
ZUT is a French brass-rockband, this ode to December 26 is sung by Didier Wampa of French rock band Les Wampas:
And of course, this classic

Friday, December 25, 2020

The 25th of the 12th


Hello. It's the 25th of December. Christmas day. Or, the birthday of the sun, if you're a pagan. So here's a few songs about this day/date.

A cover version of a song you may have heard on the Queen's Gambit soundtrack. Original by Bill Compton
Oh, Roberta:
Still a great track, after more than 25 years:
Not a song but a very good drum & bass dance track:
Very tender folksy song about this morning, very Christmassy; the longing is strong in this one:
Modern (yet pastoral) jazz from a very interesting project, 50 short compositions about, well, the weather during October 27th 2014 and April 28th, 2018
Weepy ukelele folk:
Calm and collected jazzy croonersong (funny how lyrics about 'a good year' sound really odd)
Hiphoptrack from the great Blackwatch III compilation
Lo-fi, but a great GREAT song this! Wild style R&B, handclaps, guitar solo, a bit messy but exciting! Crank up the volume. From 2013:
More? You want more? Try Silent Winters' Christmas Morning. Find Nick Piunti's power pop track here. Listen to Sloan here. Don't forget the utterly fantastic Lyle Lovett (and the cover by Rick Buur). Or this grand version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Shoeshine Pickens & Hospital Bombers. That one is not on Spotify, but these 30 versions (by Beau Jennings, Frank Sinatra, David Bazan, Carpenters, etc) are. HERE

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Non traditional (?) christmas

Almost as long I can remember every year a strange Dutch band pops up around Xmas: That Band From Holland.  I guess they started around 2007. They're based in Rotterdam and like The Unicorns, Grandaddy and Sparklehorse. We started writing about their Christmas music in 2009, read here . Since a couple of years they have an offshoot called The Non Traditionals who took over their Xmas music. We discovered The Non Traditionals in 2017, read here. Their 2020 holiday track sounds acoustic and folky, with a bit of jangly organ. Typical Dutch sound. This is what they say about the track: "24 hour project. Writing, recording, arranging and mixing the song in 1 day. Rich kids are more spoiled by Santa"

On Bandcamp:

Funk santas

Canadian funkers The Brooks are, according to a Quebec newspaper "the best kept secret of Canadian funk". So we are very happy with their special (digital) holiday single: 'Merry Christmas Baby', a cover of  the 1947 song best known in the Otis Redding version from 1968. The Canadians play it Otis- wise with lots of bells. Enjoy!

The Soul Santas


You've probably heard about this album, 'cause it's doing the rounds on many music blogs. If not, and you like soul- and funkified Christmas instrumentals, yer in for a treat.
Christmas Crackers, Vol 1 sees funk-laden soul versions of hymns like ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, ‘We Three Kings’ and ‘Away In A Manger’, alongside more secular yuletide classics like ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer’. The Soul Santas = Portishead-honcho Geoff Barrow on drum duties, while fellow Beak> member (Barrow is also part of this band) Bully Fuller plays bass, alongside Ben Salisbury (keyboards) and guitarist Shaun Snook, a regular in the band of Portishead signer Beth Gibbons.
The Soul Santas apparently came together to play a Christmas School Fair in 2014 – their one and only show, despite being, in their own words, “a roaring success”. The project lay dormant until earlier a host of rehearsal recordings surfaced on a band member’s phone, inspiring them to record Christmas Crackers Vol.1 over two days at Invada Studios in Bristol in October 2020.
All proceeds from the album received this year will go to feed the homeless of Bristol.

Barrow and Beak> are not strangers to making Christmas music, this track is from 2017 and (with a little effort) you can hear the old funk 'n soul influence already there:
A totally great video for this:

Ballad of the Harp Weaver


The night before Christmas
I cried with the cold,
I cried myself to sleep
Like a two-year-old.

One night you're clicking away on your laptop, listening to old Christmas albums, and all of a sudden the world goes misty, there's salt water on your cheeks and it seems the song you're listening to is making some kind of impression.
That was the case with Johnny Cash's version of 'The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver'. which is on his 1963 'Christmas with Johnny' album. It's a poem by Edna St Vincent Millay an acclaimed writer, with a very interesting life story. For the book in which the poem was published, she received the Pullitzer Prize in 1923.

