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Xmas Music ‘Musts’

Xmas Music ‘Musts’

It is the season to be jolly after all, but hearing Mariah Carey yelp out ‘I don’t want a lot for Christmas’ repeatedly everywhere I go actually makes me shiver with anger.
I’m not a Grinch or a Scrooge, I actually love Christmas and the whole festive spirit.
In fact, I make my playlist on the 30th November ready to provide me with 25 days of listening pleasure each year.

So without any further ado, here is my countdown to the best Christmas songs out there (In my opinion, of course!)

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15. Saviour’s Day – Cliff Richard

I know, I know…What happened to ‘Mistletoe and Wine’? Well, what happened is that I listened to that song and ended up putting my fist through a nearby yule log.

‘Saviour’s Day’ on the other hand…
Wow, what an opening, it hits you in the face like a punch from an angry elf.  I think you have to have a bit of Cliff in any Christmas Song list anyways, it’s a tradition, like charades, or carolling or in my family where everyone gets tipsy and argues about religion.

Key Lyric – ”Open your eyes for the Saviours day. Don’t look back or turn away.”

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14. Coldplay – Christmas Lights

The opening piano part literally floats across the cold mist in the air and leaves you feeling oh so warm inside.

A much welcomed Chris Martin’s voice enters in and all is good in the world. Images of crackers being pulled and families sat round the fire all kick in. Everyone likes Coldplay and this is a fantastic attempt at creating an original christmas song.

Key Lyric – “May all your troubles soon be gone. Oh, Christmas lights keep shining on”

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13. The Killers – Boots

The Killers release a Christmas song every year. Good for them I say, although not all of them are up to the usual high standards of Killers tracks. Boots is my favourite though and I like the lyrics and of course you can’t deny that Brandon Flowers voice would be one of the gifts that a modern-day 3 wise man would box up and give to the baby Jesus.

Key Lyrics – “I can see my Mother in the Kitchen, my Father on the floor, watching television, ‘It’s a wonderful life’.”

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12. Band Aid – Do they know it’s Christmas?

For me nothing makes Christmas like hearing Simon Le Bon belt out ‘it’s hard, but when you’re having fun.’ It makes me all warm inside in a good way, not in an internal bleeding way. Bono is a bit selfish though isn’t he?
Key Lyric – “Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you.”

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11. Mumford & Sons – Winter Winds

Whilst it isn’t a song about christmas, it literally makes you feel that little bit warmer in this abnormally cold snap we’re in. Imagine a song which acts as a draft stopper and scarf at the same time, and these warming lyrics and country feel will sort you out proper…like a nice mulled wine.

Key Lyrics – “As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts, Oh the warmth in your eyes swept me into your arms.”

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10. Sufjan Stevens – Only at Christmas Time

I am a big big fan of anything that Sufjan Stevens makes and his boxset, ‘Songs For Christmas; Volumes 1-5’, is no exception. The set itself is fantastic and I implore you to buy it even if you are or aren’t a Sufjan Stevens fan. Plenty of well known and original Christmas songs with a load of extra things thrown in. I’ve picked 2 out of 43 tracks in this list the first being ‘Only at Christmas Time’.

The guitar is soft and sad, and the vocals soothing and relaxing. Perfect song for a drive in the snow at night, or to read a book to in front of a roaring log fire.

Key Lyric – “Everything lost will find, only at Christmas time.

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9. Theme from The Snowman – Walking in the Air

Before you point out that you know the name of the singer, I am fully aware of who Aled Jones is. The song was known as the theme to ‘The Snowman’, the animated film from 1982 as the version in the film isn’t actually sung by Aled Jones, it’s by choir boy Peter Auty.

Take that slice of information, butter it with the fact that the vocals are hauntingly good and full of melancholy, smother it with the sweet lyrics, bite into it and enjoy!
Key Lyric – “We’re walking in the air, we’re floating in the moonlit sky.

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8. Maps – Stay Another Day

I’ll admit it, I do like the East 17 version, but Maps make awesome music and any chance I get to include them in this list I’m going to take!

Key Lyric – “Baby if you’ve got to go away, Don’t think I can take the pain.”

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7. Mike Oldfield – In Dulci Jubilo
If you can listen to this song and not want to start shaking your arms, legs and head and imagine you are a leprechaun on Christmas then I don’t know how you do it.

This song is incredibly unique, it isn’t festive sounding yet it is like opening a box full of Christmas spirit.
This song is dangerous to drive to as I recently found out. Damn I miss my wing mirrors.
Key Lyric – There aren’t any, but the guitar solo is special enough.

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6. Jona Lewie – Stop the Calvary

Never originally intended as a Christmas song, ‘Stop the Calvary’ refers to the wishes of countless soldiers throughout centuries of wars. It starts off quite slowly and not especially jolly, but once the brass band kicks in I instantly run into the kitchen and grab a mince pie from the cupboard. I then sit contently as I bite into my mince pie and enjoy the song, bobbing my head along to the synths.

Key Lyric – “Wish I was at home, for Christmas.”

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5. Leona Naess – Christmas
I only heard this song a couple of years ago and didn’t really pay much attention to it. Then one day last Christmas it came on my headphones and I was blown away with the general awesomeness of this track.
It’s a beautiful track, the guitar glides alongside the calming vocals before building into a crescendo of sorts before then dropping back into that comfort zone of bliss.
This really is an alternative Christmas song, however this shouldn’t take anything away from this brilliant track.
Key Lyric – “Words are falling from your lips, like Christmas to my hips.”

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4. Sufjan Stevens – Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!)

The second offering from Sufjan Stevens, this time from Volume IV: Peace.
‘Did I Make You Cry on Christmas?’ is a wonderful song as it stands, ignoring the Christmas theme of the song. However the lyrics and slight jingling of bells make it most definitely a safe bet for my top 10, fantastic track.

I’m noticing a lot of my Christmas songs aren’t the most upbeat of tracks, but this knocks ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ right off the radar – sorry Mr. McCartney
Key Lyrics – “Did I make you cry on Christmas day? Did I make you cry like every other day?”

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3. Death Cab For Cutie – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

A cover of the 1960s Darlene Love classic, I am absolutely in love with this version. Being a big fan of the band already helps this love to flourish, but Ben Gibbard’s eerie vocal just sends shivers down my spine like an intrusive snowflake sneaking it’s way around my scarf.
Key Lyric – “They’re singing ‘Deck the Halls’, but it’s not like Christmas at all.”

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2. Chris De Burgh – A Spaceman Came Travelling

The song is all about an alternative vision of the birth of Jesus, where rather than the three wise men following a star, instead it is a spaceship. If you haven’t heard this before then do not fear, it isn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds. It’s actually a pretty incredible song, and somehow even though it’s about a spaceship, the lyrics really are special and do relate to the story of Christmas.

I’m not a Chris De Burgh fan but he sings this fantastically, it’s haunting, it’s chilling, it makes you feel good, it is Christmas.

Key Lyric – “And it hung in the sky like a star, just like a star.”

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1. Greg Lake – I Believe in Father Christmas
So here we are at number one. For me this choice was simple, there isn’t another Christmas song out there that I like more. The ironic thing is that this isn’t a straight up Christmas song about Father Christmas at all. The song is written about the commercialisation of Christmas, ‘They sold me a dream of Christmas, they sold me a silent night.’

The song uses an exceptional instrumental piece entitled ‘Troika’, taken from a soviet film from the 1930s, which just somehow perfectly fits in. This coupled with the excellent guitar intro, horn, strings and great lyrics puts this firmly at the top of my list of Christmas songs.
Key Lyric – “They said they’d be snow at Christmas, they said there’ll be peace on earth.”

Elin Rees PR launches ‘MyAbergavenny’

Elin Rees PR launches ‘MyAbergavenny’

Elin Rees PR recently added a new string to our bow in the world of digital marketing strategy by launching ‘MyAbergavenny’, a localised deals & offers site, in the mould of Groupon, for local businesses and visitors of the small welsh town Abergavenny.

We were initially asked to look at creating a series of short videos which would detail a local business and a promotional offer they would run.
We set about thinking of how we could still create the same end result of promoting special deals to the public, but in a more effective and engaging way.

Whilst working on the logistics of how to run this campaign, during the research of local businesses and activity providers, it became apparent that many already ran their own ‘deals’ of sorts, from incentivising additional free nights at b&bs to special meal deals in restaurants.

The decision was then made to create a website which actually brought these varied offers together in one place, saving the casual web user the effort of going through each individual business in and around Abergavenny, instead being able to browse through offers they may be interested in and never even knew existed all in one place.

