Various Artists - A Santa Cause: It's A Punk Rock Xmas Vol 2

Matt Harrold 20/12/2006

Rating: 3/5

Slide into an alternative dimension where global warming isn't running rampant and the winter temperatures allow it to snow in England. Where cheesy seasonal pop no longer gets to the Christmas number one slot and the yearly showing of Disney is replaced by the likes of Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away'. In short, it's a world of taste. Except in this world, as in our own, there's something not quite right. Something is amiss and if you were to stay up in the vain hope of catching a certain red suited old man you'd be in for a shock. Nose pierced and wearing Doctor Martin's, Santa is sporting the mohican from hell and he means business. No longer will you be subjected to Now 65 in your stocking. Oh no. This time it's punk! Well, almost.

'A Santa Cause - It's a Punk Rock Xmas Vol.2' is the follow up to 2003's original alternative compilation. A welcome alternative to those mainstream, pop-engorged and very shallow compilations your well meaning Aunt would by you back when you were ten years old. Bringing together various underground punk artists from across the US to provide us with an alternative Christmas soundtrack composed of a mixture of covers and their own festive songs. It should be pointed out this isn't a out and out punk album per covering rap, acoustic gospel as well as Punk Lite. Treading the fine line between trying something a little different without alienating those more mainstream music lovers.

The covers ranging from 'All I Want For Christmas' by Dave Melilo, which finds our Christmas punks mixing up power chords with Christmas bells to provide a fun and not overly serious take on the song, to Haste The Day's beautiful low-fi covering of 'O' Come Emanuel'. If Church's played tracks like that at their masses then the pews would soon fill up. Seriously, it's that good. As are some of the bands own songs. There's the tongue in cheek rap 'Gary The Green' by MC Lars dealing with Osama Bin Laden's attempt at ruining Christmas by kidnapping Rudolph, whilst Action Action attempt to remind us that not everyone is so blessed when it comes to the festive period in 'Farther Christmas'. On the flip side of the coin though you get occasional songs that just aren't up to scratch like the Rediscover's 'Not Giving In' which ends up sounding like a Backstreet Boy's Bside. 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' finds John Lennon spinning in his grave as Hot Rod Circuit desecrate it with country slide guitar and some damned whiney backing vocals.

The good songs are worth their weight in gold though and manage to outweigh the bad on Punk Rock Xmas 2, making it maybe not an essential purchase but maybe something a little subversive to slip into your younger sibling's stocking. Hopefully diverting away from a life of Chav and at the end of the day isn't that what Christmas is all about?