Category: Holiday music

Throwback: DMX Does “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Continuing with the holiday spirit around here, as many of you would likely recall, a couple of years ago, DMX was being interviewed by the folks at Power 105.1 when someone asked him if he […]

Amanda Steckler is a New York-based electronic music artist and producer, who has received attention across the blogosphere over the past year for her solo recording project,  Blonde Maze. Interestingly enough, JOVM was among the very first to write about Steckler and Blonde Maze — and if you’ve been frequenting this site over that same period, you may recall that I wrote about “Summer Rain,” the first single off her debut EP, Oceans, which was released earlier this year. “Summer Rain,” much like the material off Oceans focuses on and is informed by the pain, excitement and longing that comes from being an ocean away from someone — or something dear to you. Written between stints in New York and London, Oceans‘ first single was comprised of layers of slowly cascading synths, a glitchy vocal sample, swirling electronics and an aching yet ethereal vocals that float over an icy and bracing mix. And in some way, that single evoked the sensation of being haunted by the presence of a loved one, who you can’t possibly have at that moment, because of a great distance.

Steckler’s latest single is slow-burning and atmospheric rendition of a familiar holiday song, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)”that possesses a chilly and melancholic longing as slowly cascading synths, swimrling electronics  and chiming percussion and Steckler’s ethereal vocals — and much like “Summer Rain” and the Oceans EP, the single seems to evoke the idea that the love interest at the song is quite a distance away, and won’t come back any time soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’re been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of months, you might recall that I’ve written about the  Victoria, BC-based quintet Astrocolor. Comprised of Andrew Poirier (guitar), Anand Greenwell (saxophone), Chris Mackenzie (drums), William Farrant (bass), and Piers Henwood (guitar), the Canadian quintet decided that they wanted to tackle traditional and familiar Christmas songs for their latest recoded effort, Lit Up: Music for Christmas.

Featuring guest vocals from KandleRykkaJets Overhead‘s Antonia Freybe-Smith, and Abi Rose and co-produced by the Canadian quintet and Colin Stewart, best known for his work with Black MountainDan Mangan and AC Newman, the compositional and sonic approach was largely inspired by jazz great Stan Getz’Getz Au Go-Go, as well as Massive AttackAir and St. Germain. As the band explained in press notes, Stan Getz’s rendition of “Summertime,” “became a jumping off point for what we were trying to do, taking the classic ‘summertime and the livin’ is easy’  hook and reshaping it into an exploratory piece. We too wanted to create a sense of familiarity and exploration within the context of a Christmas album.”

The album’s first single “We Three Kings” was a noir-ish and moodily atmospheric song that managed to sound as though it owed a sonic debt to jazz, as much as it did to dubstep and trip-hop as Abi Rose’s seductive, jazz standard vocal stylings were paired with a mournful horn line, swirling electronics, angular, funk guitar and bass and plinking keys submerged in layers of reverb to craft a cinematic and sensual rendition of a familiar and beloved holiday song. The album’s latest single is a dubby and jazz-leaning rendition of “Sleigh Bells” that pairs Rose’s husky, jazz standard vocal stylings with angular bass lines, twisting and turning guitar chords played through gentle amounts of feedback and wah wah pedal, and warm blasts of expressive horns and subtly slows down the song’s familiar tempo and melody to create a trippy and breezy rendition of a beloved Christmas song we’ve all sung at some point — while sounding as though it drew influence from the Josh Roseman Unit‘s dub-leaning rendition of Burt Bacharach‘s “Long Day, Short Night.” And it does while reminding the listener of the song’s playful nature.

So if you’ve been frequenting the site over the last few months, you’d likely be familiar with the Los Angeles-based quintet Lady Low have become something of a mainstay, as I’ve written about the band a handful of times over the past few months. Of course, because there are almost always new folks to the site — or some folks who need their memories refreshed, let’s discuss some backstory: Comprised of founding member Jimmy Sweet (guitar, vocals), who as once a member of the San Francisco, CA-based punk band Richmond Sluts and a touring member of Hot Hot Heat, Rachel Maxann (vocals, synth and bass), Eden Lee (vocals, drums), Kaitlin Wolfberg (violin) and Hannah Blumenfeld (violin), the quintet have received quite a bit of attention from this site and across the blogosphere for a sound that the members of the band has dubbed “Romance rock.” Sonically, they combines s straightforward, old-school, rock ‘n’ roll three chord, 12-bar blues approach with gorgeously lush string arrangements which gives their material a gritty yet swooning (and of course, dramatic) feel that also manages to indirectly channel Phil Spector’s classic “Wall of Sound.”

