Archive for the ‘Alternative Christmas Music’ Category

Odd Metered Christmas

December 10, 2017

During the holiday season of 2015, a singer named Shannon Soderlund decided to make a new video nearly every day, rearranging Christmas standards into odd meters.  As you’ll see, she records each part and then syncs them all together on-screen Pretty cool. And then she did it again last year. All of 2015 here. 2016 here. I produce video — to produce one nearly every day for a month (in addition to everything else she’s doing) is pretty amazing.

She also produced a Christmas record Sing We Now of Christmas. You can stream it or purchase it on her bandcamp site. (On Spotify hereiTunes, google play.)

Her song, Winter Savings, is a humorous take on Christmas shopping – “this year I insist we buy all our presents right after Christmas”.

In addition to all this she’s very active in the music scene in NYC.

Her odd-metered takes on the classics aren’t for everyone but Lord she can sing.

http://www.shannonsoderlund.com/

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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – Shannon Söderlund – Odd-Metered Christmas

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Shannon Söderlund

Winter Savings

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Sia’s All Original Christmas Record

December 9, 2017

I first heard Sia sing Little Black Sandals on a KRCW ‘live in studio’ compilation record way back in 2006 (or 7). It’s a great tune.

Then somewhere I discovered Zero 7 and realized Sia was the vocalist on their song, Destiny. Again… so good.

She has received an array of accolades including ARIA awards, and MTV Music Award and eight Grammy nominations. In total, Sia has been nominated for 167 awards and has won 50. She’s a bit of an odd duck but she is very talented.

In November of this year, Sia released her first record on Atlantic Records, Everyday Is Christmas. Sia wrote or co-wrote every song on the record with her producer, Greg Kurstin. Kustin has produced records for the Foo Fighters, Adele, Pink, Kelly Clarkson and many, many other artists.

In an article from billboard.com, Sia describes how she and Kurstin ended up writing the all-original 10-song album. In an interview with Zane Lowe she said, “I thought we had a bit of a shortage of good Christmas music. There’s obviously the classics and stuff, but anything new, I wasn’t vibing that much on it,” she said.

“I just was having so much fun, because it’s already there, all of the concepts, you just have to expand on them. It’s not like you have to have an original idea to begin with. It’s like, Christmas, mistletoe, ho-ho-ho, Santa Claus, Christmas list, elves. You’ve got all of the subject matter,” she explained.

“It was easy and fun. So, we did it in two weeks. And I couldn’t stop writing new songs — so, I ended up with an original album by accident.”

Not all of it is my cup of tea, but lots of points for all original material.

YOU HAVE TO CHECK OUT HER WEBSITE

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Everyday Is Christmas – iTunes
Everyday Is Christmas – Amazon
Everyday Is Christmas – Spotify

Sia – Candy Cane Lane

Sia – Snowman

You, Me & A Christmas Tree – Elise LeGrow

December 7, 2017

Elise LeGrow is a Canadian singer/songwriter. Her first record was released in December of 2012 (Elise LeGrow EP) – it’s a digital only release and I can’t locate it anywhere.

And other than it was released just a few days after her EP, I can’t find out any additional information on her Christmas single, You, Me and a Christmas Tree.

  • it’s not available on iTunes (in the US anyway)
  • not available at Amazon
  • but you can find it on Spotify

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EliseLeGrow.com

Elise LeGrow – You, Me and a Christmas Tree

What If The Box-Tops Wrote A Christmas Song?

December 6, 2017

Alex Chilton was just 16-years old when he and his band-mates, known as The Box Tops, recorded The Letter in 1966. The Letter was the band’s biggest hit and was the #2 song of 1967 topped only by Light My Fire from The Doors. The band broke up in 1970.

Over the next four decades, Chilton continued to write and record and eventually formed a band called Big Star, a group Peter Buck of R.E.M. called a “major influence” on their music. Additionally, Chilton penned the theme song for That 70’s Show.

In 1975, Chilton released his second solo album, Bach’s Bottom. On it was a tune he wrote titled Jesus Christ. I actually heard a version by The Decemberists from Holidays Rule Volume 2. And only after doing some research on the song did I discover its connection to Chilton.

R.E.M. also covered it. All three below.

Alex Chilton – Jesus Christ

The Decemberists – Jesus Christ

R.E.M. – Jesus Christ

The Wonderfully Talented Brooke Waggoner

December 4, 2017

Admittedly up until a few weeks ago I had not heard of Brooke Waggoner. Noticing she’s based in Nashville I assumed she must be some relation to the late country star, Porter Waggoner. She’s not.

Ms. Waggoner was born in Houston, TX and is a classically trained pianist. In 2006, she graduated from LSU with a degree in music composition and orchestration. Since 2007 she has released four records, all independently with all of the music being fully written, arranged and orchestrated by herself. That’s a feat!

In a review of her album, Originator, Indie Vision Music said Waggoner “…tends to craft all of her music using live instruments in lieu of loops and electronic elements. Her songs are (obviously) piano driven, play heavy of atmosphere and have a whimsical air to them.” Adding, “Her music is a bit hard to pin down.” And while her style may not check a designated box, she is a very talented singer/songwriter.

I’ll feature two songs from Waggoner tonight, Christmas Moon, a single she released in 2008 and her tremendous cover of the Christmas classic, Oh Christmas Tree.

Find Christmas Moon here:
Amazon
iTunes
Spotify

Waggoner’s cover of Christmas Tree is available free from NoiseTrade.

Official Website
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Brooke Waggoner – Christmas Moon

Brooke Waggoner – Oh Christmas Tree

Lisa Hannigan — Snow

December 3, 2017

Lisa Hannigan is a singer from Ireland who began her career as a member of Damien Rice’s band. She contributed significantly to Rice’s platinum-selling debut O and critically lauded follow-up 9. Hannigan left the band in 2007 (some say she was fired) to pursue a solo career. She has since released three solo records. and has also sang with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” for his Imagine Project alongside The Chieftains and Toumani Diabaté.

Hannigan also contributed to the second season of the TV version of Fargo singing Danny Boy in episode seven.

Snow is the song I’m featuring tonight. The track appears on her critically acclaimed album At Swim, which NPR Music declared, “…a triumph of Hannigan’s understated versatility…” and Associated Press proclaimed, “Lisa Hannigan’s graceful melodies champion At Swim.”

Snow is a lovely song – I think you’ll enjoy it.

Find it here:
Amazon
iTunes
Spotify

Official Website
Facebook

Lisa Hannigan – Snow

Humming House – Winter Dress

December 2, 2017

Humming House is a “folk/roots-rock” band based in Nashville. I happened across them after discovering NoiseTrade videos on youtube. (More about Noise Trade in a second). The band formed back in 2012 and has just released their 6th record, Companion this past October.

Some accolades:

“Put Humming House on your list of Must-See Acts of 2015.” Huffington Post

“Party-worthy roots music.” Mic.com

“…infectious and grin-inducing.” American Songwriter Magazine

“…they have a sense of fearlessness that allows them make the kinds of musical choices that lift their music far above the average.” Roughstock

“…a solid Americana band with Irish folk influences and a tight live show.” Consequence Of Sound

“A new Nashville band with a throwback sound.” All Things Considered – NPR: Blake Farmer

And after listening to a lot of their music, all of the accolades are well deserved. They’re very good.

The song I’m featuring tonight, Winter Dress, is not available via iTunes or Amazon. But is available for a free download via NoiseTrade.

The way NoiseTrade works is:

  • you register
  • and then to stream or download entire songs/albums, you give your email address to the band or label. they send you occasional info.
  • you can tip artists or bands too.

It’s a pretty cool system and there is a TON of really good and diverse music available (books and blogs too).

More from Humming House:

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Official Website
YouTube

Humming House – Winter Dress

Christmas Time Is (Coming ‘Round Again)

December 1, 2017

As most of the followers of this blog know, I started this endeavor to provide an alternative to the dreadful Christmas music on the radio. Since I started ten or eleven years ago, the availability of alternative Christmas music has exploded (which is really a good thing). You can pretty much find any music on Spotify, Pandora, Prime, Deezer and IHeart.

And as far a music radio in general goes, I rarely listen to it. And I know my twenty-something daughter never does. She just plugs in a device and listens to what she wants.

So I asked myself, what purpose does this blog serve?
First off, I like to do it.
Secondly, year after year I find truly amazing Christmas music I had previously never heard and I put it in my playlist.

Thirdly, if this blog helps you build a solid Christmas music playlist, then I’ve served my purpose.  And therefore, I continue.

I do try to avoid music that gets radio airplay. But since I rarely listen to music radio anymore, some of what I find may be getting airplay.

That said, earlier this year I heard a Christmas tune from MercyMe that I’m guessing gets into a Christmas rotation. And it’s a perfect tune to start the year.
THEN, just a couple weeks ago, I heard a new Christmas song from The Mavericks that is an even better way way to start off this year’s blog.
I had already teased the Mercy Me tune so I’ll post both.

The Mavericks formed in Miami back in 1989 and are probably best described as an ‘alt-country’ or even a Tex-Mex band. They broke up in 2004 and re-formed in 2012.
On November 3 of this year, they released an original tune titled Christmas Time Is (Coming ‘Round Again). It’s a snappy upbeat number and a perfect way to kick off the blog.

