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OurStage's 2013 Gift Guide

Are you one of those foolish people who thinks the holidays are about getting together with loved ones to share some laughs, eat a delicious meal, and make memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives? HA. Sucker. The holidays exist for one reason: proving to your friends and family that you love them more than they love you with over the top spending on extravagant gifts. And with less than three weeks until Christmas day, time is running out to empty your bank account in the hopes of impressing the people in your life.

Luckily, we’re here to help. Welcome to OurStage’s 2013 gift-giving guide. If you have a music lover on your list this year, any of these items will be sure to impress, proving once and for all that you are the better friend/family member/lover. Merry merry, y’all.

1. Tickets

When it comes to buying presents for the music fan in your life, nothing is better than a pair of tickets to see their favorite band live. They get an unforgettable night of music with an artist they love, you get the joy of giving them a gift that’s also kind of for yourself. (“Oh my god, you want me to take the other ticket to the Neutral Milk Hotel show? It’s totally fine if you want to take someone else. Well, if you’re sure…”)

2. A record player

Sure, this whole vinyl revival has been going on for a few years now, but I’m pretty sure we all have that friend who has yet to give up their mp3 player because they think it’s just a fad. For as little as $50.oo you can get that uninformed goon a record player so that they, too, can become a pretentious pseudo-audiophile who gushes over how much warmer everything sounds on vinyl. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
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Never Shout Never Announce 'Christmas' EP, Stream New Song

OS Members Never Shout Never have joined a long-running industry tradition and announced plans to release their own collection of holiday music just in time for reindeer to land on your roof.

Never Shout Never shared with fans their plans to release new EP, titled Christmas, on November 25 of this year. The album will be a collection of holiday songs, including at least one original song. That track, titled “Everything Is Cool,” can be streamed starting today, exclusively on Alternative Press.

So what do NSN bring to the holiday table? For starters, “Everything Is Cool” harkens back to the group’s early days of creating mainly acoustic songs built on easy-to-memorize lyricism. The “cool” in the title refers to the climate, and as the track plays on, frontman Christofer Drew recounts the many things that come to mind when thinking of the holiday season. It’s not likely to be a modern classic, but it’s certainly a refreshing new take on the spirit of the season.

Preorders for the Christmas EP have yet to be announced, but we expect at least a handful of purchase options will be unveiled in the weeks ahead. Follow OurStage on Twitter to ensure you never miss an update.

Bad Religion Announce Holiday Album, Stream "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"

Punk icons Bad Religion have helped spawn more basement-dwelling bands than perhaps any other group of the last 30 years. They could easily take time off or retire, but every two-three years the members come together and create albums that remind us why they’ve been genre staples for so long. 2013 is different. Instead of hitting the studio and delivering a dozen new anthems for aging punks, the members of Bad Religion have crafted their first holiday release, and today we’re excited to present you with the first single.

According to a new press release, Bad Religion will release an album titled Christmas Songs this November through Epitaph Records, the label owned by their guitarist Brett Gurewitz. The album will feature a few original tracks alongside a slew of holiday staples, including a number of songs most will associate with Christian holiday traditions. One of those, the classic “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” has been released to help promote the album’s arrival. You can stream the single at the end of this post.

Christianity and Bad Religion are two things that probably shouldn’t go together, but it’s hard to deny the punk fury on this cover. The band has definitely made it their own, which makes us excited for the rest of the release. Do you agree? Comment below and let us know your thoughts on this cover. (more…)

Kelly Clarkson Debuts "Underneath The Tree"

First Mary J. Blige, now America’s first reality show idol? I guess the holiday season is officially underway.

There comes a point in the career of most pop stars when they eventually cash in on tradition and release a collection of reworked holiday classics. This is the year Kelly Clarkson makes that move, and, in addition to delivering new versions of some of your favorite holiday sing-a-longs, she’s also offering a potential new classic with her single “Underneath The Tree.” The track addresses that key aspect of Christmas in an upbeat fashion that falls somewhere between “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” and *NSYNC˜s Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. You can stream the single below.

It takes a lot to make me love original holiday songs, but there is something so insanely catchy about “Underneath The Tree” that you know from your first listen it will soon be a staple at every Chrismas party, office holiday celebration, and drunken get-together in between. Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

Wrapped In Red, the holiday themed release from Kelly Clarkson, hits stores October 29. (more…)

Mary J. Blige Wins Christmas Music Race, Streams Holiday Song

Every year, the Christmas season starts earlier. It seems like more and more marketers view the beginning of October as the starting line to the holiday shopping season. Stores begin to include holiday merchandise on shelves, talk of the infamous ‘black Friday specials’ begins, and at least one major record label rushes to get their big seasonal releases on shelves ahead of the competition. In 2013, the winner for the first big seasonal release is Mary J. Blige, and starting today you can stream her version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” via our friends at VIBE.

If you’ve heard one over-orchestrated version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” you’ve heard them all, and though Blige’s signature voice is as pristine as ever, there is simply not much unique about her take on the classic song. Still, Mary blesses us so rarely with new material these days it’s comforting to know she can still deliver when she wants to, and surely fans of Blige and fans of, well, Christmastime, will fall for this reinterpretation.

If you would like to hear more holiday classic reworked by Mary J. Blige, you’re in luck! The pop icon will release her seasonal album, A Mary Christmas, on October 15.

Frank Turner Releases "Four Simple Words"

Frank Turner

Yesterday may have been Christmas, but that doesn’t mean today doesn’t hold a little musical present for the Frank Turner lovers out there. Turner has released a new track called “Four Simple Words” off his forthcoming untitled album. The track, which is available for free download via Xtra Mile Recordings, is quirky, upbeat, and classically Turner, leaving expectations high for the album’s spring 2013 release.

You can listen for yourself after the jump and let us know your thoughts in the comments! (more…)

Holiday Album Review: CeeLo Green – "CeeLo's Magic Moment"

It’s that magical time of year when we get to hear all of our favorite Christmas and holiday classics. In honor of this festive occasion, we decided to review one of the most popular and highly anticipated holiday albums that came out this season, CeeLo’s Magic Moment by R&B singer CeeLo Green.

By now you are probably sick of hearing all the same old carols over and over, but if there’s anyone to breathe new life into these standards it’s CeeLo. As you can imagine, he brings a certain element of class and glamour to each track, while also introducing some fitting originals. However, the first half of the 14-track record is about all you need to get into the Christmas spirit. After that, it gets a bit boring.

Though needless to say, CeeLo has captured this “magic moment” the one way he knows best, with nostalgic soulful 70’s style flair mixed with contemporary pop sensibility. His duet with fellow The Voice judge Christina Aguilera on “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is surprisingly reserved and charming, whereas one might have expected the two powerhouse singers to overdo it. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of rifs and runs between the two, but they manage to balance them dynamically with the smokey jazz club vibe.

To continue this feeling, CeeLo follows up with a cover of Donny Hathaway‘s “This Christmas.” With smooth basslines, orchestral brass accents, and subtle strokes of clean guitar , the 70’s homage sounds like it was recored in the same era in which it was written. Of course, this must lead into a smooth downtempo version of “The Christmas Song,” which sounds like it easily could have been the work of R. Kelly. Yet, there’s something uniquely comforting about Green’s voice that makes this track an instant standard for holiday radioplay. In fact, many of these renditions are so respectfully executed that I am sure they will be welcomed into the ever-growing repertoire of iconic holiday classics. With the slick production quality and “sexy” R&B/jazz vibe, I can picture this album being the soundtrack to some high-class New York penthouse Christmas party.

