woensdag 11 december 2013

2013 Christmas 7" vinyl releases

What did bring 2013 as far as Christmas singles (on 7" vinyl!) goes, besides the 4 singles of the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club.

First, quite some split 7"'s.

One of the first that came out is maybe not really a Christmas single, as only one of the three songs on the single, is about Christmas. As part of the Xtra Mile Singles Sessions, Mongol Horde (the new hardcore orientated band of singer/songwriter and former punkrock band Million Dead singer Frank Turner) is featured on side A with their song 'How The Communists Ruined Christmas'. An interesting title, but unfortunately, due to the singing (or better) screaming style, I can't understand most of the lyrics. On the flipside we find Jamie Lenman with two non-Christmas songs. The Möngöl Hörde track, that was already up on Youtube last year (although I am not 100% sure it's the same version) and is probably the loudest Christmas song of the year.
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Another split that is also only half a Christmas single is put out by one of the leading UK indie labels, Too Pure Records. The Christmas song is recorded by Best Friends, also from the UK, and is called 'When Christmas Comes'. It's a joyful and somewhat messy Christmas ditty. The other side, that has Seize The Chair with 'I Just Want To Sleep' is not a bad at all either. Judging from the title, it could have been a song by someone who is totally fed up with Christmas, so only wants to do one thing, and that is sleep. But it isn't.
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The third Christmas-Not Christmas split has been released as part of the Black Friday Record Store Day releases and has two songs taken from a recent Alabama tribute album 'High Cotton: A Tribute To Alabama'. The Blind Boys of Alabama sing about 'Christmas In Dixie', and that is exactly how it sounds - that is, not Dixie as in Dixieland jazz, but Dixie as deep down south in the States: country, with a gospel twist. On the B-side Jason Isbell & John Paul White sing about an 'Old Flame'. The Blind Boys Of Alabama song is probably the most traditional sounding Christmas song I heard on 7” vinyl this year.
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Then we have some split-7"'s that feature two bands AND two Christmas songs.

The UK label Ample Play (that has some Cornershop connection) is making a tradition of putting out Christmas singles (and that's a tradition I definitely like!) and this year, they have two French indie bands who both wrote a Christmas original. The first one, Sudden Death of Stars, don't sing about the three wise men getting disorientated, as the Christmas star suddenly disappeared from the heavens, but about the fact that is never snows in Brittany, where the band is from. And if you can't have snow, 'What Is Winter Good For?' they are asking themselves and us. Well, not much, if you ask me: only for listening to nice Christmas songs, maybe... On the other side, Beat Mark take it one step further with their 'Christmas Blossoms' - they just move Christmas to the spring and if you do that, you will have blossoms at Christmas! That's something else than snowflakes! The bands plays nice dual female-male lofi indie pop.
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As always, punk rock is well represented, as far as Christmas singles go. The funny thing is that, despite all punks claim they hate Christmas, also in the songs they are singing, there is no other music style that has so many bands recording Christmas songs every year.

