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.

Amazon


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"

Amazon
 

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.  
Amazon 



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.
Amazon 



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.
Amazon


   
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.
Amazon 



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.
Amazon


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.
Amazon



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.
Amazon


   
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.
Amazon



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.
Amazon 


 
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. 
Amazon



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.
Amazon

 
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

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Most Depressing Christmas Songs

Are you not feeling the Christmas spirit? Here's our guide to alternative musics most miserable Christmas songs.
I Believe In Father Christmas - Six By Seven
Just like the weather in Liverpool right now it there is no snow it just keeps on raining in the decidedly grumpy Greg Lake cover.

Hurts - All I want for Christmas is new years day.
Wishing Christmas all away are Hurts here, they've had quite enough already.

Gruff Rhys - Slashed Wrists This Christmas.
What could be more depressing than suicide. The Super Furry Animals lead singer takes the subject head on.

Adrian Moffat - Plastic Mistletoe
Our favourite miserable Scot sounds like he's singing direct to the bottom of his whiskey glass.
 
Bright Eyes - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Anyone who has seen Meet me in St Louis knows this is not the cheery Christmas tune it's often presented as. Even so Connor Oberst brings it right down on this version.

Mark Kozelek - Christmas Time is Here
Sun Kil Moon singer Kozelek channels his inner Charlie Brown to bring the Melancohly right out of this holiday favourite, even copying Charlie and Linus' lines.

Tom McRae - Wonderful Christmastime
I always hated this McCartney song. That's why it's so apt that its sung like the next cigarette might just be Tom's last. He's far from having a wonderful time.
 
What do you think? Do you know any more depressing Christmas tunes. Let me know in the comments, via email xmassongblog@outlook.com or via twitter @xmassongblog

If you really are having a rubbish Christmas let me know and we shall see what I can do to help. There is help out there, don't think you are alone.... I love these songs for a reason...  

Thursday, 10 December 2015

10 Coolest Christmas songs in the world right now 2015

A few years back a Beth Ditto Christmas song was the coolest thing that could possibility happen. Much as I like that tune a lacklustre last album and few years since The Gossip released anything that excited us, has left that song no where near as cool.
So here is my list of the coolest xmassongs right now, I plan to do a list every year as songs and artist get cooler or new artists appear.
The main criteria is that I think the song and artist are cool. It's worth mentioning here that I am based in the UK. Some of these bands will not be cool anywhere else. Furthermore it's about who is cool to me right now. This does not mean that the songs or the artist are the best, they will not all be cool next year and my taste is notoriously bad anyway. Check it out below, agree with me or not? Let me know in the comments or @xmassongblog on twitter.

10 Shins - Wonderful Christmastime
Every students indie rock favourite start off our list even if it's been 3 years since we last had an album off them.

Amazon
9 Slow Club - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
My favourite song from the many Christmas tunes the Sheffield duo have released. Last years album was a motown drenched stormer.
 
8 Low - Just Like Christmas
This is the best Christmas song ever if you ask me. They just seem to release brilliant music year in and year out. This years Ones and Sixes was yet another highlight of their career. To me they will always be cool.
Wikipedia 
Amazon 

7 Maria Hackman - O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Marika Hackman is still in the infancy of her career. Check it out at her Soundcloud. Get the song on Daisy Digital's Christmas second compilation at Bandcamp.

6 Dum Dum Girls - On Christmas
The Dum Dum Girls are the coolest ice queens about. They've released a steady stream of the coolest songs over the last 5 years. Regular posts about them at Stereogum usually is a good indicator of coolness. Check it out you can get it for free at Soundcloud.

5 Beach House - I do not car for the winter sun.
Released in 2010 they've had consensus album of the year and all round critical acclaim since then. This year they gave us two albums of loveliness and will be all over the end of the year lists.

4 Bombay Bicycle Club - In the Bleak Midwinter
From BBC radio One's live lounge. Bombay Bicycle club are beloved of the UK critics with good reason. They took 2015 off. Will they be back in 2016. If they are there will be all sorts of excitement here.

3 Mark Kozelek - Christmastine is here
Sun Kil Moon were all over the year end lists in 2014 with Benji. A moody cool take on Christmas here from their main man here. Charlie Brown has never sounded so unimpressed. That's quite the achievement.

2.    Last Christmas (Live) - The XX
Live in the BBC radio One live lounge. The Live lounge is always a good place to find the best new music. The XX have been cool from the start. Jamie XX's solo album this year just confirmed it mashing styles together yet keeping enough space to allow the songs to come out in one undescribable whole. Making the Christmas Cheesepop fest cool again is one mammoth task.
 

1 Scottish electronic band CHVRCHES do a similar thing to Christmas classic in their Live lounge turn. They keep it cool and sparse and it's all the better for it. After releasing their Sophomore album this year they've been finding themselves deep into the top ten of most of the end of the year lists. In all the right places at all the right times. Chvrches have our coolest track for 2015.
  

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

Friday, 4 December 2015

Phoenix - Alone on Christmas Day

So the mystery is over and we get French band Phoenix's Christmas song. It's straight off the Phoenix song book, it's mid-tempo keyboard drenced strum along pop song with drums that sound like a drum machine but probably are not. Apparently it's a Beach Boys cover but it's a new one on me. Check it out beong and they buy it. We here love a charity single and this one it raising money for Unicef.
Amazon

Alternative Christmas Music: 2015's playlist

Finally here, it's my 2015 playlist of alternative Christmas music. If you don't already know every year since 2004 I have created a playlist of Indie and alternative Christmas music to send to my friends instead of Christmas cards. These are the songs I will be sending this year. Of course alot of the songs were released in previous years because I have had to put the lists together before December begins so I can send them and the recipients have a chance to play them before December is over.
Let me know what you think, and if you know of a good tune I've not got here get in touch via email xmassongblog@outlook.com or @xmassongblog on twitter.

Here's the list with a link and video party going on below.

1 CHVRCHES - Stay Another Day
2 Summer Camp - Last Christmas
3 Ladyhawke - Merry Xmas Everyone
4 Bombay Bicycle Club - In the Bleak Midwinter
5 Shins - Wonderful Christmastime
6 Lisa Hannigan - River
7 Sufjan Steven - Christmas In The Room
8 The Polyphonic Spree - The Christmas Song
9 Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas (Acoustic)
10 Dum Dum Girls - On Christmas
11 She & Him - Christmas Day
12 Mark Kozelek - Christmas Time is Here
13 The Killers - Christmas in L.A.
14 Maria Hackman - O Come, O Come Emmanuel
15 Cerys Matthews - The Little Drummer Boy
16 Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - Christmas Moon
17 Bastille - Christmas Mashup in the Live Lounge
18 Frightened Rabbit - She Screams Christmas
19 Bright Eyes - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
20 Andrew Bird - Auld Lang Syne

1 CHVRCHES - Stay Another Day
Scottish electronic band CHVRCHES lead us off this year with their cover of the East 17 hit Stay Another Day. It's considered a Christmas song here in the UK and was number one in 1994. We've featured versions of it in our playlists a few times. This may just be the best, a sparse electronic take from the BBC Radio One Live Lounge.



2 Summer Camp - Last Christmas
This year Summer Camp released an EP collecting their Christmas tunes and a couple fabulous new ones. However you can still get this cover of Wham's hit free at their label - Moshi Moshi Music's Soundcloud below.
Then you can get the rest of the EP from here Amazon or of course itunes or wherever.

3 Ladyhawke - Merry Xmas Everyone
Another cover, can't find a link playing this pop romp version of Shakin Steven's classic. I couldn't imagine that was a hit outside of the UK but Ladyhawke is from New Zeland so what do I know. Still it was part of Amazon's Christmas playlist All is Bright last year and you can still get it from there. Do you have the means (and by which I mean the copyright authority ;) ) to make a video of this song? If so do it and let me know so I can fill a gap here.

4 Bombay Bicycle Club - In the Bleak Midwinter
Another song from BBC radio One's live lounge. It's quite a traditional take and all the more beautiful for it.
 

5 Shins - Wonderful Christmastime
This would have been on last years playlist had it not been for Ex Cops amazing version.

Amazon

6 Lisa Hannigan - River
Xmassongblog favourite Lisa Hannigan's take on the Joni Mitchell classic is a rich Orchestra backed version. It was released last year on A Murray Christmas 2. All the proceeds go to the Irish Charity Aware a very worthy cause.

