Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Best alternative New Year Songs

Goodbye last year, hello new year. Here's where xmassongblog ends for the year but lets go out with the very best alternative new years songs including an Auld Lang Syne for all tastes. The market for New Year songs isn't as big as that for Christmas songs so give me a nudge if you know of others either in the comments or @xmassongblog on the twitter.

Right lets begin with Beach House and New Year from the massive critical success of an album that was Bloom.

Next let's have the first of a few versions of Auld Lang Syne. I was a right little punk kid so I'm always partial the pop punk of Washington's MxPx. Blast this out at midnight to wake any neighbours who have tried to sleep through the new year.

Nottingham band Six by Seven were always threatening to be a big deal during my teens but never really broke out of the pages of NME to anywhere approaching the mainstream. The songs not got a great dealing with the New year beyond the title and some backing vocals but it's a great tune and a fine way to start as you mean to go on.

Next lets get bang up to date. 2016 has been a shit year for all sorts of reasons and Superchunk's Mac McCaughan gets the feeling just right. 2017 isn't 2016 it's already onto a winner.

Whilst we are all feeling down about things let's go deep down with the ever miserable Bonnie Prince Billy and Trembling Bells. Who wants to have party anyway?

Ok Ok Let's have some cheer with A sufjan family singalong version of Auld Lang Syne. Like the finest Church band ever.

Regina Spektor plays it uncharacteristicly straight on this one. None of the vocal gymnastics and awkward melody changes she usually gives us, just a pretty little hopeful new year ballad.

Death cab for Cutie were at their best when this led out the Transatlanticism album.

Right are you in the mood to start the new year? NOFX want a revoloution and are prepared to write a sweary song about it. Shame it didn't work since it came out 4 years ago now, oh well.

Finally back to Auld Lang Syne and beside the MxPx song above this i my favourite version and it's one you can play to your parents. It's folksy bounce through the verses I never learnt the words of. I'll say farewell now till next year, hope it's a good year for you.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Best alternative Last Christmas covers

I've been meaning to do this post for a while but with yesterdays sad news of George Michaels passing this seemed like the time. I appreciate most people will want to listen to the original, it's just not my style of music. So here are our favourite alternative covers of this most ubiquitous of Christmas classics.

Let's get things rolling with The Manic Street Preachers. Apparently this was one of Richie Edward's favourite songs before the guitarist and lyricist disappeared. It's recorded live, just lead singer James Dean Bradfield and an acoustic guitar.

Next we have Florence and the Machine, originally recorded for BBC radio 1's Christmas party there is a fair bit of chatter in the background but the harp and Florence Welch's voice make this truly special thing.

Now have a proper studio recorded version. Summer Camp have been one of my favourite new bands too long to called that anymore but they don't half make great Christmas music.

This is from this year. It's Kestrals singer Chad Peck and a rockier version.

We shall bring it back down with Erland Oye, he's one half of the Kings of Convenience and his take brings out the Melancholy that underpins the song's narative.

This next is probably my favourite version. A downtempo dance version, when the melody kicks in it's easy to just get lost in it. Again it's from BBC radio 1 this time in their live lounge.

Coldplay sent this shortened version of the song in their 2007 message to their fans. Short and ever so sweet.

A strumalong version from Cribs frontman Ryan Jarman and Kate Nash that wouldn't work in other peoples hands but suits both their styles perfectly. Recorded whilst they were an item it bounces through at a nice little pace.

So smooth is Jimmy Eats World's version it's easy not to recognise that it's the rock band from Arizona. Just sit back relax and enjoy.

Folk singer songwriter Frank Turner is another who keeps it simple and sings along with crowd on his cover.

Ok lets finish with Arab strap singer Aidan John Moffat. He's got the full disco beat behind him so it's almost karaoke. Frankly he almost songs drunk and it's complete with screeches of interference but there is no mistaking his Falkirk drawl.

