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 Christmasby 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.
To save musicians from being unwillingly bestowed with tacky or unusable gifts this Christmas, we’re putting out a PSA to step away from the gift-buying guides, which fool you into believing that EVERY musician will love the kitsch trash peddled in the Christmas gift guide game.
At Christmas, we are repetitively reminded, “It’s the thought that counts”. Yet, gift givers are becoming increasingly reliant upon ‘What to Buy for [insert personality type/relation to you] Guides’. These articles aren’t pushed into the public sphere to guide Christmas shoppers towards the perfect gift; they are an affiliate marketer’s racket. Don’t fall into the trap.
After pointing out all the faux pas, we would love to give you a definitive answer on how to spend your hard-earned cash on a guarantee of gift-derived gratitude, but that defeats the purpose of our point. No writer knows your recipient like you! ‘Perfect’ gifts always come to fruition by thinking along practical lines, looking for cues in past conversations, and aligning what you put under the tree with their unique attributes. And perhaps most importantly, remember musicians are more than one-dimensional entities. Don’t go down the linear-thinking rabbit hole believing gifts NEED to be music-related.
The Festive Affiliate Marketing Trap and How Not to Be Ensnared in It
Have you ever noticed that online Christmas gift guides are full of ‘handy’ links directing you to sites where you can buy the wares? If you follow that link and complete the purchase, you will put money directly into the pockets of the people attempting to capitalise on your indecision.
For each purchase, the website hosting the guide earns a commission; it is a common way for content creators and websites to monetise their traffic. But the exploitation of consumers doesn’t end there either! Some gift guides prioritise products which offer higher rates of affiliate commission rather than focusing on the quality or the suitability of the gifts. In turn, this increases profitability for the website at the expense of the gift giver and the recipient.
These gift-buying guides take advantage of how overwhelming, frustrating, and confusing the holiday season can be. Under the high pressure of finding the ‘perfect’ gift with limited time and often a limited budget, it isn’t surprising that many Christmas shoppers are drawn to these guides like a moth to a flame and find gratitude for the simplification of the decision-making process.
Another obvious flaw of these gift-giving guides is the lack of personalisation. Successful gift-giving requires an understanding of the recipient’s personality, tastes, and needs. As much as the creators of these gift guides want to fool you into believing that they provide the ultimate hack to Christmas shopping with the clever little spiel which appears at the top of the guides, it is nothing more than a highly effective marketing ploy. Gift guides, especially gift guides for musicians will almost ALWAYS result in generic and less-appreciated gifts!
To avoid the pitfalls of Christmas shopping guides, always put your knowledge of the recipient’s needs and preferences above the influence of content creators. Their commodified guides are far from gift-giving gospel. If you’re really at a loss on what to purchase for someone who is “hard to buy for”, you can eliminate the guesswork and ask if there is anything they want or need. Or if you would like to maintain an element of surprise, you can purchase a gift card from an online retailer. This may detract from the almost money-can’t-buy-experience of seeing someone unwrapping something they never knew they needed but instantly adore but on the flip side, there are plenty of benefits to not shooting in the dark or relying on the influence of affiliate marketers.
Bad gift-giving is more than just economically inefficient, harmful to the environment when it ends up in a pile of landfill and a major contribution to dust-collecting clutter. It’s a glaring indicator of thoughtlessness which puts a major dampener on what could have been a positive experience.
Gifts NO Musicians Want to Unwrap at Christmas
Even if your intended recipient lives and breathes music, a tacky effigy which attempts to capture the essence of their personality/hobby/vocation/career is always going to miss the mark. And if you are thinking about buying some new gear or an instrument without their input, don’t; musicians spend hours, if not days or weeks pondering over their new gear purchases. The chances of getting the purchase right on nothing more than your own intuition and misleading guides are slim to none. With that in mind, here are the biggest music-related gift faux pas:
Cheap Instruments and Gear
Earlier this year, Music Radar published a list of “49 affordable present ideas for music-makers (which they’ll actually use)”. Bizarrely, the top choice, dubbed ‘Best for Any Musician’ was the Fender Fullerton Jazzmaster Ukulele. Given that Ukuleles are music gear marmite, it’s almost laughable how wrong this recommendation is. Also on the list was a Haynes ‘build your own synth’ kit; even if your recipient does manage to get it to function after hours of tinkering, it will sound as cheap as the £26 price tag.
