Unconventional holiday tunes from San Diego musicians
Speaker 1: (00:00)
This is the usual time for our weekend preview of arts events around town, but instead of listing events, this holiday weekend, K PBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dixon Evans has handpicked some unconventional holiday music from San Diego bands. Perfect music to get us through yet. Another Unconvention holiday season. Julia joins me now to play us some of the songs and welcome Julia.
Speaker 2: (00:25)
Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me.
Speaker 1: (00:28)
So first up is a Seren folk song, rose winter day, featuring Dawn Michelly on vocals. Let's have a listen
Speaker 3: (00:37)
It's rose wind day song fades away and, uh, wonder the aim of your thighs.
Speaker 2: (00:50)
So this song was part of local songwriter and musician, Alfred Howard's huge undertaking of writing a hundred songs in a year. He started that in the summer of 2020 and finished it up this last summer. And this song rose winter day is a lovely win tree song, and it features Cardinal moon singer Don ley on vocals. And I really love how this packs the sort of longing and intimacy of a, of a Christmas or a holiday night, along with the magic of just a really beautiful winter day. And there's no hint of jingle bells or Santa, anything like that. And there's also nothing really sad here. It's just quiet and unassuming like a looming threat of loneliness. That's all together unfounded. And I love the opening line. It's a rose winter day and the it fades away. And I wonder the aim of your thoughts made of
Speaker 3: (01:46)
The night where our souls can collide. Won't you stay with
Speaker 1: (01:54)
Me. That's rose winter day by Alfred Howard and Don ly. Now for some hip hop from 18 scales, tell us about a warm rules and exceptions
Speaker 3: (02:08)
When it rains of four, stay one.
Speaker 2: (02:11)
So this is from 18 scales album. Sometimes it rains, which came out in 2015, and it's definitely a look at our unique regional experience of winter and kind of how mind blowing it is when it actually does rain or get cold here. And one of the tracks is called. Traffic's gonna suck for example, but this song is stay warm. It's the album's closer. It's actually titled as an Ude and it's structured in, in two distinct parts, separated by a kind of intermission made of rain noise. The first part of the song has this total urgency. It kind of plays on the feeling of, of being overwhelmed by adverse weather or adversity in general. And the second act feels more melodic and kind of more at peace as well. This entire album is a pretty safe bet for a rainy day or maybe even just for when you're feeling moody.
Speaker 1: (03:12)
That's stay warm rules and exceptions by 18 scales. Now this is a fun one. Let's listen to Craus by coral bells.
Speaker 4: (03:24)
Oh, I know a
Speaker 5: (03:25)
Man named Craus and he lurks on Christmas Eve. His eyes are made of
Speaker 2: (03:32)
Shadows. This song Craus was actually just remastered and rereleased by coral bells this winter, and it's their beloved and subversive Christmas tune about the equally beloved Christmas monster, the Cru, and it's weirdly catchy. It's this riotous and delightfully evil song. And it's definitely a lot of fun. I love that there is Christmas music outside of the box without being sad or even anti the season that that's not to say that the grins out there won't also love this one.
Speaker 1: (04:16)
That's cramp is by coral bells. Finally, we have a song written in 2020 to capture the feeling of celebrating the holidays away from your loved ones, which is unfortunately still relevant this year. Tell us about echo, baby and Christmas dinner
Speaker 4: (04:35)
Made it like you, but it'll never be as good.
