Christmastime Is Here

Marc Martel

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The internationally acclaimed Marc Martel has quickly become a fixture during the holiday season, notching his fourth Top 10 at Christmas radio last year, and is now serving up another strong collection in his third Christmas EP in as many years - Christmastime Is Here. Recognized for his Freddie Mercury-esque vocals, he follows up last year's The First Noel EP with 6 brand new Christmas classics. Martel’s newest projectcontinues the tradition he has been building, recreating iconic holiday favorites while bringing a fresh energy and musical perspective.

The title track sets the mood, with a warm, heartfelt rendition, featuring a brilliant trumpet solo. And even though the Charlie Brown favorite is known for its delicate, moody tone, Martel is unhindered from reaching for some astonishing notes in his upper register. Building on the tradition of collaboration with industry friends, Martel enlists Centricity Music artist, Jason Grayto divvy up the leads on the powerful and energetic “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Martel and Gray’s vocal blend is so good, at times it is difficult to know who is who. Martel continues his love for cinematic pop on “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”, with a stirring additional bridge - a skill he has shown a knack for when reimagining old hymns. The big surprise on The Christmastime Is Here EP, though, is a bold rockabilly take on Mariah Carey’s ubiquitous “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Martel’s version is so eerily fitting, that you might even feel like you’ve heard it before. What follows is a sentimental stripped-down performance of the crooning “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” where Martel says the only way he could get the feel just right was to record both piano and voice at the same time. The typical approach to the EP’s closing title, “Little Drummer Boy,” is a quiet, lighthearted march, but Martel chooses grandiosity over tradition by summoning not only military-style drums but the epic flare of bagpipes, reminiscent Michael W. Smith’s “This Is Your Time”.

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Thunderbolt & Lightning : CD
  • Thunderbolt & Lightning : CD

Thunderbolt & Lightning : CD

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$12.00

Reimagining well-loved songs always comes with an appropriate sense of risk, danger, and terrifying moments of self doubt. When it comes to artists like Queen, though, who are veritable giants of recording history, that feeling is magnified. Throughout their career, they apparently set out to avoid all shortcuts; were never happy to merely repeat sections of songs (as is quite customary in all genres of popular music), and everything was through-composed. They habitually pushed the boundaries of available technology beyond what even its inventors envisioned. Queen are the progenitors of many studio tricks and processes which have since become commonplace, and even some that have never been successfully replicated. Über-ambitious multitrack layering, Wagnerian vocal arrangements, guitar tones that mimic the sound of other instruments, and lyrical rhythm parts, are just a few of the ways they cut their unique path through the wilds of a recording industry in its adolescence. They set the bar high, and they got it right the first time.

Like technology, music has this uncanny transformative nature; taking on different shapes and telling equally true stories that the original composer never intended. Perhaps like a crab moving from conch shell to conch shell. And we music lovers possess the strange capacity to fool ourselves into a sense of ownership of this immaterial thing whose creation we’ve played no part in. Couples do it all the time. “Hey, that’s our song!” A great song can forge a bond with its listener so strong that one becomes incredulous, and even jealous, to think that anyone else could have the same, never mind stronger, experience with that very same song.

So, who am I to come along three, four decades later, spending the time, energy and resources to reinterpret these already flawless songs? Having gradually immersed myself over the last seven years in the music of Queen, I’ve developed a sort of stepchild-esque kinship with it, along with a growing desire to place a more pronounced emphasis on the latter half of the term “tribute artist” - a role I never imagined myself playing earlier in my musical career. And as a songwriter myself, I do know a little bit what it feels like to have a song of mine covered. I’ve heard some pretty good, and some less good renditions of my own tunes, but the fact is, it’s always a huge compliment.

Clearly, I could never dream of improving on what, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon created together. That was never the spirit of this project. Rather, I hope you’ll approach this EP with an inquisitive, openminded attitude that is something like, “What if Queen had recorded these songs in an alternate universe?” And if that’s a little too sci-fi for your blood then, “Hey… why not?” will do just fine.

