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).
Coming up this week, we'll have our list of some of our favorite Christmas albums of 2014. But first...
Hey, we're going to miss stuff. Tons of stuff. And, for the most part, I'm not bothered by it. But here we have something potentially tremendous that I haven't seen anybody on the Christmas blogs cover that you may not have heard about and you might never hear about, but should.
The Retrospective Soundtrack Players are an Indie Folk Rock group who make music based upon literature and other media (cult favorites, as it were). Sounds like it might be boring, huh? But its not.
To date, the group has done albums based on the classic novel Catcher In The Rye and the Steve McQueen film "Cool Hand Luke". For 2014, they set their sights on a pair of Christmas classics--Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life". The result is the full-length album (released on both CD and vinyl) "It's A Wonderful Christmas Carol". Song selections include "Every Time A Bell Rings, An Agel Gets His Wings" and "No Man Is Poor Who Has Friends". And, judging from the two tracks we have audio for--"Christmas Day" in the video above and "Bah Humbug" in the stream below--it's tremendously catchy stuff. Special guests for the holiday recording include Chris T-T, Frank Turner and Ben Marwood (they each get to play one of Scrooge's ghosts).
The Retrospective Soundtrack Players are from the UK so "It's A Wonderful Christmas Carol" is an import for us Yanks. That means high prices and limited availability for the moment. But this is something that should be on your radar for next year or beyond. And I just can't help but feel it might possibly slip through the cracks without us calling it to your attention. And I can't have that.
1. Theme from ‘It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol’
2. I’m Sleeping this Christmas
3. It’s a Wonderful Life
4. Bah Humbug!
5. The Guardian Angel
6. The Ghost of Christmas Past (I’m a Coward) featuring Chris T-T
7. The Ghost of Christmas Present (No Ego) featuring Frank Turner
8. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (I Can’t Be Anybody Else) featuring Ben Marwood
9. Christmas Day
10. Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets its Wings
11. No Man is Poor Who Has Friends
PURCHASE FROM XTRA MILE RECORDINGS
PURCHASE FROM AMAZON (CD)
PURCHASE FROM AMAZON (LP)
Billy Joel performed at Madison Square Garden on December 18 of this year. On Christmas Eve, he uploaded a handful of videos from the performance to his YouTube channel. There are small clips of pieces of Christmas songs he used as instrumental bridges, but this rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is the closest we get to a full Christmas song from the Piano Man.
My favorite after Christmas song from Misty River and their album "Midwinter--Songs Of Christmas".
Meant to post this early Christmas morning, but I forgot.
As you may or may not be aware, the day after Christmas is Boxing Day in many countries around the world. Its a day when, traditionally, people box up some food and other items they don't need to bring to those less fortunate. I'm sure there's more to it, but I'm not feeling like making a Wikipedia run at the moment. Anyway, we here at Stubbys use Boxing Day as a way of clearing out some of our over-run of Christmas music bookmarks that we haven't otherwise gotten around to during the season. It's taken me the better part of the day, but our Boxing Day link dump is up on the Free List. So, when you have a free moment, maybe stop by and see what you can find. Or not. Your call. And I'll have a new freebie (from Germany, Brigitte) that I'll post overnight, so you'll have something to look forward to tomorrow. Peace. Off with ya!
Not to be a nudge, but I just want to quickly remind you that "A Stubby's House Christmas 2014" is available for download. All those Christmas day vids kinda pushed it down and out. But it's there. Read all about it.
Scott Hutchinson, the front man for Scotland's Frightened Rabbit, has been walking a different path this year. After Gordon Skene left Frightened Rabbit in March, Scott, Andy Monaghan, and Salmon Liddell of the touring band collaborated on what was more or less a Scott Hutchinson solo project. They called the effort Owl John. From a fan's perspective Owl John just seems like the next chapter (or a branch of the same tree) of Frightened Rabbit, so, on that score, feel comforted.