The sonnet is about a mother and son, both live in extreme poverty, the boy has almost no clothes and cannot get out. There's also an extreme bond between the two, culminating in the death of the mother on Christmas Day and the start of a new life (with new clothes) for the boy. It feels medieval, yet could easily have taken place near Dolly Parton's home in the mountains. When you read closer, you'll find the feminist layers. Read an analysis HERE. Hear Edna recite lines from the poem HERE. Full text HERE.

Lyrics, poems, movies, anything really in which parents leave (or die) their children always strike a nerve in me, and when Johnny Cash tells this tale, YOU try and keep a a dry eye.
Cash is probably the first popular artist to set this poem to music on his 1963 Christmas album. As I understand it the ballad was a staple in American education, I've read many comments about having to learn this poem by heart.

There are many recitals of the poem to be found, but only a few versions where the words are sung. This one is very good:
Also beautiful, sung like a ballad from the 17th Century:
Video:
Of course, because it's about a harp, harpists made the poem their own too:
A version by harpist Bonnie Whitehurst, with very touching drawings:
Harpist Maeve Gilchrist, who used selected lines from the poem for her almost 9-minute version. She writes: 'My first impression of this poem, from the 1923 Pulitzer-award-winning collection by the American poet Edna St Vincent Millay, was not of a tale of bleak circumstance but of the power of maternal love and the symbiotic relationship between instrument and player.' There's a video for this too:

Les BB also saw mommy kissing Santa

Les BB, a popular Québécois 1980s band from Montréal you couldn't avoid on the radio, also gave us their version of 'J'ai Vu Maman Embrasser Le Père Noël' ('I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus'). Just this week someone admitted they hadn't realised that mommy was kissing daddy dressed up as Santa Claus, which still makes this song fun because I bet others have yet to figure it out. Lead singer, guitarist and bassist Patrick Bourgeois, also the band's main songwriter, died of cancer at age 55 in November 2017. This November, the band's drummer François Jean sadly died with no reason given. This song is very much on brand for them, with a nice sythesizer drive and crispy clear vocals. Vive les BB !

freaky electronic Xmas

 Dutch musician Truus de Groot is a real phenomenon. Around 1980 she was part of  the Dutch post punk band Nasmak. She started her own band Plus Instruments and moved to America. Here she still makes more or less experimental electronic music, with self-made synthseizers. This year we already found her back  with two tracks on the very difficult to trace down Xmas compilation cassette 'Here's To Y'All, Snowflakes!!'. But now she is also on Youtube with a very appropriate and a bit freaky tune: 'Pandemic X-Mas Disco'. With this tune she hopes " to hopefully cheer up your Christmas during this dreadful pandemic". Oh yes and the video is also made by Truus de Groot. More covid/pandemic/social distancing songs? Go HERE, or find all our other posts on the theme HERE.

dropkick xmas

American folk-punkband Dropkick Murphys recorded a more folky than punk version of the Phil Spector production 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)', sung by Darlene Love. It's only available as a very limited 7 inch flexi disc.
Certainly not the only seasonal song by the Murphys:

Dj Oscar Xmas style

DJ Oscar is one of the frequent contributors to CAGG. Normally he does a few Xmas DJ-sets in his hometown Amsterdam. This year he does a lot on line. If you want to see him live in action online, check out his coming DJ set on Thursday, dec 234, 15.00 hour (CET), live from the (closed) recordshop & coffeeclub Black Gold. Tune in here on Facebook. His weekly online radioshow, Beautiful Extremes, had his Xmas Special. You can hear that here

 He also did a few blogs on Xmas music, most of it you could also have seen and read here first.

- 15 nice & special Christmas songs from 2020 

- 10 quaint Christmas songs from 2020 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Death Hags and other females

OK, so a few quickies before it's really Christmas. Lola Jean (or Lola G.) = Death Hags, 'instellar psychedelic noise pop' from L.A. (by way of France, or Quebec, I don't know, I do know that Lola can speak French, maybe she picked it up at school, we'll never know). She made a, yes, noisey Christmas album, with very strong songs. Including a Roger Miller cover (will add that one HERE). If Melody's Echo Chamber or Moodoid ring a bell, DH swims the same pond. This one's the killer track:
In French, which I love:
PET Wife is a NYC based duo that, for this very catchy song, got inspired by the Wall of Sound/60s girl groups, but check out the more electronic, sexy music they usually make. Ask sounds carefree but that's deceptive - read the lyrics on the Bandcamp page. PW are very involved in the queer/trans scene. The couple's romance began 'as a creative tête-á-tête sending playlists, poems, and art back and forth, ultimately culminating in a multi disciplinary concept project incorporating elements of fashion and performance art along a musical journey.' Dive in HERE.
A very sweet, very hopeful song by Maiah warmed my heart and cheeks:
Also sweet sounding, but a bit darker in lyrics is this 'waiting in vain' track by Little Cloud:
And how 'bout this song? We had dog-themed Christmas songs before (this one, this one), so it's not that rare, but the ukelele (I guess) making that woof-noise is kinda great:

It's Christmas, so we'll stop (RIP Scott Hutchinson)

'One reason Frightened Rabbit are so important to so many people is because of the overwhelming mutual empathy in the room when they played live. The joy and force of the music, juxtaposed with the sadness and candour of the lyrics, created a sense of a crowd and band with their arms around one another.'
These lines come from a beautiful, heart-wrenching piece on the surviving bandmembers of Frightened Rabbbit, a Scottish indie rock band. Singer Scott Hutchinson took his own life two years ago, after years of struggling with depression. Scott and FR leave a beautiful legacy of songs.

There's two Christmas songs I'd like to share. 'It's Christmas, so we'll stop' is an intense seasonal song with a hopeful message, but only just.
So forget the names/I called you on Christmas Eve/In fact forget the entire year/Don't reflect just pretend and you won't feel scared/You won't feel a thing

Not a song to cover lightly, I'd say. I found a few, none of them as intense as the original, but good nonetheless. Cincinatti-band The Bell And The Hammer made a very sweet cover version on their brand new Christmas EP:
Butt Cashier (from 2018) is pretty good too:
This one's close to the intensity of the original, very sparse:
Not a real cover, it's the b-side to the original single. Powerful stuff:
Scott himself, covering Fake Empire by The National, and mixing it with It's Christmas so we'll stop:

Here's Scott himself again with another Christmas song (from 2012), written to raise funds for his niece Morven. Live version HERE:
This song got covered too, and very well too:

90s Christmas

When you google on 90s Christmas music, you're likely to find playlists with boybands like 'NSync, R&B heroines like Destiny's Child and TLC, and of course Mariah, Christina and Britney. The alternative to that was less prominent. There were Christmas compilations like the (very good) Happy Birthday Baby Jesus volumes, Just Say Noel (most famous for Beck's Little Drummachine Boy track) and 1991's Yuletunes. There were more, but not many more. And of course, the Fountains of Wayne tracks, the Red Kross single, this Harvey Danger track.
I fell into a nineties xmas rabbithole on internet when I suddenly found out (it says so on the Bandcamp page, so it wasn't a big revelation) that Melkbelly's Hating You For Christmas from the recent Father/Daughter compilation is a cover of a 1997 Everclear song.

Then (I can't recall how I got there) I heard the Sun 60 song Mary Xmess, from 1993. Still a brilliant, really fresh song. Love the vocals by Joan Jones. It's got Jack Irons (then RHCP) and Dave Navarro (then Jane's Addiction) on drums and guitars. What a song.
But wait, it's gets even better. From Boston, 1996, Fuzzy. Vocals: Hilken Mancini. Very much in the loud-quiet-vibe of the era (Pumpkins, Pixies, etc). Very depressing lyrics too, of course.
Less loud, but also very good, is this 1991 song by The Accelerators from Raleigh, North Carolina. Produced by Don Dixon and Mitch Easter, big names at the time, but the band didn't became a household name. Still, there's this:
I also reconnected with this song by Juliana Hatfield. From 1994, for the series My So-Called Life, breakthrough of Clare Danes. The song has no reference to Christmas, snow is mentioned and every Christmas enthusiast will recognise the melodic nods to Silent Night and O Come All Ye Faithful. I read that she was inspired by Joni Mitchell's River.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Freezepop

This EP by Bostonians Freezepop (making electropop since 1999) really surprised me in a good sense. As far as I can tell, it's the first Christmas EP by the band, they wrote two originals and had those, blitz pop style, remixed. It's 80s-for-the-zeroes-pop. I love the 'Night Sleigh version' of Glitterstorm. References: early Duran Duran, early OMD, Zoot Woman.
Two covers complete the EP, an almost unrecognisable version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and this. An electronic 'No Presents for Christmas' version, originally by metal legend King Diamond (see a post about that song HERE)
This track isn't a Christmas song, it's from their 2015 Covers EP, but you could call it seasonal because of the electronic arrangement and the lyrics about ivy, frostbite and warm jackets. You could easily hear this in an 80s, Christmas-themed teen movie, no? The original is by Parks(from 2012), this is a lovely, OMD/Billy Idol-ish cover:

