Saturday, December 31, 2022

Last Day of the Year

Thank you for your visits, your comments, your suggestions. Thanks to all the artists for the music. It was a very good year.
See you in november. Stay safe, be brave.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

In between days (2)

Second post of songs for the days between Christmas and the new year; a time for winter-y tracks, end of year laments, snow-covered songs. In the first blogpost (HERE) I featured suggestions from readers, mostly British folksy tracks. Here are some Dutch tracks. Spotify playlist with more tracks HERE.
Kicking off with this, also folksy song by Bertolf, you can hear the snow falling when you please these beauty (there is a Wintertime #2 also, HERE):
A suggestion by CAGG-writer Marqui, this seasonal sensation by Ricky Koole, a recurring fave here on the blog (HERE. Song is called 'Alles Stil', transl. "All quiet", and basically it's about the sobriety that a stroll in the snow brings:
On this blog, A Balladeer is best known for his still brilliant Christmas album (HERE), but this intense track from his Panama-album is very wintery, very sad and very good:
G.T. Thomas is American, but lives in Amsterdam for a long time now so she's Dutch too. Lovely arranged song:
From 1973, written by Boudewijn de Groot (Holland's answer to Bob Dylan) and Lennaert Nijgh, this is a Christmas song without mentioning Christmas, the baby Jesus or anything. It's VERY end of the year. This is about travelling in the cold, with a star in your hand. Totally forgotten about this song, what a gem:

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

In between days (1)

In days between Christmas and the new year, we posted songs about December 26 (HERE) and especially about Boxing Day (HERE) and mega-posts about Sylvester tracks (HERE) or covers of 'This Will Be Our Year' (HERE). Anything really to defy this song:

Via Twitter I asked people for suggestions about great winter-y tracks, December songs, end-of-the-year laments. This is a selection of songs I found cool, beautiful and/or fitting. Keeping it folksy this time. More coming up:
This is such a gorgeous winter track, 'Winter was on us/At the end of my nose':
I'd never heard this track, but indeed, it's very wintery:
This Gordon Lightfoot track was covered a lot, according to CAGG-featured artist S. Lois, this is the best version:
Over to Scotland, with this track by The Waterboys:
From their album Songs from Northern Britain:

Saturday, December 24, 2022

So-Fi's Nieuwe Kersthit

Had you been early at the Amsterdam Paradiso, on our Christmas A Go Go Spectacular, you could've witnessed (Christmas) star in the making So-Fi, who opened the evening with her short, highly charming, creative Dutch kerstliedjes. The videos for those songs, are DIY-diamonds.
So-Fi played her new track on stage, and now, after a lot of hard work, the video's ready too, for all to enjoy. Couldn't think of a better Christmas gift. The Dutchies were ON A ROLL this year when it came to Xmas music. It's so wonderful to see that the youngsters are still enchanted by Christmas music:

For all ye non-Dutch speaking visitors: the song is called 'Zonder lichtjes' (Without Lights) and is a pro-Christmas and pro-lights song, So-Fi is singing that she'd rather eat Xmas dinner alone if there are no lights in the trees. But at the end she confesses that, of course, the best way to celebrate the season is with the whole family. And to have Dutch Xmas songs so much on a blog that is visited mostly by non-Netherlanders isn't that odd, since Clean Pete's 'Gloria' album made it to #6 on Rolling Stones Best Christmas Album of the Year list (remember?). Tis the spirit, no?

Earlier So-Fi songs HERE.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Short Cuts

Update of recent finds, songs too good NOT to hear before the end of Christmas:
Death Hags was featured on this blog with her brilliant, fuzzy-sultry Frozen Santa, now she has a new seasonal EP with four songs. This track is very suitable for our Christmas in Space theme:
We don't feature that much hiphop on this blog, alas, but this track is cool:
The 23rd (incredible!) Arbor Christmas compilation is out, featuring recurring faves like The Not Fur Longs (good song!) and Mark Martucci (mediocre ballad). Highlights are the gruff, fuzzy tracks by The Only Ghost in Town and JB (big Jesus & Mary Chain vibes!), but this big stadium rock track (think Cheap Trick) is the prize:
Not a Christmas song, more of a seasonal rocker, STORMER I should say, this fiery red track by Holland's finest garage rock band Traumahelikopter: Geen Zon translates as 'No Sun', and singer Mark is telling us there's no sun, no light, which is exactly what's going on at the moment. When he sings 'Ik krijg geen lucht' ('I get no air') he MUST be referring to choking on a turkey bone at Xmas dinner, no? Wake Up & Smell the Sun, maker of great Christmas music, is retiring from making great Christmas music. Or so he says. He cleared his closet, and presents songs that are just too good not to share. Like this elevating track:

Covers of '23 Décembre'

Sung by one of Québec's most iconic bands, shown here in front of a mural in Montréal dedicated to their self-entitled first album, Beau Dommage's '23 décembre' ('December 23rd') is a 1950s neighbourhood portrait of pre-teens off from school until January 7th. It references working-class shops, hockey and Québec traditions that still persist today, like having a nativity scene under the Christmas tree, at a time when the Catholic church still had a firm hold on all French Canadians. Beau Dommage also sings about snow, jokes about pictures of naked ladies (sex and religion is a typical one-two combo) and mentions New Year's, making it a New Year's song as well!

More about the mural: it is the cover of Beau Dommage's first album, which cointains '23 Décembre' and is located in Montréal behind 6760, rue de Saint-Vallier, which is where the band started their career. This address is also part of the lyrics in 'Tous les Palmiers' ('All the palm trees').

Here's the original by Beau Dommage: Here's a faithful, slightly more country, undated version by Hugo Lapointe: Vincent Vallières et Mara Tremblay knock the harmonies out of the park on their cover:

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Rockpool Dramas

This is intriguing stuff. Amsterdam-based Stanley Ward aka Rockpool Dramas released a 3-track EP with Christmas songs, ranging from a soft rock ode to Queen Elizabeth II (RIP) to a Dougie Poole'ish, sad-drunk ballad. Closing off with a fuzz-drenched dreamwave love letter to Santa, or Santa's baby, by someone calling himself 'Hony Tawk' (so not Tony Hawk).

Since I am from Amsterdam, I guess I could've heard from this project (band?), but from what I dug up via google, none of the names rang a bell (hey, it's a big city). Apparently, Rockpool Dreams is part of this radio show, in which every week a self-composed song is played about a movie. They're definitely not Dutch. When you check Stanley Ward's insta, you'll find more about Rockpool Dramas: 'What happens when a jazz fusion bassist, a swing drummer who plays heavy metal, a classical composer, and an alternative folk singer come together to play guitar music? It turns out you get the full band iteration of Rockpool Dramas, now with added punch. For all intents and purposes its rock and roll. As Warhol said to Lou Reed and John Cale: “Make it big, people like it that way".' Intriguing, like I said.
What's more important - all three songs on this Christmas EP are very, very good. 'All I Want for Christmas (is the Queen) could've just been a parody, or a comedy number. And from what I can make out from the lyrics, it's not entirely serious. But it also feels heartfelt, this is sung by a Brit who was genuinely shaken by the death of the Queen.
'Wish me Merry Christmas (over the phone)' has that right balance that a tragi-comic, slightly tipsy sounding Xmas number on booze and heartbreak needs. And 'I Miss You (Santa)' has the right stoner vibe, the fuzz, the f-bombs and should've been engineered a bit better, in a better studio, to really make an impact. This could be the Xmas song The Lemonhead never made in their heyday. If you listen to other Rockpool Drama songs (on Spotify), you can hear the influence by mid-90s American indie rock. Which is a good thing.
H/t to Jim/Christmas Underground

The Big Christmas Mixes Appreciation Post (gets updated!)

Here's where we collect (links to) Christmas mixes. We will add more, so please come back and check! Want your mix added here? Holler in the comments. Find Guuzbourg's Best New Christmas Songs Spotify playlist HERE. CAGG Writer Marqui's playlist is HERE.

