Minutes to Midnight. A few of my favorite New Years videos...even if they aren't. Let's see if I can get this posted before 2017.
Nope. 12:01. Well, I tried. Happy New Year!
Went lookin' for new New Years tunes and these are the ones I liked.
The Doo Dah Beasties. OK. First of all, how can you not love that band name? Second of all, the band's got a very pretty woman in the mix. Smile, short shorts, skateboard, balloons, and hauling your old Christmas tree away (she was looking for one just like that, I'm sure). And, third, it's an original Indie Pop tune that's kinda sunny and bright. Kinda says, "Forget the mess that was last year. It's a fresh start!" Of course, it never really is a fresh start, but you let that truth lay there until January 2nd, at least. And, last, the one line that's borderline genius (if you ask me, which, of course, you didn't) is "If, last night, you missed me, it's not too late to kiss me". Hope springs eternal. I love it. A little Twee, but I love it. And, hey, pretty woman in short shorts with balloons. Did I mention that already? Amazon's got your Doo Dah Beasties' "New Year's Day" right here.
Rob Clarke & The Wooltones, a British band that's been around a few years, bring us "New Year New Day". This one's got a nice 60s Hollies/Byrds vibe to it. It's a little more somber than the entry from the Doo Dah Beasties, but it kinda makes sense if you're dealing with a New Year's hangover. The B-side is really cool, too. In fact, "Ashton Labor Club Chariy Bingo Interval" may be my favorite of the two sides. It's basically an instrumental version of the A-side, but with a hip organ and the sound of revelers (or Bingo callers and players) thrown in. And that organ makes a world of difference. Plus the weird title is a feature, not a bug. I'm lovin' the B-side more and more. Let's get that video up here. Hey, isn't that Korla Pandit? They apparently did a Christmas single, too, last year. I think I must have missed it. Same basic 60s Byrds/Hollies sound on "Another Wooltones Xmas Record". But, once again, the flip version is what delights as they go all Garage Psych. I'm gonna have to start paying attention to these guys. Get yer Rob Clarke & The Wooltones fix at either Amazon or Bandcamp. The latter offers limited edition CD singles, if you're a hard copy sort of person.
We lost a lot of bright lights this past year, but Dobie Gray is still going strong and sounding good (though I have to admit...the picture kinda creeps me out a bit; I liked him better with the fro). Dobie first hit the charts in 1963, so that's over half a century of soulful sides from the man. The biggies, of course, being "The In Crowd" and "Drift Away". Dobie released a Christmas album in 2001 or thereabouts, "Songs For The Season", but there's no New Year's song on the album. He takes care of that this year with the single "May I Spend Every New Year's With You". It's a very nice and soulful romantic slow dance number. Might even be a waltz. I was never good at picking that up. But, I'll tell you what. I bet the Beach music people here in the Carolinas will be all over this one. Grab it from Amazon.
Of course, somebody's always going to have to do "Auld Lang Syne". Quite a few somenodies, in fact. Looking for a nice Folk version? David C. Clements does it up good (and FREE). Looking for a version done in Electropunk Vaporwave style? Yes, we do have that from Kentucky's N64 (and it's FREE). How bout a Gypsy Jazz version? You'd be hard pressed to come up with better than the version from Lost Fingers (NOT free, alas). Stick with it, they really start to cook about a minute in. How 'bout some Ambient Chill Electro Pop? Rie Sinclair and Lea Cappelli have just what you're looking for (and FREE). It's actually a fairly nice arrangement, though it wouldn't be my first choice. Celtic Folk? Try this one on from Siobhan Owen (NOT free, alas). Shoegaze? Josh O'Hara has just what you need (FREE). Just going through some of the new ones is all. The one I liked was the Indie Pop version from The Daybreaks. For some reason, they're calling theirs "Auld Lang Silent Night", but there ain't no "Silent Night" in there...just "Auld Lang Syne". The Daybreaks single is also at Amazon (look, I know these things are everywhere, but I don't have the energy to go looking everywhere; if you hate Amazon--and there's no reason you shouldn't--I'm sure you'll find these things at iTunes or CDBaby or, hell, CD Universe...throw them a bone).
What's that? A new Rock N Roll "Auld Lang Syne"? You mean I didn't mention one up above? Oh, well, try this one on for size. Not even sure it is "Auld Lang Syne", but that's the title Patent Pending put on it and that's good enough for me. Patent Pending is a Pop Punk band from Brooklyn and "Auld Lang Syne" comes off their 2016 holiday EP "Season's Greetings". You can find this one on Bandcamp (and, yeah, Amazon).