Frightened Rabbit recorded one of the most classic and influential Indie Christmas songs, "It's Christmas, So We'll Stop". There's been a lot of hand-wringing in the last few years--"Where are the new seasonal standards?" people lament. I've never much worried about it. Because, almost by definition, "standards" of Christmas music are the songs you grew up with, it takes at least twenty years before a new song can even be considered for membership in the club. You may not remember, but there were a good many years when Darlene Love's "(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home" wasn't being played on the radio; now its omnipresent. Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" wasn't an "instant classic"--there's no such thing, really. What counts is staying power. You can't judge staying power in the first year or two (how many people are still singing "The Macarena"?). Now, 20 years after its release, it's fair to say Mariah's tune is a member in good standing of the seasonal standards club. "Last Christmas", also 20 years on, is there as well; it has proven itself over time (and, believe me, in year one, NOBODY saw that coming). Like Baseball's Hall of Fame, not everybody gets in on the first ballot, either. I still believe the Vince Vance song (with the same title as Mariah's) is destined to be a standard; so far, though, it's just outside that circle.
The entire Indie era isn't 20 years old, yet. So where are the new Christmas classics? We'll know in time. It's the general consensus that Low's "Christmas" album and especially the song "Just Like Christmas" will be among the first of this new class to "make it". "Christmas" was released in 1999, so another 4 or 5 years should tell the tale. It's not hard to imagine some of Sufjan Stevens' holiday songs making the hall of standards in time. And I went through all that because I believe Frightened Rabbit's "It's Christmas, So We'll Stop" is a great candidate as well, but it's only been around since 2007, so we've got a long wait ahead before we'll know.
So what's the point of this long-ass post? Nothing, really. Just a way of explaining a new Frightened Rabbit Christmas single that isn't really a Frightened Rabbit Christmas single. When the band released "She Screams Christmas" in 2012, it carried the Frightened Rabbit name but it was mostly Scott Hutchinson. This new song, "It Gets Cold", carries the name of Christmas John, but it's mostly Scott Hutchinson. "It Gets Cold" was released on Christmas Day at around 5 or 6 p.m. (so its fresh baked). It's got that classic Indie Scott Hutchinson sound and it's a free download on Soundcloud. Additionally, Scott's loaded 3 other songs as free downloads (including "She Screams Christmas"). But he does ask that you consider donating what you can to The Great Big Cycle, an organization seeking treatments and a cure for Cystinosis, a disease Scott's young niece, Morven, was born with in 2010.
This little bit could just as easily be on our essentials page. Just sayin'.
It makes me a little sad that, when someone mentions the song title "All I Want For Christmas Is You", I'm the only one who immediately thinks of Vince Vance & The Valiants' 1989 song by that title. Everybody else thinks immediately of Mariah Carey (whose song by the title arrived in 1994).
The Vince Vance we know is actually Andy Stone (not his given name, but his legal name)--the guy with the hair that stands 18" tall. Andy was always a showman as much as a musician. Vince Vance is a fictional creation and Andy wasn't even the original--he joined the group in 1971--but that's been his roll since 1974. New Orleans based, the group still plays more than 100 shows a year.
Though Andy wrote the song, Lisa Layne brought it to life with her incredible vocal performance. I don't know. Seems to me if you can listen to Lisa's vocals on the tune and it doesn't break your heart...you just ain't human (either that or you're distracted by the goofy parts in the music video). It took a while, but "All I Want For Christmas Is You"--the Andy Stone penned tuned--is certainly a standard of the season at this point (at least here in the South). Yeah, I know. Mariah's is too. But you say that title to me and I'm still going to think of Vince Vance and Lisa Layne first. Maybe it's been a blessing. Mariah's song is starting to wear a little thin. This one still sounds great.
While I was getting up our latest addition to the Free List from VanLadyLove, I spotted this picture on their Facebook page. Had to share.
I guess Grumpy Cat's 15 minutes are up. This year, its all Doug The Pug.
I love Christmas, music, and cats. What more do you need to know?