The grand wizard that we, mortals, call Stubby, had made his overstuffed double-cd mix. And as ever, as wizards do, it's chock-full of songs Stubby found at secret places and assumably got handed over at special gatherings. Who knows. Downloadable from HERE (direct link). Tracklist 'n stuff is all in there, or have a look below (click to enlarge):

Just one track from Stubby's mix, to give you a taste:

Ronny Hammond's Funky Xmas Mix is a recurring phenomenon on this blog, and we happily link to it every year:
Jim/Christmas Underground's mix is beauty (as always):

Andy von Pip's podcast is highly recommended:

Tutti Jackons' mix, very cool:

Find Richard George/@Grndhogday's downloadable mix (and earlier mixes) HERE

Isle of Lucy's mix got Prissteens and Liminanas, can't go wrong there

This promises The Bell & Hammer, Reindeer Tribe, so this must be OK:

LOTS of discoveries (for me) in this playlist by Jim Hoffman (there's also a YT playlist):

The yearly Blues Are Still Blue mix, with Christmas songs and winter songs, is HERE

Unwanted Christmas Cards

"I never signed up, yet I get a lot
It's really not that hard
So please stop sending me your Christmas card"

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Pondertone, in spite of it all

Dutch Americanistas (as in: they play Americana music) Pondertone released a new Christmas song. Which, as you know because we've been following this Utrecht fellas faithfully (HERE), we're very glad about. Tis a short one, and a kind of resistance song, a tiding of comfort and joy, in these dark days of increasing prices and hefty bills: 'It's hard to see the sunny side, when there's so much sh*t going down/I know that we can make it/if we keep our spirits up/Merry Christmas/in spite of it all.'
The song's added to all other Pondertone Xmas songs on Bandcamp:

Feast with the Beasts (3): Hoof prints on her forehead

Third blogpost on Christmas songs about/with/by animals. Told ya in the first blog (mostly about dogs), this is a BIG theme, gonna need several episodes. In blog #2 I linked to seasonal songs about a T-Rex, a hippo, cats, a monkey and a unicorn.
This one is all about reindeer. And yes, the classics are here too:
Read all about this production HERE:
This song has been covered a thousand times. At least. This is a list of 836 versions. My fave is the mambo by Billy May. And this Japanese ukelele duo.

Probably as classic as the one above, this Chuck Berry rocker:
Often covered, never bettered. Fave version tho: The fuzz-drenched Humpers one.

Also a (comedy) classic, Grandma Got Run Over by A Reindeer. A cruel song (grandma dies), but as the saying goes, 'it's only funny until someone falls, then it's hilarious'. The original Grandma is by Elmo & Patsy, but this Nick Cave-ian version we like better:
Parodies of this song are a-plenty. I found 'New Kids Got Run Over By a Reindeer' quite funny. More funny than the inevitable answer song, 'Rudolph got run over by my Grandma'.
More classics? Hank Snow has one, a track that was covered also, but fewer than I thought. Nice version:
OK, the obligatory classics out of the way, let's get to the lesser known, yet very good stuff. Like this Oso Oso indie power pop track: 'We can just stay here. wrap me in your claws, i can be your reindeer'
Cool cover version, reminded me of Robyn's Dancing on my own:
From the About a Boy-soundtrack (centered around a Christmas song, read the book or watch the movie) and a VERY good song:
Like a cool blade in your neck:
Very political, with numerous references to other Xmas songs, plus reindeer, I give you mr. Prints Jackson:
Non-Traditionals were featured in Post #2 with their Cat in the Christmas Trees. And they have a reindeer song too:
Ne Pas de Machine, linked to the Non-Traditionals, have reindeer in their home too:
Very fun garage-rocker from Sweden:
From 1955, love this surf track:
You know all the names of Santa's reindeer, no? Also of that 10th reindeer? Well, it's:
I let you decide if this is funny or not (but I warned you we'd have a song about animals on a plate):
In French (and rocking hard), also about eating reindeer ('renne') for Christmas
Ferrets! Why not? Amoeba People wrote a cool punky song about it:
From a Spanish compilation, the title translates as 'Reindeer on the freeway':
Traditionally, we close with a Sufjan Stevens track. Not so much about reindeer, but in this song, they're essential to get up on the housetop:
Want more? There is a Spotify playlist, of course. HERE. And Please comment the songs I missed!


