Browsing Tag

Christmas Music

Alison Wahl & Brian Berggoetz reinvented the festive soundscape with “Christmas is the Right Time for Us”

Despite Christmas music often treading the well-worn path of jingle bells and festive clichés, Alison Wahl and Brian Berggoetz brought a refreshing gust of Americana folk rock into the Yuletide soundscape with their latest single, Christmas is the Right Time for Us.

Brian Berggoetz, a self-taught guitarist and a songwriter with a flair for reinventing classics, infuses his unique style into this holiday offering. His experience, ranging from performing at SXSW Festival to sharing stages with notable artists, shines through in the song’s intricate guitar work. The absence of traditional motifs and melancholy of aural nostalgia in favour of Americana folk elements is a bold choice, which infuses the song with an uplifting and authentic feel.

Alison Wahl’s vocal harmonies intertwine perfectly with Brian’s, creating a tapestry of sound that is both warm and inviting. The standout lyric, “When love is just enough, Christmas is the right time for us”, encapsulates the essence of the song – a celebration of love and togetherness that transcends materialism. This lyric, in its simplicity, captures the heart of the holiday spirit, reminding listeners that affection and emotional connection are priceless gifts.

The production of the song is a delicate balance of subtlety and strength, allowing the dual harmonies to take centre stage in a track that doesn’t just aim to be another Christmas hit but strives to leave a lasting impression on its listeners.

Christmas is the Right Time for Us was officially released on December 11; stream it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The December Dilemma: Five Reasons Why Independent Artists Should Rethink Releasing New Music During the Festive Season

New Music

As the winter chill sets in and the defrosting Mariah Carey for Christmas meme has circulated, December brings a unique atmosphere, one of nostalgia and celebration. However, for independent artists, this season presents a paradox. While it seems a tempting time to release new music, hoping to ride the wave of holiday cheer, there are several compelling reasons to reconsider your release strategy.

In this article, we will outline five of the main reasons why December might not be the ideal month for independent artists to debut their latest labours of love.

5 Reasons Why Independent Artists Should Avoid Releasing Music in December

  1. The Nostalgia Factor

December is a time machine, transporting listeners back to the warm, familiar tunes of yesteryears. The airwaves are saturated with classic hits and melodies, leaving little room for new entrants. This nostalgia-driven trend means that new tracks from independent artists often struggle to find an audience amidst the sea of timeless classics.

  1. Festive Frenzy Overload

The holiday season is a sensory overload – lights, shopping, family gatherings, and endless lists of obligations. Amidst this festive frenzy, music consumption patterns shift. People lean towards playlists that complement the season’s spirit, often side-lining new, unfamiliar music. This makes it challenging for independent artists to capture the attention of potential listeners.

  1. Financial Constraints

With wallets stretched thin due to holiday shopping and year-end expenses, music fans are less likely to invest in new albums or extravagant merch bundles. This financial crunch can significantly impact the revenue potential for artists releasing new music in December. You don’t want to build momentum with a campaign only for your efforts to be wasted because people’s disposable income has been swallowed.

  1. Year-End Reflections

As the year winds down, music enthusiasts and critics indulge in retrospection, compiling lists of the year’s best tracks and albums. New releases in December risk being overlooked in this reflective process, missing out on critical acclaim and end-of-year discussions.

  1. Promotional Pitfalls

The competition for media coverage is fierce during the holidays, with every sector vying for a slice of the festive attention pie. Independent artists often find it challenging to secure promotional opportunities, as larger, established acts with hefty marketing budgets dominate the scene. Furthermore, just like in every other sector, people working in the industry take time off, including Radio DJs, promoters, pluggers, journalists and playlisters. Even though it may seem that the music industry is always operational, it is far from the case, especially for smaller-scale operations that are more likely to give up-and-coming artists attention!

Why It Pays to Be Strategic with Your New Release Dates

While the allure of a December release is understandable, independent artists might find greater success and engagement by choosing a less congested time. A strategic release in the new year, when listeners are refreshed and eager for new sounds, could be the key to making a more impactful musical statement.

