Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Dec 25th: Official DJ NTP - Christmas Mega Mix 2012

We always try and bring you something a little special on Christmas Day, and this year is no different.

For today, it's the utter lunacy of Official DJ NTP's Christmas Mega Mix 2012, 14 minutes of agony for music-lovers everywhere.

To be fair, I don't think even Official DJ NTP thinks this is particularly good - but it doesn't matter BECAUSE IT'S CHRISTMAS.

It put a smile on my face, it's festive, and it's undeniably an epic creation. For all of those reasons, here's Merry Christmas to you all. Enjoy!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Dec 24th: Cascada - Last Christmas

First of all, an admission - I don't really like Last Christmas (yeah yeah, I know, bah humbug and all that).

But I do like Cascada. Probably because she's pretty, but also just because she seems fun, and I always want to give her a massive hug.

Cascada's version of Last Christmas might not be revolutionary, but it's a perfectly acceptable way to pass four minutes - especially if, like me, you don't like the original version.

It's also kinda nice to see that this is still the go-to song for generic Christmas dance covers, almost 20 years after Whigfield murdered it to death (but weirdly, I still love Whigfield too. Must be the nostalgia...).

Cascada's version is actually from an entire album full of Cascada Christmas songs - praise the lord!

You can download It's Christmas Time via the iTunes button below.

It's Christmas Time - Cascada

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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Dec 23rd: Dominic Balli - Christmas in Cali

Dominic Balli's transatlantic Christmas track, Christmas in Cali, gives another American view of the festive season from a state where the sun seems to shine all year round.

It's great to hear a reggae track that still manages to incorporate all of the necessities of a Christmas song - including a crazy-trumpets Jingle Bells moment and, unless my ears mistake me, sleigh bells.

I give it about 12 months before we see an Olly Murs cover of this song vying for Christmas chart position.

Christmas in Cali - EP - Dominic Balli

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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dec 22nd: Midwest Skies! - This Christmas

An antidote to the schmultzy (yeah, I used that word again) snow-and-Santa Christmas music that you're all probably sick of by now, Midwest Skies!' This Christmas is downbeat in its lyrics, but upbeat in its energy.

It's always good to hear a brand new Christmas song, as opposed to another cover of an old classic - and This Christmas is definitely something new.

Rock guitars don't detract from the fact that this is well and truly a Christmas song though - and the chimes make that clear from the very start.

And of course, any video in which the band are happy to poke fun at themselves is a good thing, so it's great to see that Midwest Skies! don't take themselves too seriously.

More from Midwest Skies! on iTunes via the button below.

Midwest Skies!

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Friday, 21 December 2012

Dec 21st: CeeLo Green - What Christmas Means To Me

A good old-fashioned bit of fun (and good music, too) from CeeLo Green today, from his new album CeeLo's Magic Moment.

What Christmas Means To Me is unashamedly upbeat and as festive as kisses under the mistletoe, and CeeLo's voice suits the song perfectly.

This is just one of the tracks from CeeLo's Magic Moment, an album that includes duets with Christina Aguilera, Rod Stewart and The Muppets.

Click below to see the full track listing on iTunes.

CeeLo's Magic Moment - Cee Lo Green

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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dec 20th: Tracey Thorn - Joy

Today's advent calendar post is a moving track from Tracey Thorn's album Tinsel and Lights.

The album was released on November 12th in the UK, but if you haven't spotted it yet, there's still time to add these emotionally charged tracks to your festive playlist, and make it a sentimental Christmas this year.

Joy is one of the original tracks on an album that largely consists of cover versions, and it's one of the true highlights of Tinsel and Lights.

Stream the video above, and get a sneaky peek behind the scenes with the clip below.

It's been a good couple of years for Christmas music - a real return to traditional arrangements of sentimental songs.

Buy Tinsel and Lights from iTunes via the button below.

Tinsel and Lights - Tracey Thorn

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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dec 19th: Fimber Bravo - Life After Doomsday

OK, who asked Santa for an eight-minute atmospheric epic with steel drums? It's just arrived.

