Souvenir of the Week: Winter Wonderland

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Season’s greetings fellow tourists and welcome back for the last Souvenir of the Week for the year! To help you keep your spirits high as the year draws to a close I’ve chosen another lively Christmas album for you all. Without further ado here is this week’s souvenir, the ska punk Christmas album Winter Wonderland by the band MU330.



MU330 are a ska punk band that formed back in 1988 in St. Louis, Missouri but have been on hiatus since 2008. Named after the class in which the original band members met during highschool, music class 330, MU330 has released 6 albums during their 20 years of activity. Winter Wonderland was their fifth  and came out on December 6th, 1999 via Asian Man records. Allegedly this album’s originated from when the band decided to write their own Christmas album after being approached to contribute a Christmas song to a Japanese ska compilation. I’m pretty happy that the world got 10 great songs instead of just 1.


Unlike many Christmas albums Winter Wonderland stands out as actually featuring a majority of original work, instead being of the usual cash grab cover albums so common during this time of year. Many of these songs actually don’t have the stereotypical Christmas sound or feel to them. Tracks such as This Year More Than Ever and The Ghosts of Christmas are only connected to the season through the lyrics while instrumentally they sound like regular non-holiday inspired songs. In fact, the subject matter of some of the songs are refreshingly open and not solely confined to the common tropes of the season. From lost love, to strange neighbors, and depression, MU330 brings variety to seasonal song writing.


MU330’s refreshing originality doesn’t come at the cost of traditions and seasonal familiarity however. With covers of two traditional Christmas songs as well as familiar seasonal instrumentation such as sleigh-bells and pipe organs throughout, your seasonal tradition bone will be more than tickled. My favorite tracks are Christmas Merry ChristmasThis Year More Than EverI Got This Neighbor, and Gerry’s Down Home Christmas. I hope that you all have a great end of the year and have a great holiday season! Thanks for reading, happy listening, and I’ll see you all in the New Year!



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Souvenir of the Week: Season’s Greetings from Lowbrow

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Happy Holidays fellow tourists! As I’m sure you already guessed, the Souvenir of the Week is a Christmas album. Now, I know that during this time of year you all are assaulted with Christmas music everywhere you go, but despite this I hope you’ll stick around for this post. I would be lying if I said I didn’t like this time of year, and even more so if I said the same about the music associated with it, but I will admit that after a while the same old songs get annoying after a while. So to help you keep your sanity while maintaining the holiday spirit I chose to share with you Lowbrow‘s punk-rock take on Christmas classics: Season’s Greetings from Lowbrow.



Lowbrow is a melodic punk band from Costa Mesa, California and have put out five albums, two of which are acoustic, with Season’s Greetings being their third release. Originally coming out in December 2012, this album was re-released in 2013 with the two additional tracks Last Christmas and Christmas Don’t Be Late. These two tracks don’t appear on the YouTube playlist embedded above, but I will include a link to their bandcamp at the bottom of this post where you can find the entire album available for free. Their first two albums are also available for free if you’re short on cash, thanks to their name your price option all you have to do is enter $0 when you are prompted with the check-out screen. But if you like the band don’t let me stop you from sending a few bucks their way, in fact I encourage it. Anyways, free music aside, lets get back to the album shall we?


This album is a must have for your holiday music rotation, especially so if you’ve grown tired of those old crooners and Debbie downers you so often hear on the radio this time of year. Lowbrow keeps the levity and jovial nature of the season alive and really give you something to be happy about with their melodic punk sound. From the hard hitting drums that make you nod your head vigorously to the gang vocals that you just can’t help yourself from joining in, Lowbrow makes Christmas fun again. All of this energy injected into these Christmas classics doesn’t keep them from staying true to their origins. The clean vocals, melodic guitar riffs, and overall arrangements help keep this album accessible to those who love the originals, while still clearly making these renditions something fresh.


My favorite tracks off of this album are Jingle Bell RockLowbrow’s Indecisive Christmas Medley, and Wonderful Christmas Time. Whether you want to add more energy to your holiday party or simply feel like staying on theme while headbanging in your Santa hat, this album will provide you with the kick necessary to close out the year with a bang. Thanks for reading, happy listening, and I’ll see you all next time!


PS – Here’s the link to Lowbrow’s bandcamp page -> click me for rad music! <-


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Souvenir of the Week: This Is Happening

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Hey there fellow tourists and welcome back to another Souvenir of the Week! I know that lately I may seem like a debby downer with some of my blog posts, from the depressed & dream like work of Nick Drake to the melancholic moods instilled by Yo La Tengo (and somewhat by neat beats as well), so this week I aim to help you get out of the ball pit of despair that I might have thrown you into. Put on your dancing shoes and tell your sadness to suck it, because this weeks souvenir is the dance-punk album This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem.



