"Dark Side of The Yule" is the new Christmas album from Classical Blast. But you may have encountered them before. In 2014, they released a Christmas single featuring two of their holiday finest that they'd been doing for at least a year--their mashup of "Greensleeves" and "Nights In White Satin" and "Come Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (which I'm not sure what it's supposed to be but, to me, it sounds like "Hit The Road Jack"). You can grab that digital single here.
For "Dark Side of the Yule", we get some fresh outside-the-box creation. The "Sugarplum Fairy" meets Metallica, Pink Floyd crashes "Coventry Carol" and, yes, you can finally play a version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" that is a Christmas song, merged as it is with "Amazing Grace". You've got to be intrigued to hear what they did with "Fairytale of New York". And, me, I'm excited to hear "Pray For Me"--a Classical Blast original that features Chicago Bluesman Wayne Baker Brooks. Oh, yeah, they've got a bunch of guests on the album. Head over to Facebook and they'll introduce you.
There's no specific release date listed for "Dark Side of The Yule" listed. Mid-October appears to be the target (so, on our List, we'll drop them in with the October 14 releases). You can pre-order through the Classical Blast web site. They'll even include a prism light-catcher ornament...because they're just those kinda guys.
By the way. As a Mets fan, I wasn't going to mention it, but Classical Blast does a kick-ass version of Steve Goodman's "Go Cubs Go".
Coventry Carol/ Great Gig in the Sky
Imagine, featuring Phillip-Michael Scales
Fairytale, featuring Cathy Richardson & Dave Kelly
Deck the Halls/ River, featuring Graham Czach
Twinkle, featuring Stephanie Tonnemacher (original)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Pray for Me, featuring Wayne Baker Brooks (original)
Silent Night/ Sound of Silence, featuring Chris Connelly
Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy/ Enter Sandman
Carol of the Bells/ Game of Thrones
Amazing Grace/ Hallelujah
Aino Venna is the performance name of Finnish singer/songwriter Aino Ahokas (Venna is her mother's maiden name). The first thing Aino Venna called to my mind was Edith Piaf and it turns out I wasn't wrong. Her music is heavily influenced by artists like Piaf and Marlene Dietrich, as well as Elvis and Billy Holiday and the Finnish singer Juice Leskinen--all set in a more modern Indie Folk and Pop framework. There's also an ambient quality to the music of Aino Venna. She recalls that, when she heard Piaf singing for the first time, she didn't understand the words, but felt as though "she was singing as though it was the last moment in life." When the whole sound comes together, she admits the final product is distinctly Finnish--simple, minimalistic, and melancholy.
In 2012, Aino Venna scored a huge hit in Europe with "Suzette", a simple song about a bad girl who tells the boy she's with that he should leave her. In spite of the simple and, OK, melancholy story line, "Suzette" has a certain irresistible Pop-ness to it and it was Radio Helsinki's "Song of the Summer" (though I'm not sure how long a Finnish summer lasts). Ever since, Aino Venna has been one of those artists whose fame expands exponentially by word of mouth.
Aino Venna's Christmas album, "Aino Vennan Joulu", is set for release on November 18. It will be available in both CD and Vinyl formats and about a third of the tracks were written by Venna. How long until it shows up on Amazon MP3, who knows? But it is most definitely different and something I'll be interested in hearing more of. If you can read Finnish or are patient with on-line translations, you'll find Aino Venna's official web site here and their Facebook page here.
Come to think of it, why wait? Don't know that it'll be on the album, but this Christmas single--"Joulumaa"--reached our shores last December. Proceeds went to Amnesty International.