Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy 22


Thanks to all the artists featured here for the music. Thank you for your comments, tips and visits. Happy 2022. See you in November.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

New Year



Just before we change the calenders, here are a few fairly recent songs about (a) new year. More posts about new year's (eve) songs, HERE and HERE.
This was spotted (of course) by Jim @Christmas Underground, a probably the bestest January 1 song of recent years. With the right amount of melancholy, nostalgia en promises made to be broken. Released this summer, mind you:
Released in July 2019, also heavy on the melancholy stocked with great lines. Musically it leans on the mid-90s guitar sound of Belly and Juliana Hatfield:
Spanish post-rock, about starting over, leaving Madrid and taking one last stroll:
A song about writing a song for the new year:
'Together we'll ring in the new year' by Motion City Soundtrack (from 2005) is, like The Zombies' 'This Will Be Our Year' a staple when it comes to new years songs. There are many covers of the MCS-song on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Most are dull. I found this all girls-version quite nice.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Eilandnet


If you need a Christmas album to chill out to, look no further than Eilandnet's The Soothing Christmas Album. Title says it all, it's blinking lights/analogue synths/Vangelis-like tapestries from keyboards. Arguing family members, complaints about Christmas dinner, end of the year depressions...they all just faaaaaaade away. Eilandnet = recurring CAGG-phenomenon Stippenlift. If you need more recommendation.
Only on Spotify and YouTube:

Thank God It's Not Christmas


When I was re-listening to old(er) songs posted on this blog, I checked the Parenthetical Girls' Christmas album was still as great as I remembered. It was. What I did not remember, was their great Sparks-cover. 'Thank God It's Not Christmas' (1974) is, covered or in the original version, a Christmas song if there ever was one, it had the nostalgia, the longing, even the (mimicking of) bells.
There are more covers, most of them really, really great. So post-Christmas, it's a good theme, no?

Let's start with that Parenthetical Girls version:
On this extensive Sparks tribute album, there are two TGINC-covers, but this slow burning version is the best:
From 2011, with those semi-detached indie-rock vocals that were the thing back then:
Analogue synth-fun!
Highly charming acoustic version:
Sound quality is sh*t, but the energy's great! Not sure if the second song is a cover too, or an original. Would LOVE to hear it in better quality.
Another acoustic version. Look at the guy, how can I NOT post this?

Friday, December 24, 2021

Festive Scanner tunes

 Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner is a well known British electronic music artist. Last year he released ' 'Tis The Season', his first Xmas outing (as far as I know). Because the release was only a few days before Christmas we at CAGG missed it. It's beautiful downtempo and athmospheric music, mainly instrumental. You can easily recognize the origines of the songs like in 'Last Christmas Christmas Last', but Scanner gives the songs a nice twist. There are even vocals in a couple of tracks, which is very rare in Scanner music. Oh yes 'Silent Night' has a strange downtempo like drum & bass beat.

Socks for Christmas


It's the ultimate Christmas gift, so much that JD McPherson named his totally fantastic Christmas album after it. Socks. When Randolph's Leap added a song about getting socks for Xmas to their classic Christmas album, I decided to dig in some more. What are the bestest feet warmin' xmas choons?

Let's kick off with the blues by JD:
And this is that Randolph's Leap track (not only about socks, as Christmas Underground noted):
From a recent SNL episode, Paul Rudd singin' a funny song about Christmas socks
Croonin' about NOT wanting socks (see the video HERE):
Ramones-y punk, ho ho let's go:
Sweet, minimal lofi track from a couple of girls from Belfast: 'And every present then will be as good as gold/ When you've got no money and your feet are always cold'
Great Britpop (think The Crookes), harmony singing about Father Christmas and NOT wanting socks:
Very lofi, but piercing:
Nice retro doo-wop tune:
Not the tightest guitar player out there, but still a solid indie tune:
Ah yes, that unbreakable combo (great Randy Newman-ish song):
Ah yes, that other unbreakable combo!
Punk rock stormer about, yes, socks:
Ragged Flags, a Christmas music staple:
Oh joy, it's Jeremy Walker with an ode:
Why don't we sing along:

I'd love to see someone making a Best Christmas Stocking(s) Song playlist

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Country christmas

 The American label Medicine Show Records has a great holiday compilation out  called 'Christmas Times A'Coming' with a lot of very original country/ americana Christmas songs. Like this one from India Ramey: 

My favorite is Tom Mason's  'Christmas Boogaloo'. (Any song which has boogaloo in the title is great) 

Santa Teach Me To Dance


True Christmas music fans probably know this tune, a 1962 single by Debbie & the Darnells. It's a fun girl group doo-wop dance song. I found a cover on this year's Mela Collective Xmas compilation. They added some Waitresses-energy to it. Don't be fooled by the title:
Then I started looking for more covers. This creeks and rambles like a garbage truck:
Sweet school project from Australia:
And then the grand prize. Not a cover, more like an answer song from a guy's perspective, DAMN FINE tune:

Just Like Christmas some more


Every now and then, I look for new cover versions of Low's indie classic Just Like Christmas, from their Christmas album. There are many, some bad, some good, some totally bonkers, and a lot are really, really interesting. Today I found an ode to the song:

In addition to this post, this post and this post, here are more fresh finds (far from complete, I must add, check the other posts and on Soundcloud):

Fun, almost sunny version:
Very fine pop version:
From Italy, slowed down and again, more sunny than wintery:
You haven't heard JLC like this, I guarantee it:
8-bit electronics:
Fierce rawk'n roll:
Can't be slower than this one:
LOVE this slow burning, sultry version:
If The Cure would be the backing band:
Also pop, also good:
Like a northern soul version:
Dance, dance, dance to the radio!
And in case you're wondering; yes, other songs from Low's Christmas album were covered to. Just a handful examples, this is a beautiful version of Long Way Around the Sea by Greanvine, a fine version of Taking Down the Tree by Small Signals, If You Were Born today by Olivia Mori and One Special Gift by Pale Shade.

Arbor Christmas 22


Incredible, isn't it, 22 years of Christmas compilations. Arbor Christmas is a touchstone in the alternative Xmas music community, it's what staying power looks like. With only 8 songs, #22 is short; like the early days, not like #14 for instance, with 17 tracks.

Rule of the thumb, if the song by recurring faves The Not Fur Longs is good, the rest of the Arbor compilation is, too. This year, the NFL-song sounds like a cover from a Children's tv show in the 70s (it even might be, I'm not sure). In a long list of Not Fur Longs Christmas songs, it does not make the top 5. Better is the opening salvo, the Ramones-nod from Santa's Little Helper and the absolute gem from this year, the yacht-y track by Nightshift. Late night seventies coastal road FM radio, Donald Fagen Nightfly-worthy. Yes, it's THAT good. Mark Martucci's handwashed 'Snow Day' is fine too. The rest, not so much (tho I do like the analogue synths of FTLT).

Still, praise be for the Arbor.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Stubby's Stocking Stuffers 2021


Ah yes, it's that time again. The day when Martin 'Stubby' Johns (he of the now deleted, but still legendary Stubby's House of Christmas blog) sends his double cd mix to, well, to us all. To show us all how it's done, making a Christmas mix loaded with gems. You can download from HERE. It's active until January 6. The zip file contains 2 CDs worth of fully and properly tagged music, plus all the essential artwork to put a CD together (if anyone wants to go that route). I have highlighted/hyperlinked a few favorites.

DISC ONE
1. I Wish It Was Christmas - SoloProject (2021)
2. Jingle Bells To Far Away - The Luckiest Citizen of All (2021)
3. Footprints In The Snow - lorna (2021)
4. Christabel's Party - Cleaners From Venus (2021)
5. Jump For Joy (I Found You This Christmas) - Department of Creative Affairs (2020)
6. One More Sleep - The Dollyrots (2021)
7. Sleighstick - Derek Christensen (2021)
8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Amy Gabba & The Almost Famous (2021)
9. What Will Santa Claus Say - Christabel & The Jons (2010)
10. Angels We Have Heard On High - Scott Martin (2004)
11. Christmas In The Rain - The Rugged Flags (2021)
12. Nobody Wants To Be Alone (At Christmas) - Jon Gambles (2021)
13. Santa Took My Baby - Charles Arthur (2013)
14. One More Merry Christmas - J Ross (2021)
15. One More Sleep - firmwire (2021)
16. Xmas Oranges - Marlaena Moore (2021)
17. Cold, Cold Winter - PRIM (2021)
18. I Won't Be Bad - Dodge Family (2018 )
19. Hey Santa - Rosie & The Rivets (2021)
20. Christmas (Baby Let's Stay Home) - Chris Daily & Erica Michelle (2021)
21. I Never Get What I Want - Darryl Gregory (2020)
22. The Son Is Coming To Town - Voicedude (2021)
23. Christmas All Over Again - The ABC Jugband (2021)


DISC TWO
1. Everybody Knows It's Christmas - Piney Gir (2021)
2. Uncle Mose & Santa Claus - Ted Russell (1960)
3. So Sad Santa - The Girl With The Replaceable Head (2011)
4. Calling Santa Claus - Amery Bielli (2021)
5. Santa - Blaine Walters (2021)
6. Broke The Bank This Christmas - Mitch Benn (2020)
7. Collect Call To My Baby (Merry Christmas) - Andy Clockwise (2012)
8. Ivy - Marlody (2021)
9. Let It Snow - Vandell Andrew (2021)
10. Meet Me (Under The Christmas Tree) - The Dice Cubes (2019)
11. A Memory of Snow - Sofia Talvik (2021)
12. There's No Green (This Christmas) - Braden Blake & The Oh Wells (2021)
13. Christmas Hallelujah - Nate James (2021)
14. Christmas Mashup - Ben Snowden (2021)
15. The First Noel - Bellefrog (2021)
16. I'll Be Home For Christmas - Mike Jones (2021)
17. Make The Most of the Mistletoe This Year - Krista Herring (2021)
18. Follow The Star - Andy & Elise Pokel (2021)
19. Snow - Black Tail (2021)
20. Winter Slumbers Medley - Dodge Family (2012)

Short Notes (3)


A tip from one of our readers (thanks Darrin), this sweet soothing track by Shelley Harland. Sounds like a 50s torch song. Which is very different from the more electronic, danceable tracks she usually makes. Great find.

Released officially on December 24, this sultry guitar+voice track by SF-based trio Sjowgren:
SUPER cool song by Silver Mouth. She sounds really glad about it, too:
Quite nice folksy Raveonettes cover, great artist name:
HELL YES there is a new Reindeer Tribe album, this is the highlight song:
Kinda like this funky lofi track:
And yes, it's here, it's tradition, so we post it, Ronny Hammond's new Funky Christmas mix

Through the past, merrily (2)

Second backtrack of songs posted in the past 15 years on this blog. Because, a lot of songs are just too good to be left behind. Let's kick off with a GORGEOUS sad song (hat tip to Christmas Underground):

Psych-rocking Xmas by Downdime:
These guys wrote A LOT of great Christmas songs, here's just one of 'm:
Very smart, gentle tune:
Just one of the great lofi indie songs by That Band from Holland (later known as The Non-Traditionals)
Discovered last year, this upbeat lo-fi R&B song:
We've had many glammed up Xmas tracks on this blog, this one shouldn't be forgotten:

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Through the past, merrily (1)

More to celebrate 15 Years of Christmas a Go Go blog. I scanned through the past years, and bumped on a lot of 50s and 60s tracks, MySpace-links, mp3s on YouSendit (ah, those were the days), Japanese singles and indie classics like the St. Etienne xmas songs. It was a cool trip down memory lane. I selected 15 slighty underrated songs that are still great:
Wickedly sexy country rocking:
Cambodian funk version of the Drummer boy:
Released in 2002, on the blog in the first year (2006), still a great psych pop track:
Released in 2005, and more of Christmas-y song:
Sweet shuffle by Natalie:
Cool, sophisticated pop from Ivy:
Ah, The Crookes!
Dutch indie, not beating around the bush:

Christmas Aguilera cover Fay Lovsky


The plan was this: for the 15th season of Christmas A Go Go we'd ask several artists to cover, or be inspired by, the only real Dutch Christmas pop classic: Christmas Was a Friend of Mine by Fay Lovsky (see above) from 1981. She was challenged to write a Christmas song by VPRO Radio host (and documentary maker) Bram van Splunteren. If the plan went well, we'd put the covers on Bandcamp, press it on vinyl, it would be great. But then, I had some health issues (and financial issues), and the plan was shelved (not deleted, or canceled).
So when Christmas Aguilera offered to cover any Christmas classic for a good cause (homeless people in the UK), I jumped at the opportunity.
So here it is, a REALLY REALLY great version of CWAFOM by one of the greatest Christmas music duo's out there. Enjoy!

There have been more CWAFOM covers. This ambient version for instance, focussing on the choir:
Dutch pop duo Nick & Simon with a close rendition:

From this year, by a Dutch duo, with a nod to the pandemic:
Fay herself, for a TV show:
Fay singing in French:
Very cool guitar only version:
Short teaser for a choir:
Another choir (there are more choir versions on YT)
Very close to the original version too:
Dutch rock school students & teachers:
VERY cool buskin' version:

The Lathums cancel Christmas


As if 1980s English indie rock-pop group The Housemartins reincarnated in 'Krampus', The Lathums original Christmas single, but better. Krampus is a horned BBC series creature that scares badly behaving children before Christmas, telling them Christmas is being cancelled this year. Despite of this subject, the track is exactly the festive and quirky, mid-tempo kind of anti-Christmas indie song you want to hear and singalong with. So there you go: "Your Christmas will be cancelled anyway / You might as well enjoy your time today! " Insta over there.

Czech christmas tales

David Boulter was born in the UK. At the moment he live in Praha, Czechia. He still plays keyboards in Tindersticks, a band with a modest sound. Even more quiet is the Christmas music from Boulter. You can find it on a flexi disc, inside a beautiful illustrated book, with an old Czech winter fairy tale. It's an instrumental which is almost new age music. But because of  the Christmas bells it stays down to earth. 

It's Clean Pete again

Yeah, you're right, we already posted on Clean Pete earlier this year (and others). But hey, they just leave us no other choice than do it once again. And with full pleasure that is, because there's a brand new video, shot in one of the most beautiful locations of Nijmegen; the Valkhofkapel (St. Nicholas Chapel). In this chapel, built around the year 1000 and thus the perfect setting for an interpretation of the Coventry Carol from 1600, they played a very tender live version of 'Slaap Diep, Slaap Zacht'.
Can things get more Christmassy?

Monday, December 20, 2021

More Short Notes

The 2011 song 'So Sad Santa' by UK duo The Girl with the Replaceable Head turned up again on Bandcamp. Back in the day we compared it to a Phil Spector production, and there are also traces of Kirstie MacColl. GREAT track, a classic:

Then I thought, Sad Santa, that's a great theme. There are more songs with a similar title, but none as good as this one. If Courtney Barnett or beabadoobee are your thing, do try this:
2021 song. It's pure pop playing the heart strings, and really I can't believe this isn't a cover, but it's gddmn great:
Small Signals from Rochester, NY made a seasonal EP with mostly covers (Denver, Low, Flaming Lips) and a few originals. This power pop opening track about not getting in the Christmas spirit is one heck of a kick off:
You read about this track by Wake Up & Smell the Sun over at Christmas Underground, and you probably loved this stormer just like us. If not, try again:
The KKK took my baby away, the Ramones once sang. And now, it turns out:

Christmas Eve Can Kill You (versions)

Christmas Eve Can Kill You is one of the saddest Christmas songs ever written. The guy responisble, Dennis Linde, also wrote the complete opposite of that song, Burning Love (for Elvis). He also wrote the funky 'I've Got a Feeling in My Body', also recorded by The King.
Christmas Eve Can Kill You was first recorded by The Everly Brothers, brilliantly.

The song's about a man, walking alone in snowy streets. Not sure where he's going, it's around Christmas time. He wants to hitch a ride, to his family, but he can't get one. The line 'I think of years ago and half remembered Christmas trees/and faces that still warm me with their glow', makes it unsure if the man really has a place to go. Because, really, he's 'trying to hitch a ride to anywhere'.