Surely there is something for everyone in that list, but please let me know if you know another good one. You can email me at xmassongblog@live.com or @xmassongblog on twitter.
Rest in peace Mr George Michael, thank you for the excellent song you'll excuse us if we just carry on singing along.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

10 Coolest Christmas songs in the world right now 2016

This is where we run down the two coolest Christmas songs in the world each year as new artists appear and old artist become less exciting. It's all my opinion but it's my blog so yeah, deal with it. Check out last years post to see how things have changed.

10. They released a great album this year, so at 10 it's Scottish miserablists Frightened Rabbit.

9. No new music from them this year but consensus album of the year contenders with their past two.

8 Low - Just Like Christmas
Still the best Christmas song ever if you ask me. They released a new Christmas song this year but nothing to match this majesty.

7 CHVRCHES were number 1 last year but with no new music they drift down to 7 this year.

6 The Sun Kil Moon singer has been a shoe in for end of year lists for a few years now. For a Christmas song fan however this is the piancle.

5 This was released after we compiled last years list. Whilst we still await the first new album since they reformed we shall make do with this Christmas song.

4 Michael Angelakos is the lead singer of Passion Pit, so a Christmas themed album sounds like the coolest thing that could happen this year. Well it is to us. It's a lovely thing with a lovely video to boot.

3 Tennis have been on our radar for a while but never seem to make that break through despite their knack for catchy off kilter pop. They have a new album in 2017 so maybe that will be their year. Still this cover seems to suit them, it rattles along at a joyful sing a long pace.

2 Lucy Rose's Merry Christmas Everyone was on a BBC advert this year, a number of people have been asking me what this song is. It's grown on me since it was released a few years back.So much so it's the second coolest Christmas song this year.

1. So number 1 this year is the XX. They've only released one song from the new album out early next year but already I'm over excited. their live lounge version is the coolest Christmas song in the world right now.

So am I right or an idiot. Let me know in the comments or email xmassongblog@outlook.com or @xmassongblog on twitter

Monday, 12 December 2016

Late update due to big news

Ok so it's the 12th December and I've not put a single post on for the month, I'll admit that it's just not good enough for a Christmas music blog.... but I have a very valid excuse. I spent the first week of December in Iceland with Miss xmassongblog where she agreed to sometime soon become Mrs xmassongblog. So since then I have been busy with family cooing over a ring, you know the sort of the thing. Anyways tonight I have an evening off whilst she meets family so here we go.

Firstly Amazon updated their Indie for the Holidays playlist with a bunch of new songs. There's a Dandy Warhols cover of Silver Bells which is rather good but the stand out track is Tennis doing a cover of the National Lampoon's vacation song "Holiday Road" Tennis are probably a bit for this blog we usually leave the properly alternative stuff to the excellent Christmas Underground and Cutting Edge of Christmas. Check them out after checking out the cover below.

Then there's also a new Low Christmas single. Being the band that released the all time greatest Christmas song ever this new song has some high standards to live up to. It's called Some Hearts (at christmas Time) and it's a nice song just not them at their brilliant best. It's out on sub pop have a listen and let me know what you think.

Finally for this post Michael Angelakos is the lead singer of Passion Pit. He releases Merry Christmas Mr Fields OST next week and has headed it up with "Stained Glass Window" a rather lovely Holiday ballad, recognisably him but completely different to the usual Passion Pit sound. It's unclear what the actual project is whether it's an actual film, TV show or just a collection of videos to Angelakos' songs. Either way have a try of that lead single below and I'll be back to check out the full album and to post more regularly from here on in.... I promise.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Alternative Christmas Music: 2016's playlist

I'm off to Iceland for a holiday for the next fortnight. So whilst I usually wait until December has started to send off my playlist, this year I'm going early. 
20 of the coolest Christmas songs. If you don't already know it's not necessarily the best Christmas songs from this year, it's just a CDs worth of music for me to share with my friends in preference to a boring Christmas card. Let me know what you like and what you don't in the comment section or by the twitters @xmassongblog
Of course if there's another song you think we might like then drop us a line about that too.

