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Words: Richyy Hetheringtin

If I’m honest I’m not a massive fan of Christmas, I’m more of a Halloween type really, but there has been a wonderful array of eclectic and sometimes melancholic tunes created to celebrate. They go a long way to make up for the present buying hustle and socially awkward situations. My podcast Richy’s Advent Calendar has provided a happy excuse to share songs about snow, winter and the solstice.

I thought the opportunity to get all my friends together would make Christmas so much better. So last year I asked friends who perform as Trunky Juno, Mushi Mushi, Faithful Johannes, CTOAN, :Zoviet*France:, Groovetrain and The Samphires if they would play a Christmas gig, they did and it was amazing! The Advent Calendar Live was a joyous, life affirming evening that raised over £1400 for Shelter and Age UK. Covid restrictions mean a mass get-together couldn’t happen this year but we’re doing it all online, with many of last year’s performance returning and being joined by the likes of Dressed Like Wolves, Cath and Phil Tyler and Nev Clay on Sunday 13th December via Zoom and YouTube, raising money for the Music Venues Trust. Check the Advent Calendar page on Facebook for more info.

Each year the Advent Calendar brings a new set of tunes, and here I’m delighted to give a mention to some of the highlights from years gone by.

The Flaming Lips – Christmas at the Zoo
This track was on a Christmas Mixtape CD I gave to my friends about 10 years ago when all this started. A much loved track from a much loved album. Why this isn’t on rotation in Primark from November beats me.

The Yules – This is my Xmas Song
This Christmas song has absolutely everything; it starts so sweet, with such a great accent, then a super unannounced and unexpected expletive – it’s like three songs all at once. I love it!

Annie Hardy – The Worst Xmas
Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone. Annie Hardy is a wonderfully complex person with some fantastic songs and some of the best between-song gig banter ever. This is the most heart-breaking Christmas song I know.

Joseph Spence – Santa Claus is Coming to Town
A lot of the songs in the Advent Calendar are originals that have been skipped over. But some are cover versions that bring something new, this song remains utterly marvellous.

Daniel Johnson – Christmas in the Loony Bin
Sometimes sad and happy all roll into one, at the gig last year we recognised this was a goodbye to a wonderful and massively influential artist who meant so much to millions of music lovers. But leading the mass sing along with cardboard signs was a truly beautiful moment and will stay with me forever.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Cold White Christmas
Some artists seem to specialise in Christmas records, and Sufjan Stevens has to get a mention for some fab seasonable tunes, but I want to pick out Owen Ashworth because this is spine-chillingly brilliant.

The Incredible String Band – Chinese White
Not every song is so strictly about Christmas, but you can normally find the connection if you listen. I always play this one twice, I’m that mad for the intro.

Niagra Balls – Don’t Be A Dick at Christmas
Not every artist is famous, but there are some important messages…

:Zoviet*France: Misteltan
This song is just incredible!

Faithful Johannes – You Don’t Like Christmas Songs
When I discovered Faithful Johannes is a Christmas song obsessive and committed to writing one each year I knew we were going to get along. This one is an absolute smasher.

 

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