Monday, December 24, 2007

Zeon's 2007 'Xmas Mix

The annual Zeon's Christmas mix has finally seen the day, just in time. An hour and 15 mins of festive tunes. Delivered in 128kbps mp3s. With a thematically minimal cover. Also nicely wrapped in a zipped file for your convenience. So get those fingers working! Although the last thing you should do on Christmas Eve is to spend your precious time sitting at the computer to download some mp3s from a faceless blogger. Hope all is having a wonderful time with family & friends, with plenty of reasons to celebrate. There's something for everyone here, and some gems I've been saving for these special times. It ended up with a longer running time than I initially planned, so not sure if it'd fit a CD-R. I'll still be blogging from now to New Year's Eve (World: get a life!), so tomorrow the first installment of my Year-End lists should be up and ready to go. Anyhow, enjoy!

front cover
back cover

01 Jimmy Eat World - Last Christmas

02 Saint Etienne - 21st Century Christmas
03 Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
04 Shonen Knife - Space Christmas
05 The Simpsons - 'Cause Christmas Eve Is Here
06 KT Tunstall - Mele Kalikimaka (Christmas in Hawaii)
07 The Puppini Sisters - Jingle Bells
08 Taylor Swift - Santa Baby
09 Liz Phair - Winter Wonderland
10 Candie Payne - Let It Snow
11 Shawn Lee & The Ping Pong Orchestra - Deck The Halls
12 The Weepies - All That I Want
13 The Carpenters - The Christmas Song
14 Martina McBride - Oh Holy Night
15 Sarah McLachlan - The First Noel/Mary Mary (Acappella)
16 Belle & Sebastian - Christmas Time Is Here
17 Skye - Silent Night
18 The Innocence Mission - Little Town Of Bethlehem
19 Camera Obscura - Little Donkey
20 Maria Taylor - White Christmas
21 Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel - Baby It's Cold Outside
22 Coldplay - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
23 Simone White - Christmas Makes Me Blue
24 Mogwai - Christmas Song
25 Sally Shapiro - Anorak Christmas (Piano Mix)


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Keane's Xmas Gift

Keane has offered a free download of their version of Gwen Stefani's 'Early Winter' over their website as part of their advent calendar and an early Christmas gift to the fans. It was recorded live at their acoustic show at London's Union Chapel on November 28th 2007 - the first time they played it in public. Not Tom's best vocal performance, but still it sounds pretty good. Is it wrong to say that I still like Gwen's version better?

You can go to to pick it up or just grab it here.

Keane - Early Winter

I think the last time something similar happened was when Coldplay recorded the song Chris Martin penned for Embrace ('Gravity') and made it a b-side for Talk. In this case, Coldplay definitely improved the song.

Coldplay - Gravity

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Scala & The Kolacny Brothers

Scala & Kolacny Brothers is a Belgian all-girl choir (age ranging from 16 to 26), conducted by the two Kolacny brothers, Stijn & Steven. Up to date, they have released 5 albums of ethereal, overly dramatic, haunting cover versions of many contemporary pop/alternative hits. I know this screams out 'novelty', but actually they're just awesome the way they are, you just don't have to take it so seriously. Their latest studio effort, 'One-Winged Angel', was released this year with new covers of Bjork, Radiohead, Depeche Mode and more. My favorite gem on it has to be the much-needed, chill-inducing version of Damien Rice's 'The Blower's Daughter'. There's also a marvelous take on Kylie's 'I Believe In You', which might or might not have inspired that new orchestral version she's been performing live lately. I guess the tricky thing with these kinds of albums is that I always jump to the songs I've already known and loved first, and tend to not be as keen on the others whose the originals I don't like as much or never heard of yet. Anyway, check out some choice cuts along with other very nice tracks from their previous albums - all recommended! Although the music has nothing to do with Christmas, it certainly suits the holiday vibe. This year I didn't really feel the spirit though, have only re-added 2 festive albums onto my iPod and both of them were from last year! Sorry for the lack of updates lately, I'm preparing the year-end list and hopefully they'll be up here after Christmas...