Actually today's advent calendar post, Fimber Bravo's Life After Doomsday, was first released in November, but it makes a great preview ahead of the January release of his debut album Con-Fusion.

It sounds a little like the soundtrack to a blaxploitation remake of 28 Days Later, but that's fine by me.

Steel drums are much underused in modern music, and while the full eight minutes of this track might seem a little longer than it needs to be, personally I love it.

Life After Doomsday - Single - Fimber Bravo

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dec 18th: Teleman - Cristina

Today's advent calendar post is Cristina, the new single from Teleman, which is due for official release on January 14th 2013.

It's good to hear synth used the way it should be, and not just as a lazy replacement for a piano - and I'm a big fan of the understated nature of this whole track, from the one-note intro to the slow fade at the end.

Cristina is taken from Teleman's debut 7" single release, with In Your Fur as its more upbeat and energetic B-side.

Find Teleman on iTunes:


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Monday, 17 December 2012

Dec 17th: Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - Zombie Christmas

If it weren't for our friends at Harriet & Dee, this one might have passed me by completely - but luckily, when you spend literally hours browsing round their Aladdin's Cave of delights trying to find the perfect Christmas gift, you get to hear quite a bit of their 'alternative' Christmas playlist, too.

Zombie Christmas is from Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler's album This is Christmas - it's out today and well worth a listen, as is the album as a whole.

It's a refreshing alternative to the usual schmultzy (yes I did just use that word) festive fayre that has us all feeling suicidally happy by the time Christmas Eve arrives.

This is not a song that pretends no bad things happen at Christmas - it's just that, in this case, the 'bad thing' that happens is the Zombie Apocalypse.

But hey, zombies are people too.

Thanks again to Harriet & Dee for the hat-tip on this one - you can follow them on Twitter at @HarrietAndDee.

Buy This is Christmas by clicking the iTunes button below.

This Is Christmas - Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Dec 16th: Junip - Junip

Today's advent calendar post is something of a tease, but if I was excited by it, then somebody else out there probably will be too - and that alone makes it worth posting!

It's an oh-so-brief preview of Junip's second album, Junip, due out on April 22nd 2013.

The self-titled sophomore release from the Swedish band follows up on the hugely successful Fields, released in 2010.

If Junip sound familiar, even though you've never heard of them, it's probably due to singer Jose Gonzalez.

His cover of The Knife's Heartbeats was used, famously, on the Sony Bravia 'bouncy balls' ad - one that's worth watching again, which is why we've included it below.

It's hard to shake off the fame of something like that, but Gonzalez' original work - and Junip's as a whole - seems plenty worthy of finding an audience of its own.

Look out for more as the April release date approaches on this one.

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Saturday, 15 December 2012

Dec 15th: WHY? - The Water You Walk

WHY? have unveiled The Water You Walk, a "loosely Xmas-themed" track that's the B-side to new single Waterlines, out on December 17th.

It's been a big year for WHY?, who made the journey from their Cincinnati roots to the UK once again for a tour that incorporated their biggest-ever London venue, the Electric Ballroom.

The Water You Walk is a musical amalgam, beginning with a brief burst of jazzy keys which quickly give way for the song proper to begin.

From there, you've got a distinctive blend of verses and mellow choruses to coax you through to the end of the song.

The Water You Walk is a grower, like so many songs, but by the end of my first listen, I just wanted to hit 'play' again for a rerun.

Find more from WHY? on iTunes by clicking the button below.


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Friday, 14 December 2012

Dec 14th: Kim Wilde - Kids in America, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

If you're a child of the 80s like me, the prospect of Kim Wilde doing anything is pretty exciting - and a drunk Kim Wilde singing a couple of her most famous hits on the London Underground is about as good as it gets.

Here, Kim sings Kids in America, followed by Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, and while she may have had a few drinks, her Christmas message at the end of Katherine Eames' YouTube video (see below) has some wise words for us all.

As Kim points out, she's mostly being ignored by the people sitting around her, who have their heads buried in their phones.

