Merry Christmas, friends. We here at Citizen Dick really and truly appreciate your continued support and loyal readership, and after all, what’s more supportive and loyal than tuning in on Christmas day to see what the final track for our 12 Days of Holiday Dick series is going to be.
Well, this one is a treat. Putting this series together, I listened to a few dozen different indie rock holiday songs and of all of them, this one by Portland’s Blue Skies for Black Hearts was my favorite. Off the XO holiday sampler like Monday’s Jessie Torrisi cover of Alvin & the Chipmunks, “Wishing You A Merry Xmas” somehow pulls together a banjo and piano boogie with a slight punk rock snarl. The snarl is not without a corresponding smile, though, as the background vocals between the repeated titular refrain drone out little quips like “What about Kwanzaa” and Where are the presents?”
Blue Skies For Black Hearts – Wishing You A Merry Xmas
Those of you who already have problems with the alleged “child-like” nature of Daniel Smith’s voice are really gonna hate this one. Not only does Smith sing, there are actual children on this track. If that sounds like some creepy record hipster parents would buy their toddlers for Christmas, don’t worry, it isn’t that. Rather, it is kind of like some wacko experimental song that Smith recorded at a family get-together the night before Christmas. Given the nature of Danielson as a band and Smith’s recording style, that just might be how this went down.
The track has Smith singing, except for moments when the kiddies pop in, with a pretty cool deconstruction about half-way through, with the keyboard stuttering and little kiddie voices rapping “Hey, hooray” – if you’d described this song to me before and left out the Danielson connection, there’s no way I’d predict liking it. As it is, though, I’m loving it and plan to put it on one last time before hitting the hay myself tonight.
Danielson – Christmas Eve Nite
Although this series has been a lot of fun to write as it is, my sincere hope for it is that, after a dozen days of downloads and gimmickly visuals, you’ll have found a handful of tracks (or at least one, damn it) by artists you’d not previously gotten a chance to wade into. I know that was my experience as I listened to various tracks and selected each day’s new song. Today’s track, “xoxmas” by Woodpigeon, is the perfect example of that for me.
Prior to this series, I was blithely unaware of the beautiful and delicate work being done by Calgary-based Mark Andrews and a cohort of friends and artistic colleagues, but after digesting “xoxmas” and some of the other tracks streaming on the band’s myspace page, you better believe that I’ll be in line on January 12th to scoop up his new LP, Die Stadt Muzikanten, which will be released by Boompa that day. Haunting, ethereal, atmospheric – all the usual descriptors that go along with these apply. This is an album I think people are gonna get excited about early next year. Until then, though, we have Andrews’s holiday gift to us to enjoy.
Woodpigeon – xoxmas
It is snowing outside as I write this. Snowing. Can you believe it? Well, I guess you can believe it. After all, it is December, and I do live in the rust belt. So, yeah, snowing makes sense. It does not, however, make me happy.
Very little about winter makes me happy, to be honest, so it is really quite a t0-do when something wintry and seasonal makes me smile. Today’s iteration of Holiday Dick does just that. The first single off a just released seven inch for the holidays, “I’m a Snowman” is about as summertime bubblegum pop as you can expect a holiday season song to be. Folks already hip to the Bears sound will be happy, as the single is a nice continuation of the work they turned out on last year’s Simple Machinery. Readers new to the band, get ready for the best dude pop outside Brooklyn (or inside that fine borough’s boundaries, for that matter). Those of you prone to S.A.D., however, shouldn’t listen to the lyrics too closely. Though often quite funny, they are equally dark and depressing. Just a hint – Snowman is a metaphor. And that can’t be good, right?
Finally, as a special note for our Cleveland readers, Bears will be headlining the Beachland Ballroom’s Holiday Bash on Wednesday. More information on the gig poster that follows!
Bears – I’m A Snowman
I have these wonderful memories of visiting my great-grandmother Opal with my mom around the holidays. They would sit at the old wooden table, the one I have vague recollections of my great-grandfather always sitting at and playing solitaire, and talk. Well, my mom would talk; Grandma would cuss. And smoke. (She was a wonderful and hilarious woman and I miss her.) And while they were talking and cussing and smoking, I’d be sitting in front of Grandma’s record player, listening to Christmas with The Chipmunks. I don’t know how many copies of that record she went through, as vinyl only stands up for so long against generations of children. I do know that before she passed, she was on to CD versions of the very same album and that kids of my cousins would hurry over to the stereo to play it just like I had when I was their age.
I’ll cut myself off before I go any further down memory lane, but I think you’ve already read enough to understand why I was so pleased to see that “Christmas Don’t Be Late” was included as a track on the recent holiday sampler offered up by XO Publicity. Making things even better, the track has been recorded by Jessie Torrisi, an artist who has already made quite an impression at CD HQ. Her personalization of the lyrics, as well as the languid poutiness of her vocals (especially at the end, when she works in an “I Saw Momma Kissin’ Santa Claus reference), have only cemented her as my latest and greatest indie rock crush, and the subtle brilliance she pulls off instumentally between the stanzas certifies her (again, as if Brûler Brûler hadn’t already done so) as an indie rock force with which to be reckoned.
Jessie Torrisi – Christmas Don’t Be Late
We don’t get very punk on this site very often, but sometimes the occasion calls for it, and what’s more punk than Christmas?
OK – maybe that isn’t the best way to start this post.
How about this?
You know what I think “Oh Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” needs? Some speed and some raw fucking rock, that’s what. Doesn’t everybody?
Alright, maybe that isn’t the best way either.
Truly, I’m confused how to start this post. So I’ll just say Santa Dick has some punk rock carolage for you today, thanks to mid-90s Louisiana punk band Hand Bob the Spoon. Sadly, the band is now defunct, though interested parties can still check out a branch-off of the band in the form of Heelsplitter, typically found busking here and there throughout the rust belt.
Hand Bob the Spoon – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Today’s holiday cheer comes to you all the way from Scandinavia, a drippy and dribbly retro rocker from Norwegian rockers I Was A King. Before reaching you, the track took detour through New Jersey, appearing on the 2008 Christmas sampler from Daniel Smith’s Jersey-based Sounds Familyre label. The track could have just as easily come off the band’s 2009 self-titled sophomore effort, though, as “Over Mountains” would fit in with any of the more delicate tracks on that record, like “Stay Warm” or “It’s All You.” Though the Mascis-style shredding that infuses some of that records most notable tracks is absent, the band replaces it with a nice mid-psych fuzz that somehow feels just like Christmas, at least following Tom & Jerry #2.
I Was A King – Over Mountains
After a couple days in a row of melancholy Holiday Dick offerings, we need to get upbeat in a hurry. And what makes for a more upbeat wintry day than one that has just been called off by a school superintendent for excessive snowfall? (This, of course, does not take into consideration the POV of the parents involved, but we are concerned with the rock, not the cradle on this here blog.)
Fortunately for us, one of the bands that has already garnered high marks from us for their recent full-length release also has the perfect to track to share with you. The title track and album closer from their 2007 EP Snowday, Afternoon Naps actually dropped this track for a Christmas Day release! How much more holiday cheer can you get? One listen to the Harry Nilsson meets Burl Ives and some gift-wrapped instrumental twee and you’ll be hooked, wishing for your own day out in the snow.
Afternoon Naps – Snowday