Friday, December 14, 2007

New voices

Sign you're listening to too much Christmas music #2: You find out about most of the new artists you come across from their Christmas music!

The thing about Christmas music that perpetuates the sheer amount of junk to plow through in the stores and on the airwaves is that most artists treat Christmas music as a tacked on product. They already had their studio success, they may have come off a popular tour, they are being downloaded at lightning speeds on the Internet, and they want their names to stay in the public eye for the Holiday season. They put out Christmas CDs just to have place holders on the shelves, and most of these CDs fail to provide much more than obligatory cover versions of way too familiar songs and sometimes "Christmas" versions of their biggest hit(s) (Jewel, I am looking your way!)

This is the time of year I discover some artists for the first time. I will often give artists a first time listen because I am on my quest for new and great Christmas music, so I am far more open this time of year to new music. That being said, I find that when I discover an artist who gives me something really interesting and unique to listen to, they are far more worthy of my attention.

Last year that artist was Feist with her version of "Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming." It stuck out because it wasn't "Silver Bells" or "Silent Night" or any of the other popular standards. It stood out even though it wasn't an original song because it wasn't commonly heard and it was well done. (Of course, she went on to get more fame by having "1-2-3-4" featured on an I-something commercial.)

(So that's this blogger's tip to up-and-coming artists: if you MUST release your seasonal shelf place holder, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do some digging and come up with some more obscure and off the beaten path Christmas songs to cover. "Virgin's Lullaby?" "See, Amid the Winter's Snow?" "A Fantasy On a Silent Night?" There are PLENTY of songs to cover that haven't been done to death if you don't have original tracks to use!) (and if you are an artist reading this, and you do this, let me premier your song on my blog! ;^D )

Christmas music, on a whole, is challenging to write. I will admit it. It's no easy task to come up with fascinating songs about Santa, Baby Jesus, and reindeer and say something new that hasn't been said before in this business. So when an artist delivers an original tune that makes me sit up and take notice, I think if they can do that to a Christmas song then maybe their entire catalog might be worth checking out. Writing a good original Christmas song may very well be the true test of whether or not the artist can really be creative.

Today I am sharing a few examples of new artists I discovered this year solely because they put out original Christmas songs. These are certainly artists I hope to hear more from in the future. The other day I posted about Ingrid Michaelson, but there is an artist she has collaborated with by the name of William Fitzsimmons. If Ingrid and William are the faces of tomorrow's music, then I can rest comfortably that some of the best music is not behind us but is to come. And if William's new Christmas song is any indicator, this guy has the chops to write some incredible original music. It's just captivating.

William Fitzsimmons-Covered in Snow

Next there is Shotgun Lover. Like William and Ingrid, I discovered Shotgun Lover on My Space, just searching various artist websites until I came across some fascinating new Christmas songs. But this just isn't a fascinating Christmas song, this is a fascinating song. They were under the "friends" list for Bill Mallonee (of yesterday's posting of "On To Bethlehem") so I knew they would be worth while.

Shotgun Lover-Christmas Time In the City

I also discovered Drugstore. This comes from a collection called "It's A Cool, Cool Christmas," released back in 2000, so saying I just discovered them this year isn't exactly the most savvy thing for me to admit, but they deserve to be included in this posting nonetheless. And, judging from their CD release dates on, I fear maybe they are no more, which would be a shame. But while good bands come and go the best of the good deserve to be heard even if they aren't together to put out new tracks. And I have had the Cool Cool Christmas compilation for a while's just this year I got around to really digging into the collection deeper.

Drugstore-Maybe At Christmas Time

This next band has been around for a while but are still cranking out new tunes. They are Remington Super 60, and the following track comes from their Christmas EP that is available only online (and it's FREE, so scurry right over there to download the rest of it!)

Remington Super 60-Christmas Song for Melanie

I have part three of my segments on SPUD 102. I was going to post two today to catch up, but I figured I could post one per day over the weekend and that will take us right into next week without missing a beat.

SPUD 102 12/12/07

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