**Dec. 16 Update**
Here’s a couple additions to the ever evolving Christmas mix. First up is something from Michigan indie folker Carter Moulton (friend of Jeff Pianki, Caleb Groh). These two songs are off a free 8 song EP called Scarves and Sweaters.
Somehow I missed these two songs from S:I favorite Steve Poltz. While both are great, the first one recorded in 2008 is a near classic, talking blues a la Todd Snider that name drops Walmart, Captain Kirk, and Barak Obama.
**Dec. 6 Update**
If you came of age in the 80′s and listened to college radio than you are probably aware of the band The Windbreakers. They were a Mississippi based duo comprised of Bobbi Sutilff and Time Lee. They had several influential releases produced by Mitch Easter and toured with the likes of the db’s and REM. I’ve tried to keep track of their solo work and as a result just stumbled upon this Tim Lee original Christmas song called “Shiny Red Suit”. It’s a glorious slab of power pop.
**Dec 5 Update**
Here’s a song off the new For Folk’s Sake Christmas comp. I like this one from Caitlin Rose and Keegan Dewitt. Its downbeat message of loneliness and abandonement fits in nicely with the rest of the tunes on this list. And it beats out that Christmas record from M. Ward and Zoey every day of the week in my book.
Here it is the now famous Songs:Illinois Christmas mix for 2011. I’ll be updating this often so just check back or follow me on Twitter for updates.
**Dec. 1, 2011 Update**
I’ve got some great additions to the mix today. The first song is from Josh T. Pearson, who if all was right in the world, would have been nominated for a Grammy last night. It’s courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard (at least that’s where I found it). The second song is from WXPN favorite and Philly native Ben Smith. It’s a bit of a downer so perfect for this mix of increasingly anti-Christmas songs. I’ve also got a song from last year which I didn’t post at the time by the Branches that will get you out of the funk that Josh T Pearson and Ben Smith put you in. Finally there’s a Weepies cover by Americana artist Vanessa Peters.
**Nov. 30, 2011 Update**
Kind of excited about this first update of the year. Here’s two songs from Massachusetts’ based country band Salvation Alley String Band. The first is a cover of “Little Saint Nick” done to perfection and the second is a cover of the Willie Nelson tune “Pretty Paper” The band shows it’s terrific range on these two songs; look for a new album from them some time in 2012.
Here’s the first new stuff I’d like to share. Beta Radio are a Wilmington, NC based duo who excel at vocal harmonies and kind of eclectic americana instrumentation. Here’s their song “The Song The Season Brings”
Also Inara George and her little duo project The Bird and The Bee have released this little xmas nugget – “Wishes”
2010 Additions to the mix:
“I’d Like You For Christmas” is an overlooked classic that this Knoxville based roots/swing band takes and makes their own. Order the new album here.
“Christmas Song” by Adam Remnant of the band Southeast Engine. Its mixture of sad nostalgia, childish wonder and naivite, and the slight hope and “reprieve” that comes from more a adult version of the holiday. This song is part of a compilation called A Very Ohio Christmas put together by the guys at Each Note Secure and Donewaiting with the proceeds going to Gracehaven – “an organization that raises awareness about the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking and also seeks to provide shelter and rehabilitation to girls who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” Featured on the disc are original Christmas songs by Megan Palmer, Moviola, You, You’re Awesome and many more. Buy it here via Bandcamp.
Here’s a cover of Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from The Family” from the Nashville based band Lindley Ruth and Her Tipsy String Band (with Jordan Hull).
I’m a big fan of Boston’s Caleb Groh. Whether it’s as a part of his lofi indie pop band Happiest Lion or his Christmas music project Caleb and the Caroling Caravan. So I was thrilled when he sent me a link to his new release – Vol. II of his Christmas music series. It’s available in its entirety on Bandcamp here. But for now check out his original “Christmas is Best” and the cover of the carol “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”.
Here’s a little indie folk from Nashville via the band Haunting Party (essentially Nathanael Mehrens and Aimee Romero). I like the juxtaposition of vocals on “Baby It’s Cold Out There”. That and the fact that this song, in all it’s variations, has been stuck in my head for the last week makes this an easy pick. There are 5 more songs on their Christmas ep here via Bandcamp.
I’ve written about Lisa Cerbone in the past (here). It seems she and I both have kids about the same age. I’m guessing her daughter had at least something to do with this song selection. Here’s “The Chipmunk Song” (or The Chipmunk Christmas song as it’s know in my house).
We’ve got an update with songs from two bands that are mining the same territory but searching for different minerals. The west coast folk collective Branches uses traditional Appalachian instruments in their brand of indie folk. You can hear tyhis more on their two eps but a slight presence is present in these two Chrtistmas songs as well (mandolin, banjo).
Travel By Sea play a sleepy version of americana with weepy pedal steel and drowsy Neil Young inclined vocals.
Pleased as punch to add this Memphis themed Christmas tune from Star And Micey.
You might think this is disingenuous but I’m also pleased as punch to offer up this Christmas song from American Gun (love the Social D undertones). This song and the compilation it comes from is available here via the record label Rose and Arrow.
Slowcoustic and the Yer Bird record label provided me with this gorgeous cover of “Let It Snow” by Greater Pacific. The band has an EP coming out at the end of January. For now enjoy this languid take on “Let It Snow”.
Fuzzy garage rock Christmas song from Buffalo Killers.
Here’s something I missed when it came out in 2009. Don’t blame me though as the artist is as obscure and, in parts, as talented as you can get. I’ve written about his oddball lofi folk before (he performs under the name Happiest Lion). Here he goes by Caleb and Caroling Caravan and his 2009 Christmas release is available here free.
Thanks to Herohill for pointint us in the direction of the new Christmas song from OX. I had these guys play a house concert a couple of years back as they were driving through on the way to SXSW. Great guys – great band – great songs!
Here’s a reader’s suggestion of a little more sacrilegious Christmas music; this time from Las Vegas’ best and only Irish folk-punk-rock band. I can’t help but like the line “and Santa Claus and Jesus Christ can kiss my Irish ass”.
Christmas Is For Losers – Mike Nicolai
Be My Valentine On Christmas – Glenna Bell
Christmas Past – Mike Ireland and Holler
Christmas In Prison – Emmy the Great and Lightspeed Champion
Christmas In Prison Live – Will Kimbrough
Christmas Eve – Salim Nourallah
Christmas Island – Leon Redbone
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause – John Prine
Merry Christmas From The Family – Robert Earl Keen