Am I going to review a show I co-conspired to organise? I sure do! And sure, I'm biased, but WHAT A NIGHT!

The only 'mission statement' we ever had at Christmas A Go Go, was what is said under the blog name, above. 'We present you the weird and the wonderful, the odd and the old,' that being 'Christmas music, winter hymns and seasonal songs.' And without really planning it, that mission statement was underlined at the Amsterdam Paradiso tonight. There were winter hymns (Joni Mitchell's River, by Judy Blank, who cursed halfway through it 'cuz she thought she forgot a line - she did not), a LOT of Christmas music and various seasonal songs, like Woezels' 'Een Klein Beetje Liefde' (A Little Bit of Love), that just felt right in dark days like these.
There were old classics, Julia P. & the Qs did a wonderful version of their own 'Christmas is Calling', but also Johnny Jordaan's indestructible golden folk song 'Kerstmis in de Jordaan'. Gerhardt, Gunther & Adzer played that ole' German classic 'Morgen Kommt Der Weihnachtsman', and did a spacey version of carol Gloria In Excelsis Deo. Plus Gerhardts own brilliant Xmas songs.

Chamber pop (by Gerhardt), acoustic pop (the very charming So-Fi, Judy Blank), rough harmonica blues (by the Sleigh Shakers, of course), Italo disco by Woezels, bluegrass by S.Lois, rock by Julia P. (who also made time for a tribute to Terry Hall, RIP) it was all Christmassy, it was in the spirit of this blog, and the audience luuuuurved it.

It's no contest, but one artist took the biscuit. None other, of course than Dutch queen of Christmas, author of a galvanized Xmas classic, ms Fay Lovsky (first picture). With just her guitar, and her FX-pad, she intoxicated (in a good way) us all. With that classic. With other tracks, like her songs about skiing. Fay is certified ski-teacher, you know. She even yodeled in that song. It was magic.

Sure, there was more magic. Judy Blank silencing the audience ('This isn't an office party, this is live music!') and then playing a cool acoustic version of her 'California Christmas' hit. G&G&A's umbrella, picking up space sounds (pictured above). So-Fi's lovely new Christmas track (soon on this blog). We rapapapa't for S.Lois. We swayed and wailed for Sleigh Shakers. We danced to Woezels. We sang along to 'Fairytale of New York' by Julia & her band. It was great, really.
If you were there, thanks. If you couldn't make it, try next year.

VIDEO: S.Lois on CAGG Spectacular, Sleeping on the Ground:

Monday, December 19, 2022

Feast With The Beasts (2): No crocodiles, or rhinoceroseses

Part 2 of a themed series of posts on Christmas songs with animals, about animals and maybe even by animals (nah). In blogpost #1 I explained the relation between Christmas and les animeaux (in the sky, in a manger, on your plate), and I posted mostly songs about dogs.
It was also about Christmas gifts, because a puppy for Christmas, isn't that just the cutest present? (This is not a real question, by the way).

Disclaimer: When researching this, I bumped into a lot of Children's Christmas songs (because a puppy for Christmas, or any given animal, isnt' that just the cuuuutest present?), and comedy numbers. Or 'comedy', as I quickly noticed. Maybe I have another sense of humour. I tried to steer clear from too much kiddie and komedy kristmas, but a few slipped through (come on, that PUSA track is funny! A piglet! In the snow! Ahahaha!). And NO chipmunks here either (well...).

And yep, Gayla Peevey is here. I know there are Christmas music enthusiasts that just can't stand this song, but with a theme like this, it just needs to be here:
I also listenend to about 30 cover versions. My take: this song cannot be covered, not even by Kacy Musgraves. It's either too annoying, or not annoying enough.

