Dan Willson is a clever fucker, really he is. I always think indie Christmas music fails somewhat, primarily because all the pain and unhappiness which I tend to like in music clashes with what tiny of fragment of Christmas spirit may still survive within me.
With that in mind, Avalanche Records have managed to pull something spectacular out of the bag with their Alternative Christmas charity album. It’s a fucking great compilation, really it is – enjoyable and actually quite festive-sounding, without being at all lame. I don’t use that word very often, but indie Christmas music generally does sound rather lame, and this record really doesn’t. God knows how they’ve done it.
The proceeds all go to a local Edinburgh charity, and to Avalanche’s own charity in aid of African street children, and the record can be bought here. If you want an antidote to the sort of cod-classical shite or painful pop garbage which gets liberally shovelled around at Christmas I guarantee you will not do better than this.
Which brings me to the jewel in the crown of this compilation: Withered fucking Hand. There are some great songs on this – donated songs from eagleowl, Rob St. John, Frightened Rabbit and Broken Records, and a couple of specially recorded ones by Song, by Toad Records bands The Savings and Loan and Meursault – but Dan has written one specially and it’s amazing.
In typical Dan fashion, he manages to batter the shite out of the modern concept of Christmas, whilst still generating a strange sense of optimism. In his skewering of modern, identikit Christmases you can hear the inverse – the echo of some idealistic Christmas which exists in Dan’s head and to which reality is signally failing to live up, and the picture he manages to paint as some sort of negative of the one he actually depicts manages to give a reassuring warmth to a song which might otherwise be really rather depressing.
It’s not though, it’s heartwarming, maybe because that idealised Christmas which exists in our heads is actually the best thing about the whole bloody festival to begin with.
Buy Avalanche Records Alternative Christmas here.
Photo Credit: egoldin