Stubby's Stocking Stuffers

The mighty Stubby, he of the House of Christmas, the one who's an example (a demi-god, really) to us all when it comes to collecting & promoting the bestest Christmas music, Martin for friends, THAT maestro, he made a new Christmas mix. Two cd's stuffed with the songs we couldn't find, the ones that come to only him. On his blog he writes that the site will be gone later this year, that's just like saying that...I can't think of an analogy that quite fits here. Let's just pray it don't happen. And let's all download the Stocking Stuffer's, mmkay? HERE.
If you're somehow unconvinced, here's a handful of hits on this year's compilation.
This is the track Phil Spector forgot to write:
This is just great:
Quality Americana:

Christmas on Eigg

 Lost Map Records is a small label from an equal small Scottish island,  Isle Of Eigg. It's the home of artists like Fell, Marble Gods, Monoganon, Clementine March and Pictish Trail. They just released  their 'Lost Map Christmas Card Compilation'.  This means that if you order two of their Christmas Cards you'll get a donwload of their festive album. The opening track comes from Happy Clarinetty, the woodwind wing of sad-synth-pop legends Happy Spendy - performing the 2020 reincarnation of a song the band first recorded as 'Marble Gods' in 2016, then again in 2018. The album contains eight original new songs with a nice indie feeling and one traditional, 'Silent Night' by AR Pinewood.



 

Also read Christmas Underground's rave review of this HERE.

Virgineers

While doing some maintenance on the blog, I found this post, written by one-time contributor Jam on Revenge from 2006. The original links were gone, so I looked around for videos, or other links to the songs mentioned. To my surprise both tracks were easy to be found on Bandcamp, and the band Virgineers seemed very much alive again. Last March, they released an album with their trademark power pop/Beatles melody-fests. And it turns out they're not from Antarctica, but from Chicago. There's a short bio on AllMusic.
Anyhow, I totally forgot about these tracks. If you're into Beatles, XTC/Dukes of Stratosphear, The Crookes, any harmony-and-melody-overload, you're in for a trip down memory lane or a nice introduction:

FURIOUS XMAS

 Worldsucks is a New York punk/trash duo. This is what they say on the Bandcamp of their label  Dromedary Records about their Xmas record: "Worldsucks has turned its attention to a new enemy: Christmas. To commemorate the holidays in These Uncertain Times (TM), the band injected the traditional song "Must Be Santa" with some much-needed fury and angst. But, that wasn't dark enough. The band reached new depths of evil with a different spin on "Must Be Santa" with the soon-to-be-classic "Must Be Satan." " So they turned a childrens Christmas song from 1960 into a fast and furious punk track! The single comes as a very limited lathe-cut record.


By the way, if it's fast and furious you want, try this ultra-metal version of Last Christmas:

Kingfisher Bluez Christmas


Oh, the lamentations of a Christmas music fanatic: 'Why do people release their Christmas music so late?! Releasing it a few days before Christmas gives to little opportunity's to play it in a dj-show. It will take about two weeks before this vinyl single will be arrived in Holland!'
Back to blog-mode: Kingfisher Bluez is an independent record label based in Vancouver, Canada. This is their tenth holly-jolly instalment. As always it's a vinyl 7 inch with on the cover an old fashioned wintery building. Four bands, with two new more or less electronic songs (Bookclub is also present on HHHC XII) and two highly charming, lo-fi versions of the traditionals 'Auld ang Syne' and 'Silent Night.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Killer Bangs


This track by (probably) now defunct Philly band Killer Bangs comes from a VERY good, very stuffed compilation with lots of covers, and a handful of originals. I found this post announcing a Christmas EP by Killer Bangs featuring this song in 2014. But the Bandcamp link is gone, and that's all google gave me. If you have that EP, please contact me! It is this band, but it's not on their Bandcamp-page.
The song sounds like an heavy glamrock classic (think The Darkness), or something Cheap Trick could've done back in the late 70s. It's an original song, 's far as I know. It's sooo catchy, I can't get enough of it:
Other great tracks on the compilation, are this fun Thin Lizzy-with-new-lyrics-cover:

Same fun idea, different song:
When you call yourself House Plant, you just don't wanna be googled, right? This is a new song (he sings about wearing a mask, and moving to New Zealand, a country that beated covid), it's soulful, it has a great groove:
I generally skip covers of this song, but I listened to this one and I really really liked it. With a drum machine, and a guitar and a laidback vibe:

Die Hard is a Christmas movie


Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It came out in summer, but it's set the night before Christmas, hence it's a Christmas movie. Even director John McTiernan agrees.