Anyways onto this years selections.
  1. Xmas Time Of the Year - Green Day
  2. I Don’t Wanna Wait Til Christmas - Summer Camp
  3. Xmas for the Jews - Rogue Wave
  4. Angels We Have Heard On High - Sufjan Stevens
  5. Christmas Will Break Your Heart - LCD Soundsystem
  6. The Christmas Waltz -Lisa Hannigan
  7. Do You Hear What I Hear - Mark Kozelek
  8. Dirt Sledding - The Killers
  9. Alone on Christmas Day - Phoenix
  10. Last Christmas On Planet Earth - Palma Violets
  11. Christmas Everyday - Best Coast
  12. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Marika Hackman
  13. My Beer Drunk Soul Is Sadder Than All the Dead Christmas Trees In the World - Broken Records
  14. 2000 Miles - The Leisure Society
  15. Hang An Ornament - Grandaddy & Band of Horses
  16. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Rufus Wainwright
  17. Green Grows The Holly - Calexico
  18. Blue Christmas - Bright Eyes
  19. Silver Bells - The Flaming Lips
  20. The Season’s Upon Us - Dropkick Murphys

1 Xmas Time Of the Year - Green Day
Punk rocks elder statesmen released this Xmassong on Christmas Eve last year.  Perfect timing for this years list. You'll need a Green Day Christmas Jumper to enjoy it to it's fullest though.No links to buy the song but the video is below.

2 I Don’t Wanna Wait Til Christmas - Summer Camp
Summer Camp gave us a Christmas EP last year and from that this is one of the original xmas songs. Jeremy sings which from what I've heard before is not the norm. The EP is still available from the link above for just £2.50 bargain. Or you know the links below for nearly a fiver.


3 Xmas for the Jews - Rogue Wave
Including the particularly wonderful line of "Kwanza for the Hindus". Lead singer Zach Rogue finds some comfort initially feeling left out in this gentle modern folk. It's lovely and it's a free download via Soundcloud below.

4 Angels We Have Heard On High - Sufjan Stevens
What would a Christmas Playlist be without some Sufjan.He's been on just about every single one of my playlists and probably will be for years to come, I mean there's enough songs right. This is is a stripped back banjo and vocal song reminiscent of the Age of Adz album through repeated use of "Gloria"


5 Christmas Will Break Your Heart - LCD Soundsystem
This one came out of nowhere last year. Their first single in 5 years and it's a slow mildly depressing take on Christmas. I'm gonna need to update my most depressing Christmas songs playlist.  

6 The Christmas Waltz -Lisa Hannigan
Lisa Hannigan keeps it simple this time after a lush Orchestral backed version of River last year. It's the Christmas Standard sung as it's supposed to be but by one of my favourite voices. No links to buy but the video as always below.

7 Do You Hear What I Hear - Mark Kozelek
Sun Kil Moon's lead singer released one of the finest Christmas albums in my opinion and sooner or later I'll get round to blogging a list of the finest indie Christmas albums. This is another quiet one and it's a thing of quiet beauty.

8 Dirt Sledding - The Killers
The Killers have collated all their Christmas singles into an album this year. Will this years spoken word effort be the last of them then? We go back a year further with guest appearances from Ryan Pardey and Richard Dreyfuss. As with every year it's all for the very worth (RED) charity.

9 Alone on Christmas Day - Phoenix
Phoenix performed this for the Bill Murray Christmas special. It's actually an unreleased Beach Boys song for an aborted Christmas Album. I love Phoenix so this was a very welcome surprise last year.

10 Last Christmas On Planet Earth - Palma Violets
NME lauded Indie Rockers Palma Violets wouldn't be the first band you'd expect to do a Christmas song but here we are and it's stonking. A brooding baseline gives way to classic pop Christmas song almost in the style of Elton or Wizard albeit that the lyrical content lends itself more to the booze soaked video.

11 Christmas Everyday - Best Coast
What is it about good basslines this year. Amazon have been good to this indie Christmas playlist over the last few years with playlists of their own and getting indie bands to produce songs for their own Christmas albums. This year they commissioned a Christmas special for Amazon Prime TV and got Best Coast one of our favourite little bands to produce a new song. This is it another happy classic indie rock with sleigh bells thrown in to make sure you don't miss the Christmas lyrics.

