Despite being the ~Streetlamp~'s most unshakable Atheist, it seem that, once again, within the merest few hours of December I find myself donning the tinsel and mistletoe, binging on port and mince pies and sitting down to eulogise yet again on that most lamentable of genres, Christmas music.
Even though I managed to cover most of my favourite Festive tunes last year, there's no shortage of songs to cover this year, especially as quite a few bands and artists have sent us some of their own to check out. Now, I have to confess, and I don't want to sound ungrateful, but we actually get sent a fair amount of material from bands, artists and record labels over the year, but unfortunately most of them appear to be sent by people who have simply NEVER read our Blog, or seem to have no general idea of the music we write about. Thankfully though, this year we got a couple of belters in the Festive section and it's one of these I've come to write about tonight.
The band I am covering tonight have the aptly seasonal name of Summer Fiction, and they are a project based around Philadelphia singer/songwriter Bill Ricchini. Now, I have to admit that until we received his Christmas song, I had never personally heard of him or any of his previous bands. However, he has been featured in such publications as New York Magazine, Vogue and Magnet, as well as having his music used on the soundtrack to 'Grey's Anatomy'.
So what propelled me to write about someone so seemingly mainstream? Well, the quality of the song for a start!
'Christmas Eve For Two' is simply an exquisitely fine piece of Festive Pop Music. The music is a mix of Spectorish cavernous echo and Sinatra-esque piano, creating a heady Brill Building soundscape. Throw into the mix some rather superb Four Freshmen style backing vocals and already you have an engaging and instantly warm and nostalgic feel. When Bill's vocals cut in they are world weary and knowingly melancholic, with just the right amount of acidic undertone to stop the whole confection being too sugary. The production is both retro and modernist at the same time, creating that wonderful air of arch aloofness that él Records used to specialise in. This is probably the hook that reeled me in.
'Christmas Eve For Two' manages to convey that rather wonderful feeling of being away from all the madness, the commerciality and the stress of family Christmasses by suggesting a scenario in which you can just spend time with your loved one. Whilst others crash and bang about, driving themselves to the point of insanity by TRYING to have a happy Christmas, you can just pour some Festive cheer, sit beside the Christmas tree and spend some quality time with your better half. Of course this is hardly anything new, but you'll probably find, if you look hard enough, that all the best Christmas songs seem to have this as their theme.
Summer Fiction have made the song available to download completely freely from their Bandcamp page, and you can listen to it below....
Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a video to accompany the song so I've chosen another of their songs, 'Chandeliers' to play out with. Purely because the video that has been created for it features the actor Lou Castel who appeared in two of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns of all time, 'Requiescant' and 'A Bullet For The General', the latter in which he plays a 'blonde Gringo' named Bill.
See how it all comes together?