But the best of the 2016 New Year's songs has to be the one from Superchunk front man Mac McCaughan. You've seen it on the other blogs and websites, I'm sure. And it deserves every bit of the attention it's getting because it is the one and only new New Year's tune that's looking for a pony in the crap pile of a year that was 2016. A little silver lining to go with the massive cloud we got stuck with. Just trying to shed a little hopeful light on the year ahead. Mac's song is a free download at Bandcamp and comes in a clean version and a Parental Advisory version. I'm usually touchy about language--trying to run a family blog, here--but only the Parental Advosory version is going to exorcise the demons of 2016. Closing out, this morning, with Mac McCaughan and "Happy New Year (Prince Can't Die Again)".
Jaclyn Guillou has become one of my favorite Jazz singers over the past year. I don't think I was terribly familiar with her until last year's "Winter For Beginners" album. It's not a Christmas record by any stretch, though it's certainly winter themed, with songs like "Land of the Silver Birch", and "Summer Where?". Her version of "Poetry Man" is gorgeous. And the title track is just lovely beyond lovely.
As I tend to do, I looked further into Ms. Guillou's catalog and she does have a few Christmas performance videos on the YouTubes, though not available for purchase or download so far as I could tell. And, over the last few weeks of the year, she was tossing up videos and streams of Christmas songs like she was Santa pulling presents from a big old bag. Jaclyn described these (mostly) as home-brewed demos. I'm not sure she understands that demos, by their nature, are supposed to sound like crap; if she released these tomorrow--as is--I would not only buy them, but rush to recommend everyone else do so as well. You can still listen to Jaclyn's "demos" for "The Christmas Song", "Jingle Bells", "O Holy Night", and "Nothing Out There But Snow" at her Facebook site or via Soundcloud. And it does have me looking forward to a Jaclyn Guillou Christmas album, if such a thing ever comes to be, like a kid looking forward to Christmas morning.
But I, like many of you, am a "collector". To me, streams are torture. It's like looking at those big ticket toys in the store window that you'll never be able to afford. So here's a Jaclyn Guillou song that you can purchase (Amazon, iTunes, wherever). And, where most songs about the New Year tend to be optimistic odes to the year ahead, "Goodbye December" is a nod to the ending of the old--both the good and the bad of it.
Just talk amongst yourselves or whatever. I just don't have the energy and it's already late.
In the past few days, I've been thinking about a few of the folks we lost in 2015. Of all of them, I think I'll miss B.B. King the most. There are so few Blues artists capable of drawing a non-Blues crowd as B.B. could. I don't know that there's anyone who can fill those shoes. At least he left us a lot of great music, including the classic 1964 single "Christmas Celebration" and the album "Christmas Celebration Of Hope", recorded decades later and reissued this past year. The latter included two New Year's tunes, "Auld Lang Syne" and yet another of Charles Brown's holiday classics, "Bringing In A Brand New Year".
I'm gonna toss up several vintage New Year's Blues tunes below, but this one from Becky Barksdale is fairly new (released last year). Becky Barksdale is from Port Arthur, Texas, so you know who she can't avoid comparisons to. But take Becky on her own merit. She's damn good and her 2006 "Christmas EP" is one of my faves. Her "Silent Night" is amazing. And last year's "Under My Tree" should appeal to the Indie Rockers out there. But we're looking ahead to the end of the year, so here's Becky's "New Year's Resolution Blues".
Now for some vintage Blues, to help you end the old year and begin the new one properly.
It's a shame that last one fades out as quick as it does. I could have enjoyed that groove for a lot longer. But that's the whole song--"New Year's Blues" from Ernie Wilkins (originally released in 1970 and issued on CD in Japan in 2007).
Lots of vintage New Year's Blues not included above, but I thought that gave you a nice sampler pack with plenty of variety. One last New Year's video today. Unfortunately, this is from an Import CD (so no domestic mp3). The great Dinah Washington co-wrote "Resolution Blues" and her version is included on a 2008 collection of New Year's Blues, "Ain't It A Merry Day". But I really dig this 2012 cover from China Moses and Raphael Lemonnier from the 2012 CD "Crazy Blues".
About a month ago (if you can remember back that far, and even if you can't), we told y'all about "Merry Christmas, Provo 2". Our review was even featured prominently on the Provo Mayor's website about a week ago (this is the new world we live in--we link to them, they link to us linking to them, we link to them linking to us linking to them, and so on). Anyway, last year's "Merry Christmas, Provo (Vol. 1)" (Technically, it was called "Provo's Gift To The World"...I think) included this nice Dream Pop/Alt Folk rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" by Provo's own Bat Manors.
The albums are both still available, by the way. Inquire within.
If you're jonesing for an original New Year's song, the first Provo album had one of those, too. Book On Tape Worm is an Alt Pop/Cinematic Pop group--also from Provo--and their "Ghost of New Years Past" was originally recorded for a 2013 holiday comp, "Eggnog" (about which we'll have more to say shortly). And Book On Tape Worm are releasing it--or re-releasing it, or re-re-releasing it, or whatever--as a digital single on January 1. And the lyrics, I think, we can all relate to.