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The First Noel EP

Marc Martel

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Marc Martel, known for his astonishing Freddie Mercury-esque vocals with his old band, Downhere, and now with the official tribute of Queen, The Queen Extravaganza, follows up last year's The Silent Night EP the brand new The First Noel EP. It serves as a refreshing and eclectic addition to an evening get-together with family and friends. In only 6 songs, the EP explores a large swath of traditional and modern sounds from intimate jazz trio to bombastic choir arrangements, and is chock-full of moments that would cause anyone to stop and listen.

The title track is an emotionally grandiose and reverent take on one of the season’s all-time sacred favorites. While the lead radio single, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas feat. Plumb” is a duet set against a party anyone would want to be invited to. Martel steps up the collaboration game by calling on the talents of upright bass player, Scott Mulvahill, who plays for Ricky Skaggs, on the mood-setting “The Christmas Song.” He also teams up with Buddy Greene, co-writer of “Mary, Did You Know?” to re-interpret his own song, which has become one of CCM’s modern classics. To add to list of surprises, “The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah” has been ambitiously and painstakingly recorded by Martel, all by himself, layering his voice dozens of times to create the sound of a large choir. The track list is a diverse, yet cohesive, selection of six Christmas classics, all tied together by the common thread of Martel’s brilliantly versatile vocals.

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The Silent Night EP

Marc Martel

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Marc Martel, known for his astonishing Freddie Mercury-esque vocals with his old band, Downhere, and now with the official tribute of Queen, The Queen Extravaganza, takes a surprising approach on his new Christmas offering. Aptly named, The Silent Night EP, it serves as a refreshing addition to a chill evening get-together with family and friends. The EP sets a distinct singer-songwriter-meets-synth-pop feel, and is full of moments that would cause anyone to stop and listen. The title track is almost theatrical in its stark acappella intro, conjuring the image of Martel standing in some remote snow-blanketed forest, while singing the most familiar Christmas carol of all-time. Melancholy classics like "O Come Emmanuel" and "In The Bleak Midwinter" also stand out as emotional piano-driven ballads where Martel's refined instinct for preserving a song's fundamental core, while giving it his own artistic arrangement, shines. Grammy award winning guitar and banjo virtuoso, Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station), brings his brand of Tennessee bluegrass to Martel's sound on "What Child Is This?" The track list contains a cohesive selection of 5 traditional Christmas classics, including "O Holy Night," but also gives us a novel take on Martel's own "How Many Kings," first recorded with Downhere, which has since entered regular holiday rotation at CCM radio.

Track listing: 1. Intro 2. Silent Night 3. In The Bleak Midwinter 4. O Come, Emmanuel 5. O Holy Night 6. What Child Is This? 7. How Many Kings

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  1. 1 Intro 00:53
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  2. 2 Silent Night 03:19
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  3. 3 In The Bleak Midwinter 03:59
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  4. 4 O Come, Emmanuel 03:55
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  5. 5 O Holy NIght 03:31
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  6. 6 What Child Is This? (feat. Ron Block) 04:00
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  7. 7 How Many Kings 2016 04:25
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Impersonator

Marc Martel

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  1. 1 Say The Word 03:11
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  2. 2 Dead Ringer 02:50
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  3. 3 Magnetic 03:43
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  4. 4 Straightjacket 03:14
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  5. 5 Paradise 04:13
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  6. 6 Stalemate 03:36
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  7. 7 Ringo Starr 03:15
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  8. 8 One Beat From A Heartbreak 03:59
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  9. 9 Our Best 04:03
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  10. 10 Impersonator 03:47
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  11. 11 The Remake (High Hopes) 03:44
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  12. 12 No Tellling What We Could Do Next 03:47
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Live At The High Watt

Marc Martel

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This album was recorded live at the High Watt in Nashville, TN on March 28th, 2016

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  1. 1 Ringo Starr 03:31
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  2. 2 Say The Word 03:25
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  3. 3 Magnetic 04:12
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  4. 4 One Beat From A Heartbreak 04:54
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  5. 5 Stalemate 03:43
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  6. 6 I Will Always Love You 04:17
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  7. 7 StraightJacket 04:29
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  8. 8 Dead Ringer 03:47
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  9. 9 Crazy Little Thing Called Love 04:09
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