If this is your first time here, you may want to subscribe to the site feed (also available by email) so that you will be alerted as soon as new content is posted.  Check out the index for a list of all posts, see the most popular content, go to a random post, or take a look at the Free Christmas Music website for even more music.  Please send me an email if you need to contact me for any reason.

Search for free Christmas music

Enter the name of a song or artist and click Search.
More information about this custom search engine


The Machine - "Coming Back To Life (w/ Auld Lang Syne)"

Normally at this time of year, I make a post rounding up all of the different versions of "Auld Lang Syne" that I came across during my search for free Christmas music in the last year.  However, this year has been anything but normal, so I'd like to do something a little different.

In February of this year, my father passed away very suddenly.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of him, but I've found myself thinking of him more than usual today, as last New Year's Eve turned out to be the last time I ever spoke to him.  Dad was a huge Pink Floyd fan (so big that he actually wanted their music played at his funeral; my brother, two of our uncles, and I granted that request when we sang "Wish You Were Here" for him), and I've spent more time listening to their music this year than I ever have before.

I also downloaded quite a few shows from a Pink Floyd tribute band called The Machine.  As fate would have it, one of the shows was recorded on New Year's Eve 2008 and features "Auld Lang Syne" incorporated beautifully into the intro and guitar solo of "Coming Back to Life".  "Coming Back to Life" itself is a pretty special song to me, as it's from The Division Bell, which was the first Pink Floyd album that I ever experienced alongside my father; I was too young to appreciate their other albums when they were released, but he picked up The Division Bell when we were on summer vacation the year it came out, and the album became one that we listened to regularly on our vacation drives.  This is a great version of the song, and the two little excursions into "Auld Lang Syne" work extremely well, making it a very appropriate song for this time of year.

I'd like to close this post with one of my favourite quotes that took on an entirely new meaning for me this year:

"We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."
--Paul Bowles

If you haven't talked to your father lately, please do so as soon as you can and let him know how much you appreciate him.  Life is definitely anything but inexhaustible, so take the time to appreciate the things you hold dear while you still can.

I love you, Dad.  I'll always miss you, but thanks for the lifetime of memories, especially the ones revolving around Pink Floyd!



Les Étoiles de Noël (free album) [12 Days of HMVDigital #11]

Well, HMVDigital has gone all out on its second last day of giveaways.  Instead of a single track, it is offering Les Étoiles de Noël, an entire album, for free!  I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, so I can't comment on it very much, but here's the track list in case you need a little more convincing:
  1. "An Old Fashioned Christmas, Noël sans faim" by Patrick Norman
  2. "Les enfants oubliés" by Cindy Daniel
  3. "Douce nuit, Sainte nuit, Give Peace a Chance" by Angel Forrest / Florent Vollant
  4. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Angel Forrest
  5. "Silver Bells" by Patrick Norman
  6. "Joyeux Noël" by Marie-Chantal Toupin
  7. "Père Noël arrive ce soir" by Martin Deschamps
  8. "23 décembre" by Hugo Lapointe
  9. "I'll Be Home For Christmas" by Patrick Norman
  10. "Aimons-nous" by Annie Carrier
  11. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by Éric Lapointe
  12. "C'est l'hiver" by Cindy Daniel
  13. "Un enfant" by Marie-Chantal Toupin
  14. "Ave Maria" by Gino Quilico
  15. "Minuit chrétien" by Mélanie Renaud
  16. "Tout ce que l'on veut pour Noël... c'est l'amour" by Various Artists 
Some great songs in there, to be sure.  Happy listening!



Joel Rakes - "Wonderful Christmastime"

Well, it appears that my plan has fallen apart faster than you can say "Christmas vacation".  I've barely had time to listen to any music at all in the last few days, let alone write about it.  Rather than worry about it, though, I'm just going to enjoy my vacation with my family and get a few more posts up here if I get a chance.  I listened to a lot of Christmas music in the last month or so, and I'd love to share as much of it as I possibly can, so any remaining posts will likely be collections of links with brief notes about the music.  

First, though, I'd like to talk about latest song from Joel Rakes.  The penultimate track on this year's edition of festive.mood.inducing.music has been released, and it is a fun cover of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime".  The vocals are heavily Auto-Tuned, something I normally can't stand, but it works in a fun song like this (in fact, Joel himself seems to feel the same way).

There's still one more song to be released for this EP, and it will be coming out on Christmas Eve.  Although he hasn't been strictly using the results of his poll to determine the track list thus far, the top choice ended up being "more joel rakes original christmas songs".  We haven't had any original songs from him yet this year, so it's probably a good bet that the final song will be an original; no matter what, though, I'm really looking forward to it.  Happy listening!



Eddy Christmas

So yes, I did miss a post yesterday.  Things just caught up with me and I ended up falling asleep much earlier than I usually do, leaving me with no chance of getting anything up.  It was a good run while it lasted, though - I believe I posted for 25 days straight, including a number of days when I managed to get a couple of posts up.  I'm still going to give it my best shot for the remaining days, though - there's too much good music left to quit now!

Some of my favourite Christmas music last year came from an artist known simply as Eddy, who released a couple of tracks each week leading up to Christmas; curiously, though, I don't think I managed to get a post up about her music.  Fortunately, she is doing the same thing again this year, and she has even been kind enough to rerelease two of last year's songs, presumably for those who didn't get them last year.  The rereleased songs are an incredibly groovy "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "We Three Kings", both of which are done acoustically as duets.

The first set of songs for 2010 includes "Carol of the Bells" and "Last Christmas".  "Carol of the Bells" has an acoustic base, but there are a lot of layered vocals and it is a much busier arrangement than last year's songs.  My favourite of the bunch is "Last Christmas", which has more of a rock sound than the others - I actually hear a bit of Paramore in there at times.  It's a great arrangement, and I'm really looking forward to hearing what else she has in store for us this year; the site artwork indicates that there are still two releases to come.  Happy listening!



Denis Richard - Noël

I haven't featured much non-English music on this blog, mainly because I don't really know how to search for it.  I'd certainly love to have more of it, especially songs that originated in other languages and were later translated into English.  I was delighted, then, to find Denis Richard's Noël on Jamendo last week, as it is a full-length album of French Christmas songs.  Even better, they are done in a very kid-friendly style, with upbeat, playful arrangements and very clear vocals; I just noticed that this blog is curiously lacking in kid-friendly music, so this album actually helps to address a couple of deficiencies at once.

You'll recognize a lot of the songs on here even if you don't know a word of French.  Other songs are less familiar to me, but I'll be looking up more information about them so I can hopefully find other songs like them.  I always love expanding my musical interests, and being able to do that in another language is just a bonus.  In the meantime, I hope that you, and perhaps any children in your life, enjoy this little collection of French Christmas songs.  Happy listening!


Chanticleer - "Noël Nouvelet" [12 Days of HMVDigital #8]

Today's free download from HMVDigital is Chanticleer's "Noël Nouvelet".  Once again, I am completely unfamiliar with this artist (according to their website, they are the top male a cappella chorus in the world), but it's still a very beautiful song and is definitely worth a download.  Happy listening!



Jason & Liana Stone - Oh Christmas!

Oh Christmas is a short but sweet release by Jason & Liana Stone.  A beautiful version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", done with nothing but acoustic guitar and vocals, leads the EP off.  Up next is a great medley of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings".  This seems to be a copy of the medley done by Barenaked Ladies' (as a duet with Sarah McLachlan) on their Barenaked for the Holidays album - at least, I haven't heard these two songs done together like this anywhere else.  In any case, they do a phenomenal job of emulating that medley, right down to the stand up bass and harmonized vocals.  Closing the EP is a gorgeous new arrangement of "O Little Town of Bethlehem", which once again strips things down to nothing but acoustic guitar and vocals; this is perhaps the most unique version of this song that I've ever heard.

The entire EP clocks in at just over 13 minutes and is a great listen if you're looking for something on the mellow side of things.  Happy listening!


Julian Casablancas - "Christmas Treat" [12 Days of HMVDigital #7]

Today's free download from HMVDigital is Julian Casablancas' "Christmas Treat" (actually, I believe the song is called "I Wish it was Christmas Today", as that's what the cover art says, as well as what he sings in the chorus).  This one caught me totally off guard as it's an artist that I've never heard of before, but the song totally rocks!  It has a bit of a new wave or power pop feel to it and is unbelievably catchy.  I think this may be my favourite of all of the songs released by HMVDigital so far.

Further investigation (okay, I clicked on the artist's name on the download page) reveals that Casablancas is the lead singer/songwriter for The Strokes, a band that I am obviously not familiar with if I didn't even recognize his name.  If you're a fan of The Strokes, I'm sure you will love this song; even if you're not a fan of them, you may still love this song.  There's really only one way to find out, and (today, at least) it won't cost you a thing.  Happy listening!



Sleeping at Last - Christmas Collection 2010

Sleeping at Last has been releasing a free Christmas song every year for the last 8 years now, although I only found out about it this year; fortunately, they have been kind enough to package all of the songs together and release them on NoiseTrade.  I've been finding quite a bit of free Christmas music on NoiseTrade this year, and I've posted about a few of my favourite albums so far.  In case you've never used NoiseTrade before, though, the way it works is pretty simple: you provide your email address and postal code, and a link to download the music is sent to your email address.

Christmas Collection 2010 is a collection of Christmas songs done mostly in a very simple, beautiful, and relaxed style.  There's a great version of "Silver Bells", which is one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs.  "O Holy Night" features some great dynamics, with the music rising and falling several times throughout the song.  The entire album is a real joy to listen to, and Sleeping at Last will now be added to the list of artists whose Christmas releases I look forward to every year.  Happy listening!


Barking Classics - "12 Days of Christmas" [12 Days of HMVDigital #6]

Today's free song from HMVDigital is Barking Classics' "12 Days of Christmas".


At least it's free.  Honestly, that's about all I have to say about this one.  I might play this for my kids later and see if it gets a laugh out of them, though.  I also might try to recreate it in Mario Paint if I can convince my Super Nintendo to work for a little while.  Happy listening!



The Brantley Family Band 2010 X-mas Album

When I posted about The Brantley Family Band and their annual Christmas albums a couple of weeks ago, I figured that it was only a matter of time before a new album from them would show up.  Their new album was actually released yesterday, as they kindly pointed out in their comment on that post.  The 2010 album has four songs, bringing their discography up to a whopping 32 songs, and is available from their Bandcamp page (where the track listing has been updated to include the).

The album leads off with a great cover of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Xmas Time" and a characteristically zany version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas".  A beautiful version of Vince Guaraldi's "Skating" (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) is up next; the dazzling, virtuoso guitar playing in this song easily places it in the upper echelon of the band's catalogue.  The album concludes with a mindblowing version of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch".  Like last year's "Jingle Bell Rock", this one features a rapid fire series of genre changes, most of which I don't even have names for.  I love the country verse in the middle of the song, which has a Johnny Cash feel, but it is the metal verses that bookend the song that have remained stuck in my head since the first time I heard the song.  I was initially disappointed that the metal style wasn't used for the entire song, but the more I listen to it, the more awed I am by the way they deftly hop from genre to genre - I can't think of too many bands who could pull something like that off so convincingly.  Happy listening!


Twisted Sister - "O Come All Ye Faithful" [12 Days of HMVDigital #5]

Today's free download from HMVDigital is Twisted Sister's version of "O Come All Ye Faithful" from A Twisted Christmas, which was released in 2006.  If the arrangement sounds a little familiar, it's because you've probably heard it before as "We're Not Gonna Take It", which itself was inspired by this very song.  It's not an exact match, but it's very close.  Listen to the harmonized guitar solos to hear just how close - one of them plays the traditional melody, and the other one is the same as the solo in "We're Not Gonna Take It".  It's a very playful arrangement, and it sounds like the band must have had a ton of fun creating it; it's certainly a lot of fun to listen to.  Happy listening!



Joel Rakes - "O Holy Night"

The third song on Joel Rakes' festive​​.​​mood​​.​​inducing​.​music​​.​​vol​​.​​5, "O Holy Night", was just released today.  This is a really nice, mellow version of the song, consisting of a quiet guitar riff, vocals, and a cello.  I'm not used to this song sounding so quiet, so I think it really stands out as a very beautiful version.

I also found out that Joel has been writing what he calls "behind the song" posts on his blog, in which he shares details of how each song was arranged, produced, and recorded.  I love reading this kind of stuff (in much the same way that I enjoy watching all the behind-the-scenes extras on a DVD), so I think it's pretty awesome that he's sharing this information with those who enjoy "nerd-ing out" about it (as his email to me said).  Happy listening!


Mariah Carey - "The First Noel/Born Is The King Interlude" [12 Days of HMVDigital #4]

One of the things that I love most about free Christmas music is that it gets me listening to artists that I would otherwise not even bother with.  Case in point: Mariah Carey, whose "The First Noel/Born Is The King Interlude" (from her recently released, and cleverly titled, Merry Christmas II You) is today's free download from HMVDigital.  It's not my favourite version of "The First Noel", but it's still quite nice, and I really like the brief interlude section that's tagged on to the end of the song.

Any guesses as to what else will be coming our way from HMV this month?  I'd love to see Lady Gaga's "Christmas Tree" given away, since there was such a huge deal made about it last year when Amazon gave it away for free; other than that, though, I'm just sitting back and enjoying this unexpected windfall of Christmas music.  Happy listening!



Rosalie Kauffman - Christmas Peace

Christmas Peace is a collection of Christmas songs by Rosalie Kauffman that is beautiful in its simplicity.  There's no playing around with the arrangements, and the instrumentation is kept to things like piano, strings, and guitar.  The real star of the album is Ms. Kauffman's voice, which is clear and very powerful with a great range - just listen to what she does on songs like "Mary Did You Know?" and "Oh Holy Night" to hear what I'm talking about.

I realize that I tend to post about a lot of unordinary Christmas music, be it completely original songs or creative arrangements of familiar songs, but I do love more traditional sounding Christmas music too.  This album is a great example of that.  It actually reminds me quite a bit of Martina McBride's White Christmas: just a classic sounding Christmas album that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  There are a few songs, like "All Because" and "Breath of Heaven", that I was previously unfamiliar with, but they sit very nicely alongside the songs that I do know.  Songs like "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sound absolutely beautiful here.

One thing to note is that the album is available in .m4a format, so you need to make sure that your media player can handle that format before trying to play the album.  I guess that this is one of the formats supported by iPods, though, so it's not as if it's an unheard of format.  Hopefully no one will have any problems trying to play this album - if you do, please let me know, and we'll see if we can find something that will play it for you.  Also, the download pages lists "The Christmas Song" as the third song on the album, but unfortunately the file does not seem to be on the server.  I have sent an email to the address listed on the error page, so if I hear anything back from the site, I'll update this post with the information.  Happy listening!



Josiah James - "Heaven Came Down"

It seems to have become a trend at this point: it's Saturday, I've been busy, and a single song is about all I have time to write about.  However, this is a song I've wanted to post about since the first time I heard it; I was just waiting for the right time.  This morning I woke up with the song stuck in my head, and it has stayed there all day, so I believe this is the right time.

"Heaven Came Down" is an original Christmas song written by Josiah James and released just under a month ago; it is free for anyone who signs up for his mailing list.  The song is written and performed absolutely beautifully, starting with simple strummed guitar chords, piano, and vocals, and gradually adding drums, strings, electric guitar, layered vocals, and hand claps.  The sound continues to build for the duration of the song, until it abruptly stops and fades out quietly with a Joshua Tree-like electric guitar sound.  James has a great voice as well, sounding a bit like Chris Martin and Bono at times.  Happy listening!



Atomsplit - Hey Holiday

And now, something short but fun for a Friday evening.  Hey Holiday is a four song EP of original Christmas- and holiday-themed songs by Atomsplit.  The whole thing clocks in at less than 15 minutes, but it's a ton of fun from start to finish.  The songs all have a pop punk sound that immediately made me think of Good Charlotte, although I can't help but wonder if I've somehow associated the cartoon silhouettes on the cover art with the logo for Undergrads, which used a Good Charlotte song as its theme song.

The album storms out of the gate with "Master of Mistletoe", which is honestly one of the coolest song titles I've ever heard; the song itself sounds just as cool.  All of the songs do, actually, and the super sharp production allows everything to be heard with perfect clarity.  The whole band sounds very tight, and I will very likely be checking out more of their music after Christmas is all over, which could prove to be a very interesting experience: a quick look at the Atomsplit website indicates that there's much more to this band than just the music - check out the web comic!

In the meantime, I'll definitely be giving Hey Holiday at least a few more listens before I put the Christmas music away until next year.  Happy listening!


"Vive le Vent" [12 Days of HMVDigital #3]

Since it appears that the 12 Days of HMVDigital MP3s previously mentioned in this space are available to more than just Canadians, I thought it might be a good idea to put up a quick post about each song as it becomes available.  I thought about doing that yesterday, when Sheryl Crow's "O Holy Night" was the free download, but I figured that there would only be a few hours left to download the song by the time I posted about it; it turns out, though, that the downloads have been changing over closer to midday EST, so there would have been ample time for anyone interested to grab the track.  Oh well, live and learn!

Today's download is "Vive le Vent" as performed by Les petits chanteurs d'Aix en Provence, Santa Claus Light Orchestra.  "Vive le Vent" is a French song that uses the same music as "Jingle Bells".  This is a cute version of the song sung by a children's choir.

I have to say, these downloads have been a very nice surprise so far.  I'm impressed with the variety shown in the first three songs, and I'm really looking forward to what is to come.  Happy listening!



Joseph G Vincent - Music of Christmas

Joseph G Vincent's Music of Christmas is one of the more unique albums I've heard in that nearly everything on it is done with a hammered dulcimer.  Off the top of my head, I don't think I can name a single song that uses a hammered dulcimer (although when I consulted Wikipedia to find out what a hammered dulcimer is, I discovered that Neil Peart is listed as a player of the instrument, so I've almost certainly heard it before), so it's certainly refreshing to hear normally familiar songs in a completely different way.

And that's really the main draw of this album - you've probably heard all of the songs before, but not with this kind of sound.  The songs are all stripped down to their most basic melodies, but there is a certain elegance in the way that they are played that makes them sound strikingly beautiful.  I'm obviously not an expert on hammered dulcimer playing, but I really love the way that it sounds on this album - I get the feeling that it is not the easiest instrument in the world to play, and that each note is played with a great deal of care.  And really, that's about all I can say here - the sound is so unique that I don't know how to describe it any further.  If hearing old favourites done in new and interesting ways appeals to you, then this is an album you have to hear.  Happy listening!



Jeff and Tasha's Crazy Christmas

Even though it has nothing to do with Christmas, there's a line in Chroma Key's "America the Video" that rang very true for me today: "Sometimes the answer just comes."  I was trying to decide what to post about today and not having much luck figuring it out when a new version of a familiar song started playing, and it immediately became crystal clear what I needed to post about.

Today, of course, marks 30 years since John Lennon was killed, and the song that came on was "Happy Xmas (War is Over)".  At first I thought it might be nice to round up a bunch of different versions of the song and post about all of them, but I quickly realized that I had only come across two different versions so far this year, and I had already posted about one of them (Jed Luckless' version).  So instead of doing that, I'll just post about the album I was listening to.

The album is called Jeff and Tasha's Crazy Christmas, and truth be told, it's really not that crazy, aside from the beatbox version of "Let it Snow".  Most of the album is quite mellow, beginning with a nice version of "O Holy Night", which features some great vocal harmonies.  I really like the solo guitar version of "The First Noel", too.  The real highlight, though, is "Happy Xmas", which is just beautifully done.  The vocals are echoed and layered just right, and it's clear that a lot of work went into perfecting the song.  If you're a fan of the song, this version is well worth checking out.  Happy Xmas!


12 Days of HMVDigital

I just found out that HMV will be giving away one free festive track each day for the next 12 days (starting today) as part of their 12 Days of HMVDigital event.  It's quite probable that these giveaways are limited to Canadians; however, I have no way of testing that myself, since I am in fact Canadian and already a member of HMVDigital.  If someone residing outside of Canada would like to test this out for themselves, please report back here and let everyone know whether or not it works.  If it doesn't, then I apologize, as I do like to keep the content I post about accessible to as many people as possible.  As someone who has often found himself on the outside looking in at all of Amazon's MP3 giveaways, though, I can't help but feel excited about this, and I really hope that at least a few people are able to benefit from it.

The first MP3 to be given away in this event is "Ave Maria" by The Canadian Tenors.  If it turns out that people in the rest of the world can also access these downloads, then I'll probably make mention of any noteworthy songs as they become available; otherwise, this will probably be the last time I mention it.  Either way, please let me know how it works for you.


P.S. This isn't meant to be today's post - I'm actually working on another one that should be up soon and will have music that anyone can download, like most of my posts.


A Garritan Community Christmas Volume 7

I need to be a little more brief than usual tonight (it's been a rather busy day in a rather intense snowstorm), so I'm turning to one of the most dependable sources of free Christmas music I know - the Garritan Community Christmas Album, which is now in its seventh year of existence.  It's hard to believe that there were only three of these albums available when I started this blog.  I always enjoy downloading the newest album as soon as I can find it and listening to all the varied sounds that these talented artists are able to create on their computers.  Some sounds and songs work better than others, but on the whole there is always a very professional and polished feel to the albums, and this one is no different.  I really like the organ sound on "O Come All Ye Faithful", and there are some beautiful instrument sounds, not to mention vocals, on "Gifts for the Country King".  Another highlight is the jazzy version of "We Three Kings"; I always like the songs that step out of the classical domain, as that's where the true diversity of the instruments can be heard.  Happy listening!



Album Spotlight: The Christmas Gig

I often hear of people complaining about the Christmas music that is nearly ubiquitous in stores at this time of year; again, I just don't get it.  I can respect it, for sure, but I'll never ever understand it.  That said, I think it's rather appropriate that today's download comes from Target; I don't know if they actually play any songs from this album in their stores, but if they did, maybe people would complain about it less.  At the very least, you can't accuse any of the songs on The Christmas Gig of sounding like the same old Christmas music that you hear every year.

"Free, original holiday music from Target" is what the download page promises, and the album delivers just that.  I don't recognize any of the artists besides Little Isidore (who has a song on the soundtrack of the 2000 remake of How The Grinch Stole Christmas; incidentally, his "Party Hard", with its old time rock & roll feel, is one of the highlights of this album), but that's beside the point.  The point is that you get 14 original Christmas songs, ranging in style from hard rock to hip-hop to country to R&B.

The album starts off on a high point with the classic rock sounds of Guster's "Tiny Tree Christmas" and the hip-hop of Blackalicious' "Toy Jackpot"; it's a great example of the diversity to be found on the album.  I think my favourite song is Natalie Hemby's beautiful, romantic country ballad, "Perfect Gift"; either that or The Pinker Tones' hard rocking "Súper Mamá (Supermom)".  No matter where your musical tastes lie, I think you'll find something to enjoy on The Christmas Gig.  Happy listening!


P.S. Don't forget to pick up the second song on Joel Rakes' festive​​.​​mood​​.​​inducing​.​music​​.​​vol​​.​​5, which just came out today.  Today's song is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", and it has a really cool, upbeat country feel to it.


So Elated - The Bewildering Light

So Elated's The Bewildering Light is a beautiful collection of traditional and original Christmas music.  The music is mainly folk-oriented, but there's a lot more going on than such a blanket term would indicate.  The male and female vocal harmonies add a lot to songs like "Eastern Star" and "The First Noel", which comes to a gorgeous crescendo near the end and concludes with a whistling outro (I'm a whistler myself, so I always love to hear whistling in music).

Some of the original songs are very nice.  "Stick With You" is told from the point of view of Joseph, and "Shepherds and Angels" has a cool, upbeat, Jack Johnson-like vibe.  The latter is also available in two versions - the original and a "party version", which seems to be a remix that brings the background vocals more to the foreground and sounds quite a bit clearer.

There are also beautiful instrumental versions of "Greensleeves" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".  I particularly love the classical guitar in the latter - it really helps to give it a unique and lovely sound.

The album is available from Noisetrade, so the usual business of supplying your email address and postal code in return for free music applies.  Happy listening!



Bayside - "Angels We Have Heard on High"

Short post tonight - 'twas my birthday and I didn't have time to listen to or write anything.  Fortunately, though, I've been staying ahead of the game and have listened to tons of music and made notes on much of it, so I can put together a few posts pretty quickly.

Bayside have made their version of  "Angels We Have Heard on High" available for free to anyone who signs up for their newsletter.  Actually, you don't technically need to subscribe to anything, as the download link appears after you hit the submit button, while you only get a confirmation email in your inbox; however, I tend to give bands the benefit of the doubt in a situation like this and subscribe anyway.  I get free music, and I also get to learn a little more about the band from their emails - that's a win-win situation in my book.  The track is a really excellent rock version with muscular drumming and guitar riffs, and also some brief harmonized guitar licks.  This is a band I might like to know more about, so I'm actually looking forward to seeing what shows up from them in my inbox.  Happy listening!



The Brantley Family Band

The Brantley Family Band has a massive (and growing) collection of Christmas music available to download.  Every year since 2004, they have released a little Christmas album with 4 to 6 songs "as a sort of musical Christmas card for [their] friends, families, and fans all over the world."  There is nothing available for 2010 yet, but in the meantime you can download all 28 songs from the first 6 albums directly from their website, or from Bandcamp, where you can download a .zip file of the entire collection (if you do that, though, just note that "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" may be mislabelled as "Deck the Halls").

Your musical tastes will need to be at least a little bit on the adventurous side in order to take it all in.  For the most part, things sound pretty "normal", but there are also songs like "Silent Nite", which veers toward death metal with its chugging, distorted guitars and growling, processed vocals, or "Jingle Bell Rock", which goes through about a half dozen different styles in its 2 minutes and 21 seconds.  "Last Christmas" and "Feliz Navidad" are both performed fairly straight, at least until you get to the random metal outbursts in the middle of them.  I'm not trying to scare anyone away from downloading this collection - just trying to get the idea across that it is rather more eclectic than most Christmas music that I come across (in all honesty, it was the odd, reggae-tinged rendition of "Blue Christmas" found here that prevented me from posting about it the other day, when I opted for Joshua James' more straight-ahead version).

Some of the highlights are rocking, guitar-based versions of "Linus and Lucy" and "Joy to the World", both of which would not sound out of place on a Merry Axemas album; a bluesy "Merry Christmas Baby", which works surprisingly well as a duet (at least I've never heard it done that way before - if there are other duet versions of this song, please let me know!); and a beautiful, acoustic guitar-based, instrumental version of "Morning Star".  My favourite of all, though, is "Fat Daddy", a song I'd never heard before.  The whole song has a zany Frank Zappa feel to it, from the "La la la la laaaaa" female vocals, to the spoken section near the end, to the ripping guitar solo that closes the song.  About the only information I can find on this song is that it's an obscure song recorded by a radio DJ in the 1950s, so I'm glad that the Brantley Family Band has made a version available for everyone to hear.

Happy listening!



Haunting Party - Merry Little Xmas Tape

Haunting Party's Merry Little Xmas Tape opens with an absolutely charming version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and closes with "New Year's Eve", both of which were written by Frank Loesser; it's nice how his songs bookend the album.

In between the two Loesser songs are fun versions of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland", both of which are arranged as duets, something I'm not sure I've heard before; it works amazingly well here.  In fact, of the six songs on the album, the only ones that are not done as duets are the last two, "Home for Christmas" and "New Year's Eve".  The latter is my favourite song on the album - actually, it's one of the best songs I've heard this year.  I'm not sure just how it is that I'd never heard it before, but I'll definitely be on the lookout for more versions of it in the future.
The entire album is only a shade over 20 minutes long (which I guess makes it an EP), so you almost can't not download it.  Happy listening!