Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CHRISTMAS CARDS with Colorama, Screaming Maldini, Rob St John + Malcolm Middleton

In previous years I’ve gorged myself silly on Christmas songs. Weird exotica found at Falalalala or its ilk. Or the indie brigade going all festive – the Fortuna Pop compilations or the five hours of tunes put together over at Sweeping The Nation for instance. Then there are treasure troves of classy soul and blues takes on the festive season too.

But this year I have steadfastedly avoided all such festive fare. Perhaps I over-indulged in previous years? Or perhaps there’s just too much - and too easily available – Christmas music about this year? Everyone from Los Campesinos to 6 Day Riot and all points in between seem to be offering Christmas songs and most of it free. And I’m sure also the various campaigns to challenge X-Factor to Christmas Number One haven’t helped (I bought Cage Against The Machine - four and a half minutes of silence at Christmas was highly appealing in my current state of mind).

So here instead are some seasonal songs sounding as little like standard Christmas fare as possible – and refreshingly you need to pay, or donate to charity, for each one.

ColoramaCerdyn Nadolig [BUY]
The title may translate as “Christmas Card” but singing in a language I can’t understand ensures any other ‘seasonal’ message is obscured. Instead just gorgeous acoustic Welsh psyche-pop from Carwyn Ellis - beautiful.

Cerdyn Nadolig / Christmas Card by See Monkey Do Monkey

Screaming MaldiniRestless Hearts and Silent Pioneers EP [BUY]
Never the shy-retiring types, Sheffield’s six-piece Screaming Maldini have recorded four songs of off-kilter, melodramatic prog-orchestral-pop with erratic time signatures with possibly a bit of archaic Olde English too. Joyous and celebratory but definitely not deep and crisp and even.

Screaming Maldini
Restless Hearts and Silent Pioneers [BUY]

Rob St John & The Braindead CollectiveThe Whites Of Our Eyes [BUY]
Available on a pay-what-you-can basis, with all proceeds going to the homeless charity Shelter this seven minute improvised track is the “result of the first collaboration between Oxford / London kraut-jazz-drone experimentalists Braindead Collective (featuring members of Guillemots, The Epstein, Keyboard Choir and others), and the Scotland-via-Lancashire purveyor of lo-fi creaks and drones, Rob St.John”. Chilly and chilling.

Malcolm MiddletonLong, Dark Night / Live in Zurich! [BUY]
This live album “from Scotland’s second favourite arch-miserablist” may appear at first glance to have a tenuous link to Christmas. However a December release meant if you ordered earlier this month, Malcolm Middleton sent you a personally signed Christmas Card. The double album – one disc acoustic, the other full band performance – also includes ‘We’re All Going To Die’, the ‘near-miss’ challenger for Christmas Number One in 2007, and ‘Burst Noel’ to boot. As the cover for “Long, Dark Night” says “a collection of wintry acoustic songs about love, hate, death and other stuff”. Says everything you need to know about Christmas in my book. Joyeux Noel one and all.

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