Novelty Instrument Accessories
Every guitarist needs plectrums; NO guitarist needs cheap novelty or personalised plectrums, which are more likely to break than bend around the strings. The same goes for drummers and novelty drumsticks. Every instrumentalist goes through the rigmarole of discovering which playing accessory works best for them; don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is a fool-proof purchase! When it comes to instrument-related purchases, one size never fits all.
No musician likes what they are serious about to be made into a parody via a tacky t-shirt with a cringey slogan they would be too embarrassed to wear to Tesco. The same goes for guitar-shaped spatulas and spoons or any cliché piece of homeware which is soullessly mass-produced in the hope some sucker will be lazy enough to view it as the perfect option.
Questionably Purchased High Price Tag Gear
In many gift guides for musicians, you will find high-ticket items such as monitor headphones, microphones, guitar amps, and recording gear. Throwing excess money into a purchase won’t buy you a guarantee it will be well-received. In fact, you’ll probably make the recipient feel awful that you’ve wasted so much money on an unsuitable gift they can’t wait to stick on eBay. If you do want to part with a significant part of your salary to make someone feel special, whack the money you would have spent on a music store gift card, pay for a session in a studio, or offer to contribute to a larger purchase they are planning to make.
Taken off their ‘A Pirate’s Christmas Wish (Deluxe Edition)’, The Bilge Pumps spring our smiles away from the sadness as we get into the spirit of this special holiday with ‘Trimmin’ in the Riggin‘.
The Bilge Pumps is a cheerful Dallas, USA-based indie-folk band who make the kind of music that is rather nostalgically pleasurable and undoubtedly gets you into a happy place again.
”We specialize in performances that combine sea songs, shanties, and Celtic music with a huge dose of silly comedy.” ~ The Bilge Pumps
With pleasant vocals and a pirate video that has you in a better state of mind than before, Bilge Pumps shows us how the holidays are supposed to be spent. As they decorate their proud ship to show the locals how it’s done, you feel a warm sense of family here that is such a joyful experience.
‘Trimmin’ in the Riggin‘ from the engaging Dallas, Texas-based indie-folk act The Bilge Pumps is a Christmas song to feel so reinvigorated by as they take us to a really happy place most of us have forgotten. With all the doom and gloom merchants around lately, this is an enchanting song to put your stocking up to, as you hope that you aren’t on the naughty list this year.
See this festive video on YouTube and see more on the FB music page.
Homeis the latest hauntingly soulful single from singer-songwriter LINN KRISTIN, which may be the most nuanced Christmas single to have ever hit the airwaves. Home was created in recognition of the grief and conflict that emerges at Christmas – despite what social media lets you see. It delivers the essential reminder that friends are just as important as family, and if they’re the people that keep you mentally afloat while your family send you under, that’s more ok,
The atmospheric verses allude to the detachment felt in the absence of the people that complete us, while the strident chorus crescendos complete with festive bells depict the sweeter than sweet feeling of finding your centre of gravity in someone.
The emotional intelligence in Home carries a profoundness rarely heard on the radio. Combined with the fact that LINN KRISTIN carries just as much poise and panache as Winehouse; we can’t help but get excited about what is in store for this empathetically stunning artist.
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.