But Ms Eames was among those who recognised the former singing superstar, now a radio host, and joined in with her singalong.

The video, and the response it has received on social networks and across the web as a whole, pretty much sum up the spirit of Christmas - making it a worthy addition to our advent calendar posts this year.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dec 13th: Eugene McGuinness - Cinema Paradiso

More from Eugene McGuinness today, and if you liked Sugarplum (see Dec 2nd's advent calendar post) there's a pretty good chance you'll like its B-side, Cinema Paradiso.

It's good to see B-sides surviving in the digital age - and not just surviving, but still pushing musical boundaries.

Cinema Paradiso is much more hectic than the relatively sedate Sugarplum, and from the first handclaps and smack drumbeat, you know what you're in for.

But the story's strong, the vocals don't become swamped by the music at any point and, like Sugarplum, there are lyrical hooks to keep your interest right through until the end.

I had my doubts about Sugarplum - although I'll admit I find myself humming it fairly regularly - but Cinema Paradiso is pretty good on the first listen, and grows on you more as time goes by.

Together, they make a pretty good pair - as any good A-side and B-side should - and I'm looking forward to hearing more from Eugene McGuinness in 2013.

Sugarplum - Single - Eugene McGuinness

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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dec 12th: Ducktails - Letter of Intent

Ducktails are new to me, I must admit - but if Letter of Intent is anything to judge by, I'll be getting my hands on a copy of new album The Flower Lane as soon as possible.

Look out for a full review in the next few weeks if I can track this one down. Until then, today's advent calendar post is upcoming single Letter of Intent, due out the same day as the album on January 28th 2013.

It's almost 80s-sounding, but there's still something decidedly modern about it, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear Letter of Intent floating across some of the nation's trendier dancefloors in the next few weeks and months.

You can buy Letter of Intent on iTunes now - just click the button below to make it an early Christmas present to yourself.

Letter of Intent - Single - Ducktails

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dec 11th: Alexis Taylor - Nayim From The Halfway Line

Possibly the strangest promotional video we've ever seen for an EP is today's advent calendar entry from Alexis Taylor.

A 'surprise' EP, Nayim From The Halfway Line, was announced earlier this month, and is due to be available digitally from December 17th.

Its title pays tribute to a 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup wonder-goal by Spanish footballer Nayim, who scored for Real Zaragosa in the last minute of extra time to beat Arsenal 2-1.

Arsenal fans, you may want to look away from your screens while playing the video.

Nayim From The Halfway Line is already out on vinyl, with a four-track listing:

Rhodes Dream
You Want Me
Hot Squash
Jesus' Birthday

Its digital release date, as mentioned above, is December 17th 2012.

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Monday, 10 December 2012

Dec 10th: Melody's Echo Chamber

We didn't get chance to do a proper review of Melody's Echo Chamber's debut album last month, so today's advent calendar post aims to put that right with a sneak preview of a couple of the tracks.

First up is the charmingly ambient You Won't Be Missing That Part Of Me, a song that sounds very simple at first listen, but which is deceptively complex in its internal structure.

Second we have I Follow You, published to YouTube earlier this year and already popular with many fans of female-led vocal-centric music.

And if you want to hear more from Melody's Echo Chamber, and singer-songwriter Melody Prochet, you can still get the album on iTunes.

Melody's Echo Chamber - Melody's Echo Chamber

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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Dec 9th: Alarm Bells - Cocoons

Don't mourn the passing of the awesomely named Dananananaykroyd - celebrate their new incarnation as Alarm Bells.

OK, the name might not be so good, but that's not really the important part, cos it's all about the music, right?

Today's advent calendar entry is new track Cocoons, the lead track from Alarm Bells' debut EP Part One.

Cocoons is the kind of song that will help you wake up in the morning, even if you forgot to have a cup of coffee - and will annoy all hell out of the rest of the passengers on your morning commute, if you forgot your headphones.

As for the video, well that strikes me as a cross between American Psycho and the computer graphics used in the 1980s children's TV show Knightmare. Big tick in the 'approve' box from me on both counts.

