Laika Come Ho-Ho-Home

I love Christmas. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, eating far too much, and exchanging gifts. But it’s also the time of year that the most dreaded of all the muzaks rears its ugly head: Christmas music. At first the songs seem great: I haven’t heard them in a year and they’re not as bad as I remember. But then I hear them in shops; on the radio; blasting out of cars. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. So, each year, I look for an alternative; something a bit festive but outside of the mainstream Christmas scene. Maybe that makes me a Christmas hipster, but I really don’t care.

Promoters Laika Come Home – whose gigs have been dazzling Aberdeen recently – have pulled a blinder with their first festive compilation: the wonderfully titled Laika Come Ho-Ho-Home. Contained on the disc are 14 utterly magical tracks, not all of them Christmassy but each and everyone one deserving of its inclusion. There’s ambient electronics, lo-fi indie-scuzz and even the odd hint of metal. Perfect.

Palace of Swords’ minimalist instrumental The Castle Spectrum opens up the record in suitably ethereal, wintery fashion before the decidedly un-Christmassy (but oh-so-great) Everyone I Dead That You’ve Ever Loved by Amanti picks up the tempo a bit. Despite being polar opposites, the songs sit incredibly well together.

Somewhere near the middle of the record, His Name Is Codeine spin a Christmas tale in the lo-fi shoegazey Merry Christmas Baby while experimental electronic artist Daemons blasts out Energy Company Bastards Will Lead To Death This Christmas. For fans of folk, Kitchen Cynics is on hand with a characteristically brilliant track – the beautiful The Yonder Wren – while Star Rover’s Settle In begins with an orchestral warm-up before some delicately-picked guitars herald a lovely, folky melody.

The album is also packed full of glorious instrumentalism. Ambient shoegazers Seas, Starry are on hand with Santy Gave Me A Neep, which contains some sumptuous guitar lines; a thrashingly good live version of Citizen Undertaker from everythingwesayisfact blows away the cobwebs; and the upbeat and always-amazing rock n’ roll of The Shithawks’ Council Blues is simply majestic.

This really is an album like no other with RAWK sitting neatly side-by-side with beautiful ambience. One moment there’s the melodic powerpop of Das McManus’ Molly’s Lips, the next there’s the electronics of Godzella Blues’ Bethlehem Supernova 5 and the artistic sounds of Yonder Star by Matricarians. And , let’s be honest, Sidca might just win the “Best Song Title” award for onebarisnaeenoughcalorgasheatersong.

The folks at Laika Come Home have definitely saved the Christmassiest for last, though. Carson Wells erupt forth from the speakers with a reworking of one of Metallica’s best-known tracks. For Whom The Sleigh Bell Tolls is an affectionate parody that shows off the band's excellent musicianship and ends the album on a festive high.

So if you’re like me and want to listen to something a bit different this Christmas, pick up a copy of Laika Come Home’s festive sampler that shows off some of Scotland's best musicians. You really won’t regret it one bit.

Laika Come Ho-Ho-Home is available to buy from The Noose & Monkey and the proceeds go to Friends of ANCHOR.


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