One-Winged Angel, 2007

The Blower's Daughter (Damien Rice)
I Believe In You (Kylie)
Black Horse And The Cherry Tree (KT Tunstall)

It All Leads To This, 2006

Heartbeats (The Knife)
Yellow (Coldplay)
You Oughta Know (Alanis Morissette)

Dream On, 2004

Under The Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
With Or Without You (U2)
Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve)

On The Rocks, 2002

Creep (Radiohead)


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Covered: Joni Mitchell's 'River'

Joni Mitchell will forever be one of those veteran artists that I have total respect for, yet never spend proper time and effort to delve into her catalogue, for I don't know where to start and when to stop. However, 'River' was undoubtedly a non-traditional masterpiece, a Christmas song that's not actually about Christmas, and more remarkably, a solemn one. Many artists, mostly female, have had their ways with it, and here are a few notable versions. Hope you all are having a wonderful time.

The original

Sarah McLachlan's

Tori Amos's
Madeleine Peyroux's

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Mix: Rare Downtempo Remixes

Last weekend, I was going on a remix crave as I was able to track down a plethora of ultra rare remixes. Some of them truly succeeded in shedding a new light on old favorites. I was so in the mood that I decided to scroll through my library to find 5 excellent reinterpretations and compile a quick winter mix. Here they are, and each and every track deserves a place in your music collection. I think just the names of the artists and the remixers are enough for a guarantee. Looks like my 2007 won't close its curtains in all cheers & laughters, so I need all the aural pills I can get and be prepared for any turn of events. Oh how I envy those who can listen to music for a living.

Goldfrapp - Time Out From The World (Fields Remix)
Keane - We Might As Well Be Strangers (DJ Shadow Remix)
Amon Tobin - Kitchen Sink (Clark Remix)
Emilie Simon - Desert (Thievery Corporation Remix)
Zero 7 - In The Waiting Line (Koop Remix)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lovely Swedish Indie Pop: Lykke Li!

Seems like I'm months late to the party, but now I can confirm that the hype is right: Lykke Li can be the next big thing coming out of Sweden (though people tend to say that a lot these days, don't they?). 'Little Bit', without a doubt, will get a sturdy spot on my best songs of 2007 list, if I ever come close to finishing one. The first few seconds of the song got me thinking: 'Oh this is gonna sound a bit like The Knife', but no it's something else that is brilliant on a different level. The bouncy percussion & Lykke's sweet, childlike, fragile voice mislead me into thinking that this is a happy song until she ends the chorus with 'if only you're a little bit, a little bit in la-la-la-love with me'. Okay, so more like happy sad. A first listen filled with delightful surprises. What's notable is that she's getting all this attention in the blogosphere, but she doesn't write wacky song titles, sing about weird stuff or make mash-ups. She just sings about love. She's just pure pop. The very good, refreshing kind of pop, with a DIY aethestic. The lovely visual companion is also an example of what you can do with a relatively low budget and a skilled video editor friend. I think Robyn's fans would automatically love her. Well, at least in my perspective, I find it hard to just fall a little bit in love with her...
She's currently recording in NY, so for now, all available is a 3-song 10" vinyl, released on her own label, LL Recordings. She indeed has a bright future ahead, so get to know her before it's too late!

Lykke Li - Little Bit (highly recommended!)
Lykke Li - Tonight (Demo)


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gwenno Pipette's Solo Demos

Welsh singer Gwenno had a music career before she joined the Pipettes, that I always knew. But what I didn't know was she still keeps on making music on her own. Last October, I found out she uploaded a mini album consisting of new demos on my MySpace, but it was too late as the YouSendIt link already expired. Fortunately, thanks to the devoted fans at The Pipettes message board, I was able to attain not only the new tracks but also the earlier previously-posted demos.
On her own, while not straying too far from The Pipettes melodic trademark, Gwenno's songs seem to lose the '60s pastiche and veer towards a more modern sounding, electronica-tinged indie pop sound. 'U & I', which is by far the best of the bunch, starts with one of the coolest opening lines I've heard lately: 'U & I have been running around like headless chickens...'. The chorus is catchy enough to sneak in my head for quite a few days. Another good song is 'She's Got Me On Her Mind', which totally fits in with the 'Sounds like' description on her MySpace, as in '
Ace Of Base produced by The Postal Service'. As for the batch of older demos, bittersweet ditty 'Picture Of You' is the highlight. Overall, I do enjoy these demos and more than ever do I want an offical album, or at least EP, from her. You know, like a side project. Try these choice cuts, and since it's holiday season, I throw in her cover of Wham's 'Last Christmas' with some dude named Swipe!.

Gwenno - U & I
Gwenno - She's Got Me On Her Mind
Gwenno - Picture Of You
Swipe! & Gwenno - Last Christmas

There's a cover for it too.

While we're at it, here's the new Americanized music video for 'Because It's Not Love (But It's Still A Feeling)'. New remixed track! New hairdos! New dresses! New expensive-looking CGI! Their US label must really have faith in them etc. (love Gwenno's new look, by the way)

And here's another video of The Pipettes singing 'Pull Shapes' live in the NPR studio. It's nice, though a bit weird, to see them in more casual everyday clothes. And there are giggles.

Watch The Pipettes' instructional dance videos if you haven't.
Visit Gwenno's Space.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

From France With Love: Marc Collin presents Two For The Road

'Two For The Road' is a new project from Marc Collin, producer of Nouvelle Vague, who's responsible for all those delicious bossa nova covers of '80s new wave hits. It's a conceptual album, with the story of two characters Ann and Cooper being unveiled through lyrics and spoken words - like a soundtrack for a non-existent French arthouse romance flick. Danish singer Katrine Ottosen is Ann, and Italian-born Valente is Cooper. Musically, I guess you can call it 'electroacoustic', like their MySpace suggested. Calm, enchanting and slightly solemn, it has a certain Parisian air, and will for sure appeal to Nouvelle Vague fans, or those who'd simply like a little something fresh and nice to listen to while sipping a cup of hot coffee on winter nights. The title track's a great album opener, and also the best cut, while track 2 'Downtown' was an ideal morning tune for when you're on you way to work.
A lovely overlooked release.

Marc Collin - Two For The Road
Marc Collin - Downtown


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Do you hear what I hear?

December 1st. Hence, the countdown to Christmas has begun. For normal peoples with lives, that would mean shopping for presents, buying greeting cards, decorating the Chritmas tree and numerous seasonal activites. For music bloggers, that also mean: year-end listmaking season! Hopefully, this year I will learn to stick to my plans and get to publish at least a decent list (unlike those of last year, which still remains unfinished). There are still dozens of records that I'm sure will appear on many bloggers' lists to come, but I still haven't listened to yet. Right now, I really can't think of enough albums to make a good personal top ten. Last year was different, without thinking I could instantly name my favorites, like Lily Allen, The Pipettes, Camera Obscura, Belle & Sebastian, Regina Spektor & Zero 7. 2007 will probably go down in history as the year I listened to the most gigantic amount of music yet, so no it's not an easy for me to narrow it down to just a few. Whatsoever, I've already had the one thing I want in my wishlist. An iPod Classic 160GB to replace my overstuffed iPod 30GB! Everyone was saying 'How the hell are you ever gonna fill all that storage space?', well, I've asked myself that twice already! I'm seriously in need new Christmas albums. Last December, there were gems from Aimee Mann and Sarah McLachlan, and I didn't make it through the whole five discs of Sufjan's boxset. This year, the only highlight I can think of is those NBC EPs of KT Tunstall and Taylor Swift. So maybe this year's Christmas mix (sorry, I'll probably do just one this year) will possibly consist of mostly old songs. Are there any new Christmas albums that deserve a listen? (No Josh Groban, please)

Anyway, it's been a successful year for Greg Kurstin and Inara George, or better known to you as 'The Bird And The Bee', and they closed their year in a classy way: giving away a Christmas song for iTunes Single Of The Week. It's called 'Carol Of The Bells', and if anything, I want a full album of Christmas carols from them next year! You probaly have downloaded it there, so this is for those non-US visitors of mine. (see, I do care!). Spirit of giving etc.

The Bird And The Bee - Carol Of The Bells

Also, I came across this track when browsing my library, and it's become very appropriate.

Club 8 - Love In December

Today is World AIDS Day, so go read something and remind yourself to stay aware and alive...