Category Archives: winter

If You Listen To Something This Week…Make it Festive

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If there is one thing it easy to love, it’s the festive season. I’ve been listening to Christmas songs since November, the kind that fill you with a want for snow, to be curled up by a roaring fire eating a mince pie, jingling some bells or wearing a Christmas jumper. Scottish artists seem to move towards the more gloomy and contemptuous at this time of year, it’s oddly more acceptable to be honest about how you hate someone/thing if it has a festive tinkle. Cue a round of up new discoveries, old classics and a playlist for your listening pleasure…

Olive Grove Records – Christmas Sampler

The Scottish label’s charity EP, which features the hymnal ‘As a Child I Awoke’ from Jo Mango, a loveable cover of the Muppets ‘One More Sleep Til Christmas’ courtesy of Randolph’s Leap and the first original festive songs from the The Son(s) – you’ll see what I mean about contemptuous – ‘Christmas Song’ and State Broadcasters‘ ‘Wounded Waxing.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Dawn McCarthy – Christmas Eve Will Kill You

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s (aka Will Oldham’s) first Christmas song with long time collaborator Dawn McCarthy, despite it’s troubling title it’s filled with nostalgia and sentiment. It’s also the first Everly Brothers cover from the duo, who are releasing a whole set entitled What the Brothers Sang next year.

Which also reminds me…this song of theirs ‘Dreams’ might not technically be a Christmas number but it’s a classic.

William Bell – Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday 

A timeless and highly underplayed track from soul legend William Bell, this is one of the best Christmas songs you’ll ever listen to.

The Killers – Feel it in My Bones 

The latest of their annual Christmas singles it sounds similar to what you may have heard before…I like it anyway. Featuring Las Vegas based singer Ryan Pardey as Bad Santa the video is an absolute eighties throwback, cue dry ice and a weird Santa cackle…

MogwaiChristmas Song

This came out a long while ago, but I only just heard it. Like most of Mogwai’s material it’s an extraordinarily beautiful instrumental which you can sink right in to.

Check out NPR Music’s Jingle Jams for much more, below you’ll find a playlist featuring most of the above plus some old and out and out favourites. Embed it, share it, play it at a party – Merry Christmas!

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Arran Arctic Plays…Buffy Sainte-Marie

With the catchy, winter appropriate alias of Arran Arctic ‘D.I.Y. pop, folk and electronica’ musician Arran Southall is a man who hails from Northern Ireland and now lives in Edinburgh. He contacted me with his new album, titled Like Lovers, a lovely collection of delicate, experimental tracks often with an orchestral depth, which will capture your attention.

You can stream it in full the bottom of this post, first he’ll tell you about a classic influence and a little piece of musical history…

The Artist: Buffy Sainte-Marie

The Album: Illuminations 

Not On Vinyl

I first came across Buffy Sainte-Marie and her album Illuminations on Stuart Maconie’s great BBC 6 Music Show The Freak Show (the best weird and wonderful music you’ll find on a weekly basis) and I was blown away by her cover of Leonard Cohen’s God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot. I got my spade out and dug a little deeper into her history and back catalogue. And she’s just amazing! Her career spans 5 decades, she’s won an Oscar and she even appeared on Sesame Street for a while!

Illuminations is a departure from her usual folk, soul and rock output and actually alienated a number of her fans when it came out in 1969. The record sees Sainte-Marie electronically manipulating both her guitar and vocals to create a sparsely populated eerie landscape. 

But there are also a number of rocky foot stampers such as ‘He’s a Keeper of the Fire‘, which have caused some to retrospectively christen the album the first “goth” record!

I just love this album and have championed it before on the excellent blog Scots Whay Hae!. It’s appeal is not only because of the fantastic tunes but also because of the balls it must have taken to make and put out there. Everyone needs a bit of Buffy Sainte-Marie in their lives.

About-Image

Arran’s album Like Lovers can be streamed and purchased on his bandcamp, his personable and playful website – from which I pinched the above illustration – is also well worth checking out. Choral title track ‘Like Lovers’ is a highlight, fusing a boy/girl vocal with an almost cinematic soundscape, there’s lots of tinkling goodness in the fleeting ‘Wound’ and climatic  lullaby ‘Slumber’.

A low key, monochromatic video for bewitching earworm ‘Covers’….