Amelia’s Magazine | The Best Christmas Indie Tunes of 2016: Listen to them all HERE!

It’s nearly Christmas so it must be time for my annual round up of beautiful, interesting, weird and fantastical seasonal tunes, many located this year via Twitter. If you’re reading this in years to come, do get in touch and tell me about your tune so I can include it! That’s what San Diego band Pony Death Ride did a few months back.

Nothing Beats Old People at Christmas was actually released last year and features in the Pony Death Ride annual Christmas show. Look away if you are easily offended, it takes a kooky (and not entirely generous) look at those always tricky family dynamics. Boy can I relate.

Moving on, Low have come up with a gorgeous lilting song that celebrates friendship, Some Hearts (at Christmas Time). I appreciate my true friends more than ever at this time of year.

I love this song by LA based electro singer songwriter Andrew Belle. Back For Christmas is featured on A Very RELEVANT Christmas, Vol. 6, for cool young Christians.

Released in aid of Human Appeal, Christmas Number One (On My Own) by the Raglans continues in the grand tradition of charity singles. It’s a plea to consider the plight of others, with proceeds going to help people in war torn areas. A worthy cause if ever there was one.

An Old Fashioned Christmas Song by Les Bicyclettes de Belsize is a jaunty tune.

If you love your 80s vibes you’ll love You Bring the Snow by The Crookes, complete with fake retro video and subtitles. Dance along to it after one too many sherries.

Featuring an eerily similar knowingly retro video, Christmas Without Snow is by Neon Dreams from Canada. It sounds a bit rave, and more than a bit like Coldplay.

For more 80s electro vibes look no further than This Fucking Time Of Year by Charles Cave, this time with original 80s footage from a family Christmas in Pennsylvania. He says “I think it is every musician’s duty to have a stab at a Christmas song, if only once. The festive season is full of all the emotions that fuel the best songwriting at all other times of the year, so digging into those complicated family dynamics, the bleak weather, the reflecting of the year gone by can be hugely inspiring for an emotive pop song.”

All these 80s vibes resonate with me because I was a child of the 80s, and I also spent quite a few Christmases in the USA, so it all feels (un)comfortably familiar. At one time we lived on a road fondly nicknamed Christmas Tree Lane, where each house competed for extravagant Christmas decorations in the front gardens. We never drew the curtains and I remember that at dinner time I felt like I was living in a dolls house with crowds of people peering in. But I digress…

The Stars Are Made Of Mistletoe is a typical indie Christmas tune by Maylee Todd & Steve Singh, featuring cutesy female vocals and sleigh bells.

Best Coast have released this lovely Beach Boys-esque holiday tune, Christmas and Everyday, which features in the movie An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas.

An exciting new discovery for me this year is the second annual playlist compilation available exclusively from Amazon Music on Prime. Indie for the Holidays features some absolute corkers, some of which are listed below.

Los Campesinos! contribute When Christmas Comes (Boxing Day Version).

I love the sweetly harmonising voices of Joseph in Sister Winter.

Hear Holiday Road by Tennis here:

There are also a few good tunes available on Amazon from their Acoustic Christmas playlist:

Trampled by Turtles sing about Christmas In Prison.

Train contribute I Miss You, Christmas.

Jon McDevitt takes on the mysteries of Father Christmas in his new single, featuring a driving beat and jaunty fiddle. A bittersweet reflection on the real nature of Santa. Listen here as it can’t be streamed elsewhere.

Emma-Lee gives us a sparkling pop song with It Won’t Be Christmas, which owes more than a little debt to Mariah Carey.

Natalie Prass takes a lo-fi approach to the video for Everybody’s Having Fun (It’s Christmas Time) – an ode to the troubled world we find ourselves living in and the difficulty many are having in getting into the Christmas spirit this year.

I absolutely adore this echo-ey electro-pop version of the ancient carol O Holy Night by Nat Jay + Cookie Cartel. Listen to O Holy Night here.

Lastly, Hannah Epperson gives us an experimental Christmas tune in the form of White Flag, which she describes as her “post-apocalyptic Christmas single”, here paired with her simplified version of White Christmas.