Speaker 2: (04:50)
So echo baby is a project of local musician, Julian Zacharia and Josh flowers, who is based in the UK. So this is already a long distance band. There are no stranger to spending time apart and the song Christmas dinner, which came out last holiday season is definitely an Anthem for spending the holidays apart. There's a total sweetness here that kind of wins out over any, any melancholy of being apart. It even wins out over the re listeners of it, whether it's run of the mill distance, keeping you apart, or whether it's this being our second pandemic holiday season. And I especially love the part about making their favorite dish and setting it on the table, knowing that it won't be as good as if you were together
Speaker 4: (05:44)
Season and hour. So today
Speaker 1: (05:55)
That's echo baby with Christmas dinner and you can find a playlist of these and even more unconventional holiday music from locals on our website, including satanic puppeteer orchestra, Rebecca Jade, the elephants in the room, little hurricane Tory rose, Ellis Bryant, and the widows. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dixon Evans, Julia, have a wonderful holiday. And thank you. Thank you, Maureen. You too.
Whether you're tired of the Christmas standards, just not feeling the season, or want a playlist that might even see you through a cold snap any month of the year, San Diego bands and artists have you covered. Here's some music to spend the holidays at home to (again). Scroll to the bottom to find a Spotify playlist.
Dawn Mitschele / Alfred Howard: 'Rose Winter Day'
Cardinal Moon singer Dawn Mitschele contributed vocals for this dreamy, wistful folk song — part of Alfred Howard's year-long songwriting project. There's nary a scrap of jingling bells or mythical jolly elves here. But there's enough longing, intimacy and that magic of a beautiful winter day to last you well into January.
"It's a rose winter day, and the sun it fades away
And I wonder the aim of your thoughts.
Are your arrows on me as you stare into the sea."
18 Scales, Dre Trav: 'Stay Warm / Rules & Exceptions'
18Scales (Ric Scales and Ralph Quasar) put out this album, "Sometimes It Rains…" in 2018, and much of the record is rooted in our unique regional experience of winter. I mean, the opening introlude is just called "Traffic's Gonna Suck."
"Stay Warm" is structured in two parts. The first has an urgency to it, a feeling of metaphorical overwhelmedness that puts the "adverse" in "adverse weather." After the music cuts, briefly, to rain sounds, the second act feels more ethereal, melodic, and in some ways more at peace with the rain.
Coral Bells: 'Krampus'
Freshly remastered and re-released this year, Coral Bells' beloved, subversive Christmas jam about folklore's beloved, subversive Christmas monster is weirdly catchy. The tune is riotous, delightfully evil and pure fun. Perfect for you grinch-hearted souls out there, or anyone who just wants to wail "Ohhh Krampus" while snapping your fingertips.
Coral Bells recently put out a holiday livestream on YouTube if you'd like a taste of the chaotic, festive energy they bring to live performances of "Krampus."
Echobaby (Julianna Zachariou and Josh Flowers): 'Christmas Dinner'
"We miss you today
Your favorite dish is on the table in ten.
We made you like you would
But it'll never be as good."
There's a sweetness here that triumphs over any of the tragedy or even relentlessness of being apart — whether it's from your run-of-the-mill long distance friendship, love or family situation, or now being on our second pandemic holiday season.
Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra: 'Abdominal Snowman'
First of all, that "abdominal" is not a typo. Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra — the work of Michael Buchmiller (AKA "The Professor") and his robot — has the ultimate in absurd holiday music. Buchmiller feeds lyrics through an archaic, obsolete text-to-speech software on an old computer, and has no control over cadence or pitch. The resultant robotic voice becomes the lyrics.
Rebecca Jade: 'Weather the Storm'
Released in 2015, Rebecca Jade's stormy ballad is full of bleakness. It's a perfect chaser to "Blue Christmas," and even though she kicks off the lyrics with "I know it's winter," I recommend putting this on year-round whenever you feel like wallowing and staring out of the proverbial rain-soaked window, regardless of the weather.
Find a playlist here of these tracks plus more unconventional wintry music by locals The Elephants in the Room, Little Hurricane, Tori Roze and the Hot Mess, Ellis Bryant and The Widows.
If you'd prefer some more traditional holiday fare, here's another playlist with songs featuring artists with local ties like Johnaye Kendrick, Berkeley Hart, Whitney Shay, Gaby Aparicio and (of course) Adam Lambert.