Das Wanderlust, Steveless, Chihiro, Container Drivers - A very cherry Christmas

Bill Cummings 12/12/2005

Rating: 3/5

New Blackpool based indie label release their second disc. It's a Christmas compilation of bands that they like. Apparently “It features 13 festive themed songs to make even the most dedicated Christmas humbugs get into the Christmas Spirit!” Opener “Have yourself a psychedelic Christmas” is a pleasingly messed up bluesy version of that all time Christmas classic. Whilst Swansea Maverick Steveless produces “Season Schizophrenia” it's a lo-fi vision of the Velvet Underground being bashed apart by big hammers, to the repeated slurred refrain of “It is Christmas”. Taking things down a notch the Tiger MCs “The way that you arrived” has more than a hint of indie folk magic about its Shin's-esque balladry.

Meanwhile The Hot Puppies add a dollop of female fronted glamour to this collection with former single “Green eyeliner”. Becky's characteristic Debbie Harry purr is delectably realised in a whirling dervish chorus of Hammond's, guitars and backing vocals.Some of this does sound like its been knocked up in half an hour but I guess that's the charm Sarah and the Johnsonaut's “The Lonely little elf”, for example sounds like it's recorded on a four track in their basement. While 'Hello, How are you' thirty second blast of festivity sounds like an outtake from playschool. There are some gems here though Grand Prix 86 with “Everybody's dancing” is neat, bouncy, lo-fi indie, and would probably be a good soundtrack to a Christmas party. While much talked about northerners Das Wanderlust produce a neat indie rock cover of “Sleigh Ride”, the DIY synths and shouty vocals add to its undeniable charm.

The band with the great name Giant Robot And The City Of Tokyo chime in with “Vest” a cracking little indie rock tale of wintry hibernation. Container Drivers and “In the Bleak Mid Afternoon” meanwhile is initially a dark slab of guitars and pianos before breaking out into a Belle and Sebastian style strum with sleigh bell backing its one of the best things here, wistful, and melodic. It is kind of an anti-Christmas song (“Christmas is coming/It's that time of year/The Children are happy now Christmas is here/TV full of adverts/About gimmicky toys/But the shops are too crowded and there's nothing to buy.”)The penultimate track Chihiro's “The Plans that we made” is a beautiful piece of balladry. Initially it sounds like Bright Eyes before the warm female vocals envelop this alt-folk winter song. I can imagine staring into the night sky watching shooting stars as this song whirrs away on my turntable. Last up and we are back to Steveless/Syd Howells with what I can only describe as chaotic noise, quite apart from his opening effort this is more what I expected given his previous “unlistenable” reviews in GIITTV, it sounds like a mess; Captain Beefheart being beaten up with clattering drums and shouting “Thank Christ for Christmas.”

So there you have it an unusual and unique collection of songs to warm your cockles this Christmas. It's not without its bum notes but there's more than enough here to please, amuse, and bemuse, at five pounds it could find a way into your Christmas stocking this year.