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A Christmas Gift For..., The Connection (Rum Bar)

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We've had this power pop band on the site previously for a couple of strong rocking Christmas singles, and now they've expanded their work into a full album for 2014. The previous singles, "Christmas Time Again" and "Rock 'n Roll Christmas" backed with "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" are part of the playlist, and they add the glam-rock sounding opener "Money, Honey, Baby," the poppier "I Feel Fine (It's Christmas Time)," the midtempo "Christmas Bells Are Ringing," which almost has the feel of one of the Ramones' slower songs, and the driving rocker "West Coast," which celebrates "the best coast" for a holiday. Wrapping things up are "Better Late Than Never," a hard-rock ode to postponing the holiday, and "Poor Boy," a folky blues lament about being poor on the holiday and the healing power of rock 'n roll. This is how you rock 'n roll the Christmas season.

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The Wilson sisters have made their bonafides in the Christmas market before with the Lovemongers Christmas side project (which was subsequently repackaged as a Heart album) and for 2014 they're back in a holiday way with a live album/DVD of a 2013 Christmas concert with a number of special guests. Opening up with Joni Mitchell's "River" in a more album-rock band arrangement than is normally heard, they swing into Elton John's "Seasons" and bring out Shawn Colvin with the lullaby "Rocking" and Jars of Clay's "Love Came Down at Christmas." Pat Monahan from Train guests on a version of "Please Come Home For Christmas," Sammy Hagar joins up for "Santa's Going South" and "All We Need Is an Island," Richard Marx adds his voice to the Welsh lullabye "All Through the Night," the sisters take on Nilsson's "Remember (Christmas)" and the whole cast goes out with Bob Dylan's "Ring Them Bells." Oh, and as a crowdpleaser we get non-holiday, but still festive, versions of "Barracuda," "Even It Up" and "Stairway to Heaven." This appears to have been a fine classic rock night out on the town, and the Wilsons deserve some credit for original thinking for some of these song choices. If you can do without the video disc, the audio can be downloaded, of course.

bowlsoup.jpgThis comic pop-punk band, probably best known for their hit "1985," seems to be sneaking this out for 2010; there's only the slightest mention of it on their MySpace page. The boys threw together eight familiar holiday songs, heavy on the punk and light on the comedy, extending from such standards as "Frosty the Snowman" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" to rock favorites like the Kinks' "Father Christmas" and the Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)" and the nearly obligatory assault on Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." What appears to be an original (UPDATE: No it isn't, it's a Merle Haggard song, thanks Stubby) is "Bobby Wants a Puppy Dog For Christmas," a fairly straightforward plea for a particular gift. Also on this collection are "Feliz Navidad," starting off with the obligatory off-key kid vocals, plus "We're a Couple of Misfits" and "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy." Not a bad collection, and not a slow tune in the bunch. FURTHER UPDATE: Somehow missed out on Vol. 2 for 2011. Inexcusable, since Vol. 2 is where the title song resides. They broke out the songwriting pen for this one, along with three others, "Even Santa Needs a Break Sometimes," "I Miss You Most on Christmas," and "The Corner Store on Christmas." The collection wraps up with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," all at breakneck pop-punk speed. If you are even slower than me, never fear; the band mashed the two together for subsequent releases, and I've updated the Amazon link so you can download the whole mess.
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This is a small-scale supergroup featuring Americana artists Eleni Mandell, Becky Stark, Inara George and Alex Lilly, and they've had a couple of previous releases before coming together for this 2014 holiday project. I had a bit of trepidation because I suspected the country influence would reign, and I'm not entirely wrong about that; the overall vibe is more of slavishly recreated 1950s pop music with a Southern accent, very much like the Secret Sisters. This describes well their renditions of classics like "Jingle Bells," "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silver Bells." Nevertheless, there are some tunes here worthy of attention among the nine originals. "Christmas in California" is a nicely made pastiche of Beach Boys references, "Skip the Sugar (Good Girl)" lays the Americana harmonies over a gentle reggae beat, "Neon Chinese Christmas Eve" is a gentle recitation of the popular social trope about Jews spending Christmas in Chinese restaurants, "Merry Happy Christmas" evokes a bit of melancholia in the season and "Hanukkah" goes back to the Americana well, though a clarinet adds a jazzy touch. Maybe too mellow for the Mistletunes regulars, but some good songwriting makes it worth a listen.
One of the reasons this site exists is that, sometimes, even musicians and entertainers themselves miss out on what their audiences will find entertaining. Paul Simon, Steve Martin and Billy Joel, sometime in the early 1980s, dashed off this bit of PG-13 rated whimsey in a recording studio after a liquid dinner and never looked back on it. Someone dusted it off and uploaded it to YouTube, and now some folks have a new Christmas tradition. The full story is here (it originated with American Airlines' in-flight magazine, but the story is broken up in five parts and is hard to link to) and the song is below.

