December 21, 2013

Hang A String Of Lights: The Fuel/Friends 2013 Christmas Mix

FFCHristmas13a

Coming in juuust under the wire with mere days left to go before Christmas (hey, I haven’t done any shopping yet either!), the holiday spirit finally bit me the other night in earnest, sitting by the tree with eggnog and delving through the songs I was considering assembling into this year’s mix. I wasn’t sure I would get a mix done this year, but I started marveling over the really solid crop of songs to choose from this year and it quickly became a no-brainer of wonderfulness.

I’m so thankful for so many things this year, including all of you, and I love being part of your holiday celebrations. Here’s to all the non-annoying seasonal tunes out there — the ones that light up the darkness on this, the longest night of the year. Hang a string of lights, strike a candle, and let’s banish some of this darkness together. Merry Christmas.


HANG A STRING OF LIGHTS:
THE FUEL/FRIENDS CHRISTMAS MIX 2013

(download the whole thing as a zip)

It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop (choir version) – Frightened Rabbit
The original version of this song appeared on my Christmas mix in 2008, when I was listening to a lot of Frightened Rabbit and being very sad about things. I’m just hearing this celestial b-side rendition, and is almost 100% just simple choral magnificence. Wayy better psychological ramifications.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – Sleeping At Last
Ryan O’Neal puts out an entire Christmas song collection every year (“Snow” was last year’s terrific contribution to this mix), and his Lennon cover is a standout of 2013′s. With every passing year, I am more strongly drawn to the simplicity in this song, especially the way Ryan sings it. Two songs into the mix and I already have something in my eye.

Mvmt IV, Every Bell On Earth Will Ring – The Oh Hellos
Stop reading this right now and go download the new Oh Hellos Family Christmas EP right now. It is the best thing out there this season, free or otherwise. They’re playing a few Colorado shows around the holidays, guys. I want them to come to my house because — listen to this.

I Believe In Santa Claus – Dr Dog
From their marvelous little new EP of original Christmas songs that you must get right away. Quirky, melodic goodness, as one would expect from these gents.

Hang A String Of Lights – Great Lake Swimmers
This is kind of what Christmas in California used to sound like. From Nettwerk’s Christmas 2012 collection.

Angels We Have Heard On High – Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan is the reigning king of all Christmas songs now and forevermore (but hey, I can’t put “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever” on every year’s mix, so I am branching out). This is from his Silver & Gold EPs, a sampling of which is now free over on Noisetrade.

Tennessee Christmas – Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives
Dude, Drew — circa 1983 Amy Grant covers? Bold. Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives are now reincarnated as Modern Kin (with an excellent album this year), but this is an old recording from a few years ago. When Drew sings those lyrics about Colo-raaaa-do and our deep snows, I have to swoon.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem – Folk Angel
This Dallas band offers up their stomping take on this traditional carol, from a free sampler on Noisetrade. Noisetrade is killin’ it this Christmas.

Silver Bells – Edmund Wayne
Curt (frontman of Edmund Wayne) is one of my favorite souls I’ve hosted for a house show – a pure and piercing presence, with gorgeously-crafted songs. This quiet lo-fi Christmas EP fell in my lap yesterday, and not only includes this song, but you must must must check out “1616” (it made me cry at my house show last weekend / a perfect song).

Maybe This Christmas (Ron Sexsmith) – Paul Jacobsen & The Madison Arm
I feel lucky to have a wonderful community of folk musician friends in Salt Lake City (backstory/mix), and some of them got together to do up a richly sweet cover of Ron Sexsmith. Sarah Sample also joins in here on vocals – she’s got a lullaby album in the making, too.

You Never Come Home For Christmas – Caitlin Rose & Keegan DeWitt
Caitlin’s not yet a friend, but we have a lot of folks in common, so I took a special listen to her playful duet here with her neighbor Keegan, which delivers a zing of a lyrical punch: “You never come home for Christmas — and maybe it’s better that way.”

In The Bleak Midwinter – Andrew Greer
The thoughtful and wonderful Cover Lay Down blog described Andrew Greer as “heavenly folk tenor reminiscent of an early Paul Simon,” and so yep, I’m on board.

Are You Coming Over for Christmas? – Belle & Sebastian
The feyest of all fey Christmas songs, in such an endearing way. Yes Stuart, I am coming over. Keep the fire in the kitchen going.

