Jingle Bells Friday – looking for the upbeat

Photo: J. Aird

Well, it really is December now and you’re officially too late to have posted the cards early.  Note for our younger readers – Christmas Cards were a nice little physical media tradition where you reminded people you hadn’t seen for a year (or more, often a lot more) that you still existed and they did the same back and then your decoration problems were solved (as long as you got enough cards that is).  So, it’s December, we’re already behind schedule and we’re on the verge of get maudlin about the past and the eggnog hasn’t even been cracked open yet.  What we need a this point is to get this yuletide winterval party started – and that means cranking up the volume some.

Cranking up the volume is exactly what Jerry Leger does on his cover of The Kinks’ ‘Father Christmas‘ of which Jerry Leger says “This track is one of the best Christmas songs, written by Ray Davies and originally recorded by The Kinks. It’s a great rock ‘n’ roll number, pure energy with fantastic lyrics.  I love the humour in it but there’s also the seriousness of what the holidays can be like for some less fortunate. The band and I really bash this one out!”  It can be found on Jerry Leger’s new holiday single from Latent Recordings.

So, if we’ve got you up and grooving here’s a song we never thought we’d be featuring, but, well, Michaela Anne has done a nice job of making ‘Last Christmas‘ more acceptable to the ear.  It’s taken from her holiday EP ‘Happy Xmas‘ which is out on Yep Roc Records.  Michaela Anne has explained part of the reason for making this recording “ I wanted modern songs that felt classic to me. I had a five-month old baby at the time and was thinking about what soundtrack I wanted to create for her early Christmas memories. Fun and upbeat but also melancholy, emotional and beautiful, because that is what life is.

 It may be a slow builder and it’s true that there’s more loss than joy on ‘Xmas etc‘ but Jesse Malin shows the way to do a rousing sad Christmas song to perfection.  It can be found on the re-released special edition of ‘The Fine Art of Self Destruction‘, and even better Jesse is in the UK next February for a trio of dates.  Oooh …dates, get those on the shopping list.

And you’re right, that does sound like a party starting to wind-down and that means it’s about time for the break-of-dawn acoustic song, and as every Americana UK reader knows Christmas just isn’t Christmas without banjos.  Here’s a song then that ticks all those boxes – ‘Christmas Alone‘ is we hazard to suggest so good that you’ll want to hear it a couple of times.  Lola Kirke captures some good reasons to avoid all the revels “My momma just cries and my sister’s just fine every time I go home /  And the kids run around screaming so loud and everyone’s on their phones.”   Sounds like hell.  So this year she’s hightailing it out of the way with the whisky and the eggnog.  ‘Christmas Alone‘ comes from Lola Kirke’s new EP ‘Christmas Alone – Live from the Blue Room‘, and Lola is touring the UK right now (Cambridge tonight!) with First Aid Kit.

Next week may see us further explore the folkier, more acoustic end of the seasonal repertoire –  unless we get a lot of psych-prog-weird-folk numbers hitting the Inbox in the next few days.  The anticipation is thrilling.


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About Jonathan Aird 2186 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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