Sunday, December 19th, 2010
A bunch of people cover a bunch of Christmas tunes
ICHCI’m not really a Christmas person. I’m certainly not against it or a conscientious abstainer, at least not from its secular aspects, I just do my best to ignore it for the first couple weeks of December until denial gives way to blind panic when I realize I still have too much to do to the degree in which I do participate. Things end up so hectic that actually enjoying the season, whatever that means, is mostly out of the question.
One thing the holidays are good for, though, are covers as everyone and their mother seems inspired to track a seasonal standard or two. The potential downside of this is that the same tunes crop up, year after year, but I think I’ve collected a bunch of more recent/less ubiquitous tunes that will hopefully come across as a little fresher to your ears. Happy statutory holidays, everyone!
Billy Bragg and Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine teamed up for the BBC last year in taking on the Pogues holiday classic. I’ve mixed feelings about Welch’s parts, and not just because Kirsty MacColl can’t be touched – while it’s nice to hear her not overpower things with her voice for a change, the restrained Flo sounds kind of bored. Billy, however, is wonderful as always.
MP3: Billy Bragg and Florence & The Machine – “Fairytale Of New York”
Video: Billy Bragg and Florence & The Machine – “Fairytale Of New York”
Video: The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale Of New York”
British duo Slow Club gave their debut album Yeah, So? a North American release this year and followed it up with the holiday-themed Christmas, Thanks For Nothing EP last week, which included this terrific cover this Phil Spector tune (performed by Darlene Love) which allows Rebecca Taylor to show off her pipes in a way she doesn’t get to nearly enough.
Another British duo making noise this year was Summer Camp, first thanks to the mysteriousness of their identities and then the retro-pop excellence of their debut EP Young. They got into the Christmas spirit with a cover of the beloved Waitresses tune.
London’s 6 Day Riot, who released their third record On This Island earlier in the year, wished their fans a merry Christmas with this cover of this Pretenders song which, for my money, is always overlooked/underappreciated when it comes to seasonal songs. It’s one of my very favourites.
Bostoninans Wheat are working on their next album, the follow-up to last year’s White Ink, Black Ink, but still found the time to record a couple of Christmas tunes to give away – the b-side is an original composition and the a-side is the song made famous by Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis.
Toronto’s Ohbijou covered Wham!‘s “Last Christmas” as a special treat last year about this time, and yet in the interim it hasn’t been added to the not-quite-definitive index of covers of that song over at www.last-christmas.com. Someone get on that! The band would, but they’re busy making album number three.
The Rural Alberta Advantage only played this song – which I thought was traditional but actually only dates back to 1941 and was written by Katherine Davis (thanks Wikipedia – this past Thursday night at their hometown show at Lee’s Palace, but it was captured for posterity thanks to Joe at Mechanical Forest Sound. The RAA are set to release album number two in Departing come March 1 and have just been announced as playing the New Year’s Eve show at The Tranzac on, um, New Year’s Eve. Tickets were going fast and will now be going faster.