Tag Archives: Christmas

Three More For Christmas : released December 2020

Gold Baby : Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter

This is a version of a lesser known Bing Crosby seasonal offering; it is superficially a cosy Christmas love song but there are some dark undertones too. Gold Baby have used the lyric of isolation to reflect where we are at the end of 2020, ‘….looks like a long, long winter…what do we care?….’, but ultimately a bit of tentative optimism to see us through. ‘…..far from you, I’ll make it through if I know you’re still there……’.

Whatever the messages of the words, the music is a mellow mix of gently glistening guitar and mellow bass and drums. The band showcase these simple and beautiful chord changes as Siân Alex delivers a sensitive, airy vocal laced with harmonies and wintry firelight.

All proceeds from the sale of this single will be donated to www.campaigntoendloneliness.org.

HOME | Gold Baby

Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter | Gold Baby (bandcamp.com)

The Dears : Christmas Love

Canadian collective The Dears have packed plenty into this joyous five minutes; tubular and sleigh bells, catchy vocal call and exchange chorus along with heightened emotions and imagery, ‘I could have never imagined you’d say to me that night….behind the rumbles of the snowploughs on the buried streets of white….’. There are many varied sections, always returning to the timeless refrain ‘…you’re my only Christmas Love…’, then building up to a big finish with the full band in overdrive. There is even a contrasting B side, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ set to a less familiar and melancholic melody. Hopefully these tracks will get an airing when I eventually see the band performing in Cambridge next November….

The Dears (facebook.com)

Fightmilk : Fightmilk & Cookies

While still waiting for the release of their new LP, power-punk quartet Fightmilk release a seven track EP of solo contributions and cover versions, with proceeds going to the Trussell Trust. The titles themselves sum up the acerbic wit of ‘(I’m Stuck at the) Work Christmas Party’ and ‘I’m Dreaming of a Christmas (Where You Just Explode)’ while ‘Happy Christmas (I Guess I’ll See You Next Year)’ is a bittersweet reflection on the state of the year, ‘….the second album’s finished, but we can’t go get a beer…I’d really love to spread some joy and cheer…by singing something loud for all to hear….and high-five the rest of Fightmilk without fear…’.

I’m not sure why Britney Spears’ My Only Wish (This Year) is not more of a playlist staple, so bassist Healey’s fuzzy pop version here is a very welcome revival. ‘Little Drummer Boy’ was always a bit of a strange song, with memories of the Bowie/Bing video. Probably less covered is ‘It Feels Like Christmas’ from the much loved ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’ movie; somehow here singer Lily manages to perform the whole range of parts. Then there is the very husky skiffle of ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ to bring this seasonal confection to an end…

Fightmilk | Facebook

Fightmilk (bandcamp.com)

Three Christmas Singles, released December 2020

Elma : Send Love This Christmas

From the introductory guitar footsteps in the snow and sleigh-bell beat there is no mistaking the intention of this gorgeous seasonal offering from Elma. Rhiannon’s pure and natural voice sets the scene ‘….it’s gonna feel strange to celebrate this year…. but I still think we should…’. and we soon get to the perfectly judged hookline ‘….send love this Christmas…it isn’t hard to do….and love will come right on back to you…’. Mark adds layers of ringing guitar lines and backing vocals to an uncluttered, retro and timeless mix. There is a winning middle-eight and by the end the duo have proved once again that their melodic command, vocal delivery and pop song construction is impeccable.

Elma (facebook.com)

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Jo Ash : Paper Cards

Jo Ash has created an atmospheric song drawing on images of lost battlefields, forgotten heroes and lingering memories. In her emotional tale of farewells she uses echoing, repeating piano figures and orchestral synthesisers to generate a tense, dramatic backing to her soaring vocals.

Lyrically and musically evoking a dark season, ‘…..look up to the diamond sky…..a blanket of a million miles….encompassing you and I….’,  but there is still hope ‘….I’ll never be too far from home….’. Finally there is reflection ‘….. I hear the words he said to me as I recall those winter nights…..as we made paper cards around the tree, and sang Silent Night….’.

So ideally sat in front of the fire with mulled wine in hand; slow down, hibernate and listen to this affecting track, contemplating the unchanging rhythms of the winter solstice.

Jo Ash Music

Paper Cards | Jo Ash (bandcamp.com)

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The Eli Lillies : Christmas is the Season of Love

A fun song with a serious message from singer/songwriter Louise Eatock, who usually performs in the indie-folk band Flaming June and now releases this single as a one-off with group The Eli Lillies.

The profits are going to mental health charities and the essence of the lyric is clear in an effort to remove the stigma of necessary treatment ; ‘…..’cause with the right medication…Christmas can be such a fun celebration…’.

Louise can always turn a neat phrase in her compositions and ‘……Christmas can be fun and I will show you how…so take a mood stabilizer for your breakfast….and an anti-anxiety tablet for tea……pop an anti-depressant when you open your presents….’ pulls no punches with a great balance of humour too. Musically it is a real treat, a sort of vigorous folk/punk mix up with crashing noise suddenly giving way to sleigh bells and 60s harmonies. Enjoy the celebratory energy of the video too!

Theelilillies

Christmas is the Season of Love | The Eli Lillies (bandcamp.com)

Marika Hackman : Wonderland EP, released December 2016

A seasonal offering from singer/guitarist Marika Hackman. After a short introduction it is ‘In The Bleak Mid-Winter’, one of the most haunting and atmospheric carols combining the words of Christina Rossetti with the memorable simplicity of the tune by Holst. The vocal gets some striking treatments but resolves into the pure voice in the end.

‘Driving Under Stars’ is my favourite track, motoring along nicely with some skittish guitar punctuation and multi-tracked and echoing voice. ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ is a favourite of the King’s College choir on Christmas Eve so it is as good a start to Christmas proper as any, this version sounding like the accompaniment to a long and hopeful pilgrimage.

The final two tracks are both a bit disquieting; ‘Paper Crown’ is a foreboding and emotional tale demanding repeated listens, then secular anthem ‘Winter Wonderland’ is given such an original, multi-layered and dark treatment I am left wondering what it is all about…

No clichéd ‘Merry Christmas’ here, but plenty to enjoy.

http://marikahackman.com/