THE LWM FESTIVE ROUND UP – 2019

Listen With Monger never shirks the festive responsibility of getting you a round up of the latest Christmas songs but to save you the hassle of trawling through a whole bunch of reviews I’ve compiled them all below. You’re welcome….and merry Christmas.


NUMB FEAT. SOUND OF THE SIRENS, HANNAH JOHNS & THE COMMUNICATORS –
CHRISTMAS TIME

The Westcountry version of Band Aid is finally here (I know, about time, right?) brought to us by a collective of superb musicians. ‘Christmas Time’ is a joyously upbeat number led by the alt hip-hop flow of NUMB laid out over the top of a jaunty folk melody. They then weave in the legendary vocal harmonies of Sound of the Sirens and the whole thing just makes you want to dance around the Christmas tree, down a pint of Baileys and eat until sprouts come out of your ears. Sure, there is a whole lot of stuff to think about at Christmas and it can be a miserable time for many people but if you can’t enjoy a song like this at Christmas time then when can you?





NUELA CHARLES – I DON’T NEED SANTA 


Canada artist Nuela Charles has one of the most naturally soulful and inviting voices currently being committed to record at the moment so it was only a matter of time before she turned this talent to a festive treat. ‘I Don’t Need Santa’ is a smooth slow jam of a Christmas song that rejects the commercialism of the festive season and instead focuses on the gift of love. This is the natural successor to Mariah’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ and Charles has both the voice and the melodies to carry it off.





ASHTON LANE – YOU CAME ANYWAY 


This is a bold take on the Christmas song oeuvre as it is not overtly festive and takes on the birth of baby Jesus as a lyrical theme. But, do you know what, Ashton Lane pull it off. The husband and wife pair of Ashton Lane hail from Glasgow but could easily fit in on the stages of Nashville as their brand of gentle Country is superbly poised and sweetly performed on ‘You Came Anyway’. This is a heartfelt track that tells the nativity story from the angle of Jesus’ persistence to arrive in the world despite the lack of welcome. If only people had paid more attention in school and remembered that message these days….





ROBB MURPHY – PALE WHITE 


This piano based track from Belfast based Robb Murphy has a real feel of wintriness about it rather than festivity but that still counts at this time of year. ‘Pale White’ undulates and gently swells as drums and atmospherics join the piano melody and Murphy’s soft, soothing vocal leads you home through the snow like the beckoning glow of a fire lit window in the distance. The addition of a trumpet towards the end is topped only by the seasonal bell chimes which all come together like the triumphant scene of a Christmas rom-com.





RYAN BRAHMS – CHRISTMAS MORNING 


New Yorker Ryan Brahms has inadvertently created the theme song for an as-yet unwritten Disney Christmas film called ‘Christmas Morning’. Brahms’ smooth vocal is the American take on Ed Sheeran mixed with a bit of Maroon 5 in the music department and it’s all stitched together with the kind of key changes that are designed to bring a lump to your through and a sting to the back of the eye. The production is wonderfully simple and that adds to sparse, quiet Christmas morning vibe which perfectly fits the song.





WHEN ‘AIRY MET FAIRY – BLANKET OF SORROW 


There aren’t many half Icelandic and half Luxembourgian duos around so When ‘Airy Met Fairy might just be the ultimate Icelourgian musical pair. Their festive release, ‘Blanket of Sorrow’, is stunningly bleak as a barely played piano melody is coupled with soft, confessional vocals that even feature the lip smacks and breaths. Some organs and a bassline pulse join in to add some much-needed warmth to proceedings while the duo and their friends act out some kind of 70s domestic dystopia in the video. It’s not going to get your Christmas party swinging but add this to your playlist for the drunken bus ride home at the end of the night.





SCHOOLYARD CHAMPIONS – CHRISTMAS ISN’T CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU 


Along with Irish compatriot Niamh Langan, County Mayo duo Schoolyard Champions have created ‘Christmas isn’t Christmas Without You’ which is potentially the first song to feature the word Christmas twice. As seems to be in fashion this year, the piano is the chosen instrument and a gentle if slightly forlorn melody unfolds before Langan’s sumptuous voice joins in with warmth, passion and no shortage of depth. As strings and light percussion help this one to swell you really get a sense that there is sadness behind the song, but it’s also sprinkled with hope like lights on a Christmas tree and hope is crucial to Christmas spirit. Well played, Schoolyard Champions, well played.





LYRA COLE – WHEN A CHILD IS BORN 


I normally try to be pretty honest and constructive with any criticism on this blog but when a 6-year-old girl with a brain tumour releases a Christmas song to raise money for the disease she was born with, well, objectivity doesn’t really get a look in. Cole has recorded a version of the Johnny Mathis classic ‘When A Child Is Born’ and it is heartstring tuggingly lovely. The simple melody is essentially irrelevant when you hear Cole’s voice full of honesty, innocence, hope and the Christmas spirit shining through. Cole can also hold a melody without overdoing it and the producer has been wise enough to let the clarity of her voice shine through, distilling the essence and purity of the song.


