Friday 14 December 2012

Various Artists - Festivus

Album review by KevW

The Christmas record has been around for pretty much the entire history of recorded music. Whether it was Bing Crosby dreaming of a white Chrismas, Wizzard wishing it could be Christmas every day or The Darkness being a bunch of bellends, this month sees a deluge of such material. Is it just our imagination or are there way more festive releases each year nowadays than there were in the past? Every bugger's at it, and generally it's the same old songs over and over. Phil Spector made definitive versions of the classics back in 1963, so why the hell has Rod Flipping Stewart just had a top ten album containing the same tired old tunes? Christmas sells, and each year the public buy into it like sheep, and now Mariah Carey will be back in the top 40 for another month. Hoo-bloody-ray.

Indie label Highline Records are offering us an alternative to the usual regurgitated crap with this album of new songs by non-mainstream acts. Have they managed to pull off the unthinkable and put together a Christmas album worth investing in? The answer is: kind of. You wouldn't put 'Festivus' on at any other time of year, so it is a novelty record, but that's the point. Therefore if you want a decent record to save for this time of year then you're looking in the right place. Of course there are loads of sleigh bells, of course there are cliched lyrics and of course it's all full of joy and happiness. Anything else would be a fail. So by that reckoning, 'Festivus' is a success, delving into different parts of the indie world and coming up with a cohesive whole.

You wouldn't think glam rock and Oi! would made good bedfellows, but Glam Chops manage combine them on 'Countdown To Christmas', Piney Gir's 'Everyday's A Holiday' is a typically sweet piece of indiepop and Still Flyin' get all sentimental, oddly making their usual summery sound not feel out of place on 'St Veit', it's a definite highlight. There aren't really any bad tracks to be honest, but other favourites include the alt-country of 'Christmas Time Is Here' by Correatown, The Birthday Kiss' classic sounding 'Sentimental Christmastime' and the jangly guitar-pop that Little Kicks use for 'Santa Clause Is Not A Number'. Saying that the Christmas music market is saturated is an understatement. However, in bringing in some decent bands and some original songs, Highline have made a seasonal record that works. You might only play it about twice a year but it sure as hell beats Shakin' Stevens.

Highline Records' website

Buy the album

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