It is vital to remember that the first month of a marketing campaign sets the stages, captures the most attention, and creates an initial impression that can significantly influence the trajectory of an artist’s release.

In the digital era of music, much of music discovery and promotion is governed by algorithms, particularly on streaming platforms and social media. A strong performance in the first month can signal these algorithms to promote your music more widely, increasing your reach and potential fan base.

When Is the Right Time to Release New Music?

Choosing the right time to release new music is a strategic decision for independent artists, balancing industry trends, audience availability, and promotional opportunities. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, certain periods tend to offer more favourable conditions:

Early to Mid-Spring (March to May)

Spring symbolizes new beginnings, and the music world is no exception. With the winter holidays and major award seasons behind, listeners are often eager for fresh sounds. This period is less crowded than the end-of-year rush, giving independent artists a better chance to stand out.

Late Summer to Early Autumn (August to October)

Releasing music in late summer or early autumn can be advantageous. The industry starts to buzz again after the summer lull, but it’s before the holiday season’s frenzy. This timing allows artists to capitalise on the back-to-school energy and catch listeners before they switch to their holiday favourites.

January to Early February

The start of the year can be a strategic choice for release. The post-holiday calm means less competition, and people are often in search of new music to kickstart their year. However, it’s important to launch your campaign after the New Year’s festivities to avoid getting lost in the holiday hangover.

Mid to Late Autumn (Late October to Early November)

Releasing music during this time can be a smart move, especially if you avoid clashing with major holiday releases. Listeners might be looking for new tunes to accompany the change of seasons, and there’s a window of opportunity before the holiday music takes over.

Weekdays for Launches

Regardless of the month, consider launching your music on a weekday, typically Friday, which is the global release day for new music. This aligns with the music industry’s standard and maximizes the chances of getting featured on new release playlists.

Remember, these are general guidelines. The best release time also depends on your specific audience, genre, and marketing strategy. For instance, if your music has a summery vibe, a spring or early summer release might work best. Additionally, consider your readiness – it’s better to release when you’re fully prepared, rather than rushing to meet an arbitrary date.

But What About Christmas Songs?

If you have dreamed of releasing a hit Christmas song, you might be disparaged to read WIRED’s scientific explanation of why there hasn’t been a hit Christmas song in years. We’re not counting the atrocities LadBaby inflicted upon the world, illustrating how culture in the UK has never been in a sorrier state.

The article outlines how nostalgia plays a pivotal role in the enduring popularity of classic Christmas songs. These tracks often passed down through generations, create a sense of comfort and tradition that new songs struggle to replicate. The article also highlights how songs from as far back as the 1970s continue to dominate the festive airwaves, underscoring the challenge for contemporary artists to break into this nostalgic stronghold.

Furthermore, the music industry has undergone significant changes, particularly in how music charts are perceived and used. The rise of streaming services and the decline of traditional sales metrics have altered the landscape, making it more challenging for new songs to achieve the ‘classic’ status of their predecessors. This shift is exemplified by acts like LadBaby, whose novelty songs have topped charts in recent years, reflecting a change in what drives popularity and success in the music industry.

Interestingly, the article notes that even massive hits like Mariah Carey’sAll I Want For Christmas Is You” took years to reach their iconic status. This suggests that while new Christmas songs may be released, they require time to embed themselves into the festive canon, a process that can take decades.

The current music landscape, with its focus on streaming and novelty, further complicates this scenario, making it a challenging feat for contemporary artists to create the next Christmas classic.

For more advice on how to make the best moves in your music career in 2024, keep following our blog, and always let us know about your latest releases by submitting your music for review on our top 10 UK music blog.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Have a very chamber pop Christmas with Beware of Trains’ melancholy score, Forever Home

Beware of Trains stepped out of an anachronistic music box and onto the airwaves to share the histrionically ornate single, Forever Home, which carries all the glamour of the West End and all the alternative allure of the Legendary Pink Dots and Jason Webley.

The chamber pop orchestration unravels as a snow-capped fairy tale of a festive single; the all-bells and no whistles production takes the ordinary Christmas single and enchants it to the nth degree.

The origin of the single stems back to 2019 when Beware of Trains performed ‘A Kitmas Concert’ at Bradford Cathedral with members of Opera North to raise funds for Allerton Cat Rescue. Inspired by the charity’s slogan, ‘Helping cats and kittens find their furever home’, songwriter, Leighton Jones wanted to explore the sense of longing and belonging conjured by the phrase. If there’s any time of the year when the need to belong reaches its wistful peak, it is the festive holidays. If you can relate, prepare for the scintillating resonance and grab a few tissues. It hits harder than the end of Raymond Brigg’s symphonic poem, the Snowman.

In their own words:

“Forever Home is a symphonic festive tale that transports us into a snow globe and whisks us away through snowy Yorkshire fields and skies, revelling in the nostalgic sense of homecoming the festive season brings. But the song is also tinged with bittersweet melancholy, reflecting on the passing years and sadness of saying goodbye to the people and places we love and hold dear.”

Forever Home was officially released on November 24th; stream it on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Urban Cafe Crew unleashed their classically contemporary tinsel-wrapped perennial pop earworm, ‘Baby It’s Christmas’

Urban Cafe Crew wrapped a perennial pop earworm in tinsel to deliver the catchiest Christmas single since Mariah Carey dominated the festive sonic landscape with All I Want for Christmas is You.

Hit play on Baby It’s Christmas by the eclectic Australian music collective and instantly succumb to the modern spin on the classic Christmas motifs. From the first beat following the swells of classic strings, you’ll register that Baby It’s Christmas sets itself apart from the usual holiday fare.

From the bells to the butter-wouldn’t-melt croons to the keys working in complete synergy with the percussion to raise the energy, Baby It’s Christmas ticks all the sentimental boxes while oozing cross-generational appeal. It has been a while since a Christmas single melodiously moved with the times while keeping sonic traditions alive; Urban Cafe Crew achieved the feat effortlessly.

Even if you usually recoil to the tune of White Christmas on the radio when November rolls around, you won’t be able to resist turning a smile as you hum the exhilaratingly vibrant melody.

Baby It’s Christmas was officially released on November 10th. Unwrap it on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

EMRYS gifted compassion with her EP, Christmas Songs 4 Sad People

Following the success of her debut album, Downstruck, the independent singer-songwriter EMRYS has launched her refreshing antithesis of a Christmas EP, Christmas Songs 4 Sad People.

For anyone who can see through the capitalistic ploy the festive season has become and are reluctant to feign superficial joy because the calendar demands it, the five singles on the compassionately quaint EP will prove that you’re not alone in your seasonal pessimism.

After the harp strings in track one, Merry Christmas to the Miserable, have lulled you into a state of catharsis and assured you that you’re not isolated in your misery, EMRYS utilises her 2020 single, Christmas Will Be Silent This Year, to take us back to the frustrations of COVID deniers waving restrictions to celebrate a holiday as though it’s their God-given right.

Not Great, But Grateful is an exposition of what it means to be grateful while enduring a not-so-perfect life with humble grace. Serotonin for Christmas is a haunting reflection of how consumerism does little to quell the pain of mental health issues.

The concluding single, O Lonely Night, is a quiescently orchestral lullaby which instrumentally encapsulates the phenomenon of Christmas amplifying the isolation for anyone not at the centre of a picture-perfect nuclear family.

From start to finish, the EP is a gracefully elevated release, which definitively proves that true artistic beauty always lies in quirky creative autonomy. As someone who shares a similar mindset to EMRYS, I can fully attest to how seminal the EP is. Amanda Palmer couldn’t have said it better.

Christmas Songs 4 Sad People is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Conner Eko has released his pensive pop-rock single, Christmas Morning Goodbye

With songwriting skills that would give Gary Barlow a run for his money, Conner Eko has delivered the Christmas song we never knew we needed with ‘Christmas Morning Goodbye’.