It's been a long year. Tonight we're letting it go.
May this eve bring relief and bleach the streets with snow.
Too many tomorrows turned into todays
with nothing to show but an X in the space
where the calendar collapsed on the very last page;
a whole year has passed, how little has changed.
Close your eyes and count from 10.
The world will be much lighter when
the ghosts of this year's past won't follow you; they can't.
The world is new.
Perhaps our problems will stop when the hands of the clock
meet at midnight, alas the past has shown us probably not.
Still may midnight free us from all our regrets
and the fear of what's happened and not happened yet.
Can I get an Amen?
We're into November, now, and that means a lot of things. It means that, in arguments with the Grinch in your life over how soon is too soon for Christmas music, the Grinch is now--officially--wrong. Although some of us find any time of year the right time for some egg nog, ginger snaps (snickerdoodles work also), and Christmas tunes, officially, the Grinch has the edge in the argument until we get past Halloween. Sure, some will still argue that there should be a ban on Christmas music until at least December first (and some would impose draconian bans until Christmas Eve), but November 1 is the tipping point where WE outnumber them. So take that, Christmas music Grinch.
November means I have more work to do on this here web site and, specifically, more tunes will be showing up on the Free List page and, yes, there are a couple of newbies up there right now. So you're going to have to click through fairly regularly, now, to stay caught up.
And November means that our good friends at Christmas A Go-Go are back in business! All hail Christmas A Go-Go! Gotta love them cats; they always have great stuff...most of which I miss. Stubby's may be the Mets of Christmas music, but Christmas A Go-Go are the Royals (damn it). They're just better than we are. They "keep the line moving" (and that is the last freaking time I ever want to hear that expression). I'm not ashamed to admit it (a little depressed, but not ashamed). Bitter about the World Series much? Just call me Mr. Coffee.
Anyway, proving they still got it, Christmas A Go-Go had this one up Monday morning. Kerry Pastine & The Crime Scene are a Colorado band that knows how to take a vintage sound and make it absolutely purr in modern times. Did I say purr? I should've said growl. These retro rockers absolutely got legs and they know how to use 'em. And Kerry Pastine is absolutely the right driver for this mean machine. Kerry and company leave the bigger names in the dust.
The set opens with a fairly awesome mix of Doo Wop and early Rock and Soul. We get a Blues favored Noir Rock outing with "Have I Been Naughty or Nice". And I don't care how stuck in the mud you may be, "Ride Santa Ride" is gonna make you move--don't try and fight it. That Sock Hop Blues Jumper reminds us that we were shakin' it off long before Taylor Swift was a gleam in her mother's eyes. More Noir Rock with a driving beat on "New Year's Day My Way". The gang's got Rockabilly covered and "Santa's Movin" has got a Bill Haley/Elvis Presley vibe. To close it out, "Happy New Year", a ballad that belongs among such iconic performances as Patsy Cline's "Crazy", Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry" and Sam Cooke's recording of "A Change Is Gonna Come". Kerry Pastine & The Crime Scene really hit a home run with that one (crap, another baseball reference).
Every song on "It's A Crime Scene Christmas" is an original and every one is a winner. The sounds are, at once, familiar and fresh, vintage and cutting edge. That's not that easy to pull off. The guitar playing of Pauly "Six" Shellooe is perfect. The stand-up drumming of Mike "Mad Dog" Minnick couldn't be better. Lance "Romance" Bakemeyer slaps that stand-up bass like a doctor bringing a new life into the world--with precision and passion. (Somebody in the mix is adding a little organ). And Kerry Pastine is Wanda Jackson, Patsy Cline, Grace Slick and Ann Wilson all rolled into one.
What a great Christmas surprise "It's A Crime Scene Christmas" is. No hard copy on this, but the digital download should be available everywhere by the end of the week (official release date November 4). I think you'll get the best deal by ordering from the band via Bandcamp. Thanks again to Christmas A Go-Go for finding this one (and welcome back; we missed you).
Every year since 2007, DJ Earworm (Jordan Roseman) has condensed the most popular music of the year into one bright and glorious Mash-Up. This year's mix is "Do What You Wanna Do", featuring Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, John Legend, Pitbull, Iggy Azalea and more. These mixes tend to be among the most popular plays of the year with this year's already surpassing 10 million views on YouTube. DJ Earworm says this year's batch is slower than those of some recent years due to the decline in the popularity of EDM. A free download of "Do What You Wanna Do" can be had via Soundcloud.
I know some people comp New Year's Eve like it's Christmas. I dunno, doesn't really work that way for me. Doesn't mean I don't look for good New Years songs. Ideally, a good New Yeas Eve tune is one you can party to. And this might be the best of them this year. "Time Of Our Lives" comes from Pittbull's latest, "Globilization", and features Ne-Yo. Party on dudes (and be excellent to each other).
I love Christmas, music, and cats. What more do you need to know?