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This St. Louis band, an ad hoc grouping of people who perform holiday shows in their home town, put out a Christmas album in 2009 and are back in the fray for 2014 with another album of holiday goodies. "Christmas Isn't Like Any Day" opens things promisingly with an attempt at a Phil Spector anthem filtered through a Midwestern/Americana influence, followed by a parody take on the jazzy Jon Hendricks tune "Gimme That Wine" as "Gimme That Twine," complete with an exhortation that "It's Twine Time!" to open the tune. The group goes to the soul well with the ballad "Christmas Time (Come On Over)" and the funkier "Soul of Christmas," while "A Christmas Snowfall" is a ballad in which the singer goes to church to find Christmas spirit, a sort of holiday second to "Walking In Memphis," and "Snowbound Girl," another ballad, plows some of the same sidewalks. "Sick Again" is a short tear-jerker in which the singer's condition is self-inflicted. The "coming home for Christmas" song on this album is the pop-rocker "Christmas at the Super 8," and "Merry Christmas Everyone" tips a hat to the standard Christmas verities. The group tries (and succeeds) on some less-heard covers as well, like Big Dee & Little Eva's "I Wish You a Merry Christmas," Marvin Gaye's "Purple Snowflakes," and Stackridge's "North St. Grande," a soldier's holiday lament. The combination of these musicians' original songs, unique covers and community spirit make this album worth adding to your holiday collection.

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Kozelek, member of such bands as Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon who also works solo and has an acting career to boot, is a rather idiosyncratic performer, having done folky reinterpretations of AC/DC tunes and indie reinterpretations of John Denver among many other projects. For his first Christmas album in 2014, he's done what for him is a straightforward acoustic folk rendition of mostly standard Christmas carols, featuring his baritone vocals with occasional harmonies. No rhythm section hijinks or reimagined arrangements here, just very sincere takes on all these familiar songs. He departs from the antique repertoire in his choices of Chrissy Hynde's "2000 Miles," Greg Lake's "I Believe in Father Christmas," "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts)," and "Christmas Time Is Here," the "Peanuts" classic, including the Charlie Brown & Linus extended rap in the middle about being depressed at Christmas. It's pretty much the only departure from the form of a folk Christmas album, well done on its own terms but not much in the way of rock or rock attitude. Historical note: A Kozelek recording from 2001, White Christmas Live, is not actually a Christmas collection, but consists of Kozelek's solo and band songs. Another album from 2012, Little Drummer Boy, only features an ethereal take on that song in the way of Christmas music; the rest is non-holiday.
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This is a recording I knew about from the time I started Mistletunes back in 1997, but I never saw a copy of this 1995 EP from that day until this one. I finally stumbled over it in the iTunes Store recently, and of course you can click to grab it from Amazon. Apparently, the group's pianist/vocalist Beth Sorrentino retained the rights and has reissued it under the combined monicker "Suddenly, Tammy! & Beth Sorrentino." The band originated in Lancaster, PA in the 1990s and after some indie singles was signed to Warner Bros., which issued the original EP. Sprightly takes of "Linus & Lucy" and "Plant the Halls," substitute "Deck" for "Plant," rock out nicely, the original "Snowman" is a melancholy ballad with a touch of toy piano, "There In My Head" is another ballad in a slow-motion sort of Tori Amos arrangement, "Whole Lotta Girl" is a strong uptempo pop-rocker, although I can't make out enough of the lyrics to suss the Christmas connection, "Merry" is a yearning solo piano ballad, and things wrap up with "Rock 'n Roll With Santa Claus," a nice bit of hard rocking nonsense quoting favorite old Christmas sayings. The downloadable modern version adds three non-holiday songs. According to a fan-run band site that is still up, "Snowman," "Whole Lotta Girl" and "Merry" were on other Suddenly, Tammy! albums, one of which was never released.