12 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Marika Hackman
Marika Hackman has made us smile this year by taking on her previous Christmas efforts and releasing a whole Christmas EP. This however is a previous years effort. No purchase links but the video is below.

13 My Beer Drunk Soul Is Sadder Than All the Dead Christmas Trees In the World - Broken Records.
It's year of very long titles which always causes me a problem when I try to fit the titles onto a CD to send to my friends instead of a proper Christmas card.This is much more fun than the title suggests. Often some of the most heart wrenching sad music in the business this races along like a proper hit. Why this band is not more successful is quite beyond me.

14 2000 Miles - The Leisure Society
A faithful retelling of the Pretender's classic here. No more complicated than that.

15 Hang An Ornament - Grandaddy & Band of Horses
How I managed to miss this last year I don't rightly know and it got me a bit too excited when I heard about it. Love Grandaddy so a Christmas song by them is just pure bait for me. Listen and find out for yourself how lovely it is.

16 It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Rufus Wainwright
Rufus just wants to be a crooner at heart doesn't he. It's much better than Buble as I keep telling people... they don't listen but hey. Taken from a soundtrack to a film that doesn't warrant the advertising space here it's a fine Christmassy classic version.

17 Green Grows The Holly - Calexico
Originating from Arizona Calexico take on an old English carol and give it a Southwest feel complete with mournful mariachi trumpet.

18 Blue Christmas - Bright Eyes
Bright Eyes Christmas album is the thing of legend but this is one of the few moments it steps up the tempo. Of course when it does it takes on a song made famous by Elvis. Still the lyrical content is depressive, wouldn't be Bright Eyes ant other way.

19 Silver Bells - The Flaming Lips
Xmassongblog stalwarts the Flaming Lips released an album of Christmas instrumentals back in 2010. I'm surprised I have not used more of the songs yet. This is one of the best tracks on the album and surprisingly for them one of the most straight forward covers. 

The Season’s Upon Us - Dropkick Murphys
So we bookend this years playlist with veteran punk acts. The Dropkick Murphy's rip through their family's in a good old fashioned Celtic drinking song. It's a spiritual successor to Fairytale of New York.

So let us know what you think of this years list xmassongblog@hotmail.com or @xmassongblog on twitter.

Friday, 25 November 2016

The First few Christmas songs of 2016 - Best Coast and Marika Hackman

Aside from a few efforts it's been a slow start few indie Christmas tunes this year but the good stuff is starting to trickle through.

We've already blogged our disappointment at She and Him's effort and the Killers released a compilation album with only one extra track and it was a spoken word one at that. A shame but at least it's for a very worth cause so get that here when it's released on CD December 9th.

We've had a Best Coast song on our playlists before albeit with Wavves that time. This year they have provided an original song for an Amazon Prime exclusive. I'll pass on the Christmas TV but the songs a rather bouncy indie affair. It's like they were deliberately trying to get on this blog to be honest because it's right up our street. Check it out below, I do believe it's available now.
Also on our radar and soon to be released is Marika Hackman's Christmas ep. She's graced our playlists with her versions of O Come, O Come Emmanuel  and Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. There's a new version of the former and the later is not included so it's 6 original songs. Some tracks are already released as is the way these days but you can get the whole lot on Dec 2nd. It's high quality stuff and well worth a listen.

It was Christmas Underground which is a fabulous blog which first pointed me in the direction of this ep so I'll give them their due and point you towards them here. 

 Meanwhile listen to the first track released below.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

She & Him - Christmas Party

It's the first big Christmas Album release for 2016 and it's out in October!

Of course we've been here before with Zooey and Matt with 2011's a very She & Him Christmas and I must admit I didn't really expect a follow up but here we are.

Even for She & Him this is very standard fare. They fill in some of the gaps on their repertoire of Christmas standards but everything is done in that very classic style. It's a lovely collection but it's predictably so. It's just not gonna blow your Christmas stockings off and it's hard to escape the feeling that it really wasn't necessary to do this follow up given the quality of the original.

Anyway check out the track Happy Holidays and you'll get the gist.

The albums out now from all the usual places. Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @xmassongblog