There are plenty of fun tracks for the whole family, though. “All I Need Is Love” is an upbeat original featuring none other than the jolly old Muppets themselves. While the song is a bit awkward, upon listening, you can tell it was clearly made for the video, which is fun and hilarious. Believe it or not, however; the track that follows is probably the most interesting and unusual piece on the record. Green teams up with the all-male a capella group Straight No Chaser for a comically theatrical rendition of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch,” interspersed with excerpts from the original Dr. Seuss text.

This is about where the album reaches its peak. Some of the songs that follow are more obscure, like “River” and the heavily religious “Mary, Did You Know?,” both of which are beautifully performed, but just a little too solemn. Almost too typically, Green tackles Mariah Carrey‘s “All I Want For Christmas,” without straying too much from the original, making for a pretty blasé listen. Of course, not to be short on cameos, Green throws in one last duet with renowned adult contemporary singer Rod Stewart and the famous Trombone Shorty. Still, the impact is not nearly as lasting as the first half of the album. However, he elegantly closes with possibly the best cover on the record. Green’s version of “Silent Night” is soothing and poignant at first, building in dynamics with a marching rhythm, multiple modulations, and an uplifting orchestral and choral arrangement to finish.

Although there are plenty of Christmas albums that come out every year, CeeLo’s Magic Moment strikes just the right balance of fresh and traditional, without being too cheesy. Whether you like it or not, these songs are here to stay and will likely become a regular addition to annual Christmas shopping playlists.

If you like CeeLo Green, then you might also like Ourstage’s own Jasper Sawyer.

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The Editorialist: 5 Songs To Wake Up To This Christmas

For as much chaos and stress as the holidays can sometimes bring, there’s a certain magic that comes along with this time of year. It may be cliché, but when those Christmas lights go up and the fireplace kicks on, I can’t help but be brought back to a time of simple childhood joys like Dunkin Donuts’ Munchkins while decorating the tree, staying up all night on Christmas Eve, and tearing into presents Christmas morning.

So this year while you’re celebrating the holidays with loved ones, relax, switch on these songs, and enjoy a little background music to your holiday. Merry Christmas. (more…)

The Editorialist: 8 Holiday Covers You Need To Hear

The holidays are a time for friends, family, baked goods, and of course, the release of cover songs from some of your favorite artists past and present. From fun.‘s recent cover of Sleigh Ride all the way back to the days of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, our playlist has a little something for everyone.

Listen to our playlist below and let us know your choices for best holiday cover in the comments.

Holiday Covers We Love from OurStage on 8tracks Radio.

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Glamour Kills Holiday Festival Tonight: The Wonder Years, A Loss For Words, Transit, And More

Boston posi-core fans, dawn you now your gay apparel, for tonight Glamour Kills clothing company is hosting one of the biggest alternative/pop-punk shows of the season, A Very GK! Holiday Festival. According to the festival Facebook page, the lineup and estimated set times are as follows:


10:15 – END = The Wonder Years
9:30 – 10:00 = A Loss For Words
8:45 – 9:15 = Transit
8:00 – 8:30 = The Dangerous Summer
7:20 – 7:45 = Hit The Lights
6:50 – 7:10 = With The Punches
6:20 – 6:40 = Brian Marquis
5:50 – 6:10 = Hostage Calm

5:20 – 5:40 = I Call Fives
4:50 – 5:10 = State Champs
4:20 – 4:40 = Kid Jerusalem
3:50 – 4:10 = Premiere

This is actually the third out of four dates in the U.S. this month. The first one, headlined by Set Your Goals, was on December 2nd in Oakland, CA, and the second was on December 8th in Chicago, IL, headlined by Chiodos. After tonight, the festival will close out the season with one last show this Sunday December 16th in Poughkeepsie, NY. The lineup will be very similar, with Matchbook Romance, Anadivine, A Loss For Words, Hit The Lights, With The Punches, State Champs, The Dangerous Summer, Kid Jerusalem, Young Statues, Brian Marquis, and Class Of 92.

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