Christmas is a-coming so we've taken a look at a selection of seasonal offerings... sleigh bells at the ready.
Glasvegas - A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss)
Nothing says "Christmas time" like a gargantuan Glaswegian "fuck you!", as we find out in Glasvegas' 'Fuck You, It's Over'. There's nothing especially Christmassy about this album other than the jangle-factor has been turned up to 11 and well, the songs are about Christmas... There will probably be a lot of things written about the "gritty" reality to Christmas on a Glasgow council estate, but really, does anybody seriously see Glasvegas as social-warriors with guitars, shades, and a few drums? If there's a band which sound like Christmas anyway, it's Glasvegas; title track 'A Snowflake Fell, And It Felt Like A Kiss' could bring a tear to the eye – chances are it won't – but it's got that lovely typical ethereal reverby production which makes it sound like you're in a village hall, quite apt for the time of year, really. Obligatory traditional song is fulfilled with a wailing rendition of 'Silent Night'.
Rosie Thomas - A Very Rosie Christmas
Well, this is all a bit Enya-tinged. The front cover is really nice, though; lovely jumpers, greens and reds and a fantastic pair of ear-muffs. Rosie does the classics here, 'Winter Wonderland', 'Silent Night', 'Let It Snow' and the eternal favourite 'Sheila's Christmas Miracle', but wow, god! This is incredibly whiny. At times, Rosie even manages to sound like a pre-pubescent Michael Jackson, but I'm not sure if that's Rosie's achievement or Michael's. Damien Jurado even pops his head round for some mulled wine and (quite a few) mince pies. But let's not get too close to sounding like Ebenezer here, it is Christmas after all (almost...), and this is easily the sort of thing you could get your dad to try out on his new hi-fi, before he uses the CD as a coaster for his brandy and sticks yet another Eagles compilation on.
The Raveonettes - Wishing You A Rave Christmas
This is what could be defined as an 'epic Christmas record', big synths, big guitars, big vocals and a thudding beat with a few neatly placed bell jingles in there. Phil Spector's 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' sets the tone before we see a few nice original little festive ditties from the Raveonettes. 'Christmas In Cleveland' is much in the same tone and rounds things off very nicely indeed.
You can listen to Wishing You A Rave Christmas here on Spinner.
You can also download - for free! - 'Come On Santa' from Vice Records here, and also download Vice's Christmas Compilation here, featuring tracks from Chromeo, The Black Lips and The Streets. Lovely stuff I'm sure you'll agree.
Stephen Colbert - A Colbert Christmas
Easily the most amusing of Christmas albums – if you discount the collaboration between Cyndi Lauper and The Hives, that is – American satirist Stephen Colbert's album was rather unexpected, but will it be like those joke presents you get from friends every year? Funny for about five minutes, but then what use are a dildo and an inflatable sheep once the moment has passed? Aren't Christmas albums by nature so far beyond parody and satire that something like this is a complete waste of time? Well, no, because Colbert's actually quite funny.
Various Artists - I'll Stay Til After Christmas
Quite the indie line-up on this one, which sees Blitzen Trapper, Au Revoir Simone, Le Loup, Radar Bros., Au, Sally Shapiro, Parenthetical Girls, My Brightest Diamond and a couple of others which probably aren't as good as the aforementioned few all do their bit. This digital release is on behalf of Amnesty International, so top points to this bunch for the Christmas spirit.
1. Au Revoir Simone - 'Christmastime Is Here'
2. Le Loup - 'Shenandoah'
3. Figurine - 'The Holidays Behind Us'
4. Sally Shapiro - 'Anorak Christmas' (Piano Mix)
5. Arthur & Yu - 'My White Elephant'
6. My Brightest Diamond - 'Nature Boy'
7. Parenthetical Girls - 'Festive Friends (Forever)'
8. No Kids - 'Another Winter In a Summer Town'
9. Radar Bros. - 'Baby Jesus'
10. Blitzen Trapper - 'Christmas Is Coming Soon'
11. Man of Arms - 'It's Christmastime and Everything's Wrong'
12. Au - 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'
13. The Papercuts - 'Go Tell It On The Mountain'
14. Bosque Brown - 'Silent Night'
15. Turk Dietrich of Belong - 'Blue Christmas'
DiS hasn't managed to track down a copy of this (yet!) but here's an mp3 of Le Loup's track, 'Shenandoah', is available here.
I wonder if that My Brightest Diamond song is about Ric Flair?
The Warm December – A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 1
This delightfully seasonal compilation features acoustic-summertime supremo Jack Johnson, Jack's mate Matt Costa, Slowdiver Neil Halstead, and Beastie Boys cohort 'keyboard' Money Mark – you know he ain't havin' it, give him some wood and he'll...stick it on the open log fire?. Of course, these are all artists who happen to be on Johnson's label – Brushfire Records –, and obviously it made sense for them to get together for a seasonal compilation, right? It's not bad, as it goes, and its tone is pleasantly optimistic rather than sickeningly seasonal. There's a couple of gems under the tree with Rogue Wave's cover of The Who's 'Christmas' and Money Mark's Wesley Willis style-keyboard backed 'Stuck At The Airport'. We can only wait for Vol. 2 next year...
Cyndi Lauper vs. The Hives - 'A Christmas Duel'
Actually, I must retract what I previously said about Stephen Colbert's release being the most unexpected, as this utterly bizarre Christmas collaboration sits at the top of the tree. It might not chart particularly high, or even place very high amongst its contenders for Christmas Song of the Year, but it should really win a prize for the lyrics alone. As 'Howlin' Pelle – though he doesn't howl so much as croon here – testifies 'he bought no gift this year, and I slept with your sister/ I know I should have thought twice before I kissed her', but of course Cyndi has her own reply to Pelle's indiscretions as she 'bought no tree this year and I fucked with your brother/I wrecked your daddy's car and went down on your mother'...who knew Lauper had such shocking character traits. We all really know Christmas is as much about family feuding as it is spinning tops and reruns of Home Alone, despite the lack of cheer here.
Frightened Rabbit - 'It's Christmas So We'll Stop'
On the back of their muchly salivated over LP 'The Midnight Organ Fight', Frightened Rabbit have decided to release a Christmas single and what a jolly good show it is.This is definitely 'gathering round an open log fire' material as the gentle tones of the Hutchinsons go down a treat. Add in a few choral backing vocals and a mid-song crescendo and you've got yourself the makings of something both seasonal and impressive.
P.S: Here's some Low for good measure.
Low - 'Santa's Coming Over'
DiScuss: Are Christmas records a complete waste of time, or another act of shameless self promotion? What do you make of the ones you've heard this year? Are there any you'll actually look forward to hearing, or will nothing be able to match the classics of Nat King Cole, Slade and Wizzard of years gone by?