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:
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Official Website
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Lisa Hannigan – Snow

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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)
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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
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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
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Purchase Hey Rosettas! New Year Song
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This Year – The Mountain Goats

New Year Song – Hey Rosetta!

Eddi Reader’s Take On Baïlèro

December 30, 2016

Chants d’Auvergne (Songs of the Auvergne) is a collection of folk songs from the Auvergne region of France arranged for soprano voice and orchestra or piano by Joseph Canteloube between 1923 and 1930. The songs are in the local language, Occitan. The best known of the songs is the “Baïlèro”, which has been frequently recorded and performed in slight variations of Canteloube’s arrangement, such as for choir or instrumental instead of the original soprano solo. Baïlèro is commonly referred to as The Shepherd’s Song.

Eddi Reader is a singer/songwriter from Scotland. I featured her version of Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve last year. In December of 2006 Reader released the record Peacetime. On it is her take on Baïlèro. In the record’s liner notes Reader says she learned this song as a child and rewrote the lyrics for a Christmas concert where the band of the Coldstream Guards were available to accompany her.

The Shepherd’s Song

snow, a blanket of snow has fallen
and I’m calling for my little lost ones
only in my arms you’ll stay
far from harm’s way

hold each other tight you’ll be alright
I was once a lost one
out abandoned in the snow
but now I know

near, I will appear beside you
when you’re falling, oh my little lost one
and in my loving arms you’ll stay
far from harm’s way

and in my loving arms you’ll stay
far from harm’s way

Whether it’s one of the many takes on the operatic original version, or Reader’s lovely take on The Shepherd’s Song, it’s a song you should have in your Christmas playlist.

Eddi Reader
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The Shepherd’s Song Eddi Reader

The Late Great Leon Russell

December 29, 2016

A quick tip of the hat to the late, great Leon Russell who died November 13, 2016.

In 1972, Leon recorded Slippin’ Into Christmas with the help of blues guitarist Freddie King. The single was recorded and released as a 45 in August, and made it to Billboard and other music trade publications in November. On a Christmas chart in December, Billboard would place it at #4. But the laconic blues of “Slippin’ Into Christmas” doesn’t fit the cheery singalong mode of the most popular Christmas singles, so it never became a holiday perennial. It is classic Leon though. And the B-side, Christmas In Chicago, isn’t bad either (lyrics below). These are two rarely heard Leon tunes neither of which have ever made it to vinyl or a CD. If it weren’t for youtube, these tunes would probably be gathering dust in some kid’s collection of 45’s in his mom’s attic. And thanks to digital media, you can pick them up on iTunes and Amazon.

Christmas In Chicago
Well, I woke up this morning, the snow was falling on the ground
Yes, I woke up this morning, the snow was falling on the ground
And it’s Christmas in Chicago and my baby can’t be found

If they find me in a snow drift with a bottle in my hand
They might find me in a snow drift with a bottle in my hand
Cause my baby left with Santa when he put that diamond on her hand

Well, I’m gonna leave this town tomorrow, gonna pack my sack and go
I’m gonna leave this town tomorrow, gonna pack my sack and go
Well, it’s Christmas in Chicago, it’s the coldest place I know

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Slippin’ Into Christmas – Leon Russell

Christmas In Chicago – Leon Ruseell

Winter Song

December 28, 2016

The Head and The Heart is a Seattle-based band that formed in 2009 and released their first record in 2011. Their style and sound has been described as a cross between the Avett Brothers and Fleet Foxes.

Included on their self-titled first record is Winter Song — it’s not a Christmas tune per se, but it is indeed a Winter Song. It’s officially been winter for a week — so I’ll feature it tonight.

For what it’s worth, I live in Wisconsin — The Head & The Heart is playing at The Orpheum Theater in Madison, WI Feb 21 & 22, 2017 (the band Whitney opens the show).

Interesting read on The Head & The Heart via Rolling Stone here.

The Head & The Heart
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Winter Song – The Head & The Heart

Home For Christmas – Live From Daryl’s House

December 27, 2016

Although he has also had some success as a solo artistDaryl Hall is best known as one half of the legendary musical duo Hall & Oates.  Since 2007, he has been performing with various artists in his own home on “Live From Daryl’s House,” which began as an online series before becoming a weekly TV show in 2011. In the series, Hall collaborates with both established artists and newcomers to the music scene.

On the show from 12/11/2012, Hall teamed up with country star Shelby Lynne on several Christmas tunes including the title track from the Hall & Oates 2006 Christmas release, Home For Christmas. I’ll feature that tune and a bluesy number titled XMAS.

Live From Daryl’s House
Shelby Lynne

Home For Christmas – Live From Daryl’s House

XMAS – Live From Daryl’s House

Farewell Jingle Bells

December 26, 2016

On his 1996 release, A Dave Brubeck Christmas, the legendary jazz pianist lends his signature style to traditional Christmas favorites and original Christmas compositions. This album is in his words, ” a very personal statement that speaks to the curious mixture of both the joy and the melancholy of Christmas.”

Tonight I’ll feature the very fitting, Farewell Jingle Bells.

More on Dave Brubeck
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DaveBrubeck.com

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Farewell Jingle Bells – Dave Brubeck

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