So here we are with the last bunch of 2017 7”'s, at least, as far as the 7”'s that I know about, concerns. Most of these have already been covered by Christmas Underground or Christmas-A-Go-Go in the past few weeks, but in case you've missed them, and as I want to be as complete as possible, I will write something about those 7”''s anyway. But I'll start with a 7” EP that hasn't been covered elsewhere yet.
The Missile Toads: Sombertown's Most Wanted EP (Rebel Sound Music, US, ?? rpm, 500 copies)
As far as I am concerned, Christmas ain't Christmas without a new Christmas punk 7”. So far, this year, I've heard Christmas songs on 7” in many different styles, but punk hasn't been one of them. Fortunately, the fine folks of Rebel Sound Music come to the rescue.
Rebel Sound Music is a Rochester, New Hampshire-based label, that was formed when Black Hole Records and SkeleTone Records decided to join forces. Rebel Sound specializes in streetpunk, oi and 77-punk, and has put out records by bands like Abrasive Wheels, Menace, The Enemy, Vice Squad and The Warriors. The label also put out the last two editions of the 'Cashing In On Christmas'-compilations series. The first edition was released in 1996 by Black Hole Records, and featured punk and oi-band like The Wretched Ones, Lower Class Brats and Dead End Cruisers doing both covers and original Christmas song. The compilation also included classics like Thorazine's 'Merry Stupid Fucking Christmas' and The Showcase Showdown's 'Ho Ho Ho Chimihn', both songs that have also been released as 45s. In 2010, the second edition of the compilation series was released, and it became an annual tradition. After one year without a new compilation, Rebel Sound Music took over the series, and released new editions in 2015 and 2016, the edition of 2015 even on double-LP, as a way of making up for the 'lost year' 2014.
This year, there will not be a new 'Cashing In On Christmas'-compilation, but instead Rebel Sound releases a 7” EP of one of the faithful contributors to the compilation series, The Missile Toads (present on volume's 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7), The Missile Toads is a punk band in the same line as Angry Snowmans: a punk band started with the sole purpose of recording punk Christmas songs and playing punk Christmas shows. The Missile Toads are from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I guess some people who have been active in the punk scene of Philadelphia for a very long time, are involved in this project. In 2016, the band released a 4-song digital EP, and it is this EP that is now pressed on vinyl. The EP has four songs, three adaptions of punk songs and one original.
The title track, 'Sombertown's Most Wanted' is based on The Wretched Ones classic 1991 punk song 'America's Most Wanted' and shows that The Missile Toads know their Christmas classics. The lyrics are based on the story of the 1970 Christmas stop motion animated television special 'Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town', that in turn was based on the 1934 Christmas classic 'Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town', first introduced by Eddie Cantor on the radio that year, and recorded by tons of artists. It tells the story about how Kris Kringle became Santa Claus. The second song, 'Selfish Ways', based on 'Violent Ways' by Florida punk band Screaming Sneakers, and sung by a female vocalist, has more serious lyrics, and critizes the selfish attitude of people, especially during the holiday season: 'But you don't see their sorrow / They can barely live today / For them it's the same tomorrow / But for you it will be Christmas holiday'. After all, a real punk band also has something to say!
The story behind the third song, not a Christmas song but a Hanukkah-song, is rather complicated. First, there was a Canadian country and folk singer with the name of Stompin' Tom Connors, who wrote a song called 'The Hockey Song' (aka 'The Good Ol' Hockey Game') about ice hockey, the most popular sport in his home country. Then there was the Canadian punk band Nomeansno, knowning for playing complex structured punk. And then there were The Hanson Brothers, a-sort-of-Ramones tribute band, that happened to involve the members of Nomeansno. The Hanson Brothers opened their 1996 album 'Sudden Death' with a punkified cover of 'The Hockey Song'. And 20 years later, The Missile Toads take the Hanson Brother's version of the song and changed it into 'The Good Ol' Driedel Game'. Dreidel is the game played on the Jewish holiday of Hannukah, in case you are not so familiar with Hannakuh or dreidel. It is as catchy as The Hanson Brothers hockey version.
