Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Listening Club - 18th December 2016

Greetings folks,

Hope all is fine and good with you all. A positive mood prevails here in Amsterdam, but that's because we're off on holiday soon, and very much looking forward to getting away from the grey and grim for a while. Speaking of which, looks like due to calendar issues we're going to postpone the #festivevortex until the 8th January, and the right honerable @JimMcCauley will be helming that, so you've got plenty of time to get your favourites of 2016 lined up. Also, although we didn't actually discuss it, I'm presuming that we're going to be closed for business for the next two Sundays (Xmas Day and New Year's Day), so whoever gets the frisbaton tonight will have until 15th Jan to get their pick sorted...

Last week @xpollen8 jumped bravely into the fray with his debut pick of Carrie Newcomer's "Visions And Dreams" which split opinions fairly down the middle, I think, as befitting the duality of the album title. Many thanks to him for the pick and for sailing the frisb across to @mrhig who's here with a typically seasonal intro...

"You passed me the frisbaton in the lead up to Christmas. You absolute fools.

I’m a sucker for a good Christmas album. Or even a crap Christmas album, if it has enough novelty value. I own two Barry Manilow Christmas albums. Last week I picked up a Mariachi Christmas album on vinyl for a pound in a local record shop (it’s great, but it’s not this week’s pick).

It’s getting to the point where allowing myself to listen to Christmas albums from the first of December onwards each year is not early enough to be able to fit in all our Christmas albums. Next year I might start at Thanksgiving like the Americans seem to (actually a lot of Americans I know start on Christmas festivities once Halloween is over).

You’ve got to listen to Christmas music when putting up the tree and decorations (the Charlie Brown Christmas album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio for me) and when wrapping last-minute presents on Christmas Eve (Low’s Christmas album and Slow Club’s “Christmas Thanks For Nothing” for this… but the latter is too short for Listening Club and the former too obvious/well-known).

There are great recent holiday records by (amongst others) Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Nick Lowe, and Tracey Thorn (with a loose definition of “recent”… look, they can only be listened to at Christmas time so time works differently with holiday records). I’m also a big fan of more inclusive festive fare that throws in a few Hannukah-related ditties and perhaps nods to some other countries/faiths and their celebrations. After all I’m no Christian myself (atheist co-opting a ubiquitous British holiday for my own purposes here).

But this week’s pick is one of the earliest Christmas albums I own (in terms of my own personal chronology in acquiring them, not year of release necessarily) and a perennial favourite. It should be instantly recognisable to those that know the band or artist, and I’m more than aware it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. I’d ask that you give it a chance but this is Listening Club, and the first rule of Listening Club is to give everything a chance. Turn and face the strange, as it were (no, AFAIK Bowie never did a Christmas record). I think there’s some very fun and novel approaches to classics here, and quite a bit of variation.

Drinking suggestion: eggnog, mulled wine, hot buttered rum or a nice glass of port. 

Turn the (normal) lights down low. Turn on all the Christmas lights and decorations. Set the tree to “epilepsy” setting and imagine you’re in Los Angeles, by way of Winnipeg…"

Right. Direct download is here, and the spoiler-laden HearThis stream is below:

See you at 8pm GMT!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Listening Club - 11th December 2016

Greetings folks,

Hope all is fine with you folks - Feeling a little discombobulated here, as I mentioned earlier on twitter, the job that brought me here to Amsterdam three and a half years ago has ended, which is a pity in a few ways, and a relief in a few others, as is always the case. Still, given the way that this year has gone for many, it's definitely a perfect time to be putting past grumbles and downers to one side, and looking to the future... *raises glass to you all*

Last week chez #LC, @samsmitter was in the chair, sailing us back to his youthful times with his pick of Elvis Costello's sophomore album "This Year's Model", which still sounds mighty fine to these ears. Many thanks to Sam for the pick and for sailing the frisbee across to @xpollen8, who is here with his debut introduction...

"This has been a shit week in a shit year, so I'm setting my sights back a few comforting years to when today was unimaginable.

This is an artist whose style isn't one I normally dig. But her turn of phrase and tunesmithery pack a real punch, so maybe she'll win you over, too.

She's still a DIY touring *machine* even decades after this debut. The lady deserves more attention than she receives.

Teaser: I snapped the cover portrait."

Okaydoke. Direct download is here (right-click, save as), and the spoiler-filled HearThis stream is...

See you 8pm GMT.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Listening Club - 4th December 2016

Greetings folks,

Hope all is good in your hoods, Amsterdam's in rare sunny day mode, which is welcome, if chilly, especially as the kinderlings of the city await the arrival of Sinterklass tomorrow, although I'm hoping he's recovered from his weekend drinking, as we saw him looking rather three-sheets-to-the-wind in a bar last night...

Last week, @Har_Shone was in the chair presenting her high-body-count debut pick of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' classic "Murder Ballads" which went down rather well indeed. Thanks to Harriet for the pick, and for sailing the frisb like a pro across to that @samsmitter, who's here with this week's intro...

"My favourite ever album? For me its a bit like the pop charts, and the number one spot changes at least once a month. This album held the prestigious title of My Favourite Album Ever for at least 6 months, a Mull-Of-Kintyre style run at the prestigious 16-18 formative age. The artist is one of those you either really like or you really don't - if you like him, this is far and away his best album in my opinion, and if you don't, sorry! - its only 36 minutes long. This is one from the glory days before some idiot told him he could sing, and he started recording albums with string quartets. Just a great band, swirling organ, and great songs. Hope you enjoy it."

Righty-ho. Direct download is here, and the spoiler-laden HearThis stream is below:

See you at 8pm GMT.