Music

A Very Cleveland Christmas: 15 Festive Songs and the Local Bands Who Should Perform Them

The holiday season is upon us, and everywhere we go we’re being constantly bombarded with Christmas music. With all these songs constantly going through our heads, we thought we’d have a little fun with it. The Cellar Door crew, along with a handful of other writer friends, compiled a list. No, not a naughty and nice list! (Even though that might get way more clicks.) We put together a list of Christmas songs and local Cleveland bands we’d like to see play said Christmas songs.  We’d love to hear your ideas as well, so comment with your songs too!

Mike Uva - "I'll Be Home For Christmas"

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Nikki Delamotte”]

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 9.19.03 AMMike Uva – “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” To be upfront: If I made a list of my favorite Christmas song, all of them would be soul-crushingly sad. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is pretty much the quintessential sad holiday song and this would allow me to put his cover and the second most soul-crushing winter song, Mike Uva’s “Quickening” (Can I tell about us walking in the snow / and the sound of snow crushed below our feet on the street where she lived), on repeat until December 26https://mikeuva.bandcamp.com/

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Herzog - “All I Want For Christmas is You” (Mariah Carey)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Rachel Hunt”]

hzHerzog’s “Sally Parting” included on Tolmie Terrapin’s Goblin Rock compilation released in October of 2014 has nothing in common with Mariah Carey and I’ve gotten the holiday completely wrong, but I think that the song contains some clues as to what a Herzog “All I Want For Christmas is You” cover might sound like. Nick Tolar’s voice has such a sweet and layered quality but his delivery in “Sally Parting” comes across hurried and deadpan. I would love to hear something like that done to Carey’s rather over-dramatic Christmas tribute. David McHenry turns his guitar into a range of instruments so easily and often, I would be excited to hear what riffs he would replace Mariah’s soaring vocal melodies with. https://www.facebook.com/herzogsounds

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Wesley Bright and the Hilites - "Sleigh Ride"

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Annie Nickoloff”]

wbFor what’s typically a straight-laced Christmas song, “Sleigh Ride” could be spiced up by Wesley Brite & the Hi-Lites’ old-fashioned soul. Here’s to hoping they’ll do a remix of this winter song along with many others at their Dec. 23 show at the Beachland Ballroom. https://www.facebook.com/WesleyBrightAndTheHiLites

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Welshly Arms with guest co-lead guitarist Ray Flannagan - "Carol of the Bells" (Trans Siberian Orchestra)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Justin Markert”]

waWhen Welshly Arms broke into the Cleveland music scene a few years ago they brought with them a swagger and a confidence. A much needed perspective that what a local band does IS important and should be valued.  This idea overflowed into their songwriting, the way they promoted, and their live show. They respected the music and audience enough to go big or go home. When I saw them setting up smoke machines and LED lighting in the Beachland Ballroom for the first time, I must admit I raised an eyebrow and thought, “is this really necessary?” The show that followed erased that doubt immediately. Since then many other local bands have upped their live show game with added aesthetics like lights, logos etc. So it’s only fitting that I choose them to perform Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells. Not only do they have the showmanship, but Sam Getz has the guitar chops. And let’s throw another noted axeman, Ray Flanagan in there on co-lead so they can play those oh so blazing and excessive harmonizing guitar solos together on stage, back to back. www.welshlyarms.com

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Cobra Verde "Merry X-Mas Everybody" (Slade)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Annie Zaleski”]

cvThis song is a glammy U.K. classic with plenty of theatrical good cheer, and Cobra Verde has enough of a sense of humor–and sense of reverence for ’70s chestnuts like this — to do the song justice.

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Noon - "I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas" (Aimee Mann)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Nikki Delamotte”]

noonAside from the fact that I’d already love to hear Noon cover Aimee Mann (that voice, that piano), this happens to be one of my favorite Aimee Mann songs as it stands. All of Aimee’s best songs tend to be sorrowful ones and I always loved her almost comedic take for this one. Still, I’d like to see it channeled in that “Wise Up” and “Save Me” way that would perfectly suit Noon. https://noon1.bandcamp.com 

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Seafair - "Santa Baby"

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Justin Markert”]

sfSeafair is known for their huge sound (with or without the 30 piece orchestra they’ve put together on more than one occasion). But they can clearly go in any direction they wish musically. They could easily slow things down, add some spice and perform “Santa Baby.” Chayla’s got the ability to pretty much do whatever she wants with her voice, and there’s no question she could conjure up that jazzy sultry attitude that a song like this requires. And they’d get bonus points for actually being able to recreate the string parts because hey, not many bands have a cellist and a violinist as core members.

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Cloud Nothings - "Baby it's Cold Outside"

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Noah Lamprecht”]

cnFirst, let’s get this out of the way: “Baby it’s Cold Outside” is one of the creepiest damn songs in the holiday canon, even if Bill Murray and Jenny Lewis are doing it. Any track that features the pickup line “Gosh, your lips look delicious,” is going to be a little gross no matter who’s singing it.

