It is already December, and those keeping Advent calendars have started counting down to Christmas. This songlist has only 3 songs on it that draw from holiday themes and traditions, but after this week the holiday songs will thoroughly infest my songlists for pretty much the entire rest of the year. Before that happened I wanted to be sure to check out a few artists I have meant to include and never got around to yet. I also revisited a few albums that hadn’t received nearly enough attention from my lists yet. This songlist is almost entirely made up of local artists and artists I found via spotify, because there is so little holiday music easily findable on spotify that is not mainstream.
1. Sarah Slean (Beauty Lives B-Sides)- “My Song” – I ought to learn this song as a personal anthem. In the meantime, it leads off this week’s list. Sarah Slean has been on my lists before, but she is still an artist I am just getting familiar with. I love her songwriting, from what I’ve heard so far. “I am not beaten, no not yet… Vultures are circling … but my weary heart still beats ….”
2. Eastmountainsouth (Eastmountainsouth)– “Show Me the River” – I don’t listen to mainstream music enough to know what pop music sounds like now on the radio (the stuff I listen to locally and on spotify is just so much better than whatever song is playing when I try to check out Top 40 stations lately). This duo is one I think ought to be popular on Top 40 pop radio stations, along with Bronze Radio Return, Fierce Bad Rabbit and SHEL (and a lot of other acts). Unfortunately Eastmountainsouth has split up, but I’m sure Kat Maslich-Bode and Peter Bradley Adams, the musicians who made up this act, are both making equally interesting music now.
3. The Applebutter Express (The Applebutter Express)- “Ebb and Flow” – This whole album is so happy, and when I last tried to listen to the whole album it was far too happy for me to get into it. This song was a nice exception though, not too happy but still quite a bit more upbeat than what I was listening to a few nights ago when I came across this song again.
4. Carrie Newcomer (Kindred Spirits: A Collection)- “Geodes” – It would be fun to decorate my front porch (I have no yard) with geodes. There’s other nice stuff to say about this song, but I think that imagery of decorating with geodes was really what sold me on this song for this week.
5. Rebecca Folsom (Across the Sky)- “Great Wind Across the Sky” – Rebecca is one of the artists I have almost caught live a few times, but I still have yet to photograph her. I like the imagery this song traces out. It is a landscape I recognize from my childhood on the outskirts of Pueblo, especially the wind part.
6. Sam Lee (Ground of Its Own)- “Northlands” – I did not expect a sean nos influenced sound from this fellow from the impression I had of him before I played this song. This artist is one I may find turns up quite a bit more on next year’s lists.
7. The Haunted Windchimes (Live at the Western Jubilee)- “Shadows & Pine” – This was one of my favorites from this amazing folk band’s New West Fest set this year.
8. The Hollyfelds (Saratoga)- “Stars at Night” – Whenever I hear this country band I see them in my mind’s eye with their 2 lead vocalists all dressed up in their matching polka-dot dresses, the way they were the first time I saw them play live. I am also reminded of that article I posted a response to a while ago about how country music has gone downhill and is now just about beer, trucks and partying. Nationally that may be true, but just on this week’s list there are quite a few great country acts that are at least as good as the ‘good’ mainstream stuff the article’s contributors missed so much. This is just one of the great country bands we get to enjoy in our area.
9. You Me & Apollo (Cards With Cheats) – “Oh, Brother” – Another New West Fest act, though I have been into You Me & Apollo for over a year now. Actually looking at this list now, I really do have a lot of New West Fest acts in this week’s list. I finally met this band, and Katie Glassman and the Hollyfelds at this year’s festival, though all three are acts I was already a fan of before this year’s festival.
10. Cary Morin (Streamline)- “Elizabeth” – I don’t know if this song has anything to do with a certain mutual friend named Elizabeth, but this song does remind me a bit of a woman by that name who I met through Cary. Cary has his birthday this week, by the way. I don’t know how old he’s turning, but between his getting married, releasing this excellent album, and winning the IBC blues competition for his division this year, he has a lot to celebrate.
11. Katie Glassman (Snapshot)- “Long White Dress” – Katie Glassman has been hard at work on new music, so hopefully next year there will be new songs from her to grace my playlists. She has a shiny new facebook band page, which needs more likes, so if her music appeals to you, check out her facebook page and click like so you will receive updates about new releases and concert dates.
12. Post Paradise (Digging Secrets)- “Fan Theory” – Judging by reactions from random friends and acquaintances who have come across this band through me, Post Paradise has the potential to be a huge success nationally. They are easily the most popular Fort Collins band among all my non-local friends, even moreso than SHEL. So, while I have already featured them a lot, I added another of their songs this week.
13. Sofie Reed (Simplicity Chased Trouble Away)- “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” – I got this song stuck in my head last week, so a recording of it made it onto my playlist this week. I saw Sofie Reed at this year’s New West Fest, but she is one of the artists I just never got around to adding to playlists since.
14. Esme Patterson (All Princes, I)- “Broken Jawbone” – Esme, and I’m With Her, also played at this year’s New West Fest. This song reminds me a bit of Edie Brickell, but just a bit.
15. I’m With Her (Songs We Said Goodbye To)- “Lost My Way” – I didn’t get to stick around nearly long enough for this band’s set at New West Fest, so hopefully they will come back and play at a venue near me in the next few months (maybe at Avogadro’s Number?). This group reminds me a bit of an all-female version of Peter, Paul & Mary or the Carpenters.
16. Matt Skinner (The Nighthawk Affair)- “Love and 3-Chord Blues” – Matt played with his band quite recently at Lucky Joe’s, a show I missed because it was far too cold to walk anywhere (it has been below 10 F for over a week, and near or below zero at night all week). I’m pretty sure I do remember hearing this song though at one of Matt’s shows earlier this year. The Matt Skinner Band is another of the top-notch country acts we have around Fort Collins. Matt has spent a while in Nashville, but gave up the cut-throat scene in Nashville a while ago for the kinder, friendlier scene here in Fort Collins. Actually, we have a lot of former Nashville artists here now.
17. Rachel & the Kings (Tonic)- “Soldier Boy” – Rachel and the Kings are a Denver band, but they are friends with several of out Fort Collins bands so I run into some of the musicians from this band when I am out at other shows. It may be a little while yet before our scene could sustain a second venue the size of the Aggie, but I suspect that if/when we get to that second Aggie-sized venue, this will be one of the Denver bands that will turn up in Fort Collins more often (along with Places, Varlet and Petals of Spain). Wishful thinking? Well, I am wishing, and it might happen.
18. Deana Carter (Country Christmas)- “Carol of the Bells” – Eek! It’s a Christmas song! This is a tough song to sing accurately at full-speed. Do you know all the words yet? I started reviewing Christmas songs a few weeks ago while a friend was learning holiday songs for a holiday gig. In the music world Christmas music sneaks in quite a bit early, and privately I often start listening to songs I want to learn long before December 25th. Suo Gan ought to be on this list for that reason, but this song is so much easier!
19. The Chieftans, Elvis Costello (The Bells of Dublin)– “St. Steven’s Day Murders” – This one, too, is a holiday song, but it has ‘murder’ in the title so it must be ok. The Chieftans are one of the nominees for an Irish Music Association Award this year. I really have gotten into their collaborative work this year, and a lot of songs they have recorded turn up on lists this year on Ravenmount.
20. Chanticleer (My Chanticleer: A Collection for Chanticleer Families)– “O Waly, Waly” – Here is an old traditional song that seems much better known in Great Britain. I have yet to meet anyone around here who knows this song, except a fellow from England who is here for school. I’m not sure he knew all the words, though. It is often listed as a holiday song, but when I sang a ‘mash-up’ of it (with Shenandoah) for choir in 6th grade, it was cast as just an old folk traditional song with no mention of Christmas at all. So, you can decide whether this is a holiday song, or whether maybe this list only has 2 holiday songs.
- Weekly 20 Songs Playlist: Nov 30 (ravenmount.com)
- Unforgotten Playlist (recklessanimals.wordpress.com)
- Songs to Solo By (soloprpro.com)
- I’m Steve And I’m An iTunes-a-holic (webbloggerstech.wordpress.com)
- The Winter No-So-Doldrums Playlist (eastof8thblog.com)
- Finding your Study Playlist (kellymshayes.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Playlist Series: Country Edition (eatprayliftblog.wordpress.com)
- Weekly 20 Songs Playlist: October 26 (ravenmount.com)
- Snowbound: Our Favorite Holiday Songs and Playlist (berkleecitymusicnetwork.com)