I’m not all too sure it’s recommended for anyone who finds themselves flying solo to check out Maria Herz & Ron Starr’s Christmas single “Silent Night Lonely Nights”, there’s a fairly high risk of you crying in your mince pies to the smooth sound of Jazz. Yet, anyone who is looking for a romantically inclined festive aural hit, you’ll adore the decadent tonality of the single which puts a unique twist on the archetypal Christmas crooning sound.
It was about time that anyone who appreciates Christmas music had a brand-new duet to unwrap this Christmas. The two artists have kept the classic edge of artists such as Celine Dion, the king of Christmas; Bublé and Sinatra alive through their concordantly heart-warming single.
You can check out Silent Night Lonely Nights for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud now.
We all have pretty fixed ideas about what Christmas music should be about, yet, Ensemble Voyagers’ latest release “El Cant dels Ocells” (translation: the Song of the Birds) has taken it right back to the origins of tradition. The end result? A hauntingly atmospheric offering of traditional music which won’t fail to captivate you through the mesmeric vocals which accompany the acoustic instrumentals through the tentative yet cinematic progression. El Cant dels Ocells is both a traditional Catalan Christmas song and a lullaby which celebrates the birth of Jesus. So, whilst it’s slightly more pious than your average Christmas single, it’s infinitely more authentic.
You’ll have to wait a little bit longer to check out El Cant dels Ocells, but in the meantime, why not head over to Spotify and check out some of their earlier medievally inspired, contemporarily reinvented soundscapes?
You can keep up to date with all the latest news of the Italian artist’s release via Facebook.
Love it or hate it, Christmas music is a fundamental aspect of the festive period. Whilst old classics are getting called into question as to whether or not they are offensive, this was just the first indicator that we needed fresh hits to drink to excess and have family feuds to.
Even if you’re averse to festively-inspired singles Raemarai’s latest single “The Reindeer Asked for Ginger Beer” is well worth listening to. The salaciously urban pop single packs in plenty of the jangly quintessential nature of Christmas music, yet, the unpredictably fresh flow behind the single packs in plenty of fluidly eccentric progression. Whilst the single may kick off not all too differently to a Mariah Carey single, it quickly veers into a contemporarily fresh offering of Hip Hop.
You can check out Raemarai’s single the Reindeer Asked for Ginger Beer for yourselves here.
“Santy Don’t Visit the Funeral Homes Little Buddy” may be one of the most ridiculous track titles I’ve heard in a while. But what’s even more ridiculous is the fact that I found myself charmed by a Christmas song. With the same quintessentially charming air as exuded as the Beatles, the uniquely uplifting track unfolds with crunchy, angular guitar riffs, and the ever-enamouring sound of brass to create concordant waves of aural synergy. The vocal tonality is warm, infectious, and is enough to make you feel that fuzzy feel you hear when you hear Christmas music. If any track deserves to be a number one Christmas single, it’s definitely this mesmeric work of festive Indie alchemy.
The epically titled single from Too Soon Jokes which will be available on their SoundCloud page from November 16th, you can head over to Facebook and keep up to date with all the latest release news from the band.
That’s right folks, Christmas is coming whether we like it or not, and so is the Christmas music. You’d be forgiven for recoiling in fear as your first thought turns to Mariah Carey and Paul McCartney. But Jacob Sibi-Okumu’s latest single “The Joy Christmas Brings” may be the festive hit you’ve been waiting to fall in love with. As you listen to the ambiently slow soulful Jazz crooner with his mesmeric vocal capacity, you’re treated to his authentic ability to allow each syllable in the lyrics to resonate over the subtle and tentative arrangement in the single. During the chorus, there’s plenty of groove and rhythmic drive, but the emotive vibe and sentiment of the track aren’t lost. To put it simply, it isn’t a track that you listen to, it’s a soundscape you melt into which will make you hope an album is in the pipelines from the up and coming artist.
If you feel like getting in the festive spirit early, or would just like a pure shot of unadulterated, sweet Funky Soul Jazz you can head over to SoundCloud for yourselves now.