It’s been a busy few days. But I’m back tonight with a free Christmas EP given away a couple of years ago by my friends The Last Battle. I never tire of going on about how great a band they are (and I will continue to do so for as long as they continue to release records, I imagine).
I genuinely hold their album Lay Your Burden Down to be one of the best albums released this year, so if you haven’t heard it, get on it!
Whilst I still think they should be bigger than they are, it is, nevertheless, rather satisfying to see just how the profile of Frightened Rabbit has grown over the years since this blog started. I can’t take any credit for that, obviously, but today’s Christmas post is their Christmas single ‘It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop.’
Originally released in 2007, it got a re-recording a year later and it’s still available on download services. So if you haven’t treated yourself, go and do so!
Thus far, I’ve happily been able to point out on this blog that the songs I have posted are still available to go and buy. Unfortunately, tonight’s offerings from the Cocteau Twins seem to be long out of print, for reasons I’m not sure of, both physically and digitally.
In 1993 the band released a single called Snow which featured two Christmas classics done in their own, unique style. It comprised ‘Frosty The Snowman’ and ‘Walking In A Winter Wonderland.’
So enjoy these, hopefully one day they will be available to buy again…perhaps on a re-issue of Four Calendar Cafe, which was the most recent album the Cocteau Twins had put out, a few months previously.
Supertramp -’Crime Of the Century’ (UMC)
Crime Of The Century was Supertramp’s third album, and the one that broke them commercially on both sides of the Atlantic. Like their later album Breakfast In America, this is an album that has held up well, and the prog aspects of their earlier records has been reined in a bit, showing a band who could write decent pop songs. The closing, title track is a sign that prog could reign in its excesses (which was what put this humble scribe off it as a genre for so many years).
Though he was somewhat ambivalent towards the album, legendary rock critic Robert Christgau described it as ‘Queen without preening. Yes without pianistics and meter shifts.’ This is true – in a good way, and with no disrespect to either of those bands. This may have been straightahead rock in a pre-punk landscape, but with songs like the hit ‘Dreamer’ and the US hit ‘Bloody Well Right’ this beats today’s indie-by-numbers bands hands down.
Whilst there’s a vague nod towards a theme of loneliness, this is not a concept album per se. And there’s a particularly British sort of angst in the lyrics of ‘Bloody Well Right’ that have probably rung true for so many ‘So you think your schooling is phoney/I guess it’s hard not to agree/You say it all depends on money/and who is in your family tree.’
I’m more familiar with Breakfast, but this album reveals itself more and more with each listen. The bonus album of a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1975 is a worthy addition to the album. The hipsters will probably never get it -and that’s utterly their loss.
Crime Of The Century is out now on UMC.
As you’ve probably gathered, I do love Christmas music. And that includes Christmas carols as much as indie bands doing one-offs (not that the two are mutually exclusive).
Anyway, today’s post arrived a couple of days ago in my email, Mute labelmates Maps and Polly Scattergood collaborating on the pretty-lovely-even-on-paper ‘In The Bleak Midwinter.’
You can watch the video at the top of the page and stream and download the track just below here. Go on, take the time!
It’s probably what might be seen as a first world problem, but the reality of writing this blog is that I get sent more music than I can possibly listen to, which means that there are artists that slip through the cracks through no fault of their own.
One such band are Champs. Brothers Michael and David Champion released their debut album Down Like Gold earlier this year. They’re now gearing up to release their sophomore album Vamala on February 23, from which the rather lovely ‘Desire’ is taken:
And for a taster of their first album:
I’ve long featured releases from my friend Matthew Young’s Song, By Toad label on this blog, and today’s Christmas posting comes from David Thomas Broughton and Juice. Taken from their album Sliding The Same Way comes the rather fine ‘Unshaven Boozer.’ You can stream AND download for free from the top of the page. You really should.
Song, By Toad managed to show that there were people who COULD turn a blog into a label, and as well as the David Thomas Broughton record, amongst their fine releases this year was the second Jonnie Common album Trapped In Amber, from which the fine ‘ODB’ made this year’s 17 Seconds Festive 50.