The last song, 'North Pole Riot Squad', again sung by a female vocalist, is an original, a midtempo oi-style song that questions the policy brutality. Police brutality is not only happening in the United States, as we can witness on television or on the internet, but also on the North Pole, as the song points out. Elves who drank a little bit too much egg nog or ate too much candy canes are falling victim to police brutality: 'A shout rings out in the cold still air / "Oi, what you doing there?" / But they answer way too slow / They're left bleeding in the snow'. Good that The Missile Toads stand up for those poor and innocent elves, who only want to have a good time! All in all a fine EP to punk up your Christmas party.
Listen to it and order a copy of the EP through the Bandcamp page of The Missile Toads
Marching Church: Christmas On Earth / Silent Night
(Sacred Bones Records, SBR194, USA, 45 rpm, 500 copies on red and on green vinyl)
Denmark's Iceage was one of the band's that made a lot of heads turn with their high energy mixture of postpunk and punk in the first five years of the 2010s. Marching Church started as a solo project of Iceage frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, but has evolved into a real band. After first recording for Danish indie label Posh Isolation, the band signed to Sacred Bones Records, who released their second album, 2016's 'Telling It Like It Is'. And also the band's 2017 Christmas single, 'Christmas On Earth'. 'Christmas On Earth' is a dark song, both lyrically and musically. The song tells the story of a father (probably a former convict) who kidnaps his kids, as he does not get to see them and he wants to spend Christmas with them. He know that their mother will be 'worried sick' and that the police is already after him, but still, he feels its his right to see his kids at Christmas time. The song has a returning piano motif that reminds me of the piano motif in The Pogues' 'Summer In Siam'. This motif and also the brass section (trumpet and saxophone) give the song a little bit light. Rønnenfelt puts his complete heart into the song. Let's hope it is not autbiographical. On the B-side, Rønnenfelt does a 'live karaoke' version of 'Silent Night', and that's exactly how it sounds. The record is pressed in an edition of 500 copies, 250 on red vinyl and 250, exclusive to Sacred Bones mailorder, on green vinyl. 100 copies of each colour came with a Christmas ornament. You can still get copies from Sacred Bones.
You can listen to the song on Youtube:
Tamu Y J'aime: Cantan A La Navidad
(El Nuebula Recordings , Spain, 45 rpm, 250 copies)
For the next Christmas single, we move to the southwest part of Europe and end up in Spain. Duo Tamu & J'aime have recorded a two track Christmas single, 'Cantan A La Navidad'. Tamu is Tamu Tamurai from Pamplona, Navarra, who is and has been a member of a range of Spanish garage rock, power pop and indie pop bands. J'aime is Jaime Cristóbal Urbicain, a Spanish musician, composer, producer and music journalist also based in Pamplona (Navarra), who recorded both solo and as a member of several pop, rock and surf bands. As Tamu Y J'Aime, the two go for a poppy sound, at least on the Christmas single. Both songs are clearly influenced by the 1960s (think The Beatles), with the Spanish language, the relaxed way of singing of Tamu and J'aime and the quiet pace adding a Southern European flavour to the songs. Of the two songs, 'Navidades Sin Ti' sounds the most festive, thanks to the harmony vocals and the sleigh bells. The record is packed in a very early 1980s looking cover and can be bought from the label that has put it out, El Nuebula Recordings. A nice record that will find its way to my turntable often, I think.
Listen to the single and order it on Bandcamp:
Mark Mothersbaugh: I Don't Have A Christmas Tree / Jingle Jingle Jingle
(Electronic Sound / Mutmuz Records, 109699, USA, ?? rpm, comes with issue 36 of Electronic Sound Magazine)
The English music magazine Electronic Sound has the usage to include a CD or a 7” with every issue of the magazine. With their December 2017 issue, Electronic Sound includes a Christmas 7” by Mark Mothersbaugh. Mark Mothersbaugh is the oldest of the three Mothersbaugh brothers who played in Devo, and together with Jerry Casale, the main force behind the band. Mothersbaugh has also released a range of solo records since the mid-1980s, with ambient and minimal music, and became a very successful soundtrack composer, responsible for recent soundtracks like The Lego Movie and Pee-Wee's Big Holiday. In 1999, Mothersbaugh released a Christmas album, 'Joyeux Mutato', and two tracks of that album, are now pressed on a 7", that comes in a picture sleeve designed by Mothersbaugh, who also is a painter, and Johnny Brewton. Both tracks on the single are not your usually Christmas songs. 'I Don't Have A Christmas Tree' is built around a mutated version of 'Silent Night', has all kind of weird electronic sounds, samples and rather funky sounding keyboards. And a returning very irritating ringtone (the song was recorded in 1996, when mobile phones still had those high pitched ringtones, that really could get on your nerves). B-side 'Jingle Jingle Jingle' has breakbeats, rave-synths and a corny sounding 'Jingle Jingle Jingle' and 'Jingle Bells'-chorus. Usually, the singles and CD's are also sold separately from the magazine, but as this single seems particular popular, so far, it is only sold as a bundle with the magazine, for GPB 9,99. You can get it in the webshop of Eletronic Sound.