I also found a song called 'I DON"T want a Hippopotamus for Christmas', but that is just not good enough. The only reasonably funny comeback to Gayla is this one by superheroes The Aquabats:
You may know this from sexy Kay Martin, but this is about elephants (and sung by Goofy in a Disney special):
Children's Christmas song, but fun (and referencing to Gayla)
From hippo's and elephants it's just a small step to dinosaurs, no? Ooh, that cry:
Another dinosaur-song, from this year, quite mainstream and probably too childish, but fits the theme:
I can't make out the lyrics, so for all I know these punks sing about breadbaskets, but it's loud, and presumably about a monkey:
Comedy-ish track by a radio-dj, back in the 80s. He wrote a book about it:
PUSA have a little ditty on a piglet in the snow:
Does PUSA qualify as punk? Punk-ish? Is Nerf Herder a punkband? They made this X-rated Xmas classic. Parry Gripp from Nerf Herder wrote a lot of songs about animals and food, mostly for children, but this can charm adults too:
Cats and Christmas; I heard a lot of songs about feline friends and Xmas, but very few good ones. Maybe Martin/Stubby can prove me wrong in the comments. This is (for cat owners) very recognisable:
Same vein, cats behaving badly:
Straight from the psych 60s, this Donovan/early Pink Floyd-ish song:
This track qualifies as a must when it comes to cats and Christmas music. Basically it's (spoiler!) the Little Match Girl fairytale re-told with a cat and a mouse. It's overtly sentimental, not unlike weepie The Christmas Shoes. But it's a success:
Far from sentimental: this is Björk, in Icelandic, singing about a mythical cat who eats badly dressed kids at Christmas time:
Pet rabbits, you can use them for your Christmas story. Dutch comedian Youp van 't Hek made a lowlands classic out it (HERE). That got covered by none other than Todd Rundgren (HERE). But Kris Kringel wrote the best Flappie song in Dutch. The pet ends in the pizza:
A wasp. Around Christmas time. In fact, this 'last wasp of the year' will stay until after Christmas. I don't know if you need to be German to think of this, but I'm sure it helps:
Check out the video for this too.
We all know the legend of Ceasar the Christmas Shark, don't we? The beast who ate all the reindeer in 1993? No? Listen:
And how'bout this one? A whole zoo, set free on Christmas!
Lovely weird Christmas song. Sears cards and animals:
From the 60s, and discovered by me recently:
Let's close this episode with Sufjan again, and a classic, 'cuz nothing says Christmas so much as a unicorn:
Did I miss a good one? Please comment!
Next up: reindeer. Spotify playlist HERE

Alpine Subs

Guestpost time! Tis Ton @T55 again, on Alpine Subs:

Now there’s a surprise: it’s Chicago’s Alpine Subs: a band known for its wonderful jangly, slightly psychedelic popsongs with a classic sixties feel. They made a couple of great albums since they started in 2019, the last one, Through The Blinds, released early this year. But they’re certainly not known for their Christmas songs.
So all of a sudden there’s the lovely ‘Over Wichita’. Funny things happen there in the sky, apparently. “It’s late and all my family sleeps / I’m wide awake, counting sheep / Where I jump with every noise / He’s on his way, bringing toys”.
‘Santa sleigh and reindeer run a million miles an hour’, so it’s only a matter of time before Santa lands on the roof and the presents find their way to the final destination. Can’t be long now, ‘cause ‘they saw you over Wichita’.
It’s a tune that slowly settles itself into your musical mind and won’t go away. A sweet song that’s free to get and, as such, a nice 3.23 minutes long christmas present by the Subs themselves.

Perfect New Christmas Songs 2022

What were the Bestest New Christmas Songs of 2022, you ask? We got 'm all lined up in THIS Spotify playlist. Mostly originals, but a with sprinkle of covers (Katy Kirby! Bjear!) and reworks (Clean Pete!). Heck, it's even two versions of the same song this year.
Tried to show the big variety in Christmas music by adding the punk of Chubby & the Gang, the jazz of Wouter Hamel, the orchestration of Bjear, a dash of French tracks, country, cabaret, a song over nine minutes long (you guessed it, SABERTOOTH UNICORN!) and of course that funny little ditty by Wicketkeeper.