With thanks to Andrea Warner for my Canadian finds. Read her original article here. I hope you enjoy listening to these alternative Christmas ditties! A very Merry Christmas all xxx

Categories ,Acoustic Christmas, ,Amazon Music, ,An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas, ,An Old Fashioned Christmas Song, ,Andrea Warner, ,Andrew Belle, ,Best Coast, ,Charles Cave, ,Christmas and Everyday, ,Christmas In Prison, ,Christmas Indie Songs, ,Christmas Music, ,Christmas Number One (On My Own), ,Christmas Tree Lane, ,Christmas tunes, ,Christmas Without Snow, ,Emma Lee, ,Everybody’s Having Fun (It’s Christmas Time), ,Father Christmas, ,Hannah Epperson, ,Holiday Road, ,Human Appeal, ,I Miss You Christmas, ,Indie for the Holidays, ,It Won’t Be Christmas, ,Jon McDevitt, ,Joseph, ,Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, ,Los Campesinos, ,low, ,Maylee Todd & Steve Singh, ,Nat Jay + Cookie Cartel, ,Natalie Prass, ,Neon Dreams, ,Nothing Beats Old People at Christmas, ,O Holy Night, ,Playlist, ,Pony Death Ride, ,Raglans, ,Sister Winter, ,Some Hearts (at Christmas Time), ,Tennis, ,The Crookes, ,The Stars Are Made Of Mistletoe, ,This Fucking Time Of Year, ,Train, ,Trampled by Turtles, ,When Christmas Comes, ,White Christmas, ,White Flag, ,You Bring the Snow

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Amelia’s Magazine | Crookes

This? week? I? attended ?the Light? and? Architecture? symposium? at ?the? Kolding? School ?of? Design ?in ?Denmark. The event played ?host to? one of the forerunners in innovative Textile Design speaker ?Reiko? Sudo ?co? founder? and? director ?of? NUNO ?fabrics.??


The company have been granted numerous accolades and were recently given the Mainichi? Design? Award, viagra 100mg cure the Roscoe? Prize? and? the? Japanese? Interior? Designers’? Association? Design? Award.? The? talk? focused? on? NUNO‘s? last project?? designing? fabrics? for? the? Mandarin? Oriental? Hotel, side effects ? Tokyo.?

The? project? aim for the Mandarin Oriental was to convey? Japan’s? changing? seasons? and? is? inspired? by the natural elements? of? wood? and? water.? Reiko? explained how? they? applied? traditional? Japanese? handcraft? and fused it with unconventional? materials?. She? took? the? audience? on? a? beautiful? journey? of? Japanese? landscapes? through? the? forest? in? rainfall,? sunshine,? day? and? night.? All? elements? provide? inspiration? for? the? hotel’s? interior? design fabric?, from? the? root? and? texture? of? a? tree,? or? the? way? the? raindrops? bounce? from? leaf? to? leaf,? reflecting? rays? of? sunshine? across? the? forest? floor.? This? allowed? the? audience? to? visualise? the? source? of? inspiration? behind? each ?fabric? and? imagine ?the ?textural ?quality ?of? the ?cloth? without ?the? sense? of ?touch.?


After? introducing? her? inspirational? source for the fabrics, Reiko went on to? explain the methods of ?production.? For? example? to? recreate? the? beautiful? opalescent? sparkling rays? of? sunshine,? gold? embroidery? was? stitched? onto? transparent? fabric.


?The atmosphere? of? forest? at nightfall? was? created by? stitching? shiny? metallic? midnight? blue? against? ink? stained? handmade? paper.? This? extra? consideration? to? detail? brings? an ?experiential ?quality ?to ?the ?fabric ?emulating ?a? certain? ambiance.?


Reiko? was? a? truly? inspirational? speaker;? her? efforts? have? allowed? her? to? stay? true? to? Japanese? traditional? handcraft? whilst? experimenting? with? new? materials? to? create new? possibilities. ?This? visionary? approach? and? impeccable? attention? to? detail? project? an? original? yet honest? representation? of? Japanese ?culture.
Femke De Jong’s illustrations are multi-layered and intensively reworked collages, prostate they often explore the seemingly oppositional subjects of man and machine. She kindly agreed to answer a few of our questions and send us some lovely images to eyeball.


Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am originally from the Netherlands and I lived in Amsterdam for about 10 years before I moved to Bristol 6 years ago. I come from a family of ‘makers’, especially my gran and my mum. I have always been interested in the visual arts, like all kids I spent a lot of time drawing and making ‘stuff’. I used to sit in the attic, reading old books, and especially loved the pictures in my dad’s science encyclopedias.
Also, I was kept back for a year in Kindergarten, the teachers there thought it would be good for me to play for another year.

How would you describe your work?
Surrealist collage, textural, playful, eclectic mishmash, a whiff of antiquety, whimsical.

What mediums do you use to create your illustrations?
A composition of drawings, collage (digital and hand-rendered) of elements and textures, layered up in the computer. I often scan hand-rendered drawings or textures in and work from thumbnails and ideas I make first. When inside the computer, I sometimes print out things again and then work into these prints. I try to keep that ‘organic’, hand-rendered feel in my work.


Collage is a strong element to your illustrations. What is it about using this technique that interests you?
Working with collage gives me a lot of freedom, to mix different elements and ideas, to get to a ‘concoction’. When I was little I wanted to be an inventor, and in a way I still ‘invent’ illustrations.

Would you say you have certain themes which you visit in your illustrations?
I have always been interested in science, and often include mechanical bits in my illustrations.
I sometimes use it as an metaphore to emphasize the ‘clunky’ relationship between man and machine, or eg. the human doesn’t take responsibility for his/her actions, and acts as if he/she is programmed to do so. Themes like science, and environmental issues interest me.


Do you think that the fact that you were raised in the Netherlands has affected your work in anyway?
I think my view is from a more ‘Dutch’ angle. I moved here about six years ago and even though I dream in English, Dutch normality is still present in the back of my head. Dutch sayings and expressions often pop up, and I find them visually stimulating. I think they drive a lot of the ideas in my work.
I really appreciate the British sense of humour for it’s absurd and macabre satire, like Monty Python and League of Gentlemen.

Is there a Dutch and an English illustration style?
The Dutch love their very bright colour palette, which is a little too bright for my liking. My colour palette seems to go towards more muted colours.
A lot of illustration in the Netherlands seems to me to be direct, conceptual and design led, and more minimalist whilst British illustration seems to be more romantic and eccentric.
In England, there is a big affection and tolerance of the eccentric, whilst in the Netherlands there is a saying: ‘Act normal, you’re mad enough as you are.’


How do you like living in Bristol? Have you ever considered living in london like many creatives do?
I live with my boyfriend in a fairly central bit of Bristol. Bristol is a lively student city, there are always plenty of things to do here, as well I know a lot of fellow-illustrators here, like the collective ‘Hot Soup’. I’m actually thinking about living more in the countryside than we do now, so London would be a step in the other direction. Eventhough London is a very good place to be for creatives, and I have concidered moving there in the past, I now use the internet to plug myself, and visit London once every month/two months.

What are you working on at the moment?
This week I am working on a book cover, an editorial and an image that will appear in the book Lucidity.


What inspires you?
Many things. I’ve been called too eclectic before, but when a friend went to Amsterdam with me, she said: “I understand now where you come from, this place is like one of your collages”. Amsterdam is a melting pot of many cultures, colourful, lively and noisy. There’s lots of nooks and crannies, like an old curiosity shop.
In Amsterdam there is an independence in attitude, and the freedom to be expressive. I love walking around antique shops and flea markets, to get a feel of the old times.

Who are your favourite artists?
The Russian Avant-Garde constructivists like El Lissitzky and Rodchenko for their composition. Henrik Drescher, for his independent style and Paul Slater, because of his absurd and surrealist humour. Also Svankmajer, for his nightmarishly unsettling surrealities. I love Eastern European animation the grimness and absurdity they find in everyday topics. The world around us is sometimes unsettling and by depicting the world in a surreal way and making fun of it, helps.


How long do you usually work on one image?
It depends. For an editorial I usually work on the ideas and the roughs for a couple of hours, and then a bit longer on the finished piece.
When there’s a deadline, things always get done. When I don’t have the deadline, I revisit work more and things can take longer.