Weirdness aside, there’s some serious emotional tension in this track. The kind of personal conflict Dylan Baldi has made a meal of his whole career. How could the dude who has songs with titles like “I’m Not Part of Me,” “No Future/No Past,” and “Forget You All the Time” not hit this flirty/predatory back-and-forth out of the park? You wouldn’t even need another vocalist: just let Baldi voice this fight with his own growling.

Picture him belting “Say, what’s in this drink?” with the same tone he uses on “Wasted Days,” and then tell me this wouldn’t at least make the song more interesting. Even if nothing can make it less creepy.  https://www.facebook.com/cloudnothings

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Sammy Slims - "Christmas Wrapping" (The Waitresses)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Rachel Hunt”]

ssThis one was a no-brainer for me since I feel like “Christmas Wrapping” would use the strengths that Sammy Slims already showcase in their original music. The song is hyper-critical of the mundane aspects of the holiday and unrequited love, similar to the approach Zack Starnik takes when writing his own lyrics about life. The best part is that while The Waitresses tried to “wrap” this tune, Starnik could actually do it. Partner that with the Roxanne’s back-up vocals and they could turn this classic into a call and response track. Sammy Slims use a drum machine already, so I imagine they’d rework the saxophone solos into a dub remix to round it all out into the best cover ever. https://www.facebook.com/sammy.slims/

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Cities & Coasts - "Little Saint Nick" (The Beach Boys)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Justin Markert”]

ccThis one has Nathan Hedges written all over it. Cities & Coasts has the perfect sound to give this Beach Boys classic a try. With their already retro-tinged melodies, Nathan’s smooth full voice and a line of back up singers, “Little Saint Nick” would fit seamlessly into their setlist.

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PM+ “Little Girl Blue" (Nina Simone)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Nikki Delamotte”]

pmThere’s been a lot of covers of this song, but Nina’s begins with a haunting sample of the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” that continues throughout the song. The whole thing is unnervingly sparse and repetitive and begging for a downtempo, soulful, electronic reimagination. http://threeseasrecords.bandcamp.com/album/shorefish-ep

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Uno Lady - "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Annie Nickoloff”]
ulThe childish innocence of the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” keeps it from being borderline creepy. But if you add in a few layered vocal loops and the eeriness of Uno Lady’s airy voice, you’ve got a song that channels the beautiful spookiness of the holidays. (Let’s be real, though– it’s still not as bad as “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”) https://www.facebook.com/UnoLadyMusic
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Fresh Produce "Christmas In Hollis" (Run DMC)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Eddie Fleisher”]

fpIf you aren’t hip to Fresh Produce, you’re crazy. These ladies are bringing it hard on every song, and their live performances are hype as fuck. Their energy is reminiscent of the old-school style, so I could see them rocking this tune. I imagine Playne Jayne as Run, Red-I as DMC, and Candy Fresca as Jam Master Jay. There’s also not enough hip-hop Christmas songs, so this one’s important to keep alive. Maybe they can change the lyrics to “it’s Christmas time in C-L-E.” I want credit for that, though. https://www.facebook.com/FreshProduce-134887396848665/?fref=ts

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Golden Streets Of Paradise - "Last Christmas" (Wham!)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Eddie Fleisher”]

gsThey’re both a duo, but there’s more reasons than that for why I’d like to see Golden Streets cover this Wham classic. Christmas songs can be pretty emo, and this one is no exception. The lyrics are sorta dark, and I can imagine Myk Porter belting this one out with aching intensity. Plus, it’s got a synthy vibe to it, and drummer Adam Boose often injects an electronic edge to the band with his programming skills. The icing on the cake would be if they dressed like George Michael and that other guy did in the ’80s. https://www.facebook.com/GoldenStreetsofParadise

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Miss Alexandra Huntingdon - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" (Darlene Love)

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Annie Zaleski”]

ahThe best covers of this song feature a powerhouse vocalist skilled at conveying emotional longing and despair– and Miss A fits that description to a tee.

https://www.facebook.com/MissAlexandraHuntingdon

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mr Gnome - “The Grinch”

[subtitle subtitle_content=”- Noah Lamprecht”]

mnmr Gnome’s songs are usually evocative narrative landscapes that evoke fantasy and sci-fi elements. The Grinch really is “as cuddly as a cactus.” How is this not a match made in Heaven?

For real though, mr Gnome’s calling card has always been the ability to make a full-on story a digestible pop song — and Dr. Suess’ most despicable Christmas creation is ripe for them to cover. Think about the potential here. Instead of Boris Karloff howling and warbling, we’d get Nicole Barille turning insults about “a 39 ½ foot pole” into ethereal wails. If you’ve ever seen the video for “House of Circles,” you know The Grinch slinking around as an intersteallar space jam would work just as well as a montage for him stealing all the little Whos’ presents.

Really, more than anything else, I just want to hear the line “Your soul is an appalling dump heap/ overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbage imaginable/ mangled up in tangled up knots,” as the bridge between post-rock guitar solos. That and the fact that The Grinch really, really is a “nasty, wasty skunk.” https://www.facebook.com/mrgnomemusic

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