Thursday, 22 December 2011

Free Christmas Records

So this is Christmas? And what have done? Only gone and diluted an already over populated internet of endless tunes by endless numbers of bands with a whole new range of Christmas ‘free downloads’. It’s not like bands aren’t giving stuff away for free ANYWAY is it? But at Christmas it seems the nice thing to do.

I haven’t been able to blink on Twitter this year without someone else popping up offering me a new vaguely xmas themed EP or track, some hastily put together acoustic reinterpretation of a old carol or weird remoulding of a ‘modern classic’. But some have been great. So I made a list, like any good boy should at Christmas. All the ones below are free too, so don’t worry about breaking the bank. Just enjoy. As a side note, one that isn’t free, but I have enjoyed all the same is the great ‘Oh! What a Not So Silent Night Before Christmas’ by Aidan Moffat. Brilliant.

St Gregory Orange

Wakefield electro DOOM merchants get in the festive spirit by releasing a free 4 track EP. Ok, so officially it’s a re-release as these tracks were given away individually as MP3’s last year. But hey, you probably missed that right? And it’s not especially festive. But the songs here have featured heavily in their live set for the past year or so, meaning they are well worth getting hold of. Fans of their debut album ‘Things We Said In Bedrooms’ may be surprised by the directness here and this could well be an indication for their long awaited follow up, due in March.

The Birthday Kiss

The Birthday Kiss played their debut gig at Long Division back in June. How they get away with that? Well there’s some previous pedigree here; Sarah from The Research and Ben from The Lodger. Which should give you a fair indication of what to expect; some bloody good pop music. A title of ‘Sentimental Christmas Time’ completes the picture really; it’s a lovely piece of gentle, swinging songwriting, with Sarah’s sweet croon coming over like Mimi from Low, which is ace. Actually, whilst I think, if you’ve not heard the Low Christmas album, you should check that out too.

Napoleon IIIrd

As well as featuring on the Rhubarb Bomb xmas EP (see below), everyone’s favourite…erm… gosh, what the hell is he? Whatever, NapIIIrd has busted out a real banging Christmas tune here. It’s kind of ‘Deck The Halls’ as you know it, but not half as boring as that sounds. It’s huge! Rhubarb Bomb utterly adores Napoleon IIIrd, so I demand you go listen to this now.

Joyzine advent calendar

Wow. Now this is good. I came across this due to Rob Dee’s generous face hiding behind ‘22’ on the advent calendar. This charitble man has allowed download of SEVEN Philophobia Music tracks by several different bands. If his beard wasn’t so ginger I’d suspect he was Santa Clause. But further exploration of the calendar has revealed a whole heap of other festive treats by labels and artists equally obscure and fantastic. I’m not gonna spoil it; seeing what’s behind those doors is all the fun.

The Passing Fancy

Jolly Wakefield Folkster The Passing Fancy will find any excuse for a celebration. This year he released his Valentines single, but way back in 2008 he released ‘Christmas Time At Wrenthorpe Club’, an ode to his tradition of ending up down the local WMC, by way of various drunken disasters on Wakefield’s legendary drinking challenge; The Westgate Run. The physical copy long ran out, but this amusing, silly and entertaining tale can be downloaded for free from his Bandcamp.

Rhubarb Bomb

Hey look! Yes, we got into the Christmas spirit this year too, albeit rather begrudgingly. WAY back in 2007, under more cheery stewardship, Rhubarb Bomb released a 4 track EP, free within its pages. And it was brilliant. An absolutely top set of tracks from legendary, but now departed, Wakefield bands The Research and The Old House, plus two from the still going strong Mi Mye and Napoleon IIIrd. Surely it’s worth it alone for a track called ‘For Christmas I Got Pityriasis Rosea’?


Fellow Zine people PYT, this year newly relocated to Sheffield have released a Christmas treat in the form of a two track EP from Advances in Mathmatics, called Sad Xmas Present EP. Nicely described as the ‘first twee Post Rock band’ the EP is a pair instrumental pieces that weave beautiful paths without resorting to tons of distortion, just smart and organic harmonics, giving off a warm feeling like the atypical open log fire.

The Wind Up Birds

Finally! A simple ode to the poor buggers who have to work over Christmas. I get sick to death of the Facebook updates and Twitter tweets from mid December saying ‘Finished for Christmas!’. Though that’s coz too many of my friends are teachers I guess. The Wind Up Birds, in typically dour mood, but with pleasingly funny lyrics tell the other side of this story in a swaggering, rambunctious style, fitting of the circular grind of another dull Christmas party. It’s free, but if you choose to pay for the track it’ll all go to Barnardo’s.

Zoey Van Goey

I think regular readers will know we’re quite the fans of Glasgow’s Zoey Van Goey at Rhubarb Bomb. We had them down on Bonfire Night for an amazing gig and they’ll be back for Long Division in 2012. That short November tour was based around the release of a remix EP of tracks from their second album (which is popping up on A LOT of end of year lists). As they’ve now given all the physical copies away, the whole thing is now up on their bandcamp. For nothing! It’s not Christmassey. Not even slightly. But it’s bloody good. And haven’t you had enough of sleigh bells yet? I have. Wake me up when all the free Easter themed downloads arrive.

Dean Freeman

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