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This is the third all-Christmas album by this Cincinnati-based husband-wife duo, and like the previous two it's an eclectic grouping of songs based in the holiday season though not necessarily always about Christmas. Unlike the past two albums, the duo didn't write all of the songs; "Bethlehem" and "Snowbirds" are originals by other musicians who play on the album and there's one cover, Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December," a straight country take that's also appropriate alongside the other songs here. The title song is a twangy take on traveling to see the family, "Another Christmas" is a folky strum that addresses one person's doubts about the big questions framed against Christmas, topped off with a quote of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and then the same emotions become bleaker with "My Father's Body." "First Snowfall" features the duo harmonizing over some finely-drawn observations about the phenomenon in the title, and "Let It Fall" serves as a comment about what to do about that "First Snowfall." "Snowbirds" celebrates the holiday in the sunnier climes, although the tone of the song sets up a melancholy contrast to the lyrics. "Bethlehem" is a revisitation and answer song to "O Little Town of Bethlehem," which is something the group had previously done on the Snow Angels album. "New Year's Song," likewise, contrasts happy lyrics and downbeat music. All told, if you've heard the previous two Christmas albums by this act, there aren't a lot of surprises here, but that's because their approach to a happy holiday with mixed emotions applies to just about everybody.

Year-Round Sounds, The Hipwaders (self-issued)

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hipwade2.jpgWe've had The Hipwaders on the site before. They're a kid-rock, family-friendly band, but we had good words for their previous Christmas album. This new album for 2014 isn't strictly a Christmas album, as the title might tip you, but there's two Christmas songs, a nice uptempo "Here Comes Santa Claus" and a rocked-out version of Buck Owens' "A Very Merry Christmas." Both are worth your attention. The rest of the album is in keeping with our previous assessment that they're kid-friendly and relentlessly upbeat, just not Christmas upbeat.

Over the Rhine to release third holiday album

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The Cincinnati alt-folk-rock duo are going for the hat trick, their third completely unique Christmas album, to be called Blood Oranges in the Snow. Street date is Nov. 4, according to Paste magazine. This time around, they plan to add covers to their original tunes, including the Merle Haggard classic "If We Make It Until December."

Other new holiday music to look out for includes Elizabeth Chan's third collection Christmas In the City, a few new songs plus some reimaginings of previous year's songs, and a greatest hits compilation of the Christmas Jug Band's work, Jugology. Not much else that might be of interest to rockin' Christmastimes so far, and this stuff's going to be fairly mellow itself, but my radar's up....
loudonIII.jpgThe celebrated singer-songwriter and actor, one of the early parade of "next Dylans," previously did a funny and still timely take on the holiday called "Suddenly It's Christmas" a couple decades ago, and another song, "Christmas Morning." For 2013, he redid the original live take of "Suddenly" in the studio with a backing band. As a companion piece, or shall we say B-side, he threw in this topical rewrite of "I'll Be Home For Christmas," using the holiday to take a potshot at Second Amendment absolutism. It's not bad, though it's a little heavy-handed compared to most of his work. But he apparently lives not terribly far from Sandy Hook Elementary, not that he needs any excuse to write any damn thing that comes into his fertile mind. Links are to Amazon, but you can also buy directly from Loudon's website.

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Don't let the label name fool you, Nerina is a British performer of some repute, an Ivor Novello award nominee in fact, although this 2013 EP is the first I've heard of her. This is typical pop-rock singer-songwriter fare, and indeed all five songs on this collection are originals of hers, even "Blue Christmas," a breezy number about Christmas melancholy. The collection kicks off with the upbeat "I Know What You're Doing For Christmas," goes jazzy-bluesy with the title song and straight to balladry with "A Christmas Lullabye," concluding with "I Wish," in which the singer misses a former lover at the holiday. While putting this post together I discovered Yes December, a 2011 EP by the artist. The title song is one of those "winter" ballads not necessarily about Christmas, "Two Figures in the Snow" is a piano ballad about loyalty, and she covers "Last Christmas" in a mildly samba arrangement. The two remaining songs don't sound particularly holiday oriented. "Lot Like Heaven" is a rock stomper and "Eleven" is a piano ballad of a very Kate Bush-ian cast. Of the two, the newer collection is the stronger one, but completists and fans with both will have enough songs for a full album from Nerina.

A Child Is Born, Sojourn (self-issued)

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This is not so much a band as a Louisville, Ky.-based church emphasizing musical worship, but as they use rock forms to achieve their goals, and they've recorded Christmas music, we're going to look at them here. The album in the headline was released in 2011 and features a combination of popular carols and original songs. Performance-wise, this is very professional, following the styles of current pop-rock. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" opens the disc in a strong upbeat rock style, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" takes a hard rock tack with only slight gospel overtones, as does "O Come O Come Emanuel," and "Silent Night" uses waltz time but plays up the rhythm and the crunchy guitars. The originals are heavily religious, of course, though performances like the semi-funky "O Glorious Hour," the mid-tempo "Knocking at Your Door" and the ballads "Joy Joy" and "This Is the Christ" are strong rock outings that will appeal to fans of contemporary rock bands. For completeness' sake, this is Sojourn's second Christmas-themed release; they put out Advent Songs in 2007, which in turn was, in their words, a revisitation of Songs For the Advent from 2003, again a combination of popular carols and church-written originals.

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This is from 2012, released on New Year's Eve in fact, and well, words (almost) fail me. These guys bill themselves as Russian pirates performing punk rock, and indeed their personal website is in Russian, as are the songs. The St. Petersburg band does have a Facebook page in English, however, although it doesn't illuminate things much more. Soundwise, they do manage to mash up 70s punk rock with their Eastern European roots, in the manner of such acts as Gogol Bordello. Since I don't speak Russian, I'm having a bit of difficulty lining up any Christmas-style intentions with this collection other than the release date and the cover art. I do recognize bits of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" in one of the tunes, but that's about all. But what the heck, it's a free download, and you might just want to throw something outré like this into your mix.

OK, there is no such thing, it's just a bit from the Jimmy Kimmel show. But it's still a hoot, and props to Jenny Lewis for playing a cameo in it. (Of course, Mistletunes regulars know there have been many metal Christmas albums before this.)

 
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I had heard that the 2012 entry in this label's annual sequence of Christmas music collections was supposed to be the last, so imagine my surprise to find they not only did a new one this year, but that they've revamped the website a bit to make this, and previous years' albums, easier to find. Where previous collections had 40 or more songs, this year's wraps up at just 27 selections, including the album-ending goof "The Paincakes Sell Out," 41 seconds of tribute by The Paincakes to the famous album of the otherwise same name by the Who. This is more of an indie-rock collection, though some Americana shows up in the playlist as well. This year's batch opens with the Kickstand Band paying tribute to Pia Zadora with "Hooray For Santy Claus," Javelins crank the reverb on their guitars for the instrumental "This Time of Year," The Next Door Neighbors recycle "Jingle Bell Rock's" arrangement with "Open For Christmas," Love Axe takes the New Testament literally in "Jesus Came From Heaven," PreciseHero notes that "Martian Kids Need Santa Too," Blaire Alise & the Bombshells rock out an ode to "Mistletoe," Carjack/Pupils do a rock cover of "Christmas in Hollis," Jeremy Porter & the Tucos check off some modern pop culture points in "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year," Six and the Sevens evoke the old garage hit "Baby Please Come Home" in "Please Come Home For Christmas," and ScreechGING Weasel rocks out "The Government Don't Get Shit For Christmas." There's more, but you can examine the free download for yourself.

