VARIOUS ARTISTS- Festivus
I love Christmas. It's also well-known that I love Christmas music. I have a playlist on my Ipod and was listening to Aled Jones sandwiched between Mariah Carey and Frank Sinatra on the way to and from work today. How's that for an image? Hmmmm. Every time I see Michael Buble's exploitative but charming face beaming from a poster billboard, I just beam right on back at him. And I am NOT ashamed. My housemate, on the other hand, is not feeling as charitable today. When I played her this, she got as far as track three and declared 'it's not something I would like if I worked in a shop. Imagine this coming on twenty times a day' (she likes Ed Sheeran so really what does she know?). Whereas the last time I worked in a customer-facing role, I was the one with the homemade CD forcing my workmates to listen to Slade repeatedly. You get the idea. A compilation of original compositions about Santa, Rudolph and getting pissed on mulled wine was always going to float my boat. Especially a compilation with pictures of toy pandas in Santa suits playing instruments, or driving red convertibles through snowy mountains, on the sleeve. Incidentally, Track three is 'Every day's a holiday' by Piney Gir and it is written and performed with the same gusto as The Waitresses' 'Christmas wrapping'. Definitely a song that I could hear all day. Well, at least until January 6th.
And it's not just three songs that make up Festivus, no! Fresh from the virgin loins of the fast-growing dahling indie record label of Londinium- Highline Records- is presented a whole 15 nuggets of sumptuous festive goodness; think Mommy and Santa Claus doing Fifty shades of grey while Daddy watched and you're still not even close. Like a glorious round of 'Song for Christmas', in a shake of a sleigh bell, a well-rehearsed ping of a glockenspiel and the mother of all mother's of the season's lyrics, 'Festivus' showcases a whole heavenly host of mostly home grown goodies, and mostly ranging from lovers spurned under the mistletoe to nostalgic descriptions of Christmases spent watching Home Alone whilst wearing reindeer jumpers. You know, the traditional antics that rear their head as soon as Halloween is over.
If that thought is terrifying for most of you reading, it cannot be argued that there isn't a nice mix of talent on show that will entice listeners to find out what these bands are doing the rest of the year too- a band is for life, after all; not just for, well, you know. Beginning with the gentle (LA-based songstress, Correatown), and often with a rousing indie-pop theme -(the cynical Belle and Sebastian/ Standard Fare/ Camera Obscura accordion-fuelled romp by Skiffle and The Piffles which also features a recorder; nicely done)- if smiling jollily at strangers in the street at this time of year was something that I actually did, this would be the soundtrack.
Predominantly featuring artists of a pleasant British guitar-based ilk- or, later a pleasant American guitar-based breed- standout numbers that don't fit this bill include Art Brut's Eddie Argos as part of the storming Glam Chops, whose style here is reminiscent of Gary Glitter's 'You wanna be in my gang?' but with less sinister connotations thanks to the handclaps and shouts of 'hey!' and 'woah-oh'. The housemate also particularly enjoyed The Baubles' offering, an electronic trance-like ditty that features the line 'bells ringing out' so often that the White Witch could have easily popped by and spiked the egg nog with some hypnotic Turkish delight.
Gold star (of Bethlehem or Nazareth, can't remember) of the compilation for me though has to go to The Werewandas. Not only is their name amazing but they don't even care about Christmas either; at least, only enough to get into Santa's pants (the singer's temperature started to shoot when she saw the big man in his suit, no less). And the vitally infectious spunky surf rock/ rockabilly fun of 'I love you Santa Claus' sums up the general theme of kitsch joy that surrounds the party season and, indeed, this album. I could have written about every band herein actually because it would pretty much all make it onto the 'nice' list. Hurrah! But I didn't so you'll have to buy it yourself. And screw you, Saint Buble!
Released 5th December, 2012. Sorry the review is late but my elves are crap and didn't collect the parcel that was too big to fit through my letterbox. You can still buy it though in time for 'the big day'.
More details and buy the album here