Review: Ace Enders – Silver and Gold

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The best/worst/best thing about Ace Enders is that he tends to just appear with new releases, offering you a quick invitation to take a look at it, and then leaving it there for you whenever you want it. This week, he discreetly dropped a new Christmas album pretty much right around the time that news outlets learned that he ‘might’ be releasing a Christmas album. Well played.

Silver and Gold is a quick album, coming at eight songs in just over 20 minutes. It’s festive, atmospheric, and the most stripped back work Enders has ever released. Its sound is reminiscent of I Can Make a Mess’s Dust’n Off the Ol’ Guitar: simple melodies, whispering acoustics and soothing vocals craft a cheery holiday album that remains true to Enders’ unique sound.

It’s a simple record, as it’s meant to be. The songs send the message they’re supposed to without heavy production or gloss. The simplicity carries the meaning and the love behind the season. Basic beats, a light tap of tambourine, slow keyboards and echoing vocals plaster the record. Enders takes advantage of the fact that almost all of these songs are standard holiday classics (it doesn’t matter how he plays them, you’ll recognize them instantaneously) to strip them to a bare minimum, then play stylistically to add a new twist to them.

The only song that I THINK is an original song is “My Gift”, only because I have never heard it before. It’s a fun song with crisp acoustic strums, Disney-style whistles, and a harmony of Ace Enders vocals multi-tracked to assist the chorus.

“My Gift” has the signature ICMAM mentality of foregoing material objects, with the incredibly catchy chorus of, “I’m the type that won’t stop believing in hope for the holidays / If Santa skips town it’ll be okay / I’ve crossed my list of material script / I believe that every second with you is a gift”.

The EP not ground breaking, but it’s incredibly fun.

The only real ‘downside’ to this release is that it incorporates a Christmas EP by ICMAM from a couple of years ago, appropriately titled Happy Christmas EP as the final three tracks, which have a fairly different sound from the first half. That said, they’re wonderful songs and a very thoughtful inclusion.

What I appreciate the most about this release is that Enders didn’t take the traditional route of attempting to re-make or out-do existing Christmas songs, which usually produce mediocre results at best. This sounds like an I Can Make a Mess release that just happens to have Christmas music attached to it, which is an impressive feat.

If you collect holiday music from the scene, or are in need of something uplifting, Silver and Gold is there for you, and incredibly cheap. For a surprise release, this is about as good as it can get.

We’re not giving this a score. It’s Christmas Music. You either love it or you don’t, you grinch.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and is an avid Ace Enders fan. Huzzah and a half!

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5 New Songs to Add to Your Christmas Playlist

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Now that the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been devoured, it’s time to conjure up some holiday cheer in the form of your favorite Christmas songs! In addition to your usual playlist, we’d like to offer up a few fresh tracks that we think will add nicely to your holiday decorating soundtrack. Take a look below for five new songs to guide you through the holiday season.

This Wild Life – “Sleigh Ride”

With their airy-light acoustic delivery and Kevin Jordan’s delicate vocals, This Wild Life are the perfect duo for Christmas cheer. Their rendition of “Sleigh Ride” is a jolly ride through a classic holiday song and will serve as the perfect backdrop to your winter gatherings. Can we get a full album of this, guys?

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Last Christmas”

There have been several covers of Wham’s smash single through the years, but Carly Rae has joined the party with her own unique take on a holiday classic. With a sensual saxophone backdrop and Carly’s token bubblegum melody leading the way, this rendition of “Last Christmas” is sure to be tickling your ears during your holiday shopping trips this year.

August Burns Red – “Home Alone Theme”

Why has nobody thought to do this sooner? August Burns Red continue their tradition of serving up metalcore instrumentals of some of our favorite Christmas classics, this time in the form of a John Williams cover. It’s a brutal, guitar-filled ride conjuring up memories of that creepy dude with the snow shovel outside Kevin’s house who turned out to be a pretty decent guy.

Issues – “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”

If anyone was going to cover this *NSYNC holiday classic, who better than Issues, guided by the vocal gymnastics of Tyler Carter? Carter’s smooth delivery guides glorious liberties taken with the melody. Even when Michael Bohn chimes in with some backing screams, the track still manages to feel cheerful, which is quite the feat.