Have you done any commissioned work?
I have done are a book cover for the Bristol short story prize, which they used for the front cover of their quarterly mag. A CD cover for Furthernoise and some editorials for Management Today and Resource.


What would your dream project be?
In this order: A cover for New Scientist, to design a range of book covers, a series of books for older children.
Any project where I get a lot of freedom, eg. by working with an art editor who isn’t afraid to take risks.

To see more of Femke’s work you’re just one click away from her website. You can also buy a few of her things here.

Saturday saw a hoard of eager revellers descend on the Fym Fyg Bar in Bethnal Green for all the fun of the fair, this well vintage fair that is! You could tell news of the event had travelled far on the grape vine as bargainistas formed a snaking queue outside that, alas, fellow intern Sabrina and I fell victim to. After an exasperating wait we finally entered the vintage emporium, and it certainly was a visual feast as soon as you entered. The first sight to grab my attention was the stunningly nostaligic tea shoppe brought to us by the delightful ladies at Lady Luck Rules Ok! I couldn’t help being hypnotised by the endless array of cakes and beautifully clad tea ladies adorned in 50′s get ups! But determined to embark on my bargain hunt I managed to draw myself away from the alluring cupcakes and straight on to the stalls.




Highly reminiscent of a sweet shop rabble on a Saturday afternoon everyone was grabbing at the £5 a bag stalls, eagerly stuffing as much in as physically possible. There was a certain skill to this I established, you had to adopt a Tetris style approach to utilise the space to its full capacity. There certainly was enough to satisfy every nostalgic whim, I trawled through rows and rows of 50 and 60s aprons and pretty shift dresses, and then straight on to all the glamour and cabaret of the 70′s and 80′s in all their glittery excesses.



The Vintage Kilo stall, it has to be said, was my beeline and alas I was disappointed. I think most of Shoreditch had my idea so subsequently it descended into a cattle market, making it all too difficult to delve out those bargains. Maybe I am still a mere vintage fair novice; I think I was dealing with the pros.


The Jewellery was a real treat, I unearthered some stunning brooches, hat pins and charmingnecklaces, it really was a treasure trove of shimmery trinkets perfect for us magpies. There was also beautiful millinery ablaze with feathers and gems galore, taking us on a whirlwind tour through the roaring 40s to the swinging 60′s. I wished I could pull off some of the more flamboyant styles!




After more then sufficient vintage indulgence I decided it was definitely time to let my stomach do the talking and succumb to some well deserved tea and cake at Lady Lucks pop up tea shoppe. The décor was delightfully twee and had been consciously laid out to reflect individual decades spanning the 50s to the 80s. We were escorted right back to the 50s table which was brimming with vintage board games. The staples included Sorry, Bingo and Scrabble all definitive games from the era in my book! So after taking in the décor I launched straight into a hearty cup of tea and my delectable chocolate cup cake while my partner in crime went for the carrot cake.



So in all the consensus was a definite thumbs up for the affordable vintage fair, it’s safe to say I was vintaged out by the end! Keep your eyes out for the next one guys, it’s 25th April in Lincoln, well worth a visit!

Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009

A multi media visual exploration of Altermodernism. Curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, there the co- founder of Palais de Tokyo in Paris, he describes Altermodern art as art made in today’s global context, a counter reaction to commercialism. The selection includes some of the best current British artist, alongside international artists who are working within similar themes.

Tate Britain Mill bank London SW1P 4RG
3rd Feb – 26th Apr 09 Daily 10am-5.50pm



The launch and celabration of Indian modern art, curated by Radha Binod Sharma.
The show will feature works by 22 comtemporary Indian artist, some of whom have never exhibited outside of there own country.

Menier Gallery 51 Southwark Street London SE1 1RU
31. Mar – 9. Apr 09, free admission 11am – 6pm daily


The Mail Me Art Project

Run by Darren Di Lieto

The exhibition showcases a vast collection of artistic work sent in the form of mail by both professional and amateur artists of all ages from across the world as part of the 2007 Mail Me Art project. All of the work submitted to the Mail Me Art project is exhibited and available for purchase.