Christmas Time Is (Coming ‘Round Again)
Amazon
iTunes
Spotify

MercyMe is a Contemporary Christian band hailing from Texas. The band was formed in 1994 and they’ve won boatloads of awards. Boatloads! They’re pretty good.
In October of 2015, they released MercyMe, It’s Christmas, and it was very well received. It reached #1 on Billboard’s US Christian Albums list and on #1 on Billboard’s US Top Holiday List. Christmastime Again is from that record. It’s a great upbeat tune as well.

Christmastime Again
Amazon
iTunes
Spotify

So… here we go….

The Mavericks – Christmas Time Is (Coming ‘Round Again)

MercyMe – Christmastime Again

Happy Thanksgiving and a Teaser

November 23, 2017

Hi Folks and welcome back to my annual Christmas Music Blog (it’s year ten or eleven — i lost track).

Every year when I start to put this blog together my fear is I won’t discover enough new or slightly less heard of Christmas music. Then I dig down rabbit holes and discover tons of great music. Some is from artists I’ve never heard of (JJ Grey & Mofro) and think, how is it possible I’ve never heard of him/them?  Anyway, Tenth Avenue North, Lisa Hannigan and The Decemberists are just a few of the artists and bands you’ll hear from this year.

I’ll be posting daily from December 1 through New Year’s Eve and look forward to hearing suggestions and feedback.

Also, I realize your facebook feed is probably as cluttered as mine. If however, you want to ensure you get a daily blast of different Christmas music to appear in your feed, do this:

FROM A DESKTOP

  1. In the top right hand corner of your facebook page there is a little “down arrow.” Click on that.
  2. Scroll down to News Feed Preferences
  3. Click on “Prioritize Who To See First”
  4. That will open a box with everyone you’re following. If you want to make sure you see my posts, simply scroll through your list and click on Tom’s Christmas Music Blog
  5. Click on “Done” to save.

ON A MOBILE DEVICE

  1. At the bottom of your facebook page all the way to the right of the News Feed tab is a tab titled “More” – tap that.
  2. Scroll down to and tap “Settings.”
  3. Tap “News Feed Preferences” and repeat 3, 4 & 5 above

Pretty simple – and if you do it, you’ll see and hear all of my posts (and thanks btw).

So until a week from now, I’ll leave you with Superchick and the fabulous tune, Everyday Is Christmas.

Thanks again for following this blog. Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas.

Tom

Superchick – Everyday is Christmas

I Am Gonna Make It Through This Year If It Kills Me

December 31, 2016

I always try to close the year with at least one version of Auld Lang Syne. I found a wonderful Andrew Bird version but I bumped it to 2017 (the Lord willing). I bumped Bird because I discovered a brilliant rendition from Hey Rosetta!, the very talented Canadian Band I featured back on December 23.

However, prior to that…The Mountain Goats.
The Mountain Goats is (yes ‘is’ is correct) a band originally made up of one guy, John Darnielle. Since back in 1991 Darnielle has recorded and released hundreds of songs many of which are categorized as “lo-fidelity” recordings (he recorded the songs into a boombox and onto cassettes and released them as is). After developing a cult following, Darnielle was rewarded with a recording contract and eventually formed the band.

In 2005, The Mountain Goats released the album The Sunset Tree, a recording Darnielle penned following the death of his abusive father. Tonight I’m featuring the song This Year from that record. It’s not a happy song but the “I am going to make it through this year if it kills me” seems to fit well as we head into 2017.

And quickly back to Hey Rosetta! (the exclamation point is part of the name btw.) They released a four-song Christmas EP back in 2012 (A Cup of Kindness Yet). The EP features a lovely rendition of Auld Lang Syne titled New Year Song.

NEW YEAR SONG

lend me a walking stick and i’ll lean on it
and i’ll walk on out through the snowbound yard
past the neighbours on the lawn, drinking last year out
i’ll leave this town, cut the year off clean

cauterized by leaving, sick and tired of living last year

roll out the tarmac and baptize the aircraft ‘escape and loss’
and push me off

the cold can bleach us out and freeze our doubt
so all that you knew becomes muffled and mute

i’m done with this all this standing stiff
when i move my mouth only snow comes out

euthanized by whiteness but i’ll arise, despite this last year

so roll out the tarmac and baptize the aircraft ‘escape and loss’
and push me off

should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?

for auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And that’s a wrap for 2016. Thanks for following this blog. I hope you’ve discovered a couple of new Christmas tunes for your holiday playlists. Remember you can easily follow and message me via Facebook.  Lord willing, I’ll see you back next year on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday November 23rd). Happy New Year!

The Mountain Goats
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Mountain-Goats.com

Purchase This Year
iTunes
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Purchase Hey Rosettas! New Year Song
iTunes
Amazon

This Year – The Mountain Goats

New Year Song – Hey Rosetta!

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