The Killers – “Dirt Sledding”

Carrying on a tradition of Christmas originals, The Killers have returned with “Dirt Sledding”, a hilarious country-tinged track of a holiday song, highlighted by Brandon Flowers over-the-top vocal delivery. In need of a laugh and a smile this holiday season? The Killers have just what you need.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

All Time Low release “Fool’s Holiday” lyric video

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All Time Low has released a lyric video for their new Christmas song “Fool’s Holiday”. Take a look at the video below.

The song is from Fearless Records’ recent Punk Goes Christmas compilation. If you’re in the mood for some great new Christmas tunes, you can buy the release from iTunes.

New Found Glory release “Nothing for Christmas” lyric video

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New Found Glory has released a lyric video for their song of “Nothing for Christmas”. You can check out the video below:

The song was included on Fearless Records’ recent release, Punk Goes Christmas. If you’re in the mood for some holiday tunes, you can buy the compilation on iTunes.

10 Classic Christmas Songs by Bands in the Punk Scene

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It’s officially December and you know what that means – time for Christmas music! We decided to dig up some of our all time favorite Christmas songs by bands in the punk scene to help make your holiday a little bit brighter and a lot more fun. Feel free to share with us what your favorite Christmas renditions are in the replies!

1. Copeland – Do You Hear What I Hear?

Aaron Marsh was born to sing these kinds of songs. His vocals are absolutely bananas on this rendition of a Christmas classic. The song truly sounds like Copeland to the core and Marsh manages to pour all of his emotion into this performance. Incredible.

2. Saosin – Mookie’s Last Christmas

Nothing like an extremely sad Christmas song about the loss of a loved one to lift your spirits. Regardless, this Anthony Green-era Saosin is a Christmas staple in the scene and is so good, you can listen to it any time of the year.

3. Acceptance – So This is Christmas (War is Over)

We promise, we won’t use this as another excuse to long for a band that broke up much too soon. Jason Vena’s voice is excellent and perfectly suited for this somber Christmas song. Too bad the band couldn’t have provided a full album’s worth of holiday jingles before they hung it up.

4. Relient K – Sleigh Ride

This is truly a band that loves everything about Christmas. Don’t believe us? Check out their full-to-the-brim Christmas album Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer. This may be the best of the bunch – fun, lighthearted and a cool twist on the original.

5. Eisley – The Winter Song

Eisley is another band that has released a slew of Christmas songs, but this first one stands out for the haunting vocals of Sherri DuPree-Bemis. The song captures the feeling of a Christmas night, walking along the streets in the snow. It’s perfect in its melancholy delivery.

6. Cartel – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

A true Cartel rendition of a rockin’ Christmas original. Will Pugh kills this song and proves why he’s one of the best in the business. The peppy upbeat feel makes you want to get up and dance.

7. Issues – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

If anyone was going to cover this *NSYNC holiday classic, who better than Issues, guided by the vocal gymnastics of Tyler Carter? Carter’s smooth delivery guides glorious liberties taken with the melody. Even when Michael Bohn chimes in with some backing screams, the track still manages to feel cheerful, which is quite the feat.

8. Fall Out Boy – Yule Shoot Your Eye Out

It’s not quite what you’d expect from a Fall Out Boy Christmas song, which is what makes it so brilliant. It’s an original acoustic track with a painful yet catchy chorus and features the wonderful vocal work of Patrick Stump.

9. Anberlin – Baby, Please Come Home

If Anberlin where to cover a Christmas song, this is exactly what it would sound like. That’s not a bad thing – in fact, Stephen Christian has the perfect voice for this song’s belted “Christmas” refrain and the band delivers a gift of a song.

10. Mae – Carol of the Bells

In what turned out to be a beautiful decision, Mae recreated this Christmas classic with only their instruments and a few backing vocals. It’s mellow, soft and full of surprises. From start to finish, this rendition is just about as good as they come.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Never Shout Never release “Under the Mistletoe” video

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Never Shout Never has released a new video for “Under the Mistetoe”, featuring Dia Frampton of Meg & Dia. The song is off of the band’s new Xmas EP. You can view the video, featuring studio footage, below:

The Xmas EP is a four song collection of Christmas tracks released on Christofer Drew’s label, Loveway Records. You can buy The Xmas EP on iTunes.