You can pre-order Part One now via the Bandcamp widget below, for delivery on December 20th.

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Saturday, 8 December 2012

Dec 8th: Pulled Apart By Horses - Epic Myth

If you're having a lazy lie-in this morning, your peace is about to be shattered by Epic Myth, the last single from Pulled Apart By Horses' album Tough Love.

The video comes ahead of the release of a deluxe edition of Tough Love on Monday, and it's a proper story of hard rock.

Guitarist James Brown explains: "The video idea for Epic Myth seemed a great way to celebrate Tough Love and the final single from it - even if we all did have the worst collective hangover ever after! Happy Christmas everyone!"

Get more from Pulled Apart By Horses via the iTunes link below - and look out for the deluxe edition of Tough Love from Monday December 10th.

Pulled Apart By Horses

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Friday, 7 December 2012

Dec 7th: Ultan Sherry - Let The Snowflakes Fall

Today's Advent Calendar post is a good one - Ultan Sherry's instant classic Let The Snowflakes Fall.

Ultan has Asperger's Syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum that can make it difficult for some people to express themselves in the usual ways.

However, in Ultan's case, there seem to be no such difficulties, as the second video below reveals.

The media studies student at NUI Maynooth is pursuing his dream of releasing a Christmas number one, and has caught the public's collective conscience with Let The Snowflakes Fall.

Now, let's be clear - we're not saying this is the greatest song of all time. But most good Christmas songs are a bit cheesy, right?

Let The Snowflakes Fall has more than a little in common with some of the more recent Christmas songs that the nation has taken to its heart - such as 2003's Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) by The Darkness, or Peter Kay's Once Upon a Christmas Song, released in the guise of Geraldine McQueen in 2008.

It also has some of the most unintentionally hilarious lyrics ever penned, including the instantly infamous line "when that fine morning comes, get out the Christmas plums" (skip to 2:39 above for that gem).

But we're not laughing at Ultan - we're smiling with him. This is an unashamedly upbeat song in the true Christmas spirit, and I for one will always support that.

It's also a man in pursuit of his dream, which makes it a worthy contender not just as a 'Rage Against the Machine' style alternative to The X Factor (that's, like, so 2009), but as a worthy Christmas number one in its own right.

Ultan, good luck from us - we hope you get the top spot when that fine morning comes.

Help to let the snowflakes fall on Ultan's Christmas wish by buying his track from iTunes (click the button below), and make a little Christmas magic happen in 2012.

Let the Snowflakes Fall - Single - Ultan Sherry

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dec 6th: Star Trek - Into Darkness trailer

Published on YouTube today by Paramount, the trailer for the upcoming Star Trek sequel Into Darkness hints at more of the same from J.J. Abrams - including an intelligent recognition of the science of Star Trek and a nod to the franchise's best-loved storylines.

This time out, it's Wrath of Khan that gets a reinterpretation, the storyline that turned Star Trek's fortunes around following a fairly muted reception for The Motion Picture.

Now Star Trek's place in history is already assured, does that mean expectations are higher? Possibly. But then, so are the budgets and the visual effects capabilities.

The team seem to be pushing the 'darkness' angle on this one - the music's about as ominous as it gets, the Benedict Cumberbatch voiceover puts Khan very much in control, and the title seems to be styled as the somewhat shouty STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS by Paramount.

But this is a different cinema-going public than it was a generation or two ago, and a trundle through space on a mission of scientific exploration perhaps wouldn't cut it (and definitely wouldn't suit Abrams' style of film-making).

I've always been more of a Trekker than a Star Wars fan, and while Star Trek earned a certain amount of criticism for compromising on certain aspects of science, I thought it did a decent job (and yes, I have studied thermodynamics and astrophysics, so I like to think I have the necessary awareness...).