Keen to stick with the ‘one exclusive offer’ concept, we then looked at integrating a simple e-commerce element to the website, enabling visitors to purchase one exclusive offer unique to the MyAbergavenny website.

As the objective of the site is partly to help local businesses, it made sense to offer the service free of commission charge, meaning that the option to list or feature a particular product or deal would be risk-free, unlike the model exhibited by larger ‘deal’ websites such as Groupon and Wowcher.

The website was recently launched, complete with over 20 local offers listed and of course the one unique purchasable offer.

The project itself has been quite different to anything we’ve worked on before and of course as a result there have been challenges we’ve come up against, but it’s also been an exciting time to launch what we believe is a website which could be a real success and not only embraced by the whole community, but also become the go-to place for anyone planning a visit to Abergavenny.

Why not have a peek yourself and be sure to let us know what you think, perhaps you’ll even find an offer that takes your fancy just in time for Xmas!

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Joe’s ‘Generic Halloween Pun’ Playlist

Joe’s ‘Generic Halloween Pun’ Playlist

I do love a good ol’ themed playlist and seeing as tonight I have no viable reason to dress up as something scary, this will be my contribution to the Halloween frivolities.

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Mogwai – Kids Will be Skeletons

I’ll go out on a limb to say this is one of the best tracks recorded by Mogwai, I think it’s an amazing listen. It’s not a track to gear you up for a night out, or a track to listen to when you’re feeling sad. It’s just a song you put on and listen to and then at the end say to yourself, ‘That was bloody good.’

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Explosions in the Sky – Welcome, Ghosts

This is almost the whole reason why this playlist has been constructed. I love the song and was listening to it when it suddenly struck me it was near to Halloween and that the song could make it into a playlist of scary themed songs. Perfeck!

This is one to listen to with a cup of tea once all the trick or treaters have gone to bed.

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Kavinsky – Deadcruiser

If you’re even thinking of going near a car this Halloween, make sure you have the means to play this song out of its speakers. Whether you’re dropping off trick or treaters, going to buy a pumpkin from Budgens or making a speedy getaway from the house you’ve just egged – this song transcends any situation possible.

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Imogen Heap – Thriller

If you didn’t know then I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the original performer of this hit sadly passed away not too long ago. BUT don’t cry as all sorts of people have since stepped up and covered many of his hits, and this is one of the very best. Imogen Heap’s unique and interesting vocal style and some delicate piano make this an absolute must to listen to.

(Spoo)Key Lyrics: “It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark.”

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Laura Marling – Ghosts

A stupidly easy choice I know. Probably the most well known Marling song and it’s easy to see why. Simple, pretty and kitsch.

Key Lyric: He would stare at empty chairs. Think of the ghosts who once sat there

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The Cranberries – Zombie

Right up the top of my all time favourite songs and incredibly apt for this list, the 1994 song ‘Zombie’ isn’t really all about those slow walking flesh craving things we all love to hate, but instead was written about the death of two boys killed in an IRA bombing. The song is sung brilliantly and is accompanied by a quite grungy sounding guitar, unlike other songs recorded by The Cranberries, and this makes is stand out even more.

Key Lyrics: “In your head, in your head, they are crying… “

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Patrick Wolf – Pumpkin Soup

Anyone who’s read anything I’ve written before or knows me knows that I’m a little bit obsessed with Patrick Wolf’s music. I think it’s pretty important to emphasise that this is nothing to do with Kate Nash’s song of the same name. Instead this is a beautifully crafted ballad from Mr Wolf back in 2002, found on ‘The Patrick Wolf E.P’. With the backing of a violin and piano, both recorded by Wolf, we’re given a glimpse back into our childhood, when things were simple and beautiful.

Key Lyrics: “You watch as autumn takes its last breath of summer, the pumpkin soup on the table, the late September sun.”

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Things That Go Bump in the Night – allSTARS

An incredibly cheesy pop song from 2002, yet also a song which is unashamedly catchy and would go down a treat at any kids disco. Yes it is a kids disco song, but it’s better than nearly all the drivvle churned out today. Try it out…

(Spoo)Key Lyrics: You cannot run and you cannot hide, you’ve got to face it baby things go bump in the night.