 
7 Sufjan Steven - Christmas In The Room
Sufjan's Christmas albums are the things of legend. I have hours and hours of his songs. At some point I plan to write a run down of the best ones. This one is a sweet loving story of making someone feel the love of Christmas against the odds.

Amazon

8 The Polyphonic Spree - The Christmas Song
Another xmassongblog stalwart, the Polyphonic Spree put on an amazing live show. With almost as many Christmas songs as they have members of the band (almost but not quite). This one is taken from their Christmas album Holidaydream. Available from Amazon.

 
9 Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas (Acoustic)
We've included this song before but this laid back acoustic version is so different we figured it warranted inclusion again. 

I can't find this version for sale but if you know different let me know.

10 Dum Dum Girls - On Christmas
The Dum Dum Girls have steadily been releasing some of the best music around over the last few years. I'm particular fan of their take on the Smiths classic - There is a light that never goes out.
This is more synth driven take than that or their usual guitar based songs but their familiar post grunge feeling is still there. What's better you can get it for free at Soundcloud.

 
11 She & Him - Christmas Day
I could not be more in love with Zooey Deschanel. She can do no wrong in my eyes. Her band were always destined to release a Christmas album and it's pretty damn perfect if you ask me....like she is.

 
12 Mark Kozelek - Christmas Time is Here
Sun Kil Moon singer Mark Kozelek's Christmas Album was the indie moment of last Christmas. It's a tight almost gloomy take on Christmas classics, but Kozelek's genius is that he leaves a faint sense of hope lingering in the mix despite sighing through the song made famous in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Before tailing off wondering why he doesn't feel Christmassy enough. Regardless the album is a must have. Get it from www.caldoverderecords.com


 
13 The Killers - Christmas in L.A.
I don't know how many years the Killers have been releasing Christmas songs but it's alot. They are almost always great. I think this is my favourite. They are all of course for the (RED) charity. World Aids day has just been so by the song and give a little towards the cause by getting the song.
Now have the Owen Wilson Staring video.

 
14 Maria Hackman - O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Marika Hackman is a reasonably regular on BBC 6music's roundtable either as a featured song or a guest. The singer songwriter category is a crowded market but there is something just lovely about her take on the traditional advent hymn. She's also got a seriously big back catalogue for someone so young. Check it out at her Soundcloud. Get the song on Daisy Digital's Christmas second compilation at Bandcamp.

 
15 Cerys Matthews - The Little Drummer Boy
Catatonia Singer and radio presenter Cerys Matthew's gives us her take on another Hymn. Welsh and country tinged with the obligatory military drumming of course. Amazon show it as out of stock. Let me know if you know where to get it from.
 

16 Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - Christmas Moon
I saw  theses play this live in London once at a special live Christmas show. No longer a couple their Christmas album was written and recorded when they were. It's a rare original song on this years playlist and it's a beautiful rock n roll ballad. Below is a acoustic version that I really love if only for Tim Wheeler in a Christmas jumper. Buy the whole album this song is one of many gems.
 

17 Bastille - Christmas Mashup in the Live Lounge
Why have one Christmas song when you can do them all at once. Bastille puts them all together in BBC Radio One's Live Lounge.


 
18 Frightened Rabbit - She Screams Christmas
Scottish Miserablists Frightened Rabbit threatened to break into the big time but have so far just managed to pass the mainstream by. Still we here like them all the more for that. I intend to make a playlist of the most depressing Christmas songs at this rate the Rabbits will be on the list more than once.

19 Bright Eyes - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Speaking of sad Christmas songs, anyone who has seen Meet Me in St Louis knows that Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas is the saddest of all the traditional Christmas songs. Even so Bright Eyes can still make it more so whispering into the mic and putting a haunting Cello behind. If you feel the need to play this on repeat this Christmas please don't suffer alone. Phone a friend or Samaritans or anyone. You can own it here.

 
20 Andrew Bird - Auld Lang Syne
And finally if you make it new year you'll need a folky version of Auld Lang Syne of course. This is exactly what you'd expect from Andrew Bird it's a barn dance sort of a version but with all the attention to detail you'd expect from the multi instrumentalist. Download it here.


So there you go, What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for next year? Leave a comment, email me xmassongblog@outlook.com or tweet us @xmassongblog.
I hope you enjoy. See you here again next year for more of the same.