On my journey of poprock discovery I’m constantly running across amazing talents that have been working away for decades that somehow I’ve never heard of. Lately I’ve become sElf conscious. The band is largely the project of its creative force, Matt Mahaffey, a talent so large it keeps spilling out over a wide range of solo work, one-off projects and insta-bands. sElf emerged in the 1990s, one of slew of poppy rock bands that defied categorization. Sometimes sounding like Rooney or Weezer, only to segue without warning into Queen or Fountains of Wayne territory. Record labels were not investing in artists in that decade and I can imagine sElf had more than one label rep throwing up their hands in frustration trying to pitch the band to radio and promoters. But that’s what makes them so great.
sElf’s 1995 debut album Subliminal Plastic Motives aces that dire sounding pop vibe we associate with the likes of Weezer and Rooney, though as you can hear on “Stewardess” Mahaffey adds some distinct melodic motifs of his own to the formula. 1997’s The Half-Baked Serenade carries on in a similar vein, though here I’m drawn to the languidly-paced acoustic outlier “Microchip Girl.” Here is the fun playful side of Mahaffey – think ELO or Bleu – that will only intensify as time goes on. 1999’s Breakfast With Girls was the band’s major label debut and here the Queen influence can really be heard on tracks like “Better Than Aliens.” Though here I find myself drawn to deep cuts like “Uno Song.” In 2000 sElf released Gizmodgery, an album of tunes performed entirely on children’s toy instruments. “Dead Man” is as good as anything coming out from grungy poprock acts in the late 1990s. “Ordinaire” has a manic SciFi feel, again, very Rooney. The cover of The Doobies ‘“What a Fool Believes” is an absolutely brilliant deconstruction of the synth work on the song, stripping back the original’s overwrought production and leaving just the bones of its seductive hooks.
From here navigating sElf and Matt Mahaffey’s career gets a bit hazy. Self-released sElf internet-only albums come and go while Mahaffey’s solo work nowhere appears in one tidy review-able location. Thus I was not prepared for the knock-out, should-be hit single goodness of the one-off 2010 single “Could You Love Me Now?” The craftmanship behind this tune is striking, the way it cradles its delicate melody, adorning it with all manner of subtle instrumentation. The band did return in 2014 with the EP Super Fake Nice sounding like no time had passed. Still doing a slightly discordant poppy rock thing, you can really hear a bit of Brendon Benson on tracks like “Splitting Atoms.”
Apart from sElf Matt Mahaffey has shifted focus to producing music for movies and television like Shrek and Henry Hugglemonster. However, Mahaffey did find time to launch a new duo, The Gherms, who appear to exist only to laud to Brooklyn’s fave funsters They Might Be Giants. Songs About They Might Be Giants is a double-sided single that showcases everything Mahaffey does well: a great concept, larger than life production and big hooks. Meanwhile, his cartoon theme song work for Nicklelodeon is some of the best 30 second poprock you’re gonna hear while spending quality time with toddlers.
You know what I wish? That somebody with access to Mahaffey’s complete body of work would curate a release that bring us all up to speed on this great talent. Between the unreleased and unofficially released sElf work to his many and varied contributions to TV and movies it’s just too hard to bring his genius into focus. And that’s a shame because, in my view, everyone could stand a bit of sElf improvement.
It’s so close you can almost taste the vodka cocktails. Summer! And that means music to accompany those warm breezes, surf and sand, and lazy, hazy days of scorching heat. To that end, let me present an almost summer bevy of selections for your mixtape, uh, I mean, playlist. In this first of two installments, we offer up 20 suggestions for high rotation seasonal singles.
Let’s get started with my hometown, Vancouver, and some nice ringing guitar from The Uptights on “The Pulse.” The song is from the longplayer Back Again, which came out right near the end of 2020. I love the organ that really comes to fore as the song progresses. 4000 kilometres away (but still in Canada!) Waterloo’s B.U.D. rises from the ashes of Goldfinch in a new solo project from Omar Elkhatib. There’s not much not to like here. Crunchy guitars, punchy synths, and a solid swinging hook anchors “What’s the Point of This (If I’m Not Into It).” A promised follow up EP has yet to materialize but a few more singles have arrived, like the rollicking fun “Popstar Rock N’ Roll.” Ok, enough Canadian content (for now), we’re off the NYC and a bit of a boundary tester for this blog from Laura Stephenson. “After Those Who Mean It” is just a heart-wrenching acoustic number from an artist who normally rocks it up a bit more. There’s something searing and so melancholy about this performance. I can be such a sucker for a good sad song. In Memphis, Your Academy offer a pick-me-up with “Starlight,” a great guitar poprock tune with a slight country feel, from their recent self-titled debut. Now I say ‘debut’ but the band are all veterans of the local music scene and it shows all over this tight record. Brooklyn’s Answering Machine also have a debut album out (well, actually, it’s been out for a year …). Verdict? Bad Luck is more of the eerie melodic rock goodness that appeared on previous EPs and stand-alone singles. For me, the stand out song here is “Marie.” The lead vocal has the soulful country ache of Neko Case cast against a driving lead guitar hook and surging rock and roll beat. It would be a killer cut live in concert, no doubt.
Now, generally speaking, I’m not a live album guy. But when I saw the cover of The ShamblesLive at the Casbah with its obvious nods to The Beatles Second Album (Long Tall Sally in Canada) I thought it warranted a needle drop. The opening cut was the band grinding through their first single from 1993, “(She’s Used to Playing With) Fire,” and from the opening rhythm guitar I was hooked. The performance is anything but a shambles: loose yet solid, exciting, with great harmony vocals. The album was assembled from various shows at this location early in the new millennium and it showcases the band’s strong material and serious live chops. Another California band effectively working the retro rock and roll scene are The Forty Nineteens. Their new album The New Roaring Twenties vibes those classic 1960s rock and roll outfits (e.g. Rolling Stones, CCR) while still giving off a bit of 1980s indie (a la The Replacements), depending on which track you pick. I was torn about whether to choose the rockin’ Joe Walsh-ed vocal on “I’m Always Questioning Days” or the more melodic package that is “It’s the Worst Thing I Could Do.” I went with the latter, with its pumping piano and judicious use of jangle guitar. Throwback Suburbia’s drummer had an interesting idea. Write some songs and then ask a gang of different artists to sing on different tracks for a new band, Rooftop Screamers, and a new album, Next Level. It’s a project idea that can easily lose its focus but Mike Collins makes it work, largely because the songwriting is so consistently good. Case in point: “Buckle Up,” featuring Jellyfish vocalist Tim Smith. The song has the sleek pop aura of a top rank Crowded House single. I fell hard for the ear candy that was Ten Tonnes “Better Than Me” from his 2018 self-titled debut. Recently he reignited that spark with the glammish “Girl Are You Lonely Like Me?” with its shuffle beat and emotional vocal, kinda like The Vaccines or Haircut 100 in therapy. The kid’s got swing and killer sing-along background vocals. For those of us who can’t get enough of the Bryds, a very special record is due out soon from an exquisite jangle-friendly band, The Floor Models. You can get a taste of their fab back catalogue from the 2013 retrospective Floor Your Love but here I want you to enjoy their indie-fied version of “Lady Friend,” a teaser from their soon-to-be-released album, In Flyte Entertainment: A Tribute to the Byrds.
Jeremy Porter and the Tucos’ “Dead Ringer” is straight ahead melodic Americana, reminding me of the more upbeat moments on that first Peter Case solo album back in 1986, particularly vocally. I love the synth snippet that kicks in at 3:10 in the final few moments of the solo. It’s featured on their new longplayer, Candy Coated Cannonball, and it’s just one of many highlights. Given that Ramirez Exposure’s latest album is named after an environmental newsletter that advocated the end of humanity as a solution to environmental crisis, the contents are surprisingly chirpy. Opening track “Bridges and Roads” is light and sunny, but it is the title track “Exit Times” that really grabbed my attention with its cool electric guitar arpeggiations and dreamy vocals. Sometimes I imagine NYC as just teeming with bedrooms for making pop music. Like the work from Goodman. I’ve featured this talented, almost totally one-man-band before and every new release reveals new depths and influences. On his new record Goodman Versus the Nostalgia Machine he is like Ray Davies reborn, piling up catchy tunes with clever commentary. “Bitter. Alone. Again” shimmers with sneaky, subtle hooks and vocals that add emotional colour and depth. From the mean streets of Baltimore Bombardier Jones offers us the cool vocal delivery of a Steve Miller. “Great Ideas” from Dare To Hope is just a straight up AM radio goodtime single, circa 1975. Love the spare piano solo to bursts on the scene two thirds in. Cotton Mather guitarist Harold Whit Williams has a side project that might conjure up the ‘s’ word for any remaining red diaper babies out there. It’s called Daily Worker. Now you don’t have to be a card carrying anything to enjoy what he’s doing here. I mean, check out the shuffling strut behind “I Got Hypnotized” with its creative mix of acoustic guitar rhythm, sixties organ, and tasty lead guitar. The rest of Hometown Hero is a winner too, with a Harrisonian soft rock flair competing with a Plimsoulsian new wave vibe.
You’d swear contemporary LA band Electric Looking Glass were giving it to you straight from 1968 Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. It’s not like they’re hiding their influences with an album title like Somewhere Flowers Grow. But it really is there in the music too. Opening cut “Purple, Red, Green, Blue and Yellow” kicks off with a solid blast of psychedelic pop guitar before opening up into a great bit of Turtles/Jefferson Airplane hippie poprock. Moving back to the future, there is something so cool about the brooding New Order-ish riff kicking off and driving Mattiel’s recent single, “Those Words.” I really enjoyed the rough-hewn rock and roll sound of the band’s last effort Satis Faction and this new song suggests there more where that came from. The band’s vocalist/songwriter Mattiel Brown really delivers on both here, with a striking performance and timely lyrics. Some bands like a real challenge, like writing a song about American President Warren G. Harding. Who, you might ask? He’s no Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, or Kennedy but The Rose Petals manage to turn out a western style performance a la True West or Rank and File all about Harding’s many foibles. It’s the opening track on the band’s engaging debut LP American Grenadine. Now for a complete change of mood, there’s Robert Sherwood. On Mr. Sherwood he showcases a bevy of light pop sketches that remind me Roddy Frame’s Aztec Camera. Sherwood does wonders with interesting vocal harmonies and spare but intriguing lead guitar work. On “Blue All Over” and the rest of this highly listenable record there’s more than a hint of a genius song arranger bearing similarities to Richard X. Heyman or the Eels’ Mark Everett. Ok, big finish time and what better band to close things out by taking us over the top than Weezer? Seems like an army of haters are out there just waiting for Rivers and Co. to stumble but the band just keeps on delivering the goods. The playful Van Weezer is no exception. “The End of the Game” cleverly rides the edge of rawk bombast with love while delivering the band’s signature knock-out hooks. And there’s more to love here – my blog writing friends can’t agree on what track they love the best.
The pent up energy for a perfect summer this year is swelling all out of control. People are desperate for fun. Here at Poprock Record we take our public service role seriously. So relax, we’ve got your music sorted. And even more is on the way with part II, coming soon.
I do remember skating to the AM radio tunes of the 1970s. Even though we were just going round and round in circles there was something about the Steve Miller Band or Cars accompaniment that made it seem cool rather than just cold. So as temperatures continue to dip this winter it’s time to playlist a modern version of the skating party with only the coolest of new singles.
For a moment I thought Jim Basnight’s “Rebel Kind” was a cover of Dino, Desi and Billy’s 1960s hit but turns out it’s much more cool than that. The song was originally by the criminally under-appreciated Vancouver band The Modernettes. Basnight honours the tune with a Replacement’s indie vibe that really connects. This is just one of 21 highlights from his recent covers album, Jokers, Idols and Misfits (check out the fabulous “This Is Where I Belong” for another surefire winner). Ok, sometimes new singles are just new to me, like Kamino’s “Where Do You Want Me?” iTunes unreliably informed me it was a 2020 release but the song actually came out in 1999 on the band’s debut EP Donut. Frankly, it sounds so fresh and contemporary it could be brand new. The song has an analog feel to the instrumentation and a clever melodic dissonance the reminds me of Fountain of Wayne’s best work. Would love to see this group take up where they left off. Weezer have a brand new album out (OK Human) and as with all their releases I can find at least one absolutely fab single-worthy cut. This time out it’s “Here Comes the Rain” with its dramatic piano hooks and earworm after effects. From the ‘who doesn’t need some low key jangle?’ file The Umbrella Puzzles have a nice little EP built around the striking guitar work on the single, “Slips Through the Cracks.” It’s an amble along little ditty with a surprisingly rich tone on the solo lead guitar that is something special. I’d have bought Gavin Bowles’ This Year’s Modern for the cover alone, he so aces mimicking This Year’s Model right down to the shady brown hue on the backdrop. The title track is an interesting vamp with some Steve Nieve organ and 1940s background vocals. For a very Costello vibe in sound and songwriting check out “Boy From an Unknown Planet” from the same record.
I raved about The Feels “She’s Probably Not Thinking of Me” as the prototypically perfect poprock single, from the guitar hooks to the melody-echoing background vocals to the overall sound. So it won’t surprise readers that I’m loving the band’s recent new song, “Is Everything Alright?” It’s got a bit of Bleu or Adam Daniel about it and it’s making me itch for a whole album. Jenny are a straight up pop punk outfit that blast through “Rose City” at an enjoyable clip. They know what their audience wants and they deliver with just the right amount of guitar distortion and melodic undercurrent. Lucy and the Rats offer up an updated early 1960s girl group sound, elevating the rock and roll feel on “On Fire.” The guitar sound and plinky keyboards meld so wonderfully with the group vocals. I think the best descriptor for The Outta Sites is neo-1960s. The band has got the sixties chops but aren’t afraid to mix in stuff from other eras. You can hear it on the title track of their recent album Beautiful You, a delightful bouncy mid-sixties-style song combined with a fab late seventies syth lead line. The band’s skill here really reminds me of The Smithereens, particularly on tracks like “This Time.” Now for a departure, I’ve got some neo-folk/gospel with Thee Holy Brothers. The sound is very Bombadil in escaping the bounds of conventional folk, evident on “My Name is Sparkle,” and the album cover is so Brothers Four 1962. I’m not a god guy but I like what these guys are doing all over this record.
I got message from Monogroove to check out their catalogue and I’m glad I did. “The Looking Glass” combines a Beatles Abbey Road vibe with some unerring 1970s pop hooks. A winsome bit of airy melodic goodness. You don’t have to take a ferry across the Mersey to get caught up with the Wirral’s West Coast Music Club, I’ve got their new single right here. “Thinkin’” mines the rock face these guys excel at: jangly, slightly distorted, melodically dissonant tunes, this time with a hint of Crosby, Stills, and Nash on the vocals. I love The Veras not just because they’ve taken my dear grandmother’s name but because their song is on a kind of permanent repeat right now. “Paper Cup Telephone” has a main structure so familiar to listeners who lived through the glam-drenched 1970s but the build up to it is so interesting. Those heavenly background vocals! Such out of this world guitars! And that organ. More please. Our skate ends with something a bit more subdued from Michael Penn. Anything new from this guy is to be treasured since he abandoned us for scoring movies. “A Revival” obviously speaks to the present moment in American politics, with Penn reassuring listeners that change is gonna come. It’s a stark, subtle, yet reassuring testament, with his usual knack for the aching, low-ball hook that keeps coming back to you long after the song has faded out.
The zamboni’s waiting to get on the ice, the ushers are screaming for the kids to exit the rink, and songs continue to rattle around in our heads as we twist our skates off. Funny how music can make the most mundane things seem special.
As the musical godfather of the genre this blog is based on, giving more attention to Buddy Holly should be a priority for me. Well, it’s unofficially Buddy Holly Week (September 7-13), so there’s no time like the present! Though, as with most things blog-wise, we take it up with a twist: an exploration of the many (many!) covers of Weezer’s iconic track from the Blue Album, “Buddy Holly.” There are an enormous number of covers of this song, most sounding like pale imitations of the original. I’m passing on most of those. I’m more drawn to the quirky, offbeat, creative re-inventions of the song. After all, a band as unique as Weezer deserves to be covered in style.
First up, Weezer of course. Their video for “Buddy Holly” deservedly earned praise from all quarters when it was released in September of 1994. I love how Ritchie Cunningham has more costume changes in this video than Cher in concert. As for covers, Weezer offers many choices, including the original Rivers Cuomo demo and various ‘live in the studio’ sessions for AOL and Spotify. Personally, I prefer the live acoustic version below from some unnamed 1990s TV appearance for its loose, wonderfully shambolic feel and in your face keyboard solos and background vocals.
Something about “Buddy Holly” has inspired people to take the song in all kinds of wacky stylistic directions. It can survive just about any treatment with its charm intact precisely because the bones of the song are so strong in terms of melody and structure. Parody band Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine mangle the hell out of the song with their hilarious, deep-lounge version, complete with swelling strings on the closing. Nordloef give the song a kooky computer games instrumental workout that somehow avoids being pure novelty. Possibly my favourite instrumental of the tune is Gareth Pearson’s tight Bruce Cockburn-esque acoustic guitar treatment. Move over McKinley High, Straight No Chaser offer up a Glee-worthy, menace free, candy-coated arrangement that would have aced the finals.
Now on to more recognizably rock and roll interpretations. The Holophonics give us a Madness-ska-like take, emphasis on the horn shots. Late Cambrian mine the same alt/indie vibe as Weezer but make some refreshing substitutions on the array of instruments soloing. Austin Parish slow things down in a breathy, Greenwich Village folky style. Extra bonus: their effort is part of a remake of the entire Blue Album from Midwest’s Finest, available for free download! Grayson Gilmour highlights the subtle, somewhat vulnerable side of the song with his mostly shy, solo piano rumination.
Ok, for something completely different, there’s Glowbug’s highly original and inventive remake of the song. It’s dissonant and over the top in a wonderful club-dancey sort of way. I’m including the Soundass brief instrumental excerpt because there’s something funny about the disastrous execution. The question mark added to the song title was the give-away, like the artist wasn’t sure if his efforts really warranted consideration as a cover proper. Scott Bradlee makes his piano keys jump on this jaunty instrumental ragtime performance. Whiskey Shivers give us a banjo-inflected country-ish take with particularly sweet harmonies in the chorus, a nice fiddle solo and apropos western whistling. Jarvis gets us back to basics with a stripped-down DIY acoustic vibe, fitted with a nice spacey keyboard solo.
But my undisputed fave cover is brand new from the TM Collective’s fabulous just-released tribute to BH, simply entitled Buddy Holly. TMC regularly release these sorts of tributes, so far covering the likes of Tom Petty, Wings, Nick Lowe, and many, many others. And they are all free, featuring performances from the crème de la crème of indie poprock darlings. This time they cover 16 different Holly tunes, sometimes twice. But some joker decided Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” should be added to the mix, done with an appropriately Buddy demeanor, featuring an “Everyday”-era celesta keyboard and Hollyesque vocal hiccups. Delightful! (“Buddy Holly” is track 19 on the album – just click through to the end, but check out all the great covers of Buddy Holly songs along the way!)
Let’s end on a light note. Ever since grungers starting having kids they’ve been Yellow Submarining their fave tunes to keep the tots (and themselves) entertained. Check out these two lullaby versions of “Buddy Holly” from Rockabye Baby and the Lullaby Players, the latter even retaining some of the tune’s darker melodic elements.
Given all the love for “Buddy Holly” it’s hard to believe that Weezer almost didn’t record it. Apparently producer Ric Ocasek had to convince Cuomo to cut it during the Blue sessions, suggesting they could make the decision about releasing it later. Good thing too or I would have had to come up with some other cleverism to celebrate Buddy Holly week.
Weezer can’t seem to catch a break from the critics. They’re releasing too many albums, they complain. The records are too commercial, they say. Blah, blah, etc. I just can’t see it. This is a band with a distinctive delivery no matter the genre, trying out new directions, while continuing to write great songs. Here’s the proof – I can find a fabulous deep cut on every single Weezer long player.
Let’s start with the just released Weezer (Black Album). I think I like this one almost as much as Weezer (Blue Album) in terms of songwriting and general listenability. So many great songs here but, excluding hit singles, my fave deep cut is “Too Many Thoughts In My Head” with its soaring hook in the chorus. The Weezer (Teal Album) has taken a lot of flak for delivering a load of cover songs that mimic the originals a bit too well and I have to admit I do wish they had Weezer-ized all those hits more. But that’s why I love their version of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Rivers is no Annie Lennox so his vocal gives the track an unmistakable Weezer vibe. 2017’s Pacific Daydream has the band feeling the beach love but also contains my absolute fave Weezer deep cut, “Any Friend of Diane’s.” Ear worm central! The song is like Weezer channeling a bit Sugar Ray. 2016’s Weezer (White Album) also mines the beach theme on various songs, though the campfire acoustic resonance of “Endless Bummer” is held in check by anti-summer sentiment. From 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright In The End I’ve chosen the power poppy “I’ve Had It Up To Here.”