They’ve recently released a moody and swooning Christmas-inspired song that sounds as though it could have been released in 1962 as soaring strings are paired with layers of plaintive harmonies. Lyrically, the song concerns itself with a relationship ending right around the holiday and how miserable the holiday season can be when you’re single and heartbroken. Although kitschy as most Christmas-inspired pop songs are, it possesses a heartfelt sentiment that should be familiar to anyone who actually has been heartbroken during the holidays when everyone else seems to be happy.

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over course of its history, you may recall coming across several posts on Brooklyn-based quintet Super Hi-Fi, who were something of a mainstay act on this site back in 2012. The core members of the band led by Ezra Gale (bass) features Rick Parker (trombone). Jon Lipscomb (guitar) and Madhu Siddappa (drums) can actually trace their origins to a rather unlikely start. Gale, who was a founding member of the acclaimed San Francisco-based Afrobeat act, Aphrodesia had relocated to Brooklyn and was collaborating with Quoc Pham in Sound Liberation Front when Gale was asked to get a band together for Pham and Gale’s then-monthly Afro-Dub Sessions parties in Williamsburg. The parties would pair the live band with several top-name dub producers and DJs including Victor RicePrince Polo, Subatomic Sound System, the Beverley Road All-Stars and others.

With the release of their critically applauded debut effort, Dub to the Bone released through Electric Cowbell Records in 2012, the Brooklyn-based quintet won quite a bit of attention locally and nationally as they’ve played renowned local venues such as the Mercury Lounge, the now-closed Zebulon and Brooklyn Bowl and have opened for nationally known acts including Rubblebucket, Beats Antique and John Brown’s Body. Over the past couple of years, Super Hi-Fi have recorded and released two 45s on Electric Cowbell, a split 7 inch with Ithaca, NY-based act Big Mean Sound Machine through Peace and Rhythm Records and  Yule Analog, Vol 1.,  a dub-inspired take on Christmas standards.

Super Hi-Fi’s soon-to-be released new album Yule Analog, Vol. 2 picks up on where Yule Analog, Vol 1. left off  — with dub-inspired takes on another batch of holiday classics and a holiday-inspired original dub composition. Featuring contributions from renowned trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, best known for his work with The Lounge Lizards, Bill Frisell and Charlie Hunter; Mitch Marus, best known for his work with Donovan, The Dean Ween Group, and Aphrodesia; as well as Adrian Harley and Alex Castle, who collaborate with Gale in the old school groove project, The Get It. And much like their previously recorded effort, Prince Polo took up production duties, recording the material on analog tape and mixed the album using vintage reverb and tape delay units — in the fashion of legendary dub masters King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Yule Analog Vol. 2′s latest single, which I have the unique privilege of premiering here is a trippy, dub rendition of an old time Christmas classic “O Come All Ye Faithful” which features the trombone-led compositions that won the attention of the blogosphere — the trombone gives the song a regal, old-timey feel while the reverb and bass heavy dub pushes the song towards a funky shoegazer territory. It’s a sunny and playful rendition of an extremely familiar song that puts a completely different spin on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Andrew Poirier (guitar), Anand Greenwell (saxophone), Chris Mackenzie (drums), William Farrant (bass), and Piers Henwood (guitar), the  Victoria, BC-based quintet Astrocolor decided that they wanted to tackle Christmas songs for their forthcoming album Lit Up: Music for Christmas. Featuring guest vocals from Kandle, Rykka, Jets Overhead‘s Antonia Freybe-Smith, and Abi Rose and co-produced by the Canadian quintet and Colin Stewart, best known for his work with Black Mountain, Dan Mangan and AC Newman, the approach to the album was largely inspired by jazz great Stan Getz’s Getz Au Go-Go, as well as Massive Attack, Air and St. Germain. As the band explained in press notes, Stan Getz’s rendition of “Summertime,” ” became a jumping off point for what we were trying to do, taking the classic ‘summertime and the livin’ is easy’  hook and reshaping it into an exploratory piece. We too wanted to create a sense of familiarity and exploration within the context of a Christmas album.”

“We Three Kings,” the first single off Lit Up: Music for Christmas is a noir-ish and moodily atmospheric song that sounds as though it owes as much of a sonic debt to jazz as it does to dubstep and trip hop as Abi Rose’s seductive, jazz standard vocal stylings are paired with a mournful horn line, swirling electronics, angular, funk guitar and bass, and plinking keys submerged in layers upon layers of reverb to craft a rendition of a familiar song that’s hauntingly mournful and cinematic — while being simultaneously intimate and sensual.

I’ve played the song a number of times before writing this post, and every time I can picture the three kings with their gifts riding through moonlit, desert skies to Bethlehem to see the baby Christ. But perhaps more important, it puts a modern spin on to a song that many of us have heard so much that its meaning and importance has been reduced to background music at the mall or in a commercial.