Randale Records has put out a great Christmas tree shaped record two years ago, with Last Seen Laughing and The Gov'ners, and released another split this year, but now in the normal 7” format. It is called 'Yuletide Cheers & Oi', so you know where these bands are coming from. Germany's Evil Conduct Official make their own punked-up version of 'Silver Bells', with slightly changed lyrics, and I like it. The Old Firm Casuals , who feature a former Rancid member, sing about 'Father X-Mas'. I haven't heard that song yet, so I can't tell you if it is a cover of The Kinks song. Wouldn't surprise me if it is.
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If it is, that will be the second punk band covering The Kinks this year, as Bad Religion also recorded 'Father Christmas'. Their version did not appear on their Christmas album, but on a one-sided limited 7”, that shows Santa Claus smoking a cigarette on the front cover. Bad Religion's version of The Kinks classic is not bad at all, but, let's face it, no band will ever come close to the brilliant original of The Kinks, who gave it a punk attitude without being a punk band – although they did record and release it in exactly that time in history when punk broke. But more about that in a few days.
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We have one other split-7” left, and that is by hardcore punk veterans Poison Idea, who are found side by side with the Angry Snowmans, a punkband that is all about Christmas. Poison Idea cover 'Santa Claus Is Back In Town', a song they already recorded several years ago. And Angry Snowman sing about 'Sugar Plums'. TKO Records has put it out, and it comes in three versions: the traditional Christmas colours red and green, and in candy cane coloured vinyl – that is,white with some nice red spots. If you are a collector: get them all, I would say!
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Last year, Fat Wreck's flagship No FX put out a Christmas 7”, now it is Masked Intruder turn. On pictures, the band look like a male version of Pussy Riot, but unfortunately, they don't seem to share their politics. Their 7” is one of the very few punk releases this year that is all positive about Christmas and especially about Santa Claus, as they admire him being able to break into so many houses on one single night. Uhm. In spite of this, their 'Under The Mistletoe' (not a cover of the song of The Silhouettes, by the way) is your usual 'I miss you as you not with me this Christmas,baby-song. Its seems that she chose to get sunburned on a Waikiki beach instead. Who could blame her? Musically, the song is totally poppunk and it has bells – of course! On the flipside the Masked Intruders do their own punked-up version of 'Silent Night', and complain about the cops, who don't let them steal from the 'rich kids', despite the fact its Christmas.
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One of the more well known bands to do a Christmas single this year is !!! (pronounce chk chk chk). The title of their Christmas song is 'And Anway It's Christmas', and it was put out in a limited run of 100 copies on Warp Records. It just came out and I see it available everywhere, but I guess you have to be quick if you want to get a copy of that 7”. It's worth it, as it's a melancholic, yet very poppy electronic song, with some nice jazzy piano parts, that seems perfectly fit for a late night spin on your turntable, while outside the snow is falling down. On the flip, they do a dub version of the song. At least, that is what I guessed from the titled, as I haven't heard it yet.
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Last year, Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats recorded a song called 'Santa Claus Is A Monster' for a CD compilation. The song now appears on the A-side of a single on German label Soundflat Records, coupled with two covers of The Sonics on the B-side: “Santa Claus” and “Don't Believe In Christmas”. I like the soulful original, that paints an awful picture of Saint Nick, who turns out to be a slave driver for his Elves, and behaves like a criminal. So I guess Masked Intruder where right in their admiration for him. One of the better Christmas singles I heard this year.
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Another Christmas single that I like a lot is by The Hollyberries, a Christmas surf pop band from the USA, and actually a one-man project by former L.A. Punk band Shock-founder and -guitarist Kip Brown, with several guest vocalists and musicians. It has four songs, as far as I know all originals, that have been recorded from 2009 to 2012 and so far, have only been available digital, of which three have a Christmas theme: the title track '(I Wanna Go) Surfin' With Santa!', (C'mon-a) Surfin' Christmas Holiday' and 'Santa's Supersonic Flying Rocket Sled'. The fourth song is more of a typical Summer-y surf song: 'Boards & Bikinis Rule (Down At Malibu). The songs are a cross of poppy surf and the early 60s girl group sound, so perfectly fit for Christmas, and the record comes on 'surf foam' blue & white-vinyl. It has been put out on California (what else) label Freakbeat Records, and seems to be as good as sold out. Get a copy of it while you can!
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So far, I have stumbled upon one not-English sung Christmas song, by a Portugese artist named Miguel Ângelo (I wonder if that is his real name). His Christmas single 'O Tua Natal' (which translates as 'Christmas Viewing') is a friendly poppy sounding feel good rock & roll-song. It's backed up by an instrumental version on the B-side. I like the way he put the Christmas tree in the cover art of his single.
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The last new Christmas single I want to list features another track that has been part of a compilation last year. Both single and compilation were put out by US label Flannelgraph Records. The single is by Loren Connors, is titled 'Christmas Day', and it's a short (1.39 minutes) experimental instrumental piece, that doesn't really brings any Christmas assocations to me, when I listen to it (although, it definitely sound melancholic, and Christmas can be a time for melancholy). The B-side has the same piece, but in the original VHS transfer version. But it's a charity release, and together with the title, this does make it a real Christmas release in my book anyway! So if you want to try something completily different for Christmas this year, check it out.
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Every year, there are also one or two re-issues. So far, I've spotted one, that came out as part of Record Store Day's Black Friday release wave: two tracks of the classic Vince Guaraldi Trio (Fans of Vince Guaraldi) soundtrack of the Snoopy Christmas movie. I love the movie, I love the music and I love this single, which comes in a very nice picture sleeve, with all the Peanuts gang around the Christmas tree on the front cover. The song features the movie hit 'Linus And Lucy' and another instrumental jazzy original 'Oh, Good Grief' on the B-side. Definitely one of my favorite Christmas singles this years.
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So, including the Smoke Fairies, The Garlands, The Miserable Rich and The Silhouettes Christmas singles singles, that makes eighteen 2013 Christmas singles so far, which is not bad at all, and hopefully I'll find some more.

If you know of any other 2013 Christmas (vinyl) singles, please let me know!

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