I used to think that the worst part about the holiday season was, because I lived in New Jersey at the time, I would have Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi’s Christmas aural equivalent to a sandpaper hand job jammed (stuffed if we’re being seasonal) up my ass forty times before Thanksgiving was even over. I sincerely don’t know what’s worse: my girlfriend at the time’s brother who loved to shout, “MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY” in a poor imitation of Springsteen because he was starved for attention and their father didn’t talk to them anymore or the fucking stage banter of the Boss’ rendition of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” “Did Santa bring you a new saxophone, Clarence?” No, he didn’t, because Clarence is fucking dead and every year, I hear that shit I feel like joining him just a bit more each time.
Now I’m convinced the biggest holiday war crime is some sappy shit from the bygone era where surfing I guess was en vogue for the holiday season. The song is “Christmas Island” and I’m sure someone writing for Vice could have a 1,000-word count think piece about everything “problematic” about it.
There’s a Jimmy Buffet version as well that sounds like having an ornament laden palm tree shoved in your dickhole that I’d have posted but I’ve already fucked up my algorithm enough.
That aside, you might recall that I did a piece on Christmas music a few years ago (put link here I guess) and I figured I’d sort of retread on that ground a bit since there’s a few more I might’ve missed or that have popped up since, plus a repeat or two since it’s the season for regifting and I’m nothing if not generous. After all, it’s an attempt to put the nog back in your 2020 egg or some kind of metaphor that I lost control over about 50 characters ago, give or take.
In the three years since this was released it’s almost become a tradition that I put this on Thanksgiving eve when I’m inevitably driving to a fucking grocery store at 10:45 because I forgot a single ingredient that somehow holds the fabric of the next day together. Anyway, this is very dark and creepy dungeon synth regardless of the source material but the fact that it’s culled from old Christmas songs from when the holiday was about beating kids with a pine tree branch until they accepted Jesus (I think, I wasn’t alive then) definitely helps the holiday spirit. He’s remained active, including a recent 7-inch inch on Chimney Rocks Records and full length recording, but this remains my favorite of his work and somehow doesn’t manage to insult my sense of distaste for whimsey. This was recently released on vinyl by Phantom Lure who may still have copies.
Jaaportit “Kauan Koskematon”
Right, this has nothing to do with the holidays at all. So, why am I putting it in another list? Because fucking listen to it and tell me it doesn’t conjure images of snowy winter nights? This is one of those records I mostly listen to when the days get shorter and colder, which I’m sure makes me a pretentious asshole to some of you but fuck yourselves, I’m very much a seasonal listener to certain things, this being one of them. Originally recorded over twenty years ago, Jaaportit were very far ahead of the dungeon synth thing and continue to record interesting music that keeps its core coldness to this day. “Kauan Kosematon” and another early recording, “Halki Lumisen Metsan” were both reissued by the fine Out of Season earlier this year.
Lustre “The First Snow”
I know the last one was a reach as far as December(ish) listening but the 2018 single “The First Snow” by ambient black metal act Lustre just fucking screams this time of the year, from the wintry synth work to the evocative cover art by Joan Llopis Domenech. Lustre already are the sort of project that works on a level where you tend to visualize corresponding mental imagery to whatever atmosphere he’s working on and this entire package personifies its title. It’s a shame that this was digital only, I’d love to have a vinyl of this.
The Kinks “Father Christmas”
If you’ve ever worked in a record store, one thing you’ll become familiar with is watching bands who rode the innovative wave of the various permutations of rock in the ’60s tried desperately to adapt to later decades music trends in an attempt to stay relevant, with varying degrees of embarrassment (see: the 1980s). But one of the successes of this was the Kinks, at least with this song. Regardless of if you’ve able to see through the fact they must’ve heard two Sex Pistols songs and wanted to try to get in on that action, both sonically and lyrically, this is a solidly cynical take on the season as well as a fucking good proto-punk song.
Type O Negative “Red Water (Christmas Morning)”
Yeah, I don’t know how I missed this the first time around. If you dig this song, Celestial Season did it justice with a recent cover version. This is what I imagine people who listen to Napalm Records ’00s catalog open up fishnet stockings on Christmas morning to, surrounded by plastic Christmas trees they painted black. Great song, tho.
In our rapid fire round let me just round up three punk/metal Christmas songs that don’t have shit to do with “No Presents for Christmas,” which I’ve noticed hasn’t been making the rounds as much the last few years, same as the decline of the Misfits at Halloween, showing that either it’s not getting as many “likes” as people would want or that you’re all starting to join me in the emotional sewer where fun is discouraged.
Gehennah “No Fucking Christmas”
C’mon, what the fuck else do you have to do for seven minutes and change?
Poison Idea “Santa Claus is Back in Town”
The greatest American punk institution should have done more of these.
Venom “Black Christmas”
I was wrong, this isn’t the last of the classic lineup, Mantas isn’t on it. I’m surprised no one’s said that in the four years since the first piece. Also, the Cronos solo stuff rules.
And there you have it, a little Christmas cheer which none of you asked for and I was happy to send your way. I only ask one thing and that is when you’re making your New Year’s resolutions that you resolve to stop saying “remember shows?” like some slack jawed drooling dunce looking out the window at a nursing home, waiting for the kids who despise you to come visit for Christmas only to be disappointed yet another year.
Also, here’s this.