To be honest, I was aware of this debate, and I probably heard one or two songs mentioning Die Hard, bad guy Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman in the first DH-movie) or John McClane (Bruce Willis, duh), what I was NOT aware of, is that 'Die Hard is a Christmas Movie' is a whole subgenre in Christmas music. Thanks to Jim/CU and Santapalooza tweeting about this (HERE), I dove in and dug up over 25 songs either about the (first) movie, the protagonist and his antogonist. I know there's more. If I missed a really good one, please link in the comments

Athens-singer Four Eyes wrote, without a doubt, the greatest song about bad guy Hans Gruber, and Christmas, ever. 'Yes, everything will change this Christmas/Whether you are falling in love or falling from a tower'
VERY charming song about McClane, saviour of Christmas:
https://yofishboy.com/post/181509065439/fishboy-here-is-a-second-christmas-song-from

UK's Jonnie Common wrote a downtempo, understated but really, REALLY great song about the first Die Hard movie (posted here before). Chorus goes: 'I make fists (fists)/fists with my toes' (more HERE):
Sounds like a demo of a really good ballad (dunno 'bout the rapping tho):
From a guy (who also calls himself Nick SantaCroce) who made A LOT of Christmas songs, this spiced up (with bullets) Die Hard re-telling:
Comedian Marian Call made, I think, the best nerdy Die Hard-tributing Christmas song, a great singalong (posted here in 2014):
There's a lot going on in this Insane Ian & Bonecage song. It's both a tribute to Alan Rickman, to David Bowie & Bing Crosby and to Die Hard. Set to the music of Little Drummer Boy. And yes it's super cool:
From last year, a full album to prove that Die Hard is a Christmas film by UK comedian David Goody. It's like War of the Worlds, but then about Die Hard. Best title: 'But Hans, it's cold outside':
The whole first Die Hard movie as told in about 4 minutes, set to lo-fi punk, totally great: 'Enter officer al Powell/Screaming for backup welcome to the party pal'
Same idea, slightly better recording equipment:
The movie told on a ska-punk beat, with bells (acoustic version? HERE):
...but in Spanish:
...but in Hungarian (one of the lines goes, translated: 'Barefoot/only barefoot/make a fist out of your foot'). Very good rock song this:
HARRRRDCORE, including a sample, and yes, it's the story of the movie told in the screamo-lyrics, even the holidays are mentioned. Not for everybody, I like it
The Ballad of Hans Gruber, as a pirate's hymn:
Great idea, become the partner of John McClane in a song (in a dreamstate):
Slight detour, but a great upbeat miserable Christmas song I'd never heard before by a UK band called Piskie Sits with nods to Die Hard, Home Alone and Elf:
Die Hard, punkpop style:
Die Hard, emopop style:
From the cartoon series 'Family Guy', first two verses of Jingle Bells 'nobody knows' and then a song about Die Hard, by the Adam West High School Choir:

Oh, you wanted hiphop? Swiss-language hiphop? Yippeee ka yay du Schweinebacke!
OK, I only chose this because 'Nakatomi, Nakatoyou' is so stupid it's actually funny. So is Hams Gruber. It's a loud hardcore song, can't figure out if the lyrics (if it's actually lyrics) are about the movie:
LOUD ode to McClane, who apparently 'doesn't take shit from a n y b o d y'
From this year, from a pretty explicit Xmas album, this UK metalband: Hans Gruber Brass Band, from a series of Canadian compilations I'll have to explore more (the HGBB also covered a Hannukah-song):
Is there more? Of course there's more. There's a band called Hans Gruber & the Die Hards who (as fas as I can tell, correct me) never made a song about the movie, or Hans. There's this defunct mathrock band who wrote a song called 'The Fall of Hans Gruber' that (again, as fas as I can tell) isn't really about Hans. This metalband is called 'Dance Gruber' and release albums (none about the movie, or Hans) called 'DIY Hard'. 'Poor quality bloke-core' about John HERE. Scottish punk about John McC, with easy to remember lyrics. A Spanish song about John McClane's feet, HERE. More on the shoes vs John McClane theme, HERE. This Australian folkster can't really sing, but his song needs to be in this list. And this Stony Girl song, I'll Die Hard This Christmas, is the perfect ending:

