As I sit here sipping my chocolatey beverage, I check out the little package the postman dropped off a couple of hours earlier: a copy of 5 Cold Swings: The Fifth Kilau Kristmas Kompilation, available in Kilau on Little Belmont Street. Perhaps this will soften my Scrooge-like demeanour and put me in the festive mood? I’m doubtful, but I’m willing to give it a shot and so I reach towards my stereo…
As soon as the first ethereal notes burst forth from my speakers, I knew that this was no ordinary Christmas album: no Slade, no Wizzard and certainly no Shakin’ Stevens in sight. Rather, it is a collection of eighteen of Aberdeen’s finest musicians presenting their take on the Christmas song. Packed full of folksy indie tunes, the album has a delightful DIY aesthetic throughout, from the artwork to the production, and proves to be the perfect antidote to the cancerous Christmas cheese that city-centre shops have been pounding us with over the last month.
Although most of the songs here are originals, some familiar tunes do make an appearance including Ryan Simpson’s brilliant cover of the Beach Boys’ Little Saint Nick which nicely sets the mood for the following album. Meanwhile, Dusty Valentino’s smooth voice harks back to a bygone era populated by crooners as he glides through R. Alex Anderson’s Hawaiian masterpiece Mele Kalikimaka. Elsewhere, The Oxbow Lake Orchestra and Les Pelicans bring their distinctive sounds into the mix with Winter Blues and The Road is Frozen respectively, two pleasurable acoustic offerings which amble gently through the middle of the album while Seas, Starry soar through their instrumental composition, River for Joni.
As with any compilation, 5 Cold Swings has its oddities, not least represented by Curry for Christmas, a brilliant festive offering from indie rockers Min Diesel which defies description, and rather strangely an affecting acoustic version of Sum 41’s Fat Lip from Huw Gurden. But unusual as they might seem, these tracks fit perfectly within the context of this seasonal outing; of the eighteen tracks included here, each and every one is deserving of its inclusion.
So, empty mug in hand, I’m sitting in the warm confines of my bedroom, the CD on repeat. As I gaze out through the window, snowflakes daintily traverse their way through the air towards the frozen ground, Kitchen Cynics’ hauntingly beautiful arrangement of traditional ballad The Snow It Melts The Soonest capturing the serene beauty of the moment. And all of a sudden, it feels like Christmas.
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