Welcome to the Dadaist Christmas Day Playlist, a festive section of 2015 releases accompanied by some choice treats of yesteryear. There’ll be music to cook a bird by. There’ll be beats for your feet, and there’ll be grooves for the soul. What better way to kick start Christmas day, than with the wonderful Lianne La Havas and her inspirational and heartwarming song, “Unstoppable”. How many relatively unknown artists get Prince to play a gig in the living room of their flat (in South London)? And more to the point, how many artists, these days, spend two years writing and crafting their debut album?
To begin the playlist, simply click the small grey play button below
Lianne La Havas ~ Unstoppable
Next up its Astronauts, which is the solo project from Dan Carney, formerly of the critically acclaimed East London alt-folkers Dark Captain. The song “Slow Days”, is accompanied by a decidedly Dadaist visual treat of a decrepit caravan passing through a cycle of blurred images. “Slow Days” is taken from the wonderful album Hollow Ponds, which you could easily get lost in of a quiet hour.
Astronauts ~ slow days
Sun Kil Moon’s “Birds of Films” is a lengthy song, which is worth the investment. With a tale of blue collar toil, artistic struggle and romances not to be; all accompanied by shimmering strings over a steady acoustic rhythm. Sun Kill Moon is Mark Kozelek, formerly of San Francisco band Red House Painters. I wonder, does the Korean lightweight boxer Sung-Kil Moon know he is renowned in Americana circles? Whether he does, or not, they both have a fantastic name.
Sun Kill Moon ~ Birds of Films
Midlake is an American folk rock band from Denton, Texas, who formed in 1999. It wasn’t until they signed to Bella Union Records that they made their real breakthrough. Which surprisingly, was in Europe and led to their growing popularity via the festival circuit. I don’t need to describe “Young Bride” to embellish the song, all you have to do is listen.
Midlake ~ Young Bride
Now for a second track by Astronauts entitled, “In My Direction”. I was only introduced to this artist this week, and he has certainly made an impression on me. Keep an eye out for future releases, as his album Hollow Ponds seems to have gone slightly under the radar.
Astronauts ~ In My Direction
Julia Holter burns like a dazzling light of authenticity in a pop music world of pretense, ego, and braggadocio. Screw Music’s modernist marauder The Breach, brought Holter to our attention in 2013, with her third album Loud City Song, and then again with this year’s critically acclaimed pop breakthrough, Have You in My Wilderness. Here is “Feel You”, the sublime opening track from the album that would melt even the grumpiest of Christmas Grinches!
Julia Holter ~ Feel You
While I wouldn’t consider Holly Herndon Christmas music, there is no way that I can round off the year musically, without including her immense presence in where music is at today. She blends composition, vocals, performance art, and music through technology, in her attempt to make music of the now. In relation to her instrument of choice, the laptop, she says, “A lot of people complain about it being less engaging, less natural, less emotional, but my laptop mediates so much of my life: my Skype, my bank account, my emails, my relationships,” she says. “It’s actually a hyper-emotional instrument; it has more emotional content than a violin could ever dream of.” Here’s “Chorus”, from this year’s album Platform. It is essentially the pretty pop song taken from the discordant swirl of an album that resembles a multitude of browser windows being open at once, with any number of divergent themes juxtaposed as one.
Holly Herndon ~ Chorus
Next up, is a track from Danish producers Kenton Slash Demon, who are signed to Australian indie label Future Classic. I came across the track via the ever enlightening Giles Peterson, on BBC 6 Music. Talkin’ Loud and Acid Jazz label owner, Peterson, is almost unrivaled in his musical knowledge on the wireless/interweb. Especially when it comes to quality music from almost every corner of the globe. He can flip between Korean pop, African traditional music, to cutting edge electronica, and on to whatever you are having yourself. No genre is excluded, and he excels at his forte, which is presenting rare club tracks that have rocked dance floors all the way back to the halcyon club nights in the 1920’s, in musical meccas of the time, such as New York and Berlin. He really has opened my mind to the fact that nightclubs didn’t begin with, first disco, and followed on by electronic music in the 80’s and 90’s, as many kids like myself might have believed. His midweek and Saturday evening shows on BBC Radio 6 are worthwhile no matter what activity you are getting up to.
Kenton Slash Demon – Syko
Now as the evening grows long and you have rested off the gluttonous intake of the delights of the day, the sherries and ales are filtering down to your legs, and yes, yes, it’s that time of the evening. It’s time to get freaky in the kitchen. It’s time for F.U.N.K., funk. Here is a trio of delights from my vault. Funk needs no introduction, nor explanation, it just is.
Hit it Ernie…
Ernie And the Top Notes, Inc. ~ Dap Walk
Hector Village ~ Callers
Isis ~ April Fool
It’s the wee hours, and the joy of Christmas spirit is now at its zenith. Look outside, and if you are lucky to have a clear sky you will see a full moon.
“Tell me the story about how the sun loved the moon so much he died every night to let her breathe” ~ Lokesh Fouzdar
The Marcels ~ Blue Moon
And now for the greatest punk song ever written. Can you imagine what The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” sounded like when first listened to by a 1963, conservative, sugar-coated-candy-pop America? “Surfin’ Bird” was the brainchild of Trashmen drummer Steve Wahrer. The song was a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingtons, “The Bird’s the Word” and “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow”. It went on to reach no.4 in The Billboard charts, with all the royalties, quite rightly, going to the Rivingtons. But that’s a story for another day.
It is not uncommon at Christmas, to see certain members of the Dadaist family doing a version of ‘the bird’, similar to the one seen at the end of this alternate version of the song, that was aired on U.S. TV in 1963.
Happy Christmas to you all, and enjoy!
The Trashmen ~ Surfin Bird
[Disclaimer: No photoshop was harmed in the making of this image]