Well its that time of year again and the cash registers are ringing and the shops are full of the usual Xmas musical suspects. It seems that Christmas and music have been entwined for years with the race to have the number one chart topper and everyone and his uncle putting sleigh bells on their songs.
If, like most sensible folk, you’re fed up with chestnuts roasting and reindeer prancing then there is some respite. The good old internet has a way of finding odd, alternative, rude and occasionally brilliant Christmas songs with various blogs leading the way. In addition various artists and labels toss off a few seasonal titbits for one’s delectation.
So here’s a few. Why not google” Christmas blog” or somesuch for more and make your own “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” compilation to accompany the turkey.
Some of the downloads require an email address as a sign up to newsletters etc , for example Jason Lytle , ex of Grandaddy has a mini Xmas album for download, but the blogs wrap it up. Big Rock Candy Mountain are posting several mp3s of excellent old country, jazz and rock Xmas songs. For two bespoke compilations head over to A Truer Sound , much better than you can buy in the shops.
In the meantime here’s one of my favourites.
Culturcide – Depressed Christmas
Well I made it to McChuills on Friday but too late to see the last ever show (so they say) from the God Fearing Atheists. This was more than made up for by Jericho Hill who followed. As I said earlier I don’t normally get a kick from covers bands but this lot do it so well with a swagger and confidence that is bolstered by their adoring group of drama students who turn up for every gig.
With very little Cash country and a huge blast of rockabilly they even manage to sneak in some Violent Femmes in their version of Stripes. There is no reverence here but a great deal of affection for the wild and rambunctious side of Mr. Cash. They will be playing regular sets at McChuills in the New Year so do get along and frug.
Thought you should know about a last chance to see local Americana heroes God Fearing Atheists play live before singer Peter Lacey is transported down under.
The Atheists released their album Rustbelt Sun to some acclaim around two years ago and played some stonkin’ gigs including a memorable support to Danny and Dusty. Sadly they are no more but will reform one last time this Friday at McChuills in the High Street.
They are playing along with Jericho Hill, a Johnny Cash cover band. Normally cover bands don’t do it for me but Jericho Hill play a mean lean version of Cash, the one giving the bird and the attitude.
Jericho Hill play Cash
A brace of Americana roots type music albums arrived here over the past few weeks so I thought I’d gather them together in one piece.
First up is Woody Pines’ “Counting Alligators.” Fronted by the eponymous Pines this is a great little album of old time songs that range from the jump jive of “Rich Gal, Poor Gal” with its parping sax and syncopation to a great cover of “Satisfied and Tickled Too” which is one of the best versions of the song I’ve heard. At times foot tapping and up-tempo the best moments however are the slower songs such as “Walking Down the Road” with mournful fiddle and a wonderful air of melancholy.
While Woody Pines have their feet firmly in the urban side of American folk Furnace Mountain, from Virginia have a more rural feel with echoes of the Celtic traditions passed over the ocean on their album “Fields of Fescue.” With blazin’ fiddles and terrific strumming the band fit perfectly behind the vocals of Aimee Curl who has a little bit of Karen Dalton’s lazy rural twang about her. Allied to this is David Van Deventer’s fiddle which swings, cajoles and whoops throughout. This is infectious dancing music and begs to be heard live.
From the jackrabbit jive of Woody Pines and the cool clear rural dancesteps of Furnace Mountain we finally we have Gordie Tentrees with his offering “Mercy or Sin.” Coming from the singer songwriter tradition with his roots in country blues and sounding like a young John Prine, Tentrees and his band play seductively with guitars licking and curling around his lyrics. At times they play dirty as on “Devil Talks” with ferocious guitar and stinging dobro but again the best is in the quieter moments where Tentrees and the band swing with a lazy nonchalance with a hint of menace in the tale.