December 24, 2007

Had to be good for Santa Claus: Pearl Jam 2007 Christmas single

In all my years of collecting the Pearl Jam Christmas singles, I can tell you for a fact that the annual 7″ has never arrived on Christmas Eve, in the purple twilight, with snow dancing all around me.

I stopped by my mailbox a few hours ago on the way back from last minute grocery shopping for the Christmas dinner I am making tomorrow. As I stood there shivering, fumbling the key with my frozen-in-two-seconds fingers, I got a fantastic Christmas present in plain brown wrapping, stamped “Ten Club” in the corner. As every year, my heart began to thump as I savored the slow unwrapping. Most years we use the term Christmas single loosely because it turns out to be a Presidents Day present or an Easter gift. But for 2007, Ten Club — your timing was impeccable.

Merry Christmas, guys.

Santa God – Pearl Jam
Jingle Bells – Pearl Jam

Thanks to DropTheLeash for the audio rip and SYM

December 20, 2007

Christmas mixery

Mmmmmm. Cookies. My 4-year-old and I baked those Rudolph cookies last weekend. There was sugar and M&Ms everywhere, and don’t even get me started on how hard it was to bite those pretzels into antler shapes. Unsanitary, but it gets the job done the only way I could figure out how. The end result was fantastic, and we’ve been delivering (what I now realize are little saliva-contaminated) batches to our good friends all week long.

While we baked, we listened to my new Christmas mix for 2007 that I’ve been tweaking and perfecting for weeks. I think I’m good now, and since I just realized that Christmas is in 5 days, we should hop to it. Let me just say that there is so much annoying Christmas music out there. Good heavens, no one should be allowed to cover Little Drummer Boy again, and nothing with synthesizers, ever.

These 20 tracks have passed my Grinchy muster, and all 20 of them are non-annoying — good Christmas listening that won’t bug the snot out of you.

The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
Merry Xmas Everybody – R.E.M.
(2007 fan club single)
Father Christmas – The Kinks
Let It Snow – Magnet
Do You Hear What I Hear? – Third Day
(with the night wind talking to the little lamb, this song was a favorite as a kid)
Merry Christmas, Baby – Otis Redding
Christmas Song – Denison Witmer
Xmas Eve – The Damnwells
Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time! (Sufjan cover) – Luke Flowers
Here It Is Christmas – The Old ’97s
(new song 2007)
Much Farther To Go – Rosie Thomas (w/ Sufjan)
Christmas Means Love – The Soul Stirrers
In The Bleak Mid-Winter – Sarah McLachlan
(from Wintersong)
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! – Sufjan Stevens (still my favorite of his thousand Christmas songs)
It Feels Like Christmas – Al Green (and to hear it, by “Christmas” Al means “sex”)
Ding, Dong, Ding, Dong – George Harrison
Sing Mary Sing – Jennifer Knapp
O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
Waking Up On Christmas Morning – The Smithereens
Christmas Message from Elvis / Silent Night – Elvis Presley


One note: Luke Flowers, who covered Sufjan up there in spot #9, is a talented local artist here in Colorado Springs. I saw him perform that song Tuesday night at a coffeehouse in my neighborhood, and he recorded the whole set. By the magic of the internet we can listen again and recreate that event. You can download the 12-song live Christmas album for free on his site: some lovely reworkings of traditional tunes, 4 Sufjan covers, and an original song about his Christmas pony that froze solid. Merry Christmas!

December 14, 2007

If I invite Chris Kattan to my Christmas party, will he do that motion with his head?

Just watching Chris Kattan’s straight face while he plays the important role in this SNL Christmas song performance of 1) holding the keyboard and 2) turning his head back and forth makes me bust up laughing. My friend swears that this song must be the inspiration for Josh Rouse’s “Hollywood Bass Player” tune (although I say Rouse’s is clearly the better), and he says whenever he puts on the new Country Mouse City House album, he wants to do “the Kattan.”

And by the way — what, exactly, is Tracy Morgan’s function in this song? Jogging and gesturing? That is so awesome.

[direct link]

SNL Christmas Song (Christmas Time Is Heee-ere) – Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan & Tracy Morgan

And for those of you who have asked, I am indeed putting together a Fuel/Friends 2007 Christmas mix. Just hold your one-horse open sleighs – that’s coming soon.

Tagged with , .
December 13, 2007

Coldplay covers The Pretenders for Christmas

Coldplay is streaming a lovely cover of the Pretenders song “2000 Miles” on their website with the above description. I’m definitely a Pretenders fan, and this song is filled with a melancholy longing and wistfulness, those things that a greeting-card Christmas isn’t supposed to be . . . but often is.

