Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Sounds of Christmas: Outro

cc via
Well, I had planned to do a post for each song on my 2013 Christmas mix, but now that Christmas has already passed it doesn't seem quite as important. The good news is that I already have a start on my 2014 list, including songs I liked for this year but that didn't quite fit. That's no guarantee that the 2014 list will get done on time either, but at least it's a good start.

I've done three Christmas mixes now, and they all have twelve songs on them. It has nice synergy with the whole "12 days of Christmas" thing, and keeping the song count down means the task of creating a list is less daunting. Finding 12 songs is much easier than finding 20, or even 15.

So without further ado, here's my Christmas music list / mix for 2013. For those who have All Access Music from Google Play, you'll have a much easier listen if you check out the playlist there. Otherwise I've done my best to include links to full versions of songs, mainly on YouTube, but some are not available to listen to publicly on the web and those links go to Amazon. Enjoy!

Ahniwa's 2013 Christmas Mix Playlist

1. Fairytale of New York / Gianni and Sarah (link)
2. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day / The Civil Wars (link)
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town / The Selectrics (link)
4. Angels We Have Heard on High / David Ian (featuring Acacia) (link)
5. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel / Belle and Sebastian (link)
6. Green Grows the Holly / Calexico (link)
7. Baby, It's Cold Outside / Little Hurricane (link)
8. One Bright Star / Sarah Jarosz (link)
9. Jingle Bells / David Ian (featuring Andre Miguel Mayo with Tal & Acacia) (link)
10. Carol of the Bells / Pentatonix (link)
11. Merry Christmas Baby / Straight No Chaser (featuring Otis Redding) (link)
12. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? / The Head and the Heart (link)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Sounds of Christmas: Track Three

Though not technically a Christmas song, one of my favorite songs during the holidays is Baby It's Cold Outside. There are quite a few versions I enjoy, and being a duet, a number that I really like half of; e.g. why the hell did Norah Jones have to sing with Willie Nelson?

Since 2013 was the year I discovered Little Hurricane (it may have actually been late 2012; I'm really not sure), their version of Baby It's Cold Outside gets the nod this year on the Christmas mix. If you like it, you can download the MP3 for free from their website.

I like it because it's dead simple: Tone playing guitar in his dirty blues style, Tone and CC singing (CC sometimes a little off key, in her style), and then a little rhythm added near the end. Dead simple, and really what Little Hurricane is all about, and epitomizes why I love listening to them.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Sounds of Christmas: Track Two

cc via
I really like the movie, Pitch Perfect. It's one of those films that is easy to watch, but still intelligent, and it has great music. Okay, it might not be "intelligent", per se, but at least it's not dumb.

The first time I watched Pitch Perfect, I enjoyed it and then didn't give it much thought afterwards. It was a fun film. I didn't return to it for awhile, and when I did it was in a somewhat roundabout way. I was browsing YouTube and I came across this really cool collaboration between Pentatonix and Todrick Hall, The Wizard of Ahhhs.

I didn't recognize the cups song, "The Long Way Around / You're Gonna Miss Me / When I'm Gone", as the song from Pitch Perfect. I just knew it got stuck in my head, and then everyone else's head, and then I traced it back to Pitch Perfect. It actually goes back a lot further than that; further back than Lulu and the Lampshades too though most people try and credit them with the song originally.

So Pentatonix helped bring me back to Pitch Perfect and that movie, in turn, helped put Pentatonix on my radar. So when I discovered that Pentatonix had a brand new Christmas album, I was pretty stoked, and when I listened to it, I was ecstatic.

From 1 to 10, it's aca-awesome (that's an 11, I think), and it gets my pick for Christmas album of the year. That has its pros and cons when putting together a Christmas mix, of course, because there are a number of great songs that could go into a mix and I don't want to pick more than a couple songs, at most, from any given album.

This song is probably my favorite on the album, so even though there are other great songs on the album and other great versions of this song, this is a sure pick for the mix. Enjoy!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Sounds of Christmas: Track One

cc via
One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the music. I've been known to hum / whistle Christmas music all throughout the year (hopefully without annoying anyone too much) and each year when the weather gets cold I enjoy the opportunity to listen, hum, and whistle guilt free for a month or two.

In addition to my listening enjoyment, I always try and put together Christmas mix albums, though I've had limited success. A lot of that relates to what I was talking about last post: I dream big, and sputter out before I get started.

This year is a bit different, because I have the Google Music All Access thing going for me, and I can listen to any song I want to, more or less. The last couple weeks I've been looking at "best of" Christmas album lists for 2013 and trying to see if I like any of the new Christmas music. After all, I could have the same favorites every year (and I often do), but the point of making a yearly mix, for me, is to see what sort of new and interesting music might be out there that I can add.

My list isn't done yet, though there are about 25 songs on it at the moment. I need to go in and whittle it down a bit. All the same, some songs are sure things, and I thought I'd share.

The first song that is definitely on the list is Fairtytale of New York, performed by Gianni and Sarah (of Walk Off the Earth). I like the Pogues version okay, and there was a version on Late Night recently with Glen Hansard, Iron & Wine, Calexico, and others; I was hoping I'd like that version, but it was a little too busy.

This version by Gianni and Sarah is intimate, and it's funny, and I feel like it captures a lot of what the song is about. Walk off the Earth has itself been on the rise this year and people are starting to recognize them, which I think is great. They are talented musicians and their videos are always as impressive as their music. Check them out if you haven't already.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Start Small

via laszlo-photo on flickr
[cc via laszlo-photo on Flickr]
I'm a horrible procrastinator. I think a big reason is that I dream big, and I plan big, and I always, always want to START big.

That might be an okay way to do things for some people. But for me too often the "go big or go home" attitude equates to "go home", or in this case, "put it off for a little while longer."

Like writing.

So here I am, and I'm making an effort, this time, to start small.

This is a baby step. After this, I'll take more baby steps. I'll start small, and maybe I'll even keep it small; if I do that for long enough, eventually it will have become something big.

So here it is: starting.