December 15, 2008

Christmas Moody

I love Christmas. Or do I? By this time each year, I'm overwhelmed. I guess I don't deal with stress well. I like moodier Christmas music mixed in with the happy stuff. It's not that I prefer songs that are downers, but I need some brooding mixed in with the cheeriness to cut the saccharine factor and make it all a little more authentic and palatable.

Here's a playlist for you folks of mostly new music you probably haven't heard before. Maybe you'll like it. Maybe you'll hate it. This is the product of my search for unheard Xmas music and it just happens that a lot of it is in a darker mood. Which suits me. These are the best of the new-ish songs I found (and I threw in the 80's classic Christmas Wrapping as a bonus because it seemed to balance it a bit).

New Holiday Mix

Here are some notes on the songs:

Have Yourself a Bitter Little Christmas - David Ford mixes dissatisfaction with an upbeat toe-tapper. He's bitter, but he sounds like he's moving on. Good for him!

Carol of the Bells - The Bird and the Bee provide their ethereal take on the classic. It's a spacey meringue of a song.

No Christmas For Me - Zee Avi's pretty voice is highlighted in this song with a simple acoustic accompaniment. It's the blues, but more apathetic than anything else.

Come On Santa - I liked the entire album from the Ravenettes Wishing You A Rave Christmas. Reminded me of Angelo Badalamenti. It's like Christmas in Twin Peaks.

Sleigh Ride - I didn't want to put this song here, but isn't it appropriate to have one song from a Christian rock band in a list of Xmas tunes? No? Well, here it is anyhow. This take on Sleigh Ride is a nice change from the usual, with Reliant K mixing piano and a jazzy trio(?) with a familiar rock element. It could grow on me.

Xmas Time Is Here Again - My Morning Jacket is listed as alt-country. Sounds a little like early R.E.M. to me. With a hint of TMBG circa Apollo 18?

Don't Shoot Me Santa - From The Killers last year. Here for the sheer goofiness. Not memorable for the music, but what the hey.

Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas) - The Decemberists have gone Zydeco for Christmas?

Christmas Wrapping - Classic Waitresses for a happy ending.


This song wasn't on imeem, so you're getting the goofy video.

From the Brit group The Accelerators, Christmas Is a Pain in the Arse , but really they don't seem to be letting it get them down too much.

Isn't that the true spirit? No? Well, I tried.

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Posted by James at December 15, 2008 2:55 PM
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Year after year, the only Christmas music I really miss if I don't hear it is the Beach Boys Christmas Album. I've had it in vinyl, 8-track, cassette, and CD.

But if I hadn't grown up with it, I'd probably hate it. In general I seem not to like much Christmas music that was made after 1975 or so. (Or before that either, to be fair...) I prefer a "traditional" sound, I guess, and old fogey artists like Perry Como. Even my Herb Alpert Christmas CD sounds good only when I'm in just the right mood for it.

For many years, I also felt I couldn't do without Meco's version of "Sleigh Ride," in which C3PO teaches R2D2 how to sing. I don't need to hear it again any time soon, though.

I like Mark Mothersbaugh's Joyeux Mutato once in a while, but the novelty wears off quickly.

I try to listen to as little holiday music as possible. By the time December comes around, I'm already burned out on Christmas in general. Even the bitter, grinchy stuff is just another reminder that this Christmas monster only gets bigger and bigger!!

I'm reserving just enough cheer for two parties and two (possibly three) family events. I don't have any more to spare. Now I'm going to turn up the thermostat and pretend it's July for a while.

Posted by: Julie the Grinch at December 15, 2008 4:02 PM

Aw. Now I feel bad. I'm not really that grouchy. I even sort of almost liked the Decemberists song. Woulda liked it better if didn't have so much Christmas in it, of course.

Posted by: Julie at December 15, 2008 4:10 PM

I haven't listened to any Christmas music yet this year. Christmas Wrapping is one of my favorites. I'll probably stick with some unconventional arrangements of popular songs like these:

Posted by: Mike at December 15, 2008 4:11 PM

I like The Bird and the Bee's take on Carol of the Bells. I should get around to buying their first album.

Posted by: Mike at December 15, 2008 4:20 PM

"Don't shoot me Santa Clause" is now my favorite holiday song. Reminds me of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

thanks for that

Posted by: Rui at December 15, 2008 5:32 PM

The Raveonettes song is great, The Killers song is okay. "Please Daddy" is just plain depressing.

If you really want bitter and angry, try Everclear's I Will Be Hating You This Christmas. Talk about an angry dude altogether...

Posted by: Bull at December 15, 2008 7:40 PM

I like that Duke Ellington rendition.

i didn't know Grandaddy had an Xmas song, that's wild. Corporal Blossom is a trip as well.

I kinda like the Everclear song.

The playlist up there isn't my preferred Xmas song playlist, just some new stuff I stumbled on to mix it up with my old favorites, which lean heavily to Vince Gauraldi, Diana Krall, Jethro Tull, and selected classics.

Posted by: James at December 15, 2008 8:09 PM

Oh, I forgot to mention - I believe "Christmas Wrapping" was covered a few years back by Save Ferris. I think they messed with the lyrics a bit, but it's a pretty faithful cover.

Posted by: Bull at December 16, 2008 8:47 AM

Wow Save Ferris. I loved their 1st album whatthe hell happened to them?

I definately enjoy a lot of Xmas music but most of it is not popular in nature. I tend to run toward the classical and jazz side of things which don't tend to get too schlocky.

I've also enjoyed Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's Xmas stuff and last year bought KT Tunstall's Xmas cd, which includes some nice goofy stuff (Sleigh Ride with toy piano and organ, melekelekamaki or whatever the hell that song is with glockenspiel) as well as decent covers of 2000 miles and Fairytale of Christmas.

Can't beat the original Fairytale though. Possibly my favorite modern christmas song.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 16, 2008 9:01 AM

The Spice Girls covered it as well, sad to say. Also with altered lyrics. Found that out when I was compiling the imeem playlist.

Posted by: James at December 16, 2008 9:04 AM

Thanks for that, James! I love the Decemberists song.

Posted by: Sara at December 17, 2008 7:57 PM

Found the Save Ferris version of Christmas Wrapping on an old CD! I believe it was a "one-off" recording for a KROQ (Los Angeles) Holiday CD. Turns out they did mess with the lyrics a lot - sung from the point of view of a Jewish girl celebrating Channukah amid the Christmas rush in LA.

Uploaded it to Imeem:

"Christmas Wrapping" by Save Ferris

Posted by: Bull at December 18, 2008 9:17 PM

That's pure awesomeness.

Posted by: James at December 18, 2008 9:54 PM

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