O Holy Night – Kalai
I have listened a hundred times or more to the only other Kalai song I have, a James-Taylor doppelganger ballad that exudes a simple grace. So I was excited to see him on the free MetCom Studios Eggnog Sampler this year with a cover of my favorite Christmas carol.

Still, Still, Still – The Lower Lights
The Lower Lights are a folk collective of those aforementioned good folks in Salt Lake City, and this year again they got roughly 463 musicians together and just released their second Christmas album, with marvelous album art from Hatch Show Print. The ladies of The Souvenirs sing here.

Merry Christmas, I’m Yours – Prairie Empire
This time last year Brittain Ashford of Prairie Empire came through Denver and treated a small lucky group to a special subterranean show that I remember well. This breathy song is from last year’s free Auld Lang Syne EP.

Blue Christmas – Vandaveer
This year I got to welcome Rose & Mark into my home for a concert and into the chapel to record their (almost-next-up) chapel session, and it was a thorough joy. I love how Mark’s voice here sounds like a sultry jazz lady. From 2010′s free 3-song Christmas EP.

Christmas Must Be Tonight – The Band
There are a lot of covers of this song floating around out there, but somehow I’ve never posted the original and it is still my favorite.

Xmas Eve – The Damnwells
I used this song on my mix way back in 2007, but I have been revisiting it on the regular in the last few weeks, since Alex Dezen of The Damnwells graced us with a tremendous house show. This is just a really good song, Christmastime or no, and I always appreciate those contributions to this mix. I am glad the original lineup is making a new album.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Elvis Presley
You can’t not feel a pang in your chest when you hear this one, especially the way Elvis croons it.

Carol of the Banjos – Beta Radio
From their free Christmas EP this year; 2011′s “The Song The Season Brings” still sounds so very good too.

Our World (Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas) – Kyle Zantos & Bryan John Appleby
Several of my favorite Seattle musicians take on this song from the 1977 Jim Henson classic, and it is so humble and just perfect. From the new, free Santa’s Slay EP.

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[the mix cover art, as usual, by the wonderful and generous Ryan Hollingsworth, from a photo I took last Christmas under lights at the Broadmoor Hotel with Megan from the Music vs Misery blog, Winston from Night Beds, Adam from Songsfortheday, and my good friend Andrew. Here's to warm twinkly nights and another beauty-filled year.]


12 Comments »

  • Another great playlist. I’m most excited by this “Our World” cover since I literally just watched that movie for the first time last night. Thanks for the tunes.

    Matt Pusatory — December 21, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

  • I’ve been waiting for this! Always awesome – Thank you!

    Marc — December 21, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

  • Finally! Thanks Heather. Christmas will be that little bit more enjoyable now.

    David — December 22, 2013 @ 1:56 am

  • Thank for another year of good music!

    Pepa Hernández — December 22, 2013 @ 4:09 am

  • Another wonderful addition to the collection. Was checking daily since 12/1. So happy you found the time. I completed my mix for the holidays, and it can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qpnq5954pvcmpp7/Poggioli%20Xmas%202013.zip

    Feel free. Love this season!

    Tim — December 22, 2013 @ 10:00 am

  • Oh man, love it. And that Oh Hellos Family Christmas EP is a revelation.

    Michael T — December 22, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

  • i love xmas music

    kennynyce — December 22, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  • Yayyyy! I am looking forward to listening to this at work today. Great way to spend my last day before Christmas vacation. Have a Merry Christmas!

    Mister D — December 23, 2013 @ 8:07 am

  • [...] on your iPod before you start making the trip home for the holidays: brand new Christmas mix from Fuel/Friends, brand new volume of the Good Medicine, and a brand new mix from Agatha over at Brand New Kind Of. [...]

    Monday Links | songsfortheday — December 23, 2013 @ 9:04 am

  • [...] is all I can afford to give to you, I won’t bother you unless you want me to.” – “Xmas Eve” The [...]

    I’ve got Christmas Eve on my mind tonight | Stitched — December 24, 2013 @ 8:00 am

  • Perfect – just in time for my Australian Christmas :)

    Alan — December 24, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  • near perfect as usual -)

    Christof — December 27, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. If you represent an artist or a label and would prefer that I remove a link to an mp3, please email me at browneheather@gmail.com

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