hold_the_phone.jpg
Now that it's officially Christmas December, it's finally appropriate to incorporate some holiday music into our playlists. However, I would be remiss if I did not remind you to put some non-holiday music on there as well, lest you drive any non-celebrating or Grinchy roommates to their breaking point. With less than four weeks left of 2020, I think we can all agree this year has felt like one really long day that keeps repeating. Take yourself out of that cycle for a moment by immersing yourself in some of the new tunes coming out of Portland and beyond this holiday season.

Support The Portland Mercury



"Hold the Phone," Farnell Newton, Corydrums, Hunter Gillam


On Black Friday, acclaimed Portland-based jazz trumpeter Farnell Newton dropped new single, "Hold the Phone," with drummer/producer Corydrums AKA Cory Limuaco and vocalist Hunter Gillam on all streaming platforms. Clocking at just over two minutes, the meat of the song blends smooth jazz with soul, lofi, and Gillam's romantic, regretful lyrics in the form of an ultra melodic voicemail.


The Christmas Album, Leslie Odom Jr.


Hamilton star and prolific vocalist Leslie Odom Jr. already has a solid Christmas album with 2017's excellent Simply Christmas. His latest release, The Christmas Album, follows 2019's Mr, and sees Odom Jr. singing beautiful, reimagined versions of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," "Little Drummer Boy" featuring Mzansi Youth Choir, and his original "Winter Song" (from Simply Christmas), now with a feature from singer/actress Cynthia Erivo, who's known for her Tony-winning portrayal as Celie from Broadway's The Color Purple, and Harriet Tubman in the 2019 biopic Harriet. There's also a delightful rendition of the Hawaiian classic "Mele Kalikimaka" featuring The Walls Group and Michea Walls, and the stunningly somber "Auld Lang Syne." This album is all easy listening.


Christmas Blues, Sabrina Claudio


R&B singer Sabrina Claudio released her third studio album, Christmas Blues on November 27, with moody/sleepy/sultry covers of three yuletide classics, along with five solid originals like album opener "I Just Melt." The title track is a collaborative slow-paced single "Christmas Blues" with alternative R&B singer The Weeknd, who Claudio is set to support on his After Hours tour in 2021. As one would expect, the yuletide single sees both singers getting slightly gloomy while imagining what it'd be like to not spend Christmas with their sweetie. "If I didn't have you/When everyone's unwrapping/No matter what I open/I'd have Christmas blues," Claudio sings breathily in the chorus. For The Weeknd's verse, he gets predictably sexual and I am here for it: "Don't want mistletoe/If I'm not there to hold you close/A quiet Christmas Eve/Not tryna hear the angels sing/If I had one wish/I'll take you down by the tree/'Cause all I want is you and me." The eight-track project's other major highlights include "Winter Time" featuring Alicia Keys, and "Short Red Silk Lingerie," and the homey final track "Warm December."



"Peng Black Girls Remix," Enny, Amia Brave, Jorja Smith


Southeast London rapper Enny's new single "Peng Black Girls" is a joyful celebration of the fact that Black girls are beautiful and contain multitudes. "There's peng Black girls in my area code/ Dark skin, light skin, medium tone/ Permed tings, braids, got minis afros/ Thick lips, got hips some of us don't," it begins. ("Peng" is a slang term meaning beautiful or very attractive.) For the even newer "Peng Black Girls Remix," fellow Brit vocalist Jorja Smith hopped on the hip-hop track, offering her own verse and giving the track a whole new feel. The collab makes perfect sense considering Enny is signed to Smith's label FAMM. Make sure to also check out the gorgeous music video for the original version of the single.