Any Friend of Diane’sEndless BummerI’ve Had It Up To Here
2010 witnessed the band release two albums, Hurley and Death to False Metal, the latter a collection of unreleased leftover material from previous albums. From the former release, “Ruling Me” has a sneaky hook that slams home in the chorus with a rush of glorious melody while “Odd Couple” from DTFM chugs along with more subtle charms. 2009’s Raditude tempted me to go with “I’m Your Daddy” with its straight up pop hooks but the quasi-pop psychedelic “Love Is The Answer” ultimately won out with its fascinating Indian interlude and 1960s-worthy sing along chorus. From 2008’s Weezer (Red Album) I love the Brian Bell vocal and songwriting chops on “Thought I Knew.” The songs on 2005’s Make Believe were a bit overshadowed by the monster hit, “Beverly Hills,” but I think “The Damage In Your Heart” ranks with any of the best Weezer tunes. 2002’s Maladroit notched up the heaviness in Weezer’s sound but a sweet melody manages to define “Slave,” particularly in the chorus. My choice from 2001’s Weezer (Green Album) is technically not a deep cut. Well, actually, it was the album’s third single. But “Photograph” has such great woo hoos that I had to include it. From the band’s second album, 1996’s Pinkerton, I cheated a little and went for a cut from the deluxe edition, the exquisite “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly.”
Ruling MeOdd CoupleLove Is The AnswerThought I KnewThe Damage In Your HeartSlavePhotographYou Gave Me Your Love Softly
Which brings us back to the killer debut album, 1994’s Weezer, later known as Weezer (Blue Album). Here there’s an embarrassment of deep cut riches but, in the end, I settled on the irresistibly tuneful “In The Garage.” And there you have it, practically a Weezer deep cuts greatest hits or maybe Weezer (Camouflage Album).
In The Garage
Ah Weezer, you never let me down. I may not have loved everything but there’s always been something to love. Oh, is that another new album on the horizon? Keep track of Weezer at their website and Facebook page.
The holiday music scene is a bloated market, artificially inflated by the pushback of the start of the Xmas season to sometime shortly after midnight on November 1st. Department stores, malls and elevators everywhere crave more songs to wallpaper two months of shopping with holiday music. Still, despite the saturation, I love Xmas music. My collection has both old and new contributions and a surprising number of b-sides. For instance, a top ten choice for me is the flip side of Bobby Helm’s “Jingle Bell Rock,” a space age number called “Captain Santa Claus.” Santa’s sleigh breaks down, the elves build a rocket ship, you get the picture. But rather than simply being a novelty cash grab, it’s actually a decent song. Another great b-side is the backing track to John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas,” performed by Yoko Ono: “Listen the Snow is Falling.” Ok, that one will be more controversial – but I like it.
The internet is crawling with holiday music playlists and definitive collections of holiday music from every era and style imaginable – so I won’t do something like that here. Instead, I’ll just riff on the theme with a few choice poprock selections.
Many people are familiar with Fountains of Wayne’s “I Want an Alien for Christmas” but I prefer their more subtle ruminations in “The Man in the Santa Suit” from their 2005 rarities and b-sides collection Out-of-State Plates. The song has great hooks but it is FOW’s unerring ability to capture the social ennui of the holidays that sets it apart. Everybody in the song – from the boozy mall Santa-for-hire to the vomitous and unhappy children – is trying but not really succeeding in living up to the joyous demands of the season.
Fountains of Wayne – The Man in the Santa Suit
For a rockier tune, Best Coast and Wavves “Got Something for You” has more of a ‘buzz guitar with dreamy vocals’ vibe. On the poppier side, before he fronted the Eels, Mark Everett was known simply as ‘E’ and offered up more crafted poprock than his band’s later edgier material. “Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” harkens back to his E rather than Eels’ days. Coming back to edgy, Weezer transforms “Come All Ye Faithful” to bring out the great pop elements of the song with a treatment that reminds me of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ cheeky punk-pop makeovers of classic poprock songs. For some Canadian content, The Kings were a Toronto band best known for their 1980 hit “This Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide” but on a follow up EP they performed their own holiday number, “This Christmas” which I always thought warranted more attention.
Weezer – Come All Ye Faithful
E – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
The Kings – This Christmas
To wrap up, three more recent songs, one by the Scottish band Dropkick, another by Sweden’s The Genuine Fakes, and the last from North Carolina’s The Rosebuds. Dropkick’s “When Santa Comes Around” is from their strong holiday EP, 25th December, while The Genuine Fakes offer up their poprock reinvention of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” originally featured in the movie Frozen. The last song here I heard on an holiday themed episode of The Flash and it stuck in my head so much that I tracked it down online: the Rosebuds “I Hear (Click, Click, Click).”