December is often a fallow time for new music, understandably so, but the last month of 2013 threw up some real treats. A Band Called Quinn gave us one of the best collection of Christmas songs in recent memory, there were cover versions, remixes and, perhaps surprisingly for Scots Whay Hae!, some beautiful ambient electