Join me Friday for my annual Christmas Eve broadcast from 6 pm-Midnight EST on WFNX, 101.7 FM in Boston, 92.1 FM in New Hampshire and WFNX.com.
A commercial free radio holiday extravaganza featuring Christmas music from around the world, new & old, drawn from many genres and heard virtually nowhere else. The soundtrack for your Christmas.
Here is a taste:
Badly Drawn Boy-“Donna and Blitzen”
Captain Sensible-“One Christmas Catalogue”
DJ BC-“You Shook Me All Noel”
The Idea-“It’s About that Time”
Low-“Just Like Christmas”
Ron Sexsmith-“Maybe This Christmas”
O Positive-“Ho Ho Ho”
Rufus Wainwright-“Spotlight on Christmas”
Wednesday Week-“Christmas Here (Could Never Be Like That)”
Brett Dennen-“The Holidays Are Here (and We Are Still at War)”
Elvis Costello-“Peace, Love and Understanding”
The Joy Formidable, a three-piece from North Wales, will release their debut album The Big Roar in January.
Over the past few years the trio has only issued singles including this amazingly intense Christmas song.
Released last year as a free download, it only recently came to my attention and is one of my favorite new Christmas song this year.
From a variation on a quote from poet/writer Charles Bukowski “”my beerdrunk soul is sadder than all the dead christmas trees of the world”, the band has entitled this song “My Beerdrunk Soul is Sadder Than a Hundred Dead Christmas Trees”.
You make my spirit.
More free Christmas music, this time from Amazon, America’s largest online retailer. The website is offering 25 days of free holiday music, a song a day.
Thus far we have songs from Fleet Foxes, Superchunk, and Shelby Lynn among others, plus this lovely little treasure from Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. “Time of the Season” is from their album Hawk released earlier this year.
The season in this song is Christmas.
“Time of the Season” by Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
The Superions is a Fred Schneider side project. The B-52s frontman teamed with friends Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall out of Orlando to record the album Destination…Christmas!
Fruitcake, the most-ridiculed of all Christmas desserts, receives a bouncy tongue-in-cheek double entendre homage from The Superions and becomes the Christmas Song of the Day.
“Fruitcake” by The Superions
“Splitting Up Christmas” is a paean to love from Kevin Devine, the Brooklyn singer/songwriter. Originally on the album Make the Clocks Move from 2003, this out-of-print record has been re-released this year.
The song itself is a free download and is our Christmas Song of the Day.
“Splitting Up Christmas” by Kevin Devine
Among many musics, I also collect Christmas songs. For years I have hosted a live annual Christmas Eve show on the radio in Boston, commercial-free, and this year is no exception. This Christmas Eve, from 6:00 pm—Midnight, I will once again be on-the-air on WFNX (101.7 FM) and WFNX.com.
Every year I listen to hundreds of new Christmas songs and new cover versions of Christmas classics searching for a few gems. Most of these songs are derivative, dumb, downright dreadful or combination of all three. But there are always a few that rise above the drivel and should be heard.
This year I was presently surprised that Target has put together a Christmas compilation of new songs called The Christmas Gig and is giving it away for free on their website.
Listen now to “Got Something for You” performed by Best Coast and Wavves, two artists that we have featured individually here in the past and “Get Down for the Holidays” by Jenny O., a singer/songwriter from LA.
“Got Something For You” by Best Coast and the Wavves
X-Ray Spex, one of the early punk bands out of London in the 70’s, is best known for the classic song “Oh Bondage Up Yours” and their only studio album from that era, Germ Free Adolescents.
The band briefly reformed in the 90’s.
Poly Styrene, the lead singer, plans to release a solo album in March and has also recorded a Christmas song.
According to her website, “Black Christmas was written by Poly and her daughter Celeste who features on the recording and was inspired by news about a killer in Los Angeles dressing up as Santa Claus”.
“Black Christmas” is a free download and is the first of a number of Christmas songs to be featured here in the days ahead.
“Black Christmas” by Poly Styrene
As we approach the end of Hanukkah our musical tribute finishes here with an internet sensation. Although the music is outside of the range of what we usually feature on this site, the song is so clever that we just had to include it.
The Maccabeats, an all-male a cappela group from Yeshiva University in New York City, have changed the lyrics of the Taio Cruz hit “Dynamite” to “Candlelight” to celebrate the holiday. The video has well-over two million hits in less than eight days!
With music from Matisyahu and the Maccabeats, the Festival of Lights has never been so much fun.
Matisyahu has given us one of the best Hanukkah songs in years (featured here yesterday). In keeping with the spirit of the holiday here is an amusing song from 2005 by The LeeVees. The band was formed by Adam Gardner from Guster and Dave Schneider of the all-hockey band The Zambonis. From the album Hanukkah Rocks, they ask the question “How Do You Spell Channukkahh?”
“How Do You Spell Channukkahh?” by The LeeVees
Hanukkah is early this year. Today is the 5th day. During this time of year Hanukkah songs are not nearly as ubiquitous as Christmas songs, but we do hear our fair share. (OK, just a few.) But this year there is an entrancing new song to add to the Festival of Lights celebration from our favorite Jewish reggae musician, Matisyahu. “Miracle” is the song to sing after lighting the Menorah. Happy Hanukkah!
“Miracle” by Matisyahu
We never know quite what to expect from PJ Harvey and that’s one of the many reasons that makes her so interesting. Her music is demanding, but she opens so many new worlds. I remember seeing her perform in the early 90’s before a dozen or so people at a tiny club in the Boston area (TT the Bear’s) and have been mesmerized ever since.
Her eighth album Let England Shake is due on Valentine’s Day next year. The album was co-produced with Flood, John Parish and Mick Harvey (no relation), and we have a song from the new recording. PJ Harvey mesmerizes once again with “Written on the Forehead”.
Bradford Cox, the lead singer and guitarist for Deerhunter (featured here previously), records solo under the name Atlas Sound. These home recordings are thoughts, meanderings, layered instrumentations, and experiments emanating from inside his prolific brain.
Currently he has four new albums of Atlas Sound material, (most of which was recorded in November!!!), entitled Bedroom Databank, Vol.1-4, available on the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound website, all free to download. Explore at your leisure.
“Mouth of the Desert”, “Mona Lisa” and “Terrarium” are from Volumes 2,3 and 4 respectively.
“Mouth of the Desert”
Girls is an indie band out of San Francisco lead by Christopher Owens and Chet “JR” White. Their debut album, Album, was one of last year’s best indie records. They have now followed it with a 6-song EP, Broken Dreams Club.
In Christopher’s own words: “A friend of mine once told me that all great art is inspiration and then just a lot of hard work. He’s a famous artist and used to say this to people who would ask him for the secret to his success. As a band we’ve come to learn that this is true. We’ve been welcomed with open arms by so many of you over the last year or so that in turn we’ve spent all our time fulfilling invitations to play live everywhere around the world. Each time we thought we should give it a rest we would get another offer we just couldn’t refuse – who wouldn’t want to go to Japan and play with The Smashing Pumpkins, or Julian Casablancas in the south of France?
It’s true that when you give love you will receive love and it was only because of the love that we’ve received from our fans that we have been able to drastically improve the quality of our work. This record is a letter of intent, it’s a snapshot of the horizon. We took the money we’ve made on tour and worked with the kind of equipment and musicians that would have been too expensive for us in the past. All of us have something to say and give and this is what happens when we show a little interest and support in others. We couldn’t have made this record without you. So this is our gift to you, our way of saying thank you for giving us the chance to work at the level we’ve always wanted to and a taste of things to come.
We really couldn’t have done this record without each one of you. This isn’t Girls all grown up, but it’s certainly the next step up from Album. This is Broken Dreams Club – a record from our hearts to yours.
This is your new record as much as ours. Thank you for this opportunity and as always, thank you for listening.”
From the EP, “Heartbreaker” is a free download and the Song of the Day.
“Heartbreaker” by Girls