Both songs can be found on Youtube:
Polish Club: Happy Holidays From Polish Club
(Island Records Australia, POLISH009, Australia, 45 rpm)
The Polish club is the Australian duo of singer and guitarist David Novak and drummer John-Henry Palak, based in Sydney. The two, who are comfortable being a duo just like The White Stripes, The Kills, The Raveonettes and Blood Red Shoes were/are, have been playing for some years now, and released their debut album, 'Alright Already', this year on Island Records Australia. The title of their album sums up the band pretty well: no-nonsense and fun rock 'n roll, with a, maybe typical Australian, down-to-earth attitude. The single is a double A-side, with one original song and a cover. The band's original song, garage rocker 'I Hate You But You Gotta Stay (On Christmas Day)' is, according to Novak, 'a tongue-in-cheek comment on how Christmas bring everyone together, regardless of how you might feel about them'. The other A-side is a very rocking cover of Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' (another modern classic that has been covered a zillion times by now), that comes with a video that features fans and family of the band, besides television personalities, crew members and even a member of Parliament, all mimicking a part of the song. You can get the single through the webshop of the band.
Watch the video for 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' here:
Here in Europe, we are not able to listen to the tracks of the single on Spotify, but maybe people in other parts of the world are more fortunate, so I'll include a link to 'I Hate You But You Gotta Stay (On Christmas Day)' anyway.
Susto: A Casual Christmas
(Amazon.com, USA, ?? rpm, picture disc, 300 copies)
Susto is an five piece indie rock band from Charleston, South Carolina, led by Justin Osborne, of indie rock band Sequoyah Prep School. Susto is around for a few years now, released a first album in 2013 and recently, in 2017, a new album, '& I'm Fine Today', on Acid Boys and Missing Piece Records. The band claims that their style is 'some kind of gospel', when asked. I would not call it gospel, but they do have some musical influences that also can be found back in gospel music. And Osborne was raised in a very religious family, and learned to sing and make music in church, another connection between the band and gospel music. Listening to their music, it is clear that the base is classic Americana, but the band mix it with subtile Carribbean rhythms, bluegrass, electronics and soul.
The Carribean influences come to the front in the opening song of the EP, a cover of 'Feliz Navidad'. Tarja did a total remake of the song, and so do Susto, but a completely different remake. Susto's version sounds like a chill out reggae song. It sounds like a song that is best suited to be played in a smokey nightclub on the beach of a Carribean island, not like a song for a Christmas party in the middle of winter. 'Feliz Navidad' comes with the video that sees the band playing in a nightclub, but, given the clientele, not a nghtclub situated on a Carribean island, but on the North Pole. We see a lot of elfs (rather rough looking, many with beards, all smoking, playing cards and gambling), Rudolph who seems to have had a sex change, and at the end, also Frosty turns up. I do wonder what that woman is going to do with the baseball bat at the end of the video, though.
The second song on the EP is an original Christmas song, 'R.I.P. Santa'. This song mourns the passing of Santa - no Carribean rhythms in this ballad, this is pure Americana, sad. The kind of song that is playing over and over again, while you drink yourself to sleep. Third song, 'Serial Monogamist' was already released as a digital single through Amazon in February of this year, and is not a Christmas song. Last song is a second acoustic version of 'Feliz Navidad'. The picture disc looks very seasonal and can be obtained through Acid Boys.
You can watch the video for 'Feliz Navidad' on Youtube
The sad 'R.I.P. Santa' is also on Youtube