The weather refuses to get right for the holidays, and so do some recent Christmas songs.
Not only is New Orleans unlikely to see a white Christmas this year, but it's doubtful we'll see a cold one either. Most of the rest of the days before Christmas will be like today--lows in the 60s, highs in the 70s. Not quite shorts and flip-flops weather, but there's little call for chestnuts or anything else by an open fire.
Two new releases share an ambivalence about Christmas with the weather. Smoke Fairies' Wild Winter was recently re-released to a wider audience, and the droning, psychedelic "Christmas Without a Kiss" is perfect for someone on the outside looking in on seasonal festivities.
Get into the festive mood, maybe go carolin'
Red-lipped from too much mulled wine, no church will let me in
I foolishly bought mistletoe and then I tore it down
And I throw stones to smash the lights that brighten up this town
Nothing in the song says "Christmas," nor does the cover the The Handsome Family's "So Much Wine," which uses a Christmas Eve fight to mourn the break-up with a self-destructive, alcoholic lover. In fact, Wild Winter is exactly the holiday album that someone would make who covers The Handsome Family and Captain Beefheart, straightening out his "Steal Softly Thru Snow." The album is technically a winter album, not a Christmas album--the band's distinction--and it's perfect for those who are over the cheery optimism of The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York." It conjures up a powerful post-Jesus and Mary Chain guitar drone that settles like fog on the ground through which Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies' voices wander lost, wounded and beautifully melancholy.
I'll have to take others' word for it that Vaginaboys' “Jólalag” is making fun of Christmas song traditions since the emerging Icelandic pop stars are singing in their native tongue. According to writer Gabriel Benjamin:
This song is to Icelandic Christmas songs what Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You” is to Bob Dylan’s late ‘60s sound—a spoof so close to what it is mocking that the everyday listener stands little chance of getting the joke. It’s a Christmas song that’s all about how boring Christmas songs are, replete with jingling bells and pop synths.
If you're thinking of buying Smoke Fairies' Wild Winter, do it through the link in this story and My Spilt Milk will get a piece of the action.