In these frozen and silent nights
sometimes in a dream you appear
outside under the purple sky
diamonds in the snow sparkle
our hearts were singing
it felt like Christmastime

2000 Miles (Pretenders cover) – Coldplay

December 1, 2007

and Season’s Greetings from Robbers on High Street

Clearing the Christmas tune backlog, here’s more festive fare with retro leanings. This little benediction from Robbers on High Street [previous mention] would make a fine closing track on your Christmas mix CD that you’re making up for all your friends. Hmm . . . good idea.

It’s a charming cover that feels like The Kinks’ “Better Things” in style and content, but all dressed up for the holidays. The tune was originally found on the album Daddy, Is Santa Really Six Foot Four? (Bar None) which is a quirky compilation of amateur song-poems from the 50s, 60s and 70s written by folks would mail in their lyrics to “professional musicians” who set them to music for a fee. Odd but sweet, and the Robbers’ version sounds good to me.

Season’s Greetings – Robbers on High Street

The Christmas Sound with The Swimmers

Hey look! It’s finally December 1st. Since Thanksgiving fell relatively early in the month this year, the Christmas emails and music started filling my inbox in mid-November. That’s too early to start being holly jolly. With a sigh of relief, December has arrived and I can start sharing the goods with you guys that I’ve been sitting on.

Here’s one from Fuel/Friends favorite out of Philly, the retro jangle and shimmer-harmonies of The Swimmers. Great minds think alike, I see that Philly pal Bruce posted this same song earlier today — and his description of it is spot-on so we’ll just be lazy and repeat it: “A little bit indierock, a little bit Motown.”From that opening thump-buh-bump beat, he’s right.

The Christmas Sound – The Swimmers

The Swimmers play a Christmas party show at World Cafe Live in Philly on Tuesday at 7pm.

November 13, 2007

Humble blogger makes good for kiddos this Christmas

I love being a part of the exciting medium of blogging, and am always proud of my fellow bloggers when they do something cool related to the actual production of music, like Aquarium Drunkard’s Autumn Tone Record label, and now It’s Hard To Find A Friend‘s Caleb Palma, who has curated an original indie-rock Christmas album called Peace on Earth.

I know, it’s yet a little early for jingle bells, but we gotta get the word out on this — especially since all the proceeds of Caleb’s compilation go towards Toys For Tots (which delivers toys to needy kids on Christmas morning)! How rad is that?

The album is only $7 for high-quality digital download, and features a solid list of bands and musicians, including Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, American Music Club, Rosie Thomas, Via Audio and many more. The tunes include never-before-released covers, some new original songs, and a couple “non-holiday exclusives to keep the grinches happy.”

This preview mp3 is from The Long Winters, and starts with the scene-setting lyrics: “A studio apartment in a dull part of Seattle, a string of lights suspended by a thumbtack in the drywall…”

Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas (Sometimes)
- The Long Winters

1. Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers - Shepherd’s Song
2. Quiet Company - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
3. Great Lake Swimmers - Gonna Make it Through This Year
4. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin / Sweetwater Abilene - The Wheels Are Off
5. Chris Walla - Coventry Carol
6. David Karsten Daniels - In The Bleak Midwinter
7. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
8. The Winston Jazz Routine - Through the Snow
9. Via Audio - My Boo
10. The Long Winters - Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes)
11. TW Walsh - Drop the Bomb
12. Ohtis - American Christians
13. Aaron Robinson - End of the Year
14. The Cotton Jones Basket Ride (Michael Nau of Page France) - White Christmas
15. American Music Club - Please Please
16. Johnny Bertram - Merry Christmas (You Won’t Get What You Want)
17. Rosie Thomas - Christmas Time is Here
18. Sleeptalker - This is Christmas

Stream some other tunes below, and go buy it for the kiddos!

Tagged with .
March 7, 2007

Holding in my hands…

My Pearl Jam fanclub single for 2006 finally arrived in the mail just now, and I have to say that I literally jumped up and clicked my heels together in joy on the walk back inside. Because I am a dork.

I think the cover art is some of the best yet and made me get a little flutter somewhere in my gut. As previously mentioned, the tunes this year are the Who cover “Love Reign O’er Me” (which gives me even more chills with the pure vinyl audio sound) and the Neil Young cover “Rocking In The Free World,” with U2 from Melbourne last year.

Love Reign O’er Me – Pearl Jam
Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover) – Pearl Jam w/ U2

This gives me pause to also mention two Pearl-Jam-related items I’ve been sitting on:
** Vedder will induct R.E.M. into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame on March 12 (link)

** Ed is the ultimate Cubs fanboy (more pics here). Cara saw these and affectionately referred to Vedder as “tiny mofo.” I think she means that as a term of endearment.