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We've had the Christmas collections by this online Americana music magazine before, and this year they've gone overboard with a massive download equivalent to about two full CDs of songs. "Americana," of course, means just about anything you want it to, from old-school country to gut-bucket blues to folk to early rock styles, although it's best used with artists whose repertoires cut across most or all of those categories. With 44 songs on the roster, I'm only going to be able to give you the highlights, but since it's a free download, you'll be able to fill in the blanks yourselves. Mary Gauthier's "Christmas in Paradise" is a sweetly sardonic tale of being homeless for the holidays, Jimmie Bratcher's "Man! It's Christmas" is upbeat and jazzy, Dave Hogan rocks out with "Christmas Every Day," Brian Ashley Jones channels Jimmy Buffett with "Let's Get Blazed For the Holidays," and yes, that's what he's talking about. Tom Mason & the Blue Buccaneers do a Celtic Western swing on "It's Christmas Day,"  Mike Surber goes all talky on "Talking Christmas Time Travel Blues," Jeff Maddox gives us a little Tex-Mex, appropriately, on "Merry Margarita," Over the Rhine contributes "Here It Is" from their second Christmas disc (a third is pencilled in for 2014), Calico the Band breaks out the slide guitars for the bluesy "Santa Have Mercy," FunkyJenn also treads the blues boards for "Just Me and the Mistletoe," Deborah Holland contributes an original western folky song "Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah" that gently pokes that holiday as well as Christmas, Annie Selleck goes pop for "Let's Make a Christmas Memory," the VooDUDES rock out on "I Won't Be Home For Christmas," and BumpKin Pie rewrites the Nativity as a boot-scootin' get-together on "Party In the Stable." Grab this while the link's still live.

Sad Holiday, various artists (Scaredy Cat)

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sadholiday.jpgThis Charlotte, N.C., record label gathered together some Christmas performances from its artist roster to create this album whose purchase benefits UNICEF. The title suggests some downbeat views of the holiday, and the Nuns' "Blood Red Snow" certainly fits that first impression, as does Mineral Girls' "Merry Christmas, I Hate Your Guts," Victor Anderson's sardonic monologue "Thankful Holidaze," Dollar Signs' "Selfish Christmas," Billy Mack Collector's "Drunk With Marty" and a cover of "River" by Sinai Vessel. Rusty Cotton's "Happy Christmas, Merry New Years" is likewise downbeat lyrically over acoustic guitar and droning organ, and "Happy Birthday Jesus" by Wally Tusk and the Film Club is a fairly drunken and scatological look at the holiday. More conventional fare gets a downbeat twist, as in Radiator Hospital's drone-y "Christmas Island" and a cynical take on "Oh. Christmas. Tree." by Bless These Sounds Under the City. Dollar Signs get a second bite of the apple in the album opener "Caroler," in which the singer describes a semi-sincere outing singing Christmas carols that has a little more whimsy to it (and a bad word in one line). This is indie rock with punk attitude, but whether you like this depends on how much of a sense of humor you have about the dark side of the holiday, as a few of these songs are fairly unrelenting. Many of the songs on this collection snuck out individually in recent weeks, but the actual album download only went live Christmas day on Bandcamp.

In keeping with the earlier item about Christmas parodies of current hit music, here we have a Christmas parody medley, which should interest the young people among us and give the older visitors an idea of what that stuff at the top of the iTunes chart the rest of the year actually is. You can click through to YouTube for the parody lyrics to this piece. If you like it, download it here.