I’ve been giving coverage to Broken Records for almost as long as this blog has been going (starting with a review for an early support slot back in August 2007), and it has been absolutely great to see them back with their third album Weights and Pulleys this year. From that album ‘Toska’ made my annual Festive 50, which I published yesterday.
They’ve made a free Christmas single available to download ‘My Beer Drunk Soul Is Sadder Than All The Dead Christmas Trees In The World.’ You can download and stream it at the top of this page. It’s always great to have new additions to the Christmas mixtape…
One of the releases I’m most excited about in early 2015 is Belle & Sebastian’s ninth album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance. It’s out on January 19, and there are two excellent videos doing the rounds for the songs ‘Nobody’s Empire’ and ‘The Party Line.’ The songs can be bought on iTunes as well.
For more on tracklisting and tour dates, see here
1. St. Vincent ‘Digital Witness.’
2. Lisa Gerrard ‘Adrift.’
3. Last Battle ‘None Of That.’
4. New Pornographers ‘War On The East Coast.’
5. Withered Hand ‘King Of Hollywood.’
6. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds ‘Give Us A Kiss.’
7. David Bowie ‘Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime).’
8. Belle & Sebastian ‘Nobody’s Empire.’
9. Future Islands ‘Seasons (Waiting On You).’
10. Last Battle ‘Wherever Our Feet Take Us.’
11. Paloma Faith ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This.’
12. Sharon van Etten ‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up.’
13. Gruff Rhys ‘American Interior.’
14. Sia ‘Chandelier.’
15. Damon Albarn ‘Lonely Press Play.’
16. Morrissey ‘World Peace Is None Of Your Business.’
17. Taylor Swift ‘Shake It Off.’
18. Twilight Sad ‘Last January.’
19. John Tavener ‘The Lamb (Baile remix).’
20. We Were Promised Jetpacks ‘Safety In Numbers.’
21.The War On Drugs ‘Under The Pressure.’
22. Wild Beasts ‘Wanderlust.’
23. Stanley Odd ‘Son I Voted Yes.’
24. Warpaint ‘Love Is To Die.’
25. Jack White ‘Lazaretto.’
26. Lana Del Rey ‘West Coast.’
27. Jonnie Common ‘ODB.’
28. Prides ‘Out Of The Blue.’
29. Lizzo ‘Bus Passes And Happy Meals.’
30. Manic Street Preachers ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich.’
31. La Roux ‘Let Me Down Gently.’
32. Horrors ‘So Now You Know.’
33. Wu-Tang Clan ‘ Ruckus In B Minor.’
34. Cure ‘Hello Goodbye.’
35. James ‘Moving On.’
36. Pharrell Williams ‘Marilyn Monroe.’
37. New Pornographers ‘Brill Bruisers.’
38. Broken Records ‘Toska.’
39. BMX Bandits ‘My Girl Midge.’
40. Primitives ‘Spino-rama.’
41. David Bowie ‘Tis A Pity She Was A Whore.’
42. Meghan Trainor ‘All About That Bass.’
43. Vaselines ‘High Tide Low Tide.’
44. CGIV ‘Autumn.’
45. Aphex Twin ‘Mimipops 67[120.2][source field mix]
46. Belle & Sebastian ‘The Party Line.’
47. Kate Tempest ‘Lonely Daze.’
48. Honeyblood ‘Bud.’
49. Chrissie Hynde ‘Dark Sunglasses.’
50. Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynn ‘Rather Be.’
Lest we forget… Previous 17 Seconds Festive 50 winners
2013 Daft Punk ‘Get Lucky.’
2012 Grimes ‘Genesis.’
2011 Hiatus featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson ‘Insurrection.’
2010 eagleowl ‘No Conjunction.’
2009 Peter Parker ‘Swallow The Rockets.’
2008 Wedding Present ‘The Trouble With Men.’
2007 Emma Pollock ‘Adrenaline.’
2006 Long Blondes ‘Weekend Without Make Up.’
Comments welcome, but be respectful