Robin Kester


Did we post more Dutch Christmas songs this year than ever? It feels that way. Here's the zenith of Hollandse kerstliedjes of 20202, the Christmas peak to top it all off: a BEAUTIFUL song made by bright young hope Robin Kester. It's dreamy, it's tender, it's comforting like a woolen sweater. Robin (find more about her HERE) wrote the song for the Into the Great Wide Open festival (that, of course, did not have a 2020 edition).
I love this line: 'Mom brought you a small Christmas tree/but it’s not the same when you’re alone, in front of a tv'. There are no bells in this song, but this line is the 'ting', the 'ding-dong' in the song if you catch my drift.

It's the 21st of December


December 21, that means it is Gravy Day. So we'll post new versions of Paul Kelly's 'How to make gravy'.

On guitar:

On country guitar:


On piano:
More covers? HERE

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Veluwsch Kerst Collektiev 2020, Dutch Vandals

'Young hearts run free, they'll never be hung up, hung up from the tree.' That sounds like quite an excellent motto for this boisterous Christmas album of Veluwsch Kerst Collektiev. It's going all directions, musically wise. From punky tracks (STORT IN), singer songwriter (Ver Vlogen), to electropop (Draad Kwijt) and Spinvis references (De Moraal) and certainly has surprisingly strong tracks in store for us.
The real Christmas feeling is at least 2000 miles away, the sleighbells in the studio were apparently lost, although a church bell can be heard every now and then. But lyrically it's quite good and entertaining. From fast food Christmas dinners, obligatory Christmas programs on TV and even an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol (A Christmas Carol in Proza). All in Dutch.
Veluwsch Kerst Collektiev is a collab from all kind of young musicians from the middle east of The Netherlands.

Check their complete 2020 album here. We missed out on Veluwsch Kerst Collektiev last two years, so here's edition 2019 and edition 2018





How 'bout some more Dutch Christmas? This is Olax from The Hague, covering (in Dutch) that classic Vandals punk xmas track 'Hang myself from the tree'.

There's a video too, which has an age limiti (not because it's NSFW, ok well you can see Olax's bellybutton, but I guess because of the theme)
Certainly not the first time a Dutch artist covers The Vandals, this is from the (in Holland) legendary Zo Dit Is Kerstmis cd (1998), Excelsior Recordings-artist Caesar (in English):

Ambient Christmas

 Soundscapes, a music box, industrial noises, ambient electronics: here's a beautiful atmospheric track from Polly Scattergood, a 34 years old British electronic singer-songwriter. This is what she says about this video/ CD song:"For the 'Snowburden' release, I wanted to make something handmade and personal.  It's been a tough year for so many and I wanted to make something that has been created with love and would make people smile."

It’s Sooo Different

Berend Dubbe, a Dutch multi instrumentalist musician also known as Bauer and former drummer of indie heroes Bettie Serveert, is doing shows at Mixcloud since a few months which go under the name of 'It’s Sooo Different'. They're real fun to listen to. Diverse, surprising, sometimes banal and funny, but always chosen with care and with a beautifully framed story.
This time he thought it would be time for a Christmas episode. Part one, mind you.
So there's even more Sooo Different Christmas to come!

An old (1998) instrumental Christmas track from Berend, Sola Festa Nativitatis Christi:

And also check this Christmas oldie (1998) from Bettie Serveert, River (which actually is a cover from Joni Mitchell):

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Radio Tijden van Nood commercial break

Back in March, during the first corona wave, a lot of great (musical) initiatives were started. Online radio stations for instance. Ever since, I'm a real sucker for and a huge fan of one of those: the infamous Dutch radio station Radio Tijden van Nood, Beter dan de Ether (listen here). Various music lovers make live programs as if they were playing for themselves at home in the living room (or actually they sometimes even do, so be prepared for some amusing amateuristic failures every now and then, but looooove the music).
Now, the founder of this Christmas blog, Guuzbourg, also is a connaisseur for French music, which led to Filles Sourires, a blog dedicated to girls singing in French. And now we're getting close.
Every sunday between 14:00 and 15:00 Juf Jos is on air at Tijden van Nood with her fine French music show. And now we're getting even more close: tomorrow it's all about a cheesy French Noël! So tune in tomorrow at Radio Tijden van Nood and be amazed. (Insta here, huge Spotify playlist here.)