"Dancing in the Snow," The Leopards (Moon)

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leopards.jpgThis is one of those semi-legendary songs that people occasionally ask about, that I've known about for at least a couple of decades, but its impossible rarity tended to confound even The Great And Powerful Google, at least until I stumbled over it again while recovering from a festive holiday dinner. The Leopards were a Kansas City, Kan. band in the 1970s that personally pressed and released their own vinyl LP of their original songs, around about the time that the band Shoes was doing the same thing in Illinois, kicking off the true beginnings of indie rock. Shoes crossed over to the major labels and the Leopards did not, but when you hear this song it's hard to figure why; on this song, at least, they did a more than passible impression of the Kinks doing a holiday song, and before the Kinks themselves did "Father Christmas." This song was the only holiday-themed tune on the album, and it's a keeper. They went on to release a couple more singles and albums, none of which made much of a mark. The original album, Kansas City Slickers, was pressed in an edition of exactly 1,000 copies in 1977; Sing Sing Records of New York put out a limited vinyl reissue in 2011, for which there is a listing on Amazon. Best price at this writing was $99 for a copy of the Sing Sing version; best not to ask about the price of one of the original 1,000 copies. Whether there is an available download of the entire album I will leave to the individual's resourcefulness. Listen here.

"Deck the Halls," Priscilla Ahn (self-issued)

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This is a neat, downbeat and ethereal reading of this popular carol, and at least for the time being it's free to download from Priscilla's website. Check it:

 

"Rudolph," Mod Carousel featuring Leeni (YouTube)

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Really miss those Bob Rivers holiday parodies based on hit rock and pop songs? This is the kind of thing he'd be doing if he was still doing this stuff. Lorde takes one for the team in this one. (Click through to the YouTube page if you want to see the lyrics.)

 

Once again, it's time for a merry Christmas

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Here we are once again at Christmas eve, when it's kind of late to be announcing new Christmas music since everybody's already finished their mix discs and playlists. Nevertheless, we press on, because there's always next year. Thanks to all the readers and tipsters out there who help me make this an interesting place to stop off in your travels along this man's Internet. I leave you, for the moment, with a rare holiday performance from young rising star Lissie, and because we're all about the rock 'n roll Christmases here, I give you this not-exactly-new link to a great story of Christmas cheer starring, of all people, the Sex Pistols.

 
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Keeping the streak going in 2013 is this English indie label, this year getting a little help on the curation front from Gareth Jones, the British podcaster. (Click through Gareth's name for a Christmas podcast featuring Cherryade major domo Rachel Neiman.) Some of the artists have been here in previous years, like the Bobby McGees, Pocket Gods, Piney Gir, Otalgia and Paraffins, but the majority are newcomers. Things kick off with Dressy Bessy's "Hopped Up (On Xmas)," a frenetic punk-pop rush through holiday preparations; John Shuttleworth's "The Christmas Orphan," a holiday story rendered in a very early David Bowie-style delivery; David Leach breaks out the ukelele for "Handmade Christmas"; Sonic the Comic reaches out for companionship with the crunchy lo-fi "Spend Christmas Day With Me"; and Dog Legs play around with surf music on the heavily reverbed and vibratoed "Not Just Fo' Christmas (Christmas Serf)." MJ Hibbett & the Validators' "Thank Goodness For Christmas" gives us a tongue-in-cheek look at things: "It's extremely convenient that you had Baby Jesus at the moment when we needed a party." Chalk & Numbers goes girl-groupy with "Happiness This Time of Year," and I Like the Go Go takes things even farther back to the 50s with "Xmas Song No. 1." No Cars takes us over to Japan for "X'masu de itadkimasu," although I wasn't aware that country had much of a Christmas tradition. The Bobby McGees talk like pirates on "Ho F'n Ho," Otalgia thrash their way through "Empty Boxes," Paraffins' "Band of Snow (Drifted)" is a slow-motion instrumental, Radio Orwell goes all cinematic on a cover of "Last Christmas," and Velodrome 2000 cuts right to the chase with the punked-out "Christmas Sucks." Horses of Instruction mixes Casio keyboards and acoustic guitars on "Godfather Christmas," in which a horse loses his head in the first verse, setting the stage for the rest of the song. Woog Riots goes synth-pop with "Under the Christmas Treeee," Partly Llama goes very quiet on "Fallen Angel," and the closer is Ross & Jones' "Gaudete." Piney Gir's "Christmas Time" and the Pocket Gods' "Silent Night" and "Bernard Matthews Turkey Zombie Revenge" arrive here from other compilations. All told, a pretty good snapshot of modern British indie-rock compiled to celebrate the holiday. Only available from the label.
ohhellos.jpgThe Oh Hellos are Maggie and Tyler Heath, Texas siblings with a musical vision, and this is their 2013 Christmas EP. It's presented in four "movements," which essentially works out to four medleys of popular antique religious carols. It veers back and forth between folk, country, pop and heavy rock, not unlike a certain Trans-Siberian Orchestra I could name, but with a slightly more modern cast to it. Indeed, if I were to tell you this was a collection by Mumford & Sons or the Lumineers, you'd probably believe me. The multiple movements consisting of carol medleys are arranged in a way that suggests the end-of-term musicale at some place like Liberty University. I'm not really sure this kind of thing is what folks come to Mistletunes for, but it's nicely done and it might just be some folks' holiday speed. Grab it from Bandcamp.