Stream Here: https://open.spotify.com/track/6xtp4vsB9OpcZmI8mX0Wck?si=twM7Fv-oS9il5dRGE2VqHw



THE DIRTY NIL – CHRISTMAS AT MY HOUSE 


Canadian rockers (and LWM favourites) the Dirty Nil have only gone and roasted their turkey in Jack Daniels before blasting out this festive ditty. ‘Christmas at my House’ falls somewhere between Jet’s ‘Backdoor Santa’ and Reuben’s ‘Christmas is Awesome’ with furious sleigh bell jingling and the kind of riff that would work at any time of year but just makes you want to lose your festive shit. So, don your Star Wars themed Christmas jumper, rip into the eggnog and let’s rock Santa a new one.







LADBABY – I LOVE SAUSAGE ROLLS 


Remember that sausage roll based Christmas song that raised a whole bunch of money for the Trussell Trust? Yeah, well it’s back but with a new sausage-based theme. LadBaby (aka Mark and Roxanne) are releasing ‘I Love Sausage Rolls’ (based on the Joan Jett classic ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’) and once again it’s all to raise money for the Trussell Trust – aiming to end the need for food banks (aka Tory troughs). The video features the pair breaking into Abbey Road to record their single and, musically speaking, it’s no, well, ‘Abbey Road’, but it’s a whole lot of fun. A timeless riff, lyrics about meat based baked goods, thinly veiled double entendres and a family dressed in matching pastry patterned track suits make for exactly the kind of feel good vibe we all need at Christmas. And let’s face it, whether you like it or not, it is for an extremely good cause so you’d be a dick not to get involved.

More information:


The Trussell Trust - https://www.trusselltrust.org/





JOLLYROGER – I AUDITIONED TO BE SANTA 


Piratical Westcountry folk-punks JollyRoger have committed their take on the Christmas song to, well, the internet (nobody commits anything to tape anymore) and it is both delightful and sinister at the same time. ‘I Auditioned to be Santa’ has verses that would fit in on a Pogues track but the chorus is more melodic in the vein of Sound of the Sirens as the acoustic strumming and mandolin plucking combine to make something perfect for warming your cockles when you’ve been out Christmas shopping and you need to stop in for a quick pint on the way home.





COCO REILLY – CHRISTMAS WITH YOU 


If you’re in need of a gently woozy Christmas song then look no further than this little ditty from Nashville’s Coco Reilly. ‘Christmas With You’ ticks all the boxes, lyrically speaking, mentioning silver bells, Christmas trees and a forlorn longing for a lover. Musically, this sits (nay lounges) comfortably alongside Tennis, Best Coast and First Aid Kit which, let’s face it, is just where you want to be as we wind down into the festive season. Oh, and if you need a bow on this particular gift then just listen to Reilly’s dusky and soothing voice. Merry Christmas.


Watch the Video: https://youtu.be/TKREXN3lKfc


JARVIS COCKER – RUNNING THE WORLD (ROUGH TRADE RECORDS) 


It wouldn’t be Christmas in the UK without the annual race to have the number one song at the moment Santa comes down the chim-chimerney and one of the horses in that race had better be a protest song or I’m taking my ball home. This year, that protest comes from everyone’s favourite Steel City dandy, Jarvis Cocker with the superbly title “(Cunts are Still) Running the World’ and it is beautiful. This is the grown up brother of ‘Common People’ with a lo-fi alt-pop melody and Cocker’s unmistakably laconic vocal delivers some intensely spot on lyrics like “Feed your children on crayfish and lobster tails, find a school near the top of the league, in theory I respect your right to exist but I’ll kill you if you move in next to me”. It’s a musical two fingers (on two separate hands) to the ruling and entitled classes which you can support by getting it to number one and raising money for Shelter in the process (all proceeds go to the charity supporting homeless people). Or you can fuck off and vote Tory before never, ever darkening my blog again.





PEAT & DIESEL – FAIRYTALE OF STORNAWAY 


Scottish outfit Peat & Diesel have released their own twist on the Pogues Christmas classic with an accordion fuelled ‘Fairytale of Stornaway’ switching between English and Gaelic with effortless ease. This version has more punch and edge than the original whilst retaining the male-female vocal interplay and a certain roguish charm that this song just wouldn’t work without. This is a stunning and brave take on a firm seasonal favourite and will confuse the hell out of all your guests when they start trying to sing along….unless they speak Gaelic.



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