Red gate gallery
209a Coldharbour Lane Brixton London SW9 8RU
Friday 3rd to 9th of April 2009,
Gallery Opening Hours: Sat, Mon, Tues, Wed: 2.30 pm – 6.30 pm
Last day of Exhibition: Thurs 9th of April: 11.00am to 5.00pm


Sock Exchange

Through video, events and one-on-one engagement, Sock Exchange invites you to transforming your humble and odd socks into an exquisite art experience.
Also come sit and knit with other fellow knitters/makers. Show non-knitters how to knit their own sock and spread the sock appreciation.

Exhibiting alongside residents from Eyebeam’s Sustainability Research Group, Stefan Szczelkun, Melanie Gilligan.

Fact Gallery, Liverpool L1 4DQ
6th Apr – 12th Apr 09, Free admission 10-6pm


Crookes is an area of Sheffield popular with students and Joe Cocker pilgrims. One of wikipedia’s key facts about the area is that it is served by the number 52 bus. Be still, medications my beating heart.

But as I type a new band are causing something of a stir there ? it’s home to The Crookes: a baby-faced guitar wielding folk/pop/acoustic outfit. They deliver tender, more about sweet melodies and simple, stripped songs that are a good old fashioned treat for the ears.


They’ve played a handful of gigs in London recently and are picking up a steady stream of fans, with Steve Lamacq at the front of the line like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, harping on about them on his blog and radio show.

The Crookes have a great stage presence and ooze charisma – without the arrogance associated with a good few of their contemporaries. Hey, they’ll even join you off the stage for a couple of numbers and charm you with their raw, acoustic and unplugged talent if you ask nicely (or not at all, actually). They have an experimental sound, incorporating toy guitars, harmonicas and banjos into their gigs, complimented by lead Goerge’s dulcet vocals.


We caught up with George, Alex, Daniel and Russell at their recent Stoke Newington gig:

Hailing from Sheffield, people will compare you to it’s famous exports: Artic Monkeys, Pulp, Harrisons, Peter Stringfellow. Help or hinderance?

R: We haven’t been compared to Peter Stringfellow, as yet. The only comparison we’ve really had was to Treebound Story. We stole Richard Hawley’s drum sticks recently (he uses the same studios), though we don’t really want to live up to our name.

What was the last song you recorded and why?

D: By The Seine, which has a bit of a different sound. It’s about a pavement artist I saw who’s pictures kept getting washed away when it started raining. We’re going to be playing it at a live session we’re doing in Paris in the summer… playing there’s always been a big ambition of ours.

What have you got in store for the rest of the year?

G: We’re moving in together to give it a proper go. Apparently our future neighbor is deaf…so at least we can’t annoy him!

A: George wants to be a postman for a while.

Will there be an album?

R: Hopefully in the next year or so…but we want to take our time and make sure when we do it’s reflective of our best efforts.

What’s the best thing about Crookes?

D: It has a nice lake.

G: There’s a great chip shop called ‘New Cod on the Block.’ Actually, I’ve never been ? it might be pretty average, but I like the name.

Any band dramas?

A: Russell once vandalized the dressing rooms at Plug in Sheffield… he was making a cup of tea and pulled the cupboard off the wall..he then spent about 20 minutes trying to fix it before the house manager found out and refused to pay us.


Do you prefer to perform unplugged or do you prefer to present a more produced sound?

G: Either, really, but we are playing at the Holmfirth Festival of Folk at the beginning of May which is going to be an unplugged set…we’re really looking forward to it.

R: …And we’re going to play an acoustic set on Margate Pier in the summer sometime…we have a thing for playing interesting venues.

You supported Slow Club (friends of Amelia’s magazine). How was that?

A: We’ve all been to see them loads before, so it was great to be on the same bill. They’re one of the current Sheffield bands we really admire.

Which song do you wish you’d written?

A: And Your Bird Can Sing by The Beatles

D: Be my Baby by The Ronettes

What is the most embarrassing song on your ipod/guilty pleasure?

G: Forget about Dre ? Eminem feat. Dr. Dre

R: Mambo No.5 by Lou Bega!

Categories ,Interview, ,Music, ,The Crookes

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