The criticism so far here is that the last shots from the trailer might give a little too much away - but again, I'm not worried. If I had to guess, I'd expect that shot comes from early in the film - the set-up rather than the finale - but even if that is the broken remains of the Enterprise splashing down, well, they'll probably build another one - there are plenty of letters left in the alphabet.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dec 5th: David Cronenberg's Wife - Spiked

A personal favourite finally get their first mention on Popsiculture, as David Cronenberg's Wife's 'Spiked' is today's advent calendar post.

David Cronenberg's Wife are a fine example of making good music, rather than lots of music - their first album Bluebeard's Rooms was released in 2008, with follow-up Hypnagogues coming in November 2009.

Don't Wait To Be Hunted To Hide, their third album, has taken three years to appear, but finally went on sale at the end of November.

Spiked is typical DCW - energetic and entertaining, with a darkness that reveals itself if you pay close attention to the lyrics.

It's a unique balance of covering challenging topics, without becoming depressing, and it's a style David Cronenberg's Wife have had spot-on since their earliest days.

If you've never heard Hypnagogues in particular, I'd highly recommend downloading a track or two and familiarising yourself with this much under-rated group.

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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dec 4th: This Many Boyfriends - Tina Weymouth

Slight technical problems with the SoundCloud server have delayed today's advent calendar post, but here better late than never is Tina Weymouth, the upcoming single from This Many Boyfriends.

You may have seen them mentioned on Popsiculture a couple of times in 2012 - back in February, and again in May, when Starling and (I Should Be A) Communist were released.

Tina Weymouth continues the trend of tracks that wouldn't sound out of place alongside New Order or The Smiths, and I continue to say that's no bad thing in my opinion.

You might have heard Tina Weymouth already, but it's worth another listen ahead of its release as a single in its own right.

It's due out officially on January 21st 2013, ahead of a nine-date mini-tour by This Many Boyfriends which lasts through late January, February and early March.

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Monday, 3 December 2012

Dec 3rd: Sinkane - Runnin'

Sinkane's new album Mars is due out on December 17th, but we've got a preview of Runnin' for you below.

Today's Advent Calendar post pulls no punches, with a particularly timely video of street violence and martial law, but it's a worthy addition to our December line-up with a free download of the track available via the SoundCloud player below.

Look out for a full album review closer to the 17th, and more track previews to come too as Mars nears its release date.

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dec 2nd: Eugene McGuinness - Sugarplum

Our second Advent Calendar post is Eugene McGuinness's Sugarplum, due out on December 10th, but here for you to preview below.

It's a punchy track with good development and, according to several commenters so far, a particularly good ending.

We'll let you decide what you think of it...

I'm in two minds on this one; I certainly don't think it's a bad song, and I love the punchy backing music and the catchy chorus.

There's just something in the verses that doesn't quite do it for me - although not to such an extent that I haven't listened to it quite a few times already.

Weirdly, I also find Sugarplum strangely reminiscent of Walk Like A Panther by All Seeing I (with vocals by Tony Christie). Obviously it's an up-to-date and much younger equivalent... or perhaps it's my imagination.

Anyway, make up your own mind - and you can find Sugarplum on iTunes via the button below.

Sugarplum - The Invitation to the Voyage (Bonus Track Version)

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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dec 1st: Among Brothers - I Am Certain

The award-winning (not really) Popsiculture Advent Calendar is BACK and this year we're kicking off with newcomers Among Brothers, whose 7" single I Am Certain was released on November 26th.

You can see the video below, and catch Among Brothers TONIGHT at The Chameleon in Nottingham, or tomorrow at The Croft in Bristol.

Your last chance to see them live on their current mini-tour of the UK is at London's Assembly Hall, Islington, supporting Los Campesinos! on December 15th.

I Am Certain is a musical and visual oddity, slightly unsettling in a Nick Cave or Smashing Pumpkins kind of a way, and with a couple of definite similarities to some of Smashing Pumpkins' more melancholy works, particularly in its opening.

But it's very much its own song, albeit an unusual song, and that personality is likely to attract a fair few fans to this track.

Order I Am Certain in physical form (remember that??) from Rough Trade, Jumbo Records or Piccadilly Records.

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