A few highlights, in a big starry night of great Christmas music: The Dutchies were in fine form this year, we featured a lot (Clean Pete, S.Lois, Gerhardt, Ro Halfhide, and more). One track that rocked our Xmas boat was 'Je hoeft niet mee naar mijn ouders' by Linde Schöne, from her truly FUN pop album. Linde is the Christmas-spiritual sis of the Clean Pete duo, in that she luuuurves the season, wants to add her own voice and style to the tracks and tries to be original. It worked.

Also from the Netherlands, Judy Blank, also a strong writer of original Christmas songs. For herself, for others. She wrote six seasonal tunes this year alone (can I say that one of them is new track for Duncan Laurence for 2023? No? Oops!). Her Beach Boys-infected 'California Christmas' became a hit on the Dutch shores, sparked a big themed post HERE, and this live version was just too charming.

If there's a Best of the Best Christmas Tracks, it's in my opinion Christmas on my Mind by Jon Bell. Everything is just perfect in this track. The atmosphere, the lyrics, the longing in his voice. It fitted in the stream of outstanding ballads by singer-songwriters that came out this season (Sara Noelle, Emmy Law, Paola Bennett, Chase Kerby, Lexie Carroll, Taylor Ashton), but stood out because it wasn't sad. Melancholy, sure: All those stories you heard as a child are/Just as true as today/Santa comes only once in a while so/All us kids best behave. But heartbreakingly sad, like Emmy White's, no.

Album wise, the two (!) Christmas lps that Australian artist Bjéar released this year, are FANTASTIC. As Jim/Christmas Underground wrote in his review: "Frankly, both these records are front-to-back more listenable than any of Sufjan’s Christmas EPs, and I feel quite comfortable making that claim.' Amen!

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Wedding Present Xmas

We at CAGG did not write much about indie darlings the Wedding Present, probably because most of their few Christmas songs date way back. Like 'No Christmas' from 1992. This year, Wedding Present released a single every month. For details see here! So it is no surprise that the December single is an Xmas one, accompanied by a beautiful, wintery video, with the band situated in a snowy woods. It will take your breath away:
Here's a video from a young Wedding Present, loud and indiepoppy, from 1992, an Elton John cover:
And this one's cool too (thanks Jim):

Surfin' To a X-mas Date

Sometimes it's just better to keep your mouth shut and get rid of all those Rum pum pum pums. The Tremolo Beer Gut always does, as they only record instrumentals. Simple as that. These guys from Copenhagen, Denmark brought us this great retro Christmas surf tune already in 2020, but it was overlooked by many blogs and so did we. But here it is, finally and in all its ultimate glory: X-Mas Date at The Snow Club! 

The Tremolo Beer Gut Insta here.

Feast with the Beasts (1) : Christmas is Going to the Dogs

Theme posts, people, I just can't get enough. Christmas & Sex (HERE), Christmas and Ramones (see below), Die Hard as/is a Christmas Movie, Christmas & California (HERE), I said it before and will keep saying it: Christmas music is like a huuuuge umbrella that can fit as many musical genres under it as you can think of, and there are very few themes that Christmas music hasn't touched.

Animals and Christmas is a big theme; we're gonna need various postings. Use the comments for your recommendations.

Let's kick off with the song that inspired this, a Pete Seeger cover by Canada's Corey Gulkin:
Gorgeous cover, eh? Now, Christmas and animals, they go together like pudding and cherries of course. Santa got its reindeer. One of the most famous Christmas albums ever is centered about a guy and his dog. There were a donkey and an ox in the manger. A 17th century Dutch carol told us about shepherds in the field who counted their sheep (LISTEN) during the birth of Christ. And unless you're a vegetarian, Christmas dinner is all about eating animals, of course.

In this post I concentrate on the relation between Xmas and dogs. You can want a dog for Christmas, there are songs from the viewpoint of a dog. And there is this song by Eels, that gave the title to this post and is filled with chew toys, rabbits and a turkey:

But first, another carol, with animals. The Friendly Beasts dates back to 12th century France. Many versions, this is gorgeous one by Sufjan:

So that covers (for now) cows, sheep, donkeys and doves. Let's get to the dogs. To be more specific: a dog as a Christmas present. This track is probably the best about that (plus the bestest song about a Dachshund too, I guess):
Second best song about wanting a dog in your stocking:
No electric train, tis a puppy dog Bobby wants (also covered by Bowling for Soup):
And this classic track, how a dog sees Christmas:
Same theme, Christmas as seen from a dog, fantastic song this is:
Jazzy demo about spending the holiday alone, with your dog:
Ramones-style Christmas wish:
Proceeds went to animal rescue centers, metalpunks love dogs:
Title says it all. Old style, tearful country. It doesn't end well:
'Supposedly about a weiner dog in a Santa suit', says the official Residents-site about this weird, weird Christmas track. It's a classic, in our world:
From an Australian band, now defunct, it sounds like The Stooges with horns:
An older song, but also on his Xmas album that was released this year, Chris Iaak (it sounds better on the album):
By law, you must end a post like this with this Dr Demento classic:
This isn't complete, there are more dogs'n xmas songs. But we must continue. Coming Up: a T-rex, several hippopotamusses, cats, rabbits. And a unicorn. Spotify playlist HERE.

Rick Buur at the airport

Dutch desafinado-hero Rick Buur always brings us joy with a Dutch translation of a minor Xmas classic. Find other posts HERE. He now covered Nick Lowe's Christmas at the airport, and it's great (as usual):


Clean Pete Christmas Show Amsterdam

Last time, Marqui wrote his raving review of a Clean Pete Christmas show in Dutch, this time I'll try and spell it out in English.
This was the first of four shows, spread all over The Netherlands. Next year, there's gonna be even more shows if all goes well. Boxmeer's favourite Christmas angels are spreading the seasonal cheer more and more and more, which is a good thing. And if they keep up this standard, it can only get bigger.

Loes Wijnhoven (not the cello-player, that's her sister Renée) was joking half way on stage of de Kleine Komedie (a snug little theater that holds about 500): 'How's Joop van den Ende doing this?!' Which translates something like: how do they do those big Christmas shows in those big theaters, produced by big wig producers (like Joop van den Ende is). And one could understand her (not so serious) lamentation: the audience in Amsterdam got a choir, multiple costume changes, a band with a saxophone and two string players, half a dozen guest singers, a tree, backdrops, lights, a giant cross, a big bed, dancers...just for one night. No easy feat.
Not that we were constantly reminded of how a big production like this is quite hard work. No, this was all about Christmas. All about love. And all about the love for Christmas. With a big cross in the background, but not to push a religious message, or to make fun of it. No, Clean Pete are serious about their shows, about their love for the season. When they give Christmas classics like God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, Carol of the Bells, Coventry Carol or Hark Now Hear The Angels Sing, or ever Santa Baby, a Clean Pete makeover, they don't just translate to Dutch. They bend, twist and rewrite until it's their own. And the do that very carefully.

The mood was right, the spirit up, and yes, that's a quote from 'Wonderful Christmastime' and they covered it (in English), with help from Robin Kester. She was one of the guest vocalists, who helped make this show a true celebration. There was the help of serious jazz pianist, and cool crooner Ruben Hein. The jokes of bard Lucky Fonz III. The energy of Afterpartees' Niek Nellen (who sang a gorgeous version, with Loes, of Fairytale of New York). The sultriness of Maaike Ouboter. The solid soul of Thijs Boontjes. There was the choir (in the picture you see them when they did a cool Dutch version of the Carol of the Bells). There were more jokes. A speech. There was masterguitarist Anne Soldaat twanging his way through Jingle Bells - with dancing girls.

There were a handful of original songs (most of them also on Clean Pete's magnifique Gloria album), a very funny one by Moon Moon Moon's Mark Lohmann (who also sang his brilliant duet with Loes). But the one original that made us all choke up, was a short piano intermezzo by Renée, called Pièta. That's what a picture of the Madonna with child is called. I'm paraphrasing here, but Renée explained that 'Christmas was also about a mother who lost a child'. And then she sang her own story on this theme. It was heartbreakingly beautiful.

But like at any Christmas feast, moments of sadness are usually followed by joy. And joy we got, at the end, when they rolled out the big guns in the form of unbeatable UK Christmas classics like 'Merry Xmas Everybody'. No audience at Christmas show can keep silent at that point, and we didn't.
Finale! We applauded, we cheered, we thanked them. And they thanked us. And you bet we're all back next year.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

A Truus Christmas

In the alternative music scene of the Netherlands Truus de Groot is a houshold name. She worked in bands like Nasmak and Plus Instruments. She now lives in the US but last november she had a residence for a couple of weeks in Rotterdam. Almost every year she comes up with a very original electronic Xmas track, plus a nice homemade video. This is what we wrote about her in the past. This year she has chosen a cover version. In her own words: "My take on one of my favorite Christmas songs ever written by Vince Guaraldi. Made famous in Snoopy's Christmas.  Video found on YouTube of the traditional USofA  inflatable (I call them deflatable) decor and all the joys it brings,  embellished by me. Happy Holidays!"
Just at the end of 2021 she also prepared a track., but under the moniker of Blue Beast, her duo with  Miguel Barella. It's an adapted version of 'Little Drummer Boy' dedicated to the famous street drummer Heintje Bondo who played for years on the streets of Eindhoven city centre, who died in 2021.

Christmas Song

Persona 749 is the project of Che Landikusic and this year he's coming home for Christmas, although he is not looking forward to it very much, because "We'll be sitting around the table drinking with your grandpa who's probably racist, oh Santa Claus I hate this!”. But the good thing is, it resulted in an edgy and desperate sounding rock track with pleasantly irritating synths and a recounting of reindeer. And that's not unimportant either.

Persona 749 Insta

The above track somehow reminded me of this absolute fav indie rock banger from 2015 by Palma Violets, that curiously was never featured earlier here at CAGG.
Shame on us!

Palma Violets Insta & Twitter

Merry Christmas, I don't wanna punk tonight

In addition to earlier Ramones-themed posts, and to THIS POST with cover versions, some more cover versions of Merry Christmas, I Don't Want to Fight Tonight, without loud guitars, without a shred of punk. There are A LOT of cover versions, these I really liked:

As 80s synthipop:
This is very new: As jazzy instrumental surf (really dig this version):
Loretta Lynne-style, sultry:
Blue grassed:
As an eighties synhtified pop ballad:
With romantic 50s strings:
Bells, bells, bells:
By a Jug band, yeehaw:
And this one is no cover, but a brand new plea to bring back Joey, please Santa:

Phone Call To My Dad At Xmas

Ok, the closer we get to Christmas Eve, the more emotional it might get every now and then at the blog. This one's for all you folks out there who, for one reason or another, miss your dad too. Stewart Pedley from New Zealand wrote a moving dad-loving Christmas song that goes straight into the heart and urges us to say it above all: I love you dad.

Stewart Pedley Insta

Friday, December 16, 2022

Past Masters

I was scanning through some old posts and playlists, and to restore lost links and find out what happened to songs that seem to have disappeared. Here are some tracks that I reacquainted with:

Gone from Spotify, but still available on Bandcamp, the two Christmas songs by Boca Chica. Both are great, this galloping twang-stomper is my fave:
Remember the enormous amount of Covid-themed Xmas songs we posted in 2020? One of the highlights was this friendly country-fied plea to celebrate Christmas in June, in the (relatively) safe sunshine. Joe Mitchell re-uploaded to Soundcloud when I asked him to:
Summer Camp (now defunct) were only mentioned a couple of times on the blog, because of their (strong) Last Christmas and Christmas Wrapping cover versions. This is also a cover, from the Home Alone soundtrack, and what A GORGEOUS SONG this is in this arrangements:
We already did a theme-post on synthesizers and Christmas (HERE), this one's for a Xmas piano post:
Loud, weird, psychedlic, this single by Viv Albertine from The Slits (2011):
One of those forgotten classics, I'd say (love that accent so much), what a killer song (from 2016)
Speaking of forgotten classics, how about this still shining, crooning star:
A cool, gentle (and F-bomb filled) revenge Christmas song by two sweet sounding girls (Sami & Meg, or Snop Dog?) from 2017 that was lost for many years, but I found it again on Spotify:
What a wonderful British tune this is. Dark, melancholy-filled:
Great punkified girl group-ish track