Bound to happen one of these days, I suppose. The entire Free List page for 2012 has been obliterated by some computer malfunction or something. I can retrieve some of it via Google cache, but I'd still have to rebuild the entire freakin' thing, reformat, the whole ball of wax. I'm not sure I'm up for that, with the time crunch being what it is this year. Crap! I think the gods are trying to tell me something. It's been real.
Some songs never get old. Such is the case with this 2010 Christmas track from Fitz & The Tantrums. The group has made great strides in bringing their alt rock blue-eyed soul to the world over the last two years. You may have caught them on the teevee, from time to time, and they are now opening for the likes of Jason Mraz. But I'll never forget "Santa Stole My Lady" (even though I don't recall using the track on my annual mix as I sorta promised back then). I bought the limited edition vinyl in 2010 (that was when I had some dough) but, if you missed it then, Fitz & The Tantrums are giving the song away free this Christmas just for signing on to their mailing list. Big things are afoot for this group, so you'll want to be kept up to date anyway, right? Head over to the band's web site and grab it while you can. It's a classic.
1. Aaron Brown and The York Street Hustle “Christmas Eve Dream”
2. Nick Frese and Amy Wooden “It’s A Lousy Day To Be Alone”
3. Alex Radus “Hustle and Bustle”
4. SPiN “Christmas Time Again (I’ll Be Good Next Year)”
5. Ryan Tennis “Coming Home”
6. Ben Smith “Son, You Should Come Home for Christmas”
7. Deb Callahan “Baby’s First Christmas”
8. John Francis “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Christmas”
9. Pete Donnelly “Merry Xmas This Year”
10. Shaun Ruymen “You, Me and the Christmas Tree”
11. Good Old War “Snow Falls Down”
12. Ginger Coyle “It Feels Like Christmas”
BONUS: Christie Lenee "Carol Of The Bells"
BONUS: Tin Bird Choir "We Three Kings"
BONUS: City Rain "Goodnight Moon" DOWNLOAD FREE AT THE KEY
BONUS: The Districts "Fires And Footstops"
It's 12 for Twenty-Twelve from Philly's premier Adult Album Alternative radio station. WXPN has been doing their "12 Days Of Christmas" feature, spotlighting mostly original Christmas music from local Philadelphia artists, for quite some time. This year, you can download the whole set right up front and then follow along as they spotlight the artists and songs each day. It's an eclectic set, as usual, featuring some terrific pop tunes, some Indie Folk, some Alt Rock, some Americana and more. On first listen, my personal standouts include SPiN's hook laden Power Pop "Christmas Time Again (I'll Be Good Next Year)", Shaun Ruymen's folky lament "You, Me and The Christmas Tree", and Ginger Coyle's jazzy strut "It Feels Like Christmas". But the one that really got my attention, as I'm always looking for truly unique expressions of the season, was the Bonus Track "Goodnight Moon" from City Rain, an atmospheric new wave electronica track that immediately sent me running to their web site and Bandcamp in search of more. The track ends a bit abruptly, for my taste, but I loved every second of it.
Earlier this year, I came across a 2011 Christmas single from Scottish lass Laurie Cameron. Laurie brought out, as I've never heard before, the true heartbreak underlying "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". Laurie is back, for 2012, breaking our hearts once again with "Merry Christmas From Scotland (Lulled With A Stiff Drink)". The more I hear from Laurie, the more I long to hear. While Laurie works on her full-length debut, enjoy this one as a "Name-Your-Price" download via Bandcamp. "This one's to you."
A couple years back--I think it was even before Stubby's had officially launched--I downloaded a free track and didn't think too much about it. As was my habit at the time, I threw all the free tracks into a playlist without labels and would listen as background whenever I was on the computer. Every time the song came up, I would be bopping along, singing--almost dancing in my seat--and smiling from ear to ear. But I didn't even know what the song was or who it was by. Eventually, Stubby's underway, I couldn't take the not knowing anymore and I traced the song back and, yes, posted it here.
That song was "Christmas Time" by Root Road. With all the Christmas music being made, it's rare that an original song carries all of the elements necessary to earn the designation of "instant classic" (by the way, in the Christmas music world, an "instant classic" may take a dozen years or more to be accepted as such). Root Road's "Christmas Time", I believe, is just such a song. Any song that can make me smile as much on the 100th listen as on the first deserves to take its place alongside the songs we all think of, today, as Christmas standards. It's like an old time toboggan ride down that hill in your neighborhood--just joy unbridled.
For 2012, the brothers Gilkes returned to the studio with award winning producer Roger Ryan, re-recording "Christmas Time" for inclusion in a charity album "A Time For Hope", with the majority of proceeds going to aid suffering children in Haiti. Haven't seen the album yet, but the 2012 version of "Christmas Time" is available through Noisetrade. You can grab the song free for your email address or make a donation. It still makes me smile. And music that makes you smile that often and that much is truly priceless.
No need to explain who Sarah McLachlan is, I would think. For the second year in a row, Sarah's given us a holiday gift of song with proceeds once again going to help fund her free School of Music. The school provides group and individual music lessons to kids as, around the world, fewer and fewer schools offer music as part of the curriculum. In Sarah's time (and mine), music classes were a given in schools. Not so any more. And music education, when it was offered, enriched the lives of children and saved many from making bad choices with the rest of their lives. Some kids, who don't fit in anywhere else, find their voice through music. The School of Music relies on donations from the general population and Sarah's annual Christmas songs offer an opportunity to spread the word and raise funding. As with last year's "Space On The Couch For Two", this year's song is free, but she asks that you give what you can, if you can, to help continue the school's work. Once again, Sarah is joined by School Of Music students on this year's "Find Your Voice". You can grab the track and/or donate via Sarah's web site.
Seattle based Wayfarer began their Indie Folk rise on the ashes of Sherwood's demise earlier this year. You may or may not recall Sherwood's "Snowing In Seattle" from 2008; an excellent contribution that still garners annual spins at Stubby's house (my real house, not the web site).
Wayfarer speaks of repurposing old hymns and such, but they carry with them the influences of the Beach Boys and Beatles that also colored Sherwood's music. The result is highly accessible Indie Folk Rock that could well have come from the mid to late 60s, yet sounds as fresh as a morning snow. Wayfarer's interpretation of "The Holly And The Ivy" is a perfect example. They breathe more life into a musty old chestnut than I would have though possible. Grab "The Holly And The Ivy" at either Bandcamp or Noisetrade and pick up a couple of bonus tracks in the deal.
For the last few years, the folks at the Belgian beer company, Stella Artois, have celebrated the music of the season as a means of promoting their product. Last year, they went all out with an entire free album download, "Under The Holiday Star". This year's holiday truffle is "La Chanson D'Eve" from Soundtree London. Soundtree London is a company of musicians and singers that create original music for advertising and special events. I believe they even created some music for this year's Summer Olympics.
For Stella Artois' seasonal campaign this year, Soundtree London has provided a sweet, if far too short, Jazz number featuring a statuesque blonde, known only as Holiday Carole. Anybody can join the fun in a personal way via Stella Artois' Facebook page (you may have to "like" them, but...what's not to like?). Insert your name (or the name of a friend) along with an address and message, as prompted, and Holiday Carole will appear at your virtual home (or your friend's) to serenade you (and offer you a beer, of course). To download the track, free, you'll have to go the the main Stella Artois web site, enter your birthday (it is alcohol, after all) and join La Societe Stella Artois.
By the way, if you missed out on "Under The Holiday Star" last year, it's been (mostly) re-issued this year by the group that provided the music, Human. "Le Jazz Holiday with Human" isn't free, but it is there for you to be had if you have a thirst for some stellar Christmas Jazz. Human did drop one track--which wasn't a Christmas song anyway--replacing it with the 2010 Stella Artois track, "The Twelve Days Of Christmas".
A few years back, this popular Pop Punk outfit graced us with "Messed Up Xmas", a song featuring a listing of messed up Christmas presents actually received by fans of the group. This year, The Dollyrots have reworked "Because I'm Awesome" into the Christmas song "Because I'm Santa" and both Christmas tunes are available for free via Noisetrade. Even more Christmas spirit is evident on the group's web site.
I like nice little Pop songs with Indie sensibilities, so this effort from My Submarine (led by Mike Ghazarian, formerly of You, Me And Everyone We Know), "Christmas Without You", was right up my Christmas tree. The string opening gives the track a familiar vintage hook at the outset and, true, they could have done much more with the dysfunctional family gathering drop-ins, and, true, there's nothing profound going on here, but it's still quite nice. And nice is nice. Free via Soundcloud for as long as it lasts.
The FREE List
Here we hope to direct you to some of the Christmas music on the web that can be yours absolutely free. We will not direct you to mp3 or sharity sites, here, but only to artist sites, label sites, and other authorized and unquestionably legal locations.