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My Eclectic Holiday Playlist: Christmas Music You Can Stream from the Hoboken Public Library

18 Dec

It can seem a little decadent to purchase holiday CDs to listen to for just one month a year, so I prefer to stream my favorite Christmas tunes.  Hoboken Public Library residents have access to streaming music from Hoopla and Freegal.  Both services have tons of albums and songs to choose from such as Merry Christmas from Mariah Carey or if you prefer A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra.  I have some quirky favorites I’m sharing below that put an unusual spin on the holiday classics.

Lindsey Stirling’s Warmer in the Winter
Warmer in the Winter
Warmer in the Winter is one of my favorite Christmas albums.  Lindsey Stirling rose to fame with her riveting music videos where she energetically dances while playing the violin.  With the violin being one of my favorite stringed instruments, I love her version of the Dance of the Sugar Plum and fun take on You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.  Some tracks have guest vocalists; Warmer in the Winter is the cheerful title tune that will have you wanting to sing along.  Another bouncy upbeat Christmas favorite of mine is Gwen Stefani’s You Make it Feel Christmas.

Blackmore’s Night’s Winter Carols
Winter Carols

Blackmore’s Night is a traditional rock folk duo inspired by renaissance music, featuring Ritchie Blackmore (from metal bands Deep Purple and Rainbow) and Candice Night, who adds beautiful vocals.  Since I’m a fan of renaissance inspired music, Winter Carols is another favorite. I especially like their version of I Saw Three Ships.  If you enjoy this one also check out Mediaeval Baebes’s Mistletoe & Wine and Loreena McKennitt’s A Midwinter’s Night Dream for more traditional inspired carols, which I also love.

Christmas with the Puppini Sisters
Puppini Sisters Christmas

For a retro sounding Christmas going a little less far back in time, stream Christmas with the Puppini Sisters.  The other two members are not actually related to Marcella Puppini instead their name was inspired by the Andrews Sisters.  All of the Puppini Sisters albums are worth checking out, but I especially can’t resist their fun take on Christmas classics during the holiday season.  I particularly like their take on Here Comes Santa Claus and Winter Wonderland.  They also have a fun version of Mele Kalikimaka, for another great cover of the classic Hawaiian Christmas song check out the one from duo She & Him’s Christmas Party.

Ornamental (A Projekt Holiday Compilation)
ornamental

Projekt Records was known in the 90’s for its Ethereal Gothic music including the founder Sam Rosenthal’s Black Tape for a Blue Girl.  Being a fan of many of the artist on the label this in another favorite that might appeal to those who don’t like the traditional pop sound of a lot of Christmas classics.  It includes great tracks by Nicki Jaine, Jill Tracy, Ego Likeness, Love Spirals Downward, and for Steampunk fan’s Abney Park with Steampunk Jingle Bells.  Some of the artists on the compilation also have their own holiday albums so you can also check out Spellbound in Winter by Unto Ashes.

Pokémon Christmas Bash
pokemon christmas

This is a favorite of my son who is Pokémon crazed.  It features silly Pokémon holiday inspired tunes like I’m Giving Santa a Pickachu for Christmas and Pokémon Christmas Bash.  It won’t blow you away with its vocals and music, but for Pokémon fans it is a fun background if Santa is bringing the new Sword and Shield Games.  If you like a little humor with your Christmas celebrations also check out Shonen Knife’s celebration of all things scrumptious with their Sweet Christmas.

With Hoopla you can borrow up to 10 albums of music per month (or books and movies).  Freegal lets you stream three hours of music per day and if you find a must have song you can download 5 songs per week that are yours to keep.  Freegal even creates holiday playlists if you like your Christmas Rockin’ or you prefer a Country Christmas.  For those celebrating Hanukkah this month, you can check out a variety of albums available on Hoopla.  Prefer to listen to music on CD; come in and browse our holiday collection in the first floor media room near the fireplace at the main branch!

No matter what holiday you typically celebrate this time of year, if you are Seinfeld fan, stop in for our Festivus for the Rest of Us celebration on December 19 at 7 PM!

Looking to give the gift of reading this holiday season; check out these great reads for kids, adults and teens recommended by the BCCLS Staff.  You can find out our staff’s holiday favorites from a previous post.  Also check out a post about recommended Christmas movies.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Discover New Music with Great Music Documentaries Available from Kanopy

14 Aug

JohnFahey
I love discovering new music, especially stuff that is strange and forgotten. I’ve spent hours countless digging through the crates of record stores looking for the weirdest albums I can get my hands on. Kanopy has a ton of great music documentaries that have exposed me to artists I would have never heard of otherwise. If you are looking to expand your musical palette to new realms, I highly recommend the following three music documentaries.

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll
Very few people will go into John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten knowing anything about the vibrant rock and pop music scene in that existed in Cambodia in the 1950s and 60s. Much like how the U.S. and Europe celebrated The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Cambodia had its own mega-succesful stars during this time who turned the city of Phnom Penh into a flourishing center of the arts. I had previously known absolutely nothing about Cambodian rock music and was blown away by the talent of the performers showcased at the beginning of the film, leaving me to quickly wonder why all of the country’s biggest stars are so unknown.
The modern history of Cambodia is one of tragedy. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. carried out a secret bombing campaign of the country that killed tens of thousands and devastated the rural countryside. Out of the rubble rose the Khmer Rouge, an extremist group who systematically killed artists, musicians, and intellectuals. The Khmer Rouge almost entirely wiped out any memory of the Cambodian rock scene. Many of the most talented performers died in the notorious Killing Fields and the only surviving recordings were ones that were hidden or smuggled out of the country. While the film is ultimately a tragedy, the fact that the legacy of these incredible musicians has finally been resurrected is nothing short of a miracle.

THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESIDENTS
Are The Residents the strangest band to ever exist? Are they even a band or are they something else entirely? Theory of Obscurity documents the Resident’s 40+ year career as closely as you can follow a group whose members conceal their identities with giant eyeball masks and top hats. The Residents have always thrived on anonymity and experimentation, creating elaborate performances that appear more like avant-garde theater than a rock show. Playing a Residents album at a party could quickly clear the room. They are the type of band that takes many listens to “get” if it is ever possible to get them at all. With that said, I think everyone should at least experience this film to see if they are one of the “weirdos” who might be strange (or cool) enough to enjoy the Residents.

In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey
John Fahey was an acoustic guitarist who influenced everyone from Pete Townshend of the Who to Sonic Youth. While lots of famous musicians cite his influence, he is little known to mainstream culture, some of which can be attributed to his style of playing called “American Primitivism” which harkens back to the early delta blues and ragtime. Even though he started making records around the same time that rock music was breaking out, Fahey’s playing sounded so rustic that he liked tricking people into thinking he was forgotten early 1900s blues musician named Blind Joe Death. Fahey was also notorious for self-sabotage. He was an alcoholic who was too eccentric, too difficult to work with, and too out of step with the modern world to have material success. Despite his shortcomings, one cannot deny that Fahey was a breathtaking guitar player and entertaining personality. There’s a reason so many musicians talk about him in reverence and In Search of Blind Joe Death makes a compelling case for his importance.  BCCLS patrons also have access to the documentary on DVD.

Written by:
Karl Schwartz
Young Adult Librarian

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