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Listening Party

Eisley’s first album in almost four years is about to be released through Equal Vision Records on March 1st. The album is called The Valley, and this song “Ambulance” is taken from it.

The Valley was recorded at Rosewood Studios in their hometown of Tyler, Texas, with producer/engineers Gary Leach and Austin Deptula (LeAnn Rimes), and mixed by Andy Freeman at Bay Area Tone in San Francisco. The album’s title refers to the emotional turmoil that the DuPree sisters, who front Eisley, experienced as they crafted their third album: Sherri enduring a failed marriage; Chauntelle, a broken engagement; and Stacy, a painful breakup. The only relationship that ended on their terms was the split with Warner Bros. Records, the label that released their first two albums and several EPs. Promising to bring listeners through the band’s darkest and most trying times, “The Valley” reveals their strength, patience and perseverance. On tracks like “Smarter” and “Sad,” there’s a musical aggression and emotional urgency that transports you to the moment they were written, laying bare the open wound of the broken heart. And the chilling album closer, “Ambulance,” is an icy snapshot of the very moment of betrayal and abandonment. Elsewhere, there’s a stately solace in the hopeful “Kind” and whimsical “Mr. Moon,” and buoyant string arrangements decorate opener “The Valley” and “Watch It Die.”

I’m not sure how much I can actually say about this.

I mean, the first time I watched I was sure – I was convinced – that 1:10 was going to the moment I remember for the rest of my life. But then I saw 2:03 and, honestly, Oh my fucking God. And I mean that literally.

Any lingering fears that Patrick Stump’s second chin had imbued him, Samson-like, with his precocious musical talent have thus far proved unfounded – and a good thing, too, because the weight appears to be staying off and the erstwhile Fall Out Boy frontman has a solo career to launch.

As a prelude to the release of his first album on his lonesome, Soul Punk, in February Stump put together a fairly impressive medley of Grammy-nominated tracks, performed a capella with the man himself providing back-up vocals. Impressively, it’s all done on camera, so we quite literally get to see Stumpy playing with himself – he performs a fluid mash of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind,’ Eminem and Rihanna’s ‘Love the Way You Lie,’ Lady Antebellum’s ‘Need You Now,’ B.o.B. and Bruno Mars’ ‘Nothin’ on You’ and Cee-Lo’s ‘Fuck You’ (mercifully uncensored).

It’s interesting to note that Stump’s studio looks more like an oversized emptied closet than a state-of-the-art recording space, though perhaps that’s fitting given his rather unfortunate choice of clothing.

How bad does a song have to be to get rejected from a free-to-download tribute album?  Listen to Thursday’s cover of Bad Religion’s  “Generator” and decide for yourself.

While Geoff Rickley & co. manage to redeem themselves ever so slightly in the song’s straightforward second half, it’s no small feat how the first half of the track turns a punk classic into a bunch of moaned gibberish. Listening to the first half of the song had me thinking that it might be the worst thing I’ve heard all year, and I just finished listening to a song by Clown from Slipknot’s side-project. How’s that for context?

If you think I’m being hyperbolic you obviously haven’t heard the cover, so click the play button and decide for yourself

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Your ears not bleed out? Why not listen to the original in it’s un-neutered glory.

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Oh, and if you want to download Germs of Perfection: A Tribute to Bad Religion, click here. Don’t worry, this song isn’t on it. Instead you’ll get covers by the Weakerthans, Frank Turner, Tegan and Sara and many more.

Yeah, that Hanks.

Chet Hanks, son of Oscar-winning actor Tom, is the latest celebrity offspring to try his hand at becoming a rapper. Hanks, rapping under the name Chet Haze, wisely sticks to the subjects he knows best. Not quite his cameo appearance in the recent Indiana Jones movie or the dastardly butler forgetting to fold his socks, but as a student at the somewhat prestigious Northwestern University in Chicago he’s clearly keen to show off his school spirit.

Haze’s debut release, ’White and Purple (Northwestern Remix),’ is a reworking of Wiz Khalifa’s 2010 hit ‘Black and Yellow‘ – white and purple being the school’s colours. It’s a more or less straight re-working of the original, except with lyrics tailored to reflect the life of a rich kid living away from home for the first time. Think a clubbier Asher Roth without the accidental racism and you’re more or less there.

Us? We just can’t wait for the remix of ‘This Halloween is Crazy.’

The first song from the Kanye West/Jay-Z project “Watch the Throne” dropped a few minutes ago. It is called Ham.

Hard as a Motherfucker

I think I what the song is called ham theres a chorus breakdown what

HAM

i dont even know what’s real anymore

Sometimes I write long, boring paragraphs to go with videos. This isn’t one of those times.

Alternative link for those behind the Iron Curtain.

I had a plan to close out this series’ final episode with an epic epilogue but whatdafuck it’s Christmas, and to celebrate here is the undisputed greatest Christmas song of all time.

Check back next year for all twelve songs in a slightly different order.

Merry Christmas everybody – enjoy it.

Over the course of the last 9 Days of Christmas, we’ve seen a wide range of emotional responses, from the romanticism of ‘White Christmas‘ and optimism of ‘Merry Xmas Everybody‘ to the longing of ‘All I Want for Christmas‘ and outright hostility in ‘Fuck Christmas.’

What we haven’t seen is perhaps the simplest joy of all: spending the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with the person you love. The Mighty Stef’s ‘Shit Christmas Without You’ might be crass and slightly ironic, but the ’50s rock swing, booming vocal and sweet higher-pitched notes all bring home the value of those pleasures  we all too often take for granted. For all those fortunate to be spending the Christmas period with somebody you love, make sure to make the most of what you’ve got.

But first, feel free to join me in a pint of Guinness or some other generic Irish drink for a singsong with one of Ireland’s greatest (and most overlooked) songwriters.

12 Days of Christmas: #1 - White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 – Merry Xmas Everybody#8 – Ferrell & Reilly / #9 – Shit Christmas Without You / #10 / #11 / #12

OK, I guess yesterday confirmed that people don’t take too kindly to hardcore punk and f-worded sentiments in their Christmas cheer. Their loss.

Today, we continue on a Christmas classic buzz, albeit a much more mainstream one.

One of the great ironies of Christmas music, in the pre-internet era at least, is that the songs tended to be written and recorded in the summer, such was the lead time required to prep for a December release. English glam rockers Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ – often incorrectly titled ‘Here it is Merry Christmas’ – is no exception, having been recorded at the tail end of the band’s 1973 summer tour of the US in a sweltering New York City in August.

The upbeat lyrical content – summed up by the line “look to the future now, it’s only just begun” – can be interpreted as more than just standard holiday season escapism. The song came about against a background of unrest in Britain’s mining and industrial heartlands and the lyrics reflected the need for a good dose of optimism. This explains why ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ is considered more than just a Christmas song in the UK. And if I can wear my Nick Butler hat for a moment, I’ll add that it was the UK’s Christmas #1 in ‘73.

Slade’s recording of the song is light and bouncy with a hint of abrasion in Noddy Holder’s gravelly vocals. By contrast, the 2000 cover by Noel Gallagher of…

When we think of classic Christmas songs, it tends to be the case that the older the song, the better.

In a sense, this is a natural reaction to the passage of time and our innate distrust of the present, but perhaps it also says something about how pop culture has captured Christmas. While much of what we now consider “Christmassy” we owe to Dickens, an awful lot of it is also dated to the ’50s and ’60s when “pop culture” properly began in earnest with the rapid spread of television and other visual media.

How refreshing, then, to have a Christmas classic from our own time. Perhaps this is a little too early for much of the Sputnik demographic, but it’s certainly within the timeline of our editors to remember a time when Mariah Carey was a) relevant, b) disgustingly beautiful and c) not world-renowned as a crazy person. In the early ’90s, Mariah still had her natural breasts and was quite comfortably the most successful pop singer around, and still she found time to write and sing one of the best Christmas songs ever produced.

But then she met Eminem.

12 Days of Christmas: #1 - White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 –

Kanye West’s been neglecting his G.O.O.D. Fridays project as of late – no new updates since mid-November – but you didn’t really think he could let Christmas pass without another gift, did you?

The base track for ‘Christmas in Harlem’ “leaked” (in other words, Kanye sent it out) on Wednesday, featuring professional famous person Teyana Taylor, but Kanye confirmed that a version with more guests was impending. Barely 24 hours, he’d “leaked” it – the recording featuring Cam’ron, Vado, Jim Jones, CyHi Da Prynce, Pusha T, Musiq and, of course, Teyana.

Kanye West – ‘Christmas in Harlem’

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12 Days of Christmas: #1 - White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 – Merry Xmas Everybody#8 – Ferrell & Reilly / #9 – Shit Christmas Without You / #10 / #11 / #12

Yesterday, we began our countdown with a classic from over half a century ago. Today, we focus on something much more recent – so recent, in fact, it was only released today.

The Popical Island Collective came together largely of necessity – Irish labels are overwhelmingly biased towards either commercial music or punk – but the common thread that unites the likes of Squarehead, Yeh Deadlies and So Cow masks the huge amount of diversity within their ranks. The collective has been buzzing around the Irish music scene for less than a year, but already they’ve made quite an impression on the local scene with a double of upbeat indie pop compilations, the second of which can be found below.

A Hard Old Station: Christmas With the Popical Island Showband is a six-track EP featuring four original numbers from lo-fi pop acts Yeh Deadlies, The Walpurgis Family, Tieranniesaur (solo project of Yeh Deadlies’ Annie Tierney) and Jonny Fun and the… Hesitation, as well as two tracks from the 21-member Popical Island Showband, made up of members from the aforementioned acts.

12 Days of Christmas: #1 - White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 – Merry Xmas Everybody#8 – Ferrell & Reilly / #9 – Shit Christmas Without You / #10 / #11 / #12

Though the phrase “Twelve Days of Christmas” traditionally refers to the period beginning on Christmas Day, we at Sputnikmusic are far more interested in the dozen days leading up to it, when the anticipation and excitement builds and builds until the inevitable disappointment kicks in on Christmas morning. Over the next twelve days, we hope to expose you to every facet of the Christmas music experience, from the impossibly earnest to the self-consciously ironic to the downright offensive and everything in between.

We begin, though, with a classic.

Montgomery Burns once lamented: “Smithers, years ago I blew the chance to buy Picasso’s Guernica for a song. Luckily, that song was ‘White Christmas,’ and by hanging onto it I made billions!” The story may have been fictional (although the Simpsons is otherwise 100% factually accurate) but the sentiment was right: Bing Crosby’s recording of Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ remains the best-selling single of all-time and will likely never be beat.

For those of us who live in less than arctic climates, the “White Christmas” remains an annual fantasy, an ideal that belies the fact any significant amount of snowfall scares the shit out of us, destroys our infrastructure and sends us into varying degrees of deranged panic. Every year. It’s testament to the beauty of the imagery, and the song, that ‘White Christmas’ remains the season’s most enduring staple and the feather in the cap of one of pop music’s greatest ever singers.

Billy Bragg, M. Ward and Owen Pallett, amongst a host of others, have come together to record a Joanna Newsom cover record released digitally recently in support of the Oxfam America Pakistan Flood Relief fund. They’ve uploaded the album to Soundcloud, embedded below, and if you’re feeling particularly charitable you can head to their website, where a donation of $10 or more will earn you a high quality mp3 download of the 22-track album, cover art and liner notes. It’s for a good cause.

“Pakistan’s worst floods in decades are now affecting more than 20 million people. More than a fifth of the country’s cropland has been inundated, and 1.8 million houses damaged or destroyed. In the crowded temporary camps, waterborne disease is already taking a toll. In order to prevent more suffering and fatalities, Oxfam is rushing clean water, sanitation materials, and other essential aid to hundreds of thousands of those in need.”

Versions of Joanna by VersionsofJoanna

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