/commercial break

Clover


Here's another very intriguing track that's been on my playlist for a while, by a New Jersey singer that channels a little George Michael (intro, Linn-drum rhythm), a little late(-night) Hall 'n Oates-soul and a lotta sunshine in her track. I love the laidbackness (is that a word?), the unhurried vibe. Somehow, when she sings, I don't believe she really wants Santa to rush to come to the New Mexico desert.

? and the mystery track


I wanted to post this track earlier, but unfortunately the guy (or guys, or guys 'n dolls) who made this, do not respond to inquiries. I found it on a very interesting Soundcloud profile with music that Shazam does not recognise, by artists Discogs never heard about. Is this a holy grail? The track in question sounds like an early B52's demo, stuck in an elevator music systym with Devo. It's fast, borderline hysterical, sounds like it was recorded in a bucket, the groove is irresistable, and is that bridge a nod to the Sex Pistols?
If you have any information on this, please share.

Villacincos


Guestpost time again. Joris Stereo on Spanish indie navidad:

'Villacincos is a series of yearly compilations of new Christmas songs on cassette put out by the Madrid label Jeanne D'Arc. The third edition has just been released and it is a considerably mixed bag, both in musical styles and quality I must admit. My personal favourites are the contributions by Martirio Martirio (even though their nervous, lo-fi electropunky (Contigo) Me Gusta Que Se Navidad doesn't sound particularly Christmassy) and Dani (whose Canción Para Volver is pretty much on exactly the other side of the musical spectrum: quiet, introverted and acoustic).'

Punk Xmas

Friendly reminder that our guestposter and DJ Brian Foss is doing his Punk Xmas show at 9pm to midnight (PST) tonight (that's starting Sunday morning 06.00 hrs in Amsterdam). All details at the bottom of this post.

We don't know the playlist yet, but Brian might be playing this brand-new track by Anti-Flag:

Friday, December 18, 2020

A Pip Blom Christmas

Dutch indie darlings Pip Blom reworked the track Ruby of their succesful 2019 album Boat into a real Christmas track. It sounds funny, lo-fi, clumsy and it’s very Pip Blom. 

Wake Up & Smell the Sun


One of the strongest new Christmas rock releases of this year, the Electric Snow album by Wake Up And Smell the Sun, just got a bonus. And what a song this is. Christmas All Over Again, for sure. Bring on those Yuletide Waves, I love to get wet in these:

Santa's wearing a mask this year

Hugo Barbet of Paris has composed a friendly 'guitarful' ditty about Santa Claus' beard called 'La barbe du Père Noël', taking polite jabs at the health measures in France. It's kid-friendly and it also come in a sing-a-long instrument version, which is a great thing for anybody learning French or anybody who sings 'la la la la la la' to French music.

Like many of you I have an upcoming Noël online video with my Québécois family in three times zones and I think my little nephew will like this.

Watch Hugo play just for you in the comfort of your own quarantine:

More Dutch Christmas

Gruppo Sportivo was a famous Dutch band around 1980. They toured all over Holland (and a bit around Europe), best known songs are 'Disco Really Made It' and 'Hey Girl'. It's the closest a Dutch act ever came to the spirit of (artists on) the Stiff record label. Fun fact, one of their songs was once ripped off by Dexter Holland (from The Offspring) for his production of a Japanese duo (see HERE). Gruppo still plays live (when allowed), for this year they made a charming Dutch xmas song about the most famous reindeer ever:

Not the first time Gruppo Sportivo made a Christmas song, this is from 1981:


Also in Dutch, but musically more in the vein of the analogue synths of Stippenlift (this guy) is 'Kerstmis 1984' by Joost Kelker. Very little is known about this producer, he's a protégé of Daniël Lohues, once the frontman of Skik, now an acclaimed singer-songwriter. Tis his voice you hear on this track. Y'all probably have no clue what this song is about, but Christmas 1984 sure triggers the imagination, right?