There are many versions, none as great as the Everly's, but still solid. Here's an incomplete list:
Glorious, widescreen production version:
Live, a tad understated, yet very good:
Minimal, lo-fi and charming:
Great duo-version, Bonnie & Dawn also made the bestest Everly Brothers tribute album ever:
Electronica enhanced, with fx on the vox:
Also electronic, this sounds like it was sung in a cathedral:
Inna Bruce Springsteen-y stylee:

Fine version by this Norwegian singer:
Intense, intimate version:
Kitschy, yet compelling country version with lots of reverb:
Can't NOT include this one:

Chilling In The Sleigh


Here, at the CAGG headquarters we love to do justice to what's in our header about presenting you the weird and the odd. Firmwire more than meets that condition with this one. Ever thought you would associate the 1993 Rage Against The Machine classic 'Killing In The Name' with Christmas? Well, here it is: 'Chilling In The Sleigh'.
Less strange, but all 15 tracks from A Very Softwire Christmas over there.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Xmas Sampling

 American beatmaster Casta is the king of Xmas sampling. We only discovered him last year, with this album, but allready in 2011 he made his first sample album on his own bandcamp. So this 2021 version of '12 Beats Of Christmas" is his '10the Anniversary Edition'. Most of  the 16 tracks are named after know Christmas songs, but the originals are hard to discover. For example 'O Tannebaum' starts with a short  violin moment of that known song, but continues as a string driving beats track, that ends with some movie samples. Very original and cool Xmas music! 



In 1985 there were no fancy sample machines. So we had to do it with taperecorders, turntables and cassettedecks. That's the way I (aka Grandmaster O)  made my Soundpieces released on my various artists cassettes in the eighties.


Holiday Songs in B-Flat


The Holy Crap staff asked a bunch of artists to write a Christmas song, with two rules: 1. it must be in the key of B-Flat. And 2. Use an unusual instrument. That resulted in an 18 song compilation, with songs using "corrugated tube, broken keyboard, granjo, 1980s Yamaha digital guitar, Star Trek sound effects, wood block, wooden frog, accordion, house keys in a plastic flower pot, human belly/human butt", and a lot more.
Did that result in good songs, you ask? Well, a few. The punkrock of Das Kapitan and Cardboard Box Colony's nice. I wish Aimee Jacob Oliver had slightly better recording equipment for her rockin' shoutalong song. A Montreal Paul sounds like Beach Boys after an all night drinkin' session (it's also the one using house keys in a plastic flower pot).
But the song that really stucks out is this fun, upbeat track (thinks Fountains of Wayne) by Carpal Tullar (pictured). Using a charango, it's a track about following Santa to his home in a volcano, where...well, you have to listen to the song to find out what happens:


Last year's Holy Crap compilation was reviewed HERE

Jingle Screamo


And you thought Sun sounded, well, possessed? Then try this cacaphonous rendition of the ol' James Pierpont classic. Bet he never thought the bells could be so loud FROM THE TOP OF YOUR LUUUUUUUUUUUUNGS!

Pablo van de Poel's Christmas Gloom


Yet another Christmas original is coming up straight from da Lowlands. Written by Pablo van de Poel, who you might know as the singer and guitar player of DeWolff. 'Only for You (Christmas Gloom)' is a real fine retro doo wop-ish like track (no sleigh bells or other xmas stuff though), not a-like the raw psychedelic southern rock he's usually playing with his band. Van de Poel made the linoleum print artwork (click above image for bigger) by himself and is giving one away as his own personal Christmas treat.
Move over to his Insta, share his post and you might win it.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Helpin' Aht


'We give FREE instruments and music gear to the Pittsburgh area community!', is what Helpin' Aht is stating on their Bandcamp page, with a compilation to raise money for that cause. There are a bunch of really great tunes on this comp.
Starting with the jolly jangling ode to snow by The Bell & the Hammer (who were featured earlier on this blog, here):

Soulful lo-fi xmas tune by The Petals:
And this sultry song by Halloway:
Plus, for the cover enthusiasts, fine covers of Low's Just Like Christmas and Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton.