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John Murphy –’ In the House – In a Heartbeat’ (taken from 28 days later soundtrack)

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the most intensive and brooding pieces of music I’ve ever heard and I absolutely love it. Used in the Danny Boyle film ‘28 Days Later’ for the scene where Cillian Murphy frantically runs around a mansion whilst zombies pick off all the other characters, the song encapsulates a range of emotions and feelings from fear, to anger, to fear, to adrenaline and back to fear all within 4 minutes.

The song was more recently also used in ‘Kick Ass’.

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Nerf Herder – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I know this is all a bit 1999 but I still think this theme tune is one of the best! I’m a big fan of Joss Whedon and the theme to his most famous project is very listenable and only short.

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The Big If – Monster

‘Monster’ was always going to be a word which crept into this Halloween playlist, and many of you may have instantly had ‘What’s that coming over the hills’ intrusively thrust into your head at seeing the word. However this is not the case, instead what we have is Ryan Key of Yellowcard and his side project. Monster is just one of about 8 songs which have been demoed and put up on the bands playlist and are sounding damned good.

(Spoo)Key Lyrics: “Hello Monster, how have you been? Did you travel very far?”

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Bring Me The Horizon – It Was Written in Blood

A current massive guilty pleasure of mine is this northern bunch of lads who do screamo and metal and generally good tunes. Their old album, ‘Suicide Season’ is genuinely one of my favourite albums of last year and the follow up album ‘There is a hell believe me i’ve seen it, there is a heaven let’s keep it a secret’ hasn’t stopped being played by myself over the last month.

It Was Written in Blood is a perfect example of why this band are so damned listenable; catchy guitar rifts and Oli Sykes screaming his lungs out, but in an unexplainable ‘I can’t stop listening’ way.

(Spoo)Key Lyrics: “Like roses, we blossom and die.”

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Panic! At the Disco / Marilyn Manson – This is Halloween

Panic! work their magic on the ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ classic theme with great results. Brendan Urie’s vocals are, as per usual, on form and with the full string accompaniment this has the little taste of Disney in it, but yet it also works as a Panic! song. Very apt for obvious reasons, plus the film is awesome.

If Panic! Doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, Marilyn Manson has also covered it and it’s exactly as you can imagine; dirty guitar, no strings, and Manson spitting the words with venom.

(Spoo)Key Lyrics: “This is Halloween, everybody make a scene.”

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Lightning Seeds – Ghosts

The first CD I ever got was actually a Lightening Seeds one, and because I’m so aware of this and remember the moment so clearly I’ve always held a little place in my heart for the band. Ghosts is actually a brand new track from the Lightening Seeds and is definitely worthy of being on this list, even if they hadn’t been ‘my first’.

Key Lyric: “All the ghosts inside my room, Are laughing in the evening gloom.”

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(+44) – Lycanthrope

I remember how excited I was first time I heard this back in 2006 and fell in love with everything this band did, which wasn’t a big surprise being the massive Blink fan I was. One of the most up-tempo songs and chosen as the opening to the album this shows off Mark’s voice and Travis’ incredible drumming ability.

Key Lyric: “And I still feel you looking over my shoulder, Your sinking guilt and approaching nightmare.”

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Queens of the Stone Age – A Song for the Dead

Taken from the incredible ‘Songs for the Deaf’ this is textbook QOTSA, with the crunch of guitar we’re all too familiar with kicking the song off, it isn’t soon before vocalist Josh Homme completes the happy relationship between guitar and voice all in preparation for the killer guitar solo.

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Paramore – Misguided Ghosts

I wouldn’t normally plump for a Paramore song on a playlist I wanted people to check out, but this is quite a long way away from the comfort zone of the American pop rockers. With just an incredibly mellow acoustic guitar, Hayley Williams shows she really can hold a tune and the end result is a calming and stunning piece of music.

Key Lyric: ‘We are just,
 Misguided ghosts, Travelling endlessly’

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30 Seconds to Mars – The Kill

One of their catchier releases off ‘A Beautiful Lie’, ‘The Kill’ possesses a fantastically powerful chorus, interesting guitar work, a wide vocal range and an amazing video which parodies The Shining, all of which make this a shoe-in for my Halloween playlist.

The song that got me into this band and possibly one of their best.

Key Lyric – “Look in my eyes. You’re killing me, killing me.”

 

Why can’t all reality TV be like Bake Off?

Why can’t all reality TV be like Bake Off?

In a bid to beef up the blog, I started to think of topics I could write about and of course the final of The Great British Bake Off was ‘pinned’ right at the top of my imaginary ’emergency conversation topic starter list.’

I’ll try to keep this short and concise – Reality TV throws up characters that we love to hate and hate to love as well as providing us with plenty of strong opinions we just have to share with friends, family and (annoyingly) on social media.
The other leading characteristic that the ‘talent show format’ sub-genre of reality tv shares is a group of judges so slimy and vomit-inducing in their desire to be loved by the camera that they likely fill the majority of audiences slots in their ‘I’m not a violent person but I would happily punch’ top 5 list.

However, welcome to the floor The Great British Bake Off, with normal contestants not out for their 5 minutes of fame, but more so to have two respected judges probe and dissect their baked goods and be judged by our less-talented baking eyes.

In Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry we have 2 absolute champions of baking, both accomplished in their fields of expertise and both direct and honest in providing constructive criticism. They enjoy a light joke as much as they enjoy a well risen loaf. They are the perfect pairing and I’m yet to find one individual who watches Bake Off who thinks that either judge is rubbish.

Compare that with X-Factor, made up of Captain Arsehole and his crew, who turn the programme from X-Factor into ‘Captain Arsehole and Friends’.
Strictly Come Dancing is more like Sickly Come Dancing.
Tumble was so painfully awkward I don’t know how to even write about it but let’s just say it wasn’t the strongest.
Britain’s Got Talent managed to assemble my own personal nightmare ‘if you could pick 3 people, past or present to have dinner with’ scenario, which incidentally would play out something like this…

“Pass me the salt please, Joe” Asked ‘funny man’ judge David Walliams.
“Sure thing.” Replied Joe.
“That’s not the salt…” A puzzled David said.
“Joe where did you get that bleach and letter opener?” Asked ‘singer/actress/whatever she is’ Amanda Holden.

Anyways, I’ve digressed to the point of no return. Bake Off rules supreme. I thought the return of The Apprentice might actually prove that there is another enjoyable, non-frustrating reality show back on air, but sadly so far I’ve not been convinced.

What do you like? Do you share an opinion with me? Have I missed out a previous good panel? Fame Academy? NO!

 

Our new website

Our new website

If you’d have visited ElinRees.com in the last year, you might have been a little bit underwhelmed with the meagre offering bestowed upon your eyes.
Ok, so it wasn’t THAT bad, but it wasn’t that great either…

So here we have ElinRees.com Version 2.0 – a bit friendlier on the eye, easier to navigate, more information about what exactly we do and what we’ve worked on and we’ve also made it easier than ever to get in touch with us too.

Also if you’re a little bit curious about what we’ve been doing recently work wise or perhaps are interested to hear our views on the British Bake Off result, then you can do that too by reading some of our blog posts.

So why not have a look around, let us know what you think and remember to come back as we’ll be adding more content over the coming months too.

Thanks
Joe

Getting to grips with music PR…

Getting to grips with music PR…

Our pals at the Denim Snakes were set to launch a single and their debut album – my first ever music project here at Elin Rees PR was telling people all about it. It’s something I’ve really loved working on. I think a reason that I’ve enjoyed it so much is because I’m working with promoting something people have sweated over, given everything they had to and really give a damn about. So when you get the results it’s a great feeling and you realise you totally give a damn too.

Denim Snakes hail from Barry – the ghost-town pleasure park is pictured in their album sleeve in its sepia glory days. The music is punk with pop hooks – it’s catchy, energetic and full of spirit. I mean, they have song titles like Making Money”, “Happiness” and “Sex” – its fun to work on.

The process of spreading the word about them though, it’s tough to get someone to even open your email; I guess that’s the nature of the industry. Much of the work involved sending an awful of lot of emails, re-sending them and following them up again but then you’ll get something back and it’s cool as hell. Like that writer you contacted gives them a great review  or a journalist is really keen to interview the lead singer and then the band get booked in for a session on Radio Cardiff. It is hard work but worth it.

So yeah, it’s a lot of work, work that by no means guarantees results but I’ve really enjoyed it. And the work never stops, so on that note, go listen to the Denim Snakes – I heard they’re pretty good.