From El-P and Killer Mike's 2013 album, also titled Run the Jewels, this is their hip-hop holiday song. NSFW for lyrics, though not for visuals. I felt it was necessary to post this since it features a (gasp! clutch pearls!) black Santa.

 
dgwynne13.jpgOur friends at Dead Gwynne have been doing a new Christmas song every single year since 1995 or thereabouts. This year's entry is a bit on the lo-fi side, in fact it kinda sounds like a demo, but it's a nice slice-of-life look at the mundane part of the holiday. And it's free, as are all the band's tunes -- there's 20 of them now.

Spoke too soon

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A couple of months ago I rendered a heartfelt farewell to Stubby's Christmas, which had announced it was going static back in July. In the course of doing research for a post, I saw a link to a Stubby review of the record I was covering, clicked through and, lo and behold, the review had been written only a couple of weeks ago. Apparently he picked up the thread again in December. So feel free to keep visiting for as long as Stubby keeps posting, and I'll keep my website obituaries to myself for the time being.
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This Seattle-based record label rounded up an elpee's worth of toonz from its label artists and friends to benefit the charity MusiCares for 2013. This is the album that contains that fabulous tune "No Lou For Christmas" by Tom Dyer and His Queen's Pajamas that I posted several days ago, a lovely tribute to the late Lou Reed that affectionately pilfers several Lou/Velvets riffs as well as "The Night Before Christmas." Dyer returns later with "Christmas (It's Just Around the Corner)," a poppier bit with female backing vocals. The OF goes kind of low-budget free-jazzy with its double cover of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus/Snow Miser," and AAIIEE provides the semi-title song, "Krampus Is an Evil Man," in which the story of the malevolent Christmas being gets told in a garage-inspired manner. Opening tune "Here We Are (On Christmas Day)" is by the Elf-Tones, a shambling folk-pop performance with ensemble vocals. Henry Boy Jenkins goes semi-Beatlesque with the piano-led "Love For Christmas," The Goblin Market breaks out the harmonium for "In the Bleak Midwinter," Tom Nook goes all 1977 lo-fi for "One Last Christmas Eve," Toxic Socket do a metal take on "The Greatest Toy in the World," and the Deadlies go more 70s hard rock on "Winter Wonderland." Three Ninjas & The Weird Old Tricks do a kind of Tom Waits arrangement on "Joy and Good Will," Richard & Xander Stuverud break out the toy piano on the ballad "Christmas Tree," Jason Rubin's "Out On Your Motorcycle" is a nice way to see the Christmas lights, assuming it's not too cold and you've got your leathers on, the Queen Annes do a slapdash "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday," the Green Monkey Christmas Chorale do a slapdash-snarky choral arrangement of "It's Christmas (And I'm Jolly)," and the King County Queens go all the way back to late 60s psychedelia to present "Drop the Silver Ball," a slice-of-life tribute to New Year's Day. Lots of good stuff on this album, grab it from Bandcamp.
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