December 28, 2006

Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

I know, I know. Christmas is over. Trees are dropping their needles at an alarming rate, I’ve made a clean sweep of several bags of wrapping paper, and I’m thinkin’ about taking the Christmas kitsch down.

My Christmas was fulfilling and, surprisingly, largely music-gift free — unless you count the singing frog toy (from an elderly relative) that squawks that “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” song when you squeeze its foot. Other than that . . .

As I sit bloated in excess, and enjoying the extra bit of cash I have now lining my pocket, one thing that always deeply touches me every year is to sit down and read the World Vision Gift Catalog. I see what a difference I could make in a very, very real and immediate way in someone’s life with just a little bit of the resources that I am so blessed with. There are some really cool ideas contained within these pages. So yes, allow me to get a little Sally Struthers on you for a minute, and use this blog for a bit of good – here are some ideas of worthy final resting places for your end-of-the-year largesse:

Provide a goat
The early-morning bleating of a dairy goat is a happy sound for children in countries like Haiti and Kenya. They know it’s ready to be milked! A goat nourishes a family with fresh milk, cheese, and yogurt, and can offer a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market. It even provides fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields. A perennial favorite, both to give and receive!
[$75 – give]

Change a child’s life through music education
Music instruction can be life-changing for a child — cultivating his or her ability to learn, fostering emotional development, and allowing an expression of inborn creativity. For children with troubled backgrounds or impoverished living conditions, it is especially beneficial. Your gift provides training and musical instruments such as guitars, xylophones, and keyboards to benefit children in need in countries like Indonesia, El Salvador, and Mozambique.
[$20 – give]

Warm woolen blanket
Even in warm-weather climates, nights can be chilly, especially at higher elevations. Show your love by wrapping a child, expectant mother, AIDS patient, or elderly person in a clean, durable wool blanket for a cozy night’s sleep.
[$30 – give]

Small business loan for an impoverished woman
Put strength in the hands of an impoverished woman with a small loan she can use to start or expand a business — the income from which can help feed, clothe, and educate her children. As loans are repaid to World Vision’s WILFund (Women’s International Loan Fund), the funds are used to provide new loans to others. Your gift today can be recycled to literally hundreds of women in years to come!
[$100 – give]

Help pay for a much-needed eye surgery
Imagine being kept out of school, or shunned by your peers, for having crossed eyes — or trying to care for young children without being able to see well. Your gift, in partnership with a nonprofit eye clinic in Azerbaijan, can provide surgery for children suffering from seriously impaired vision. Or, it can resolve common yet debilitating vision problems for a Zimbabwean grandparent caring for children who have lost parents to AIDS.
[$20 – give]

The gift of play: Soccer balls
Playtime is an essential part of childhood, but many impoverished children have never even seen a real toy. Your gift of a soccer ball will replace rounded wads of trash and banana leaf balls for an energetic boy or girl. And with a generous match from Baden Sports, your gift gives two brand-new balls instead of just one!
[$16 – give]


Wait for it . . .

We Are The World – U.S.A. For Africa
(man alive, that brings back some serious mid-’80s memories for me! You know it makes you want to sway back and forth with one hand over your ear -like holding a headphone- and wail like Tina Turner)

Tagged with .
December 21, 2006

I’ll have a blue Christmas without you, Chris

Maybe it’s the huge blizzard that has (this time seriously) immobilized my city, but I am feeling all holly and jolly. I think that my favorite Christmas album that I am playing the most ’round the house this yuletide season is Chris Isaak‘s 2004 Christmas CD.

In addition to rockin’ retro covers of several old standards, there are five originals and duets with Stevie Nicks as well. It’s got such a nice cozy feel to it, with a hint of the surf/jangle/crooner vibe that makes me love Chris. I do recommend buying the whole thing for your Christmas enjoyment — it’s one I look forward to taking out each year. Some people have an aversion to Isaak, but not me. There is nothing but love in my heart for that man.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Chris Isaak
(duet with Stevie Nicks)

Pretty Paper – Chris Isaak

(for good measure:)
Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison

Gotta Be Good – Chris Isaak
(check the fun & naughty innuendo)

And this song’s not on the album, but I have categorized it in my iTunes as a bonus track for the CD. The shimmering cymbal roll at the beginning of the track is reminiscent of the sound of the waves – just me and Chris ’round a fire on Ocean Beach singing the season.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas (bonus track) – Chris Isaak

And, here’s one thing that I had completely forgotten about that made me smile when I opened the CD this year:

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »
Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

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. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →