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I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play.. 
9th-Nov-2008 02:12 am
art; everyone has a dark side

Adrienne Pierce - Winter 2008 Insect Girl Records

1. All That We Want
2. Raise Our Voices Up
3. Christmas Time Is Here
4. Making Angels
5. Joy Is Within Reach
6. Put A Little Love In Your Heart
"The EP starts with the soulful bounce of "All That We Want". Inspired by the sounds of Motown Christmas records of the 60s. The lyrics encourage listeners to "send love if that's all you have to send...spend time if that's all you have to spend". Next, the crisp strum of acoustic guitars and distant bells make "Raise Our Voices Up" and its evocative personification of inanimate Christmas objects all the more poignant. Produced by and co-written with Sarah Mclachlan/Alanis Morissette keyboardist Vincent Jones, "Making Angels" injects a jolt of cheer with it's electro sheen and popping bass line. "Joy is Within Reach" is a more contemplative ode to remembering what is important during the oft over commercialized holiday season. "No need to deck the halls, forget the malls, let's go carolling," it urges against a backdrop of lush harmonies and instrumentation. Pierce also has reverence for the ghost of Christmas past as evidenced by the two covers present. First is her dreamy interpretation of Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts staple, "Christmas Time is Here". In the singer's capable hands, the classic "Put a Little Love In Your Heart" becomes a rootsy sing along complete with accordion and glockenspiel. Profits from the digital sales of the first song on the EP, "All That We Want" will be donated the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation."

MY INFORMAL REVIEW: Going a bit backwards, Adrienne's version of "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" brings a youthful optimism to the collection. Happy, light, and hopeful. Just the spirit of the season, while still bringing that indie playing-in-your-livingroom feeling through to your ears. Just what you need when the weather starts getting colder, the traffic starts multiplying and you have this on in your car. Her sweet voice singing, "..and the world will be a better place," makes you feel that it indeed will. Just as the reviewer above me wrote, the first track on the disc, "All That We Want" tells us to "send love if that's all you have to send, spend time if that's all you have to spend...it's all that we all want in the end." Truly getting back to the heart of the season. This song also makes you want to dance around with a wooden spoon, singing into it like a fool, all while baking Christmas cookies with those you love. Happy, upbeat, with just a gentle reminder of what "we all want in the end" anyway. In a bit of contrast, "Raise Our Voices Up" is a bit on the sad side. "I could be your winter light, and you could be mine," is one of my more favorite lines of the lyrics. It's a very cute little winter love song, regardless if you have someone special this time of year or not. The upbeat tunes make you happy enough to be okay with that, even if the lyrics break your heart and make you long for that one you let go. "Christmas Time Is Here" is beautiful and truly reminds you of caroling in the snow, or perhaps just staying at home and watching Charlie Brown and friends. Definitely a version of this song not to be missed! "Making Angels", is another upbeat song, with funky beats and bells in the background. "Driveway becomes a mountainside, garbage pail becomes a sled," it makes you want to get out and go play in the snow - if you have it that is! "Joy Is Within Reach" is the second to last song on this album and it is just as beautiful in voice, as well as in music, as the rest of the tracks. This one is unique in that it is one of the more slower songs. One of the songs to contemplate things going on in your life during this time of year. A good people-watching song, "singing Gloria," and to myself, a reminder to smile at strangers and always be grateful for what you have regardless of where you are or what your situation is, to get back to the true spirit of the season. "Joy is within reach."

Adrienne's MySpaceOfficial SiteAdrienne's Twitter

Various Artists - The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs 2008 Sony

1. Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson – “Winter Song”
2. Brandi Carlile – “The Heartache Can Wait”
3. Lenka – “All My Bells Are Ringing”
4. KT Tunstall – “Sleigh Ride”
5. Alice Smith – “Silver Bells”
6. Nicole Atkins – “Blue Christmas”
7. Fiona Apple – “Frosty The Snowman”
8. Meiko – “Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song)”
9. Holly Conlan – “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
10. Katy Perry – “White Christmas”
11. Colbie Caillat – “Mistletoe”
12. Priscilla Ahn – “Silent Night”
13. Kate Havnevik – “Winter Wonderland”
14. Catherine Feeny – “Christmas Song”
15. Hotel Café Medley – Auld Lang Syne (Charity Medley)

MY INFORMAL REVIEW: With lots of classics and some wonderful originals, this is possibly my favorite Christmas compilation album. Not only that, but since this was apparently the year of the "female singer-songwriter" I'm even more stoked for it. Though, honestly, I could probably do without Katy Perry. Her rendition of "White Christmas" isn't that bad though, but there's not much that is spectacular about it either. Rather than focusing on an artist I'm already not fond of sing a bit out of her range at points, I'll focus on the songs that make this album a gem. In particular, Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson's "Winter Song", which is just absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. "Is love alive," sung through melancholy violins and harmonious female voices will haunt you until the last track of this record, I can promise you. While what you would think of as a depressing love song, is more than that. Sara and Ingrid's beautiful voices carrying the message of love through, you will keep coming back over and over again and never once leaving feeling like it's time to cry. "My love, a beacon in the night, my words will be your light, to carry you to me." Just listen to it, trust me! There are far too many other songs that are just as gorgeous, but not nearly enough room to write about them all. If you want a jaunty little tune I'd recommend Lenka's "All My Bells Are Ringing", or Fiona Apple taking a different route and singing a very upbeat and catchy version of "Frosty the Snowman", or even KT Tunstall's version of "Sleigh Ride" could get you up and dancing around the Christmas tree. The classics sung here are almost paling in comparison to some of the versions we've heard over the years. Paired with the beautiful originals, this album is definitely not one to miss!

Official SiteSara Bareilles' TwitterIngrid Michaelson's Twitter

Over the Rhine - Snow Angels 2007 Great Speckled Dog Records

01. All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue
02. Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming)
03. White Horse
04. Little Town
05. New Redemption Song
06. Goodbye Charles
07. Snowed In With You
08. North Pole Man
09. Here It Is
10. One Olive Jingle
11. Snow Angel
12. We’re Gonna Pull Through
"Finally, the perfect CD for music lovers who appreciate a great song, and are burnt out on typical holiday fare. Over The Rhine's Snow Angels is unlike any holiday record you've ever heard. This collection of ten, brand new, original songs, many of which feel destined to become modern Christmas classics, conjures the Joni Mitchell's "The River" or John Lennon's "The War is Over," and yet the recordings embodied in Snow Angels have a unique groove all their own."

MY INFORMAL REVIEW: Amazon debates with the band on if this was a 2006 or 2007 release, but honestly, I can't remember either. I've had it since last Christmas though, and intend to get just as much playability out of it this time around as I did last year. Karin's haunting melodic voice and soothing sounds of the piano and acoustic guitar from Linford set you off into a dreamy little holiday vision. "All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue" if you're having a less than pleasant holiday season, "Darlin' (Christmas Is Coming)" if you're looking for a bit of a happier tune to sing along to, or try even "Snowed In With You" if you're looking for the perfect song to sing to your honey. A variety of love and warmth, somewhat like you'd feel by surrounding a fireplace on Christmas day with your family, this album is on my list of 'Christmas Definites' for years to come. There is so much I could say about this album, but not even one word of it would come close to what this album actually does for you once you've set down your cocoa and taken a listen. Just take a look for yourself at Over the Rhine's "All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue" video:
Official SiteOtR's MySpaceMore OtR Music (Amazon.com)

Some of my other favorite Christmas albums! Click on them to find where you can buy or take a listen.

Various Artists - Their Old Familiar Carols

01. All That We Need - Adrienne Pierce
02. Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming) - Over the Rhine
03. At Christmas - Hanson
04. Christmases When You Were Mine - Taylor Swift
05. My Evergreen - Squirrel Nut Zippers
06. Winter Song - Sara Bareilles/Ingrid Michaelson
07. Mistletoe - Colbie Caillat
08. All My Bells Are Ringing - Lenka
09. Christmas Must Be Something More - Taylor Swift
10. Here It Is - Over the Rhine
11. A Johnny Ace Christmas - Squirrel Nut Zippers
12. Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song) - Meiko

ALL ABOUT THIS MIXTAPE: I titled this mix "Their Old Favorite Carols" despite the fact that each of these Christmas songs is an original. My hope is that some of these songs can make it into your yearly playlist, because they're already in mine. Do not dismiss holiday songs as all being old and stuffy, or having to be completely silly (that dog barking jingle they play yearly on the radio comes to mind). Take a listen to these songs, and really listen. Put on your headphones, take a walk once people have up all their lights, sing along and lose yourself in the real meaning of the holiday. Think about Jesus' love for each and every one of us. If you're not religious, at least look at it from a historical perspective. Christian and Pagan traditions carried over to a new world, sparking new traditions that we celebrate now. Forget the shopping malls, forget the commercialism. Think of your friends, your family, how lucky you are to have what you have. Use this time of year, with the help of this Christmas mix, to think about all of this and to put a smile on someone else's face this year. Be grateful for what you have, be kind to those who are not as lucky, and have a very merry Christmas.

Download it here.
16th-Nov-2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
The link for the mixtape isn't working for me?
18th-Nov-2008 01:11 am (UTC)
the link for the mixtape isn't working for me either.

also is there anyway you could upload the hotel cafe cd?
that would be awesome.
15th-Dec-2008 07:54 pm (UTC)

(directed this way by foxymsmoxie
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