LCD Soundsystem was a dance-punk band from New York City that put out three critically acclaimed albums during their 10 year career, the third and final album before their break up being This Is Happening.  Besides these three albums the band also released two live albums, three EPs, two remix albums, and 18 singles. They even put out a 45+ minute composition for Nike intended to be a jogging soundtrack (when in reality front man James Murphy admitted this was just an opportunity to produce something similar to E2-E4 by Manuel Göttsching), but that is is a whole other interesting topic we unfortunately don’t have time for right now.


When you first start listening to the album, it may seem like my suggestions to get ready for a good time earlier were without merit. But don’t let the first unassuming three minutes of the opening track, Dance Yrself Clean, fool you. While the almost disinterested sounding vocals and  lyrical subject matter may seem like the opposite of dance worthy music, the steady beat and the intermittent burst of synth are sure to get your head bopping to and fro. Then, when you have gotten yourself into a nice little groove you’re hit with a jolt of energy just after the three minute mark on the track. Now I know to some waiting three minutes may seem like an eternity in our instant gratification world and with our ever shrinking attention spans, but patience is almost a must with this album.


However, that isn’t to say that the album as a whole or any of the tracks in particular are tedious to listen to. With the majority of the tracks on This Is Happening coming in over 7 minutes long, I understand how one in search of something quick to dance their worries away in an abandoned warehouse might skip over this album. While yes this album isn’t really ideal for the quick bursts of high energy many might be searching for, with the exception of the track Drunk Girls,  it is still a great album to put on if you want to dance. The length of the tracks allow for the listener to really get comfortable with the music and more time to dance to their heart’s content. The playful and groovy synths that would seem at home in an 80s movies score and the well constructed beats keep things feeling fresh. These factors coupled with a common arc running  throughout almost all of the tracks create a rewarding experience for those unafraid of the long run time.


I could touch on the lyrical subject of matter of the album, but I’ll leave that to you to think upon on your own. But if you really want some more insight into this album then be sure to check out this interview with front man James Murphy where he explains the process of creating many of the tracks as well as their meanings.



My favorite tracks off of this album are Dance Yrself CleanOne TouchAll I Want, I Can Change, and Home.  Even if you don’t really feel like dancing, or aren’t into it at all, this album is still a good listen so don’t be scared away. But if you start to feel the power of the groove taking over your body, just go with it and I’m sure you’ll be having fun despite any repressed memories about terrible school dances. Thanks for reading, happy listening, and hope to see you all on the dance floor next time!



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Souvenir of the Week: I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

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Welcome back fellow tourists for another Souvenir of the Week! This week I have another souvenir that has a somewhat melancholic feeling to it like the other souvenirs from this month. What can I say, its like this type of music is made for this time of year. However, don’t let that scare you off because I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One by Yo La Tengo is much more than another somber soundtrack for when you look back at what you’ve done in the past year.



Yo La Tengo is an indie rock band from Hoboken, New Jersey and are still active to this day after 31 years. They have had their current lineup of Ira Kaplan on guitar & piano, Georgia Hubley on drums & piano, and James McNew on Bass (with all three of them contributing vocals) since 1992. Released on April 22, 1997 I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One is the band’s eighth studio album out of a total of fourteen as of this year. A result of a combination of a variety of musical genres, a looser approach to song/album writing, and lengthy studio sessions, this album showcases the artistry and skill of the band.


Yo La Tengo covers a vast amount of musical genre ground in I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. From the Bossa Nova style of Center of the Universe that you can’t help but to start slowly sambaing in your seat to, to the ambient track Green Arrow which brings back memories of trying to fall asleep while camping for the first time; Yo La Tengo masterfully captures each respective genre’s sound. Other tracks from varying genres include the wall of noise krautrock jam Spec Bebop and the fuzzy shoegaze cover of  Little Honda.


While many tracks differ greatly from one another in style, the band is still able to keep a coherent feeling throughout the album. The mostly subdued vocals, somewhat melancholic lyrics, and the baseline of energy that keep even the most relaxed tracks from being draining all contribute to the consistency of the album. Even the most noisy and energetic tracks such as Spec BebopWe’re an American Band, and Deeper Into Movies all stay within the range of comfortable listening and aren’t as jarring to transition into from the more restrained tracks.


My favorite tracks off of this album are SugarcubeDeeper into MoviesGreen ArrowShadowsAutumn SweaterCenter of GravityWe’re an American Band and Spec Bebop. This album is great whether you listen to it all the way through or just skip around to the tracks you like the best. This album is so versatile you can really listen to it in most settings or manners and still fully enjoy it. Here’s hoping you find your own little corner of the world to enjoy this album. Thanks for reading, happy listening, and I’ll see you all next time!

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