This is our fourth season of A Stubby's House Christmas. So, by now, you know I mean it when I say this collection is only available for a limited time and then disappears forever. In this case, we'll leave it up until Little Christmas (January 6). So you've got a little more than 2 weeks to get yer Stubby on. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Everything you need to make your own little Stubby CD is included in the file, including artwork for both jewel case and full sized CD housings. Here's the download link for "A Stubby's House Christmas 2013" (subtitled "The White (and Black) Album") or click on the pic of the cover, above. Go get it and then, if you've got a few days, read all about it below. Report broken links and other issues and we'll work something out. Merry Christmas from yours truly and Mrs. Katz (not her real name). (Update 1/8/14: Link removed, as promised)
That said, I did some back tracking, checked my list once, checked it twice, and it turns out--even to my surprise--our annual Stubby's House collections have featured few repeaters (save one major exception and not including this year). I was especially floored to learn that we've never included a track from Denver's Kissing Party. And that surprised me because I love what they do. When I listen to a Kissing Party song, I always come away smiling--even if its a depressing song. Seriously, Kissing Party makes me smile (in spite of myself, cause I'm basically a surly cuss). Forget the ghosts; Ebeneezer might have had a much brighter perspective on life had he listened to Kissing Party. Which would have been difficult since they weren't around back then. Timelord science!
I'm sure Kissing Party wasn't jockeying for a spot on our humble little collection when they decided to release an entire EP of Christmas music this year. "Winter At The Pub" includes the group's previous holiday efforts as well as some new. Yes, that includes the award winning title track. What's that? "Winter At The Pub" didn't win an award? Well...it should have.
Though we went with "Pretty Lights", here--which I believe is new--I almost went with "Commit A Tiny Crime Together", which is neither new nor Christmas (near as I can tell). "Pretty Lights" will make you smile, sure, but checkout "Commit A Tiny Crime Together". Just awesome, amazing stuff.
Grab the free "Winter At The Pub" EP and visit Kissing Party at their Internet home. And, hey, what say we check out the video for "Pretty Lights", right now?
"I Hear (Click, Click, Click)" originally appeared on the 2009 local artist CD "Have A Holly Raleigh Kidsmas", the first of the "Holly Raleigh" collections featuring music geared to kids (both big and small) and, sadly, the last of the four "Holly Raleigh" sets released (the call went out in 2010, but no finished product emerged).
The Rosebuds' latest non-holiday full-length, so far as I know, is "Loud Planes Fly Low". The bands gigs constantly and they even had a Halloween single this year. Stop by their Facebook page sometime and don't be a stranger.
But the only tag on the file was "CherryTreeMix" and I could not remember the name of the band, nor how I'd come upon them in the first place. Wasn't sure whether to drop them from the mix or put them on a milk carton or something. Kids, let that be a lesson to you; properly tag your audio files so people know who you are.
Long story short, I did eventually find them again, but it wasn't easy. The band is Solas (Gaelic for "light"), an Irish-American band. They've been around for 15 years, have ten albums under their belts, and clearly have a substantial following. "The Cherry Tree Carol" was actually their second free Christmas download this year. Their first, an original titled "Home For Christmas Day" was posted to SoundCloud and, if I recall correctly, Soundcloud caps the free downloads at 100, so it wasn't free any longer by the time I found it. No such issues with "The Cherry Tree Carol", though, which is free via something called "dropify". Stop by the Solas web site to catch up on the last 15 years and learn about their amazing Shamrock City project. Or drop in at Facebook and follow the links to your free download of "The Cherry Tree Carol".
"Driving Home For Christmas" impressed us immediately with the jangly guitar open, but also felt musically compelling throughout. Unfortunately, the combination of "needle drop" and having one computer with a sound card and no Internet and another with Internet but no sound card means I can't be very helpful on the rest of the set. I sort of remember liking Nanaki's take on Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You". And "It's Christmastime, Like" from Bri Slutcher & The Gnasher Downham Experience seemed like a good drinking song for the pub, like.
And we can't leave without telling you that this is Small Bear's second holiday collection. The 2012 Christmas set, "Enter Snowman", was released so close to Christmas last year that I (and I suspect a lot of you) missed it. No worries. It's still a name-your-own-price download at Bandcamp.
For as long as I can remember, I've always been drawn to that desolate, dreary little guitar riff. I don't think there's any sound more instantly evocative in music. That Six & The Sevens go all John Lee Hooker on the chorus is just gravy on the stuffing to me.
Speaking of stuffing, our friends at the Michigan Indie collective Suburban Sprawl have been putting out humongous Christmas collections since at least 2002. And they're all still available for free at the label's Christmas site, in handy zip files or a la carte. Go get your feedbag on for there is no better way to go from no holiday library to massive holiday library. And did we mention its all free?
After you get your fill at Suburban Sprawl's holiday trough, be sure to stop by the label's web site and the web site of Six & The Sevens as well. Those cats are going places.
But wait. What's this? "I Don't Want Your Presents" is included on the compilation "Merry Rock Against Bullsh*t Xmas, Vol. 8". VOLUME EIGHT? How have I missed that all these years? Dang! Well, Volume 7's still up and here's a link to Volume 8. I guess we'll just have to ask Santa for the rest.
A lot of bands wouldn't think it cool to wax nostalgic about "GI Joes and Thundercats", but, c'mon, we weren't born old. In fact, that's part of what makes Christmas special; its a chance to embrace, celebrate, and indulge the child that still exists in all of us. Pretend all you want. If you're stopping by a blog like Stubby's, you're still a Christmas child at heart; you still believe in Christmas Time.
"I Believe In Christmas Time" was just so sweet and sincere (nice production values, too), it had to have a place on a Stubby's House Christmas. Had to. The track is free at Bandcamp (as are the Kirby Krackle Christmas singles from 2012 and 2011). And feel free to knock on the door of the group's home web site. They'll welcome you in and make you feel right at home.
Once again, the "no double dipping" rule proves a pain in my.... but, if I had to pick just one song for OUR collection, it was going to be "The Night Before Christmas" by The Clothes. Not all the groups and artists on "A Polaroid For Christmas" are Italian, but The Clothes happen to be. You should definitely stop by and say "Hi" on Facebook and grab their free album, "Fairy Lights Dress", on Bandcamp.
For an Indie Pop tune that is never going to get the exposure of Mariah Carey, Susan Boyle, or even Charlotte Sometimes, "The Night Before Christmas" is amazing. It's epic! It rocks, it rolls, it's retro and contemporary, it goes through more changes than "Bohemian Rhapsody" and it just sounds like the musical distillation of the joy of Christmas. Dig it!
Grab the entire collection, "A Polaroid For Christmas 2013". Its free and its awesome. And, if you're up for it, a little searching through the Polaroid archives may turn up some of the earlier volumes as well.