The pop-rock crossover track starts with a simple, festive piano melody before it picks up momentum with searing hot guitars blazing through the soundscape around Eko’s resounding, unfaltering vocals. For anyone who likes their festive music with an air of melancholy, Christmas Morning Goodbye is the ultimate December playlist staple.

The official music video for Conner Eko’s single, Christmas Morning Goodbye, premiered on December 3rd. It is now available to stream on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Winterbrook – (I Won’t Be Your) Christmas Turkey: The Only Christmas Song You Won’t Mind Hearing on the Radio

With their latest release, (I Won’t Be Your) Christmas Turkey, the indie alt-folk artist, Winterbrook singlehandedly changed my perception of Christmas music. The sweetly scorned, festively spiced power-pop ballad doesn’t pander to the usual cliches; instead, it locks horns with seasonal heartbreak to soak the track in realism and resonance.

You can’t help warming to an artist that makes a vocal hook with “I won’t be your Christmas turkey again”. Better yet, Winterbrook didn’t fall into the twee trap; their stellar songwriting talent and boldly well-invested confidence made sure that there’s nothing novel about this earworm.

As Winterbrook was an early bird, you can catch Christmas Turkey on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

James Jones – Christmas Passed (Feat. Olawale)

When you can count supporters as diverse as Eamonn Holmes and the great Dave Swarbrick, something’s clearly going well for you; James Jones had his first gig at the age of 11 as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of London at Cardiff International Arena. Since then he’s gone on to support Swarbrick, his childhood inspiration, and performed at the BBC Proms In The Park.

‘Christmas Passed’ is Jones’ new single, from his album of classical and jazz-inspired pop songs due for release on the 29th December; featuring the wonderful vocals of Olawale Ojo (the winner of Project Fame West Africa) over Jones’ beautiful fingerstyle mildly jazzy classical guitar accompaniment. It’s an exquisite piece of work, the melody line of the guitar perfectly complimenting Ojo’s sublime voice, never intrusive but shadowing and balancing in a stunning counterpoint.

Hear ‘Christmas Passed’ on Spotify.

Review by Alex Holmes

John Riesen and Neill Campbell – Oh Holy Night: A stunning Classical showcase of nocturnal piety

Plenty of people will be making difficult compromises this Christmas, one thing which we definitely don’t have to compromise on, thanks to artists such as John Riesen and Neill Campbell, is festively enrapturing music.

Their Classical cover album, Christmas at Home, is a collection of the most revered Christmas songs from across the decades, revived by award-winning Tenor, John Riesen. During the soul-melting crescendos, drinking in his theatrically transfixing vocal timbre becomes more important than breathing. Their ardent operatic stretches perfectly compliment the arcanely uplifting Classical score which is breath-taking enough to abstract you from the fact that Christmas 2020 might be a little bleaker this year.

Oh Holy Night is available to stream via Spotify along with the rest of John Riesen and Neill Campbell’s Christmas album, Christmas at Home.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Colour Formation – Until We Meet Again: The Upbeat Indie Christmas Single We All Need on Our Playlists

Indie duo, Colour Formation, have released a Christmas single like no other with their latest release ‘Until We Meet Again’. Singer-songwriter Laura Osborne penned the poignant and powerfully upraising single for her parents, reinforcing the resilience which we have all had to find throughout 2020. The lyrics reminisce on tradition without an ounce of remorse. Instead, a sense of gratitude runs through the single. We might not celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK, but that’s no reason not to find gratitude for the people we have in our lives, even if we can’t be with them physically right now. The assuredness that we will be reuinited is the cherry on this stunningly contemporary aural cake.

Until We Meet Again could have easily be considered as one of the best contenders for the John Lewis Christmas advert. And no review of this single would be complete without the admission that the floodgates well and truly opened.

You can check out the official music video which released on December 4th by heading over to YouTube.


Review by Amelia Vandergast