It's Christmaaaaaaaaas! Like it or loath it, the annual tradition of the festive single is one that's set to last until the end of time (which, to be fair, is only a fortnight away anyway). And even in this little old town of Northampton the hits are flooding in thicker and faster than ever. So if you fancy sticking on a bit of the local stuff this Christmas, here's my hand-picked selection of some of the best.
Maps - Stay Another Day
Kicking us off is magical Mercury-nominated bedroom producer James Chapman's six-and-a-quarter-minute (or as James calls it: "around about average sized") electroshimmering interpretation of the East 17 classic, released in the winter of 2007. The B-side has a similarly frosted feel: Sparks In The Snow from his stunning Lost My Soul EP. And best of all it's still available for a festive free download just by clicking this link here.
Fallingham Fair - Think Of It As Christmas
Seriously, these guys just love the Christmas period. Last year the acoustic chaps and chapettes went crazy with the covers and this time round they've managed to go one better. Out promtly on the first of December, Think Of It As Christmas is the band's heart-warming, beautiful and slightly apocalyptic new yuletide single. It's got brass! It's got sleigh bells! What more could you possibly want?
Stylusboy - O Little Town Of Bethlehem
Giving a melodic 21st century facelift to the age old carol, Stylusboy might actually hail from Coventry however the boy-girl folk pop duo are the only British act on Northampton-based Norwanglish label Lazy Acre Records. But surely one Xmas song is enough, right? Well not for Steve and Rachel; as well as appearing on the annual For Folk's Sake It's Christmas compilation, they've got their own Crimbo EP for free download too.
Herons - Christmas Compilation
We somehow managed to miss this last year, featuring a raucous mammoth from the now defunct Zola, frontman Lee Francis warbling out a bit of Wham!, Hat Dimension's Dan McGrath goes electro, the beautiful Owen Kimberlee-Penrice and a near flawless acapella from covers artist Jessica Brown - this is a showcase of Northampton University at its most talented, most versatile best.
Owen Kimberlee-Penrice - Special Christmas Message
As if one song from Owen in the EP above wasn't enough, here's four more stripped-back beauties to feast your ears on. It's a brilliant little end of year thank you, a medley of Judy Garland, Irving Berlin and that winter classic Monty Python, all played as tenderly as Penrice always masters with an extra sprinkling of festive cheer. My only concern: "Owen, why's it snowing inside your house?"
Coming up in Part 2: Billy Lockett, Sacred Mother Tongue vocalist Darrin South and a Northampton rockabilly classic all the way from 1983.