Charles J. Hunk & The Trainwreck


See, that's what we need in these dark and confusing times: Canadian men with beards to show us the way with "Three new soon to be Xmas classics, written by us!". We're talking about Charles J. Hunk & The Trainwreck, who also call themselves The best damn drinkin’ band in Niagara. No doubt they are, but in the meantime they have managed to delight us today with their very personal Louisiana country-esque and rocky Christmas message, or should we say wish: Kickin' The Christ Outta Christmas. Well done guys! All three originals over here, Insta over there.


The 'All I want...' cover to end all 'All I want...' covers

We already had Boris' cover of Wham and now it's time to speed up the other classic. Note to self: not all female singers from Paris, France are smooth and husky. There are female singers that are the opposite. And the good news is: some are both.
Happy Holidays Mariah! From SUN and Christmas A Go Go.

Insta over there.

Friday, December 17, 2021

15 Years of Christmas A Go Go


Fifteen years ago, a Danish music blogger started this blog. Sofie, Dans Mon Café as she called herself, handed me the keys to the blog a year later. And now it's 2021, and here we are. Together with Natasha, Oscar, Gijs, Arja, Marc, all the other contributers in the past years, we kept spreading the love for odd, wonderous & wonderful Christmas music. Together with artists that were on the blog in the past 15 years, we're celebrating the love for Christmas music on Thursday December 23, in the big room of the legendary Paradiso Amsterdam. If you're around, we'll see you there. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the music, dearest artists. Without you, we would be nothing.
Oh, and Sofie, if you're reading this, please get in touch.



Nope. It's a lockdown until mid-January. No shows. Alas.

Seasonal Songs with Labasheeda and Yoko Ono

 Amsterdam based band Labasheeda aren't that Christmassy. But they like the holiday season. So they decided to release a sort of winter EP, called 'Old Traditions'. It's out on Bandcamp. Normally they are quite a loud guitar indie band. But now they lowered the tempo and play more introvert. So listen to their song 'Cold Days'.

A couple of years ago they did release a very limited white 7 inch, with a great version of the Yoko Ono song 'Listen, The Snow Is Falling' (in fact the B-side of the single 'Merry Xmas, War Is Over).

Talking about this Yoko Ono song. The Akron, Ohio based band Librarians With Hickeys have just released their more uptempo view on this number. 


And than here the original. 



Reindeer strike!


The only thing Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph are doing this Christmas is eating cheesecake, getting united, getting drunk and watching Netflix all day long. So thank God, Santa's got a Buick Regal from 1982 to bring all the presents and to save this years Christmas, that'll teach 'em!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

a google translate christmas

 Bert & Vief are a unique duo from Amsterdam. This year they released their first LP called 'Google Translate Hits'. On it they do English versions of  Dutch songs/hits and Dutch versions of English language songs. All translated by Google. Like they do a Dutch version of the Golden Earring song 'Ce Soir'. This Christmas they come up with a surprising Dutch version of  'I All I Want For Christmas Is You', recorded together with famous Dutch muscians JB Meijers and Hans Vandenburg (Gruppo Sportivo).



High Tropics' Lonely Christmas

High Tropics had "two failed attempts covering the classics Blue Christmas and Last Christmas", so he decided to come up with an original. I'd rather say it's a cover of the never written Christmas single 'Lonely Christmas' by The Strokes, but do make up your own mind please. Insta over there.

1980s Québec Christmas comedy

Hailing from Montréal and having done comedy radio before television, Rock et Belles Oreilles (RBO) are known for their sketch parodies and original songs. RBO were the talk of the town for two decades, starting in the 1980s. They were the first to poke fun at Célion Dion, which back then was almost a crime. In fact, they wrote the song 'I want to pogne' ('I want to be catch on/be famous'), as she was becoming famous by singing in English instead of French, which in itself was its own 'crime' back then. The song is sung in bad English-franglais on purpose.

One RBO's Christmas songs 'C'est nono Noël' ('Christmas is dumb') sings about drunk bosses at the office Christmas party, and all the questionable behaviour that came with that back in the day. It makes fun of celebs of the time, paying too much for Christmas stuff, politicians, and then some.

I'm going to commmit adultery
with one of my secretaries
My wife isn't invited
she's at another party dancing naked