Last year, I started a new holiday tradition, one truly for the ages. Born out of apathy for Top Whatever end-of-year lists, I decided that it wasn’t really the Austin Girl Music Guide style to pretend like I’d listened to every album that came out in a given year carefully enough to actually rate them against each other. I’m more about sharing the tunes than earning cred because of a rebellious choice to include one pop album and one rap album on my list of 18 indie artists. And thus, Christmas Tuneskies was born! I create an album of 15 songs, burn a bunch of discs, commission Seanningham Productions to make a sweet and extra-cheesy cover, and wham - instant Christmas stocking stuffers.
The songs I choose are based on artists and albums that I’ve really enjoyed listening to this year, regardless of their original release year. I’m so pleased to be sharing this year’s Tuneskies with my friends and family and of course, all of you as well. With no further ado, here is the track listing and links for AGMG Presents: Christmas Tuneskies 2010, NOW That’s What I Call Tuneskies, Volume II: A Very Merry Tuneskies.
1. “Christmas Lights,” Coldplay – 2010
Now a Christmas Tuneskies tradition, each album will begin and end with actual Christmas songs to you know, set the mood and what not. Last year, I included two Coldplay Christmas covers, but this year, they made it easy on me by recording a new track called “Christmas Lights.” If you like Coldplay and/or Chris Martin as much as I do, you’ll also want to check out this video of his acoustic piano version of the song.
2. “I Can Talk,” Two Door Cinema Club, Tourist History – 2010
This up-and-coming band made quite an impression on me this year, especially with their breakout performance at the ACL Festival. The poppy and sonically unique “I Can Talk” from their album Tourist History does justice to Two Door Cinema Club’s live performances.
3. “I’m Alright,” Agent Ribbons, Chateau Crone – 2010
Agent Ribbons is one of the hardest working, truly independent bands going, and they’re also stationed here in Austin. All the way back in July, I reviewed their album which debuted in October and since then, I’ve been an admirer of their dedication and abilities. “I’m Alright” reflects their charming style very well.
4. “Okay,” Venice is Sinking, Okay – 2009
Speaking of hard-working bands…yeah. I first became aware of Venice is Sinking when I was sent the link to “Okay” in September 2009, and quickly realized that not only is this band bound to succeed, but they’re also out there pounding the pavement themselves, getting press. Of course, we also included them in our SXSW Special where they blew us away with their gorgeous harmonies and overall loveliness.
5. “We Used to Wait,” Arcade Fire, The Suburbs – 2010
One of my all-time favorite bands, Arcade Fire made a huge splash earlier this year with their new album The Suburbs. Back in May when they released two singles to the world, I blogged about the album’s potential. Since then, I’ve listened to the album a few times (review of the album likely to come this winter break!) and “We Used to Wait” is one of the standouts.
6. “Day Glo,” Brazos, Phosphorescent Blues – 2009
In the run-up to SXSW, I participated in the AOL/Spinner project to interview a bajillion SXSW bands. Martin Crane from Brazos was the first interview I did. To prepare for the interview, I listened to the band’s latest, Phosphorescent Blues. This album is one of the best by a local band I’ve heard yet and “Day Glo” is a sunny slice of indie pop goodness.
7. “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” We Were Promised Jetpacks, These Four Walls – 2009
Here’s that SXSW influence again…We Were Promised Jetpacks put on one of the best shows we saw during that utterly insane week of madness, plus “Roll Up Your Sleeves” provided me with the impetus to edit my first interstitial piece for our SXSW Special. A Tuneskies must.
8. “How Do You Do It?” Quiet Company, Songs for Staying In – 2010
Ever since we were first acquainted at SXSW, local band Quiet Company has been in the musical roto. They provided us with one of our favorite SXSW Special moments by performing acoustically for our cameras, and “How Do You Do It?” from their latest album Songs for Staying In is one of my favorites.
9. “I Wish it Would Rain,” Mayer Hawthorne, A Strange Arrangement – 2009
When Christmas time means sexy time, you might want a little Mayer Hawthorne to class things up a bit. Sure this song is on the sad side, but it’s custom-made for those pouty apologies that buy immediate forgiveness after she unwraps her new vacuum cleaner on Christmas morning. Mayer Hawthorne was terrific at the ACL fest this year, and he was a shoe-in for this year’s Tuneskies.
10. “Hit Em Up Style,” Carolina Chocolate Drops, Genuine Negro Jig – 2010
When I reviewed Genuine Negro Jig back in June, I talked about how much I love this cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit Em Up Style” by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Also, not bad as a follow-up to Mayer Hawthorne. “Vacuum cleaner my ass!”
11. “What Goes On,” The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground – 1969
So, last year I included an “old” track on my Tuneskies album and I decided to do that again this year, but what I didn’t plan was the entirely coincidental placement in track 11. Whoa!! Starting this year, track 11 of Christmas Tuneskies shall be the “classic” track. This year’s classic inclusion is The Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On.”
12.“Back and Forth,” Bright Light Social Hour, The Bright Light Social Hour – 2010
After interviewing Austin band Bright Light for SXSW, I finally had the opportunity to see them live in April and I couldn’t believe what an incredible live show they put on. I’ve seen them again since their album dropped, and they’ve only gotten better. They really are one of Austin’s must-see acts. This track is one of the most fun, especially live.
13. “Crash Years,” The New Pornographers, Together – 2010
The New Pornographers are a band that I’m starting to settle into liking. “Crash Years” is one of the first tracks on their latest album Together that grew on me quite a bit.
14. “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine,” The Flaming Lips, Embryonic – 2009
Ah, The Flaming Lips. Any song that merits a video prefaced with a warning…and then really, REALLY delivers on that warning just somehow deserves a spot amongst the Tuneskies. I saw the Lips three times this year, got some amazing pictures, and blogged about it all to boot. One of my favorite bands indeed.
15. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, Quiet Company, A Merry Little Christmas EP – 2010
Every year in the harrowed year and a half history of my blog, it seems I end up talking about one band more than any other. Last year, it was Coldplay; this year it was Quiet Company. What can I say…I think these guys are great. They work their asses off, are super-talented, and are genuinely cool people. Also, they just so happened to release a Christmas EP including a cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” right in time for Tuneskies, which really worked out swimmingly.
And that’s all she wrote! Do you know me? If so, you’ll get your very own copy of this soon enough. If you don’t, pull up your iTunes and try making this mix. I guarantee Christmas cheer, holiday festivity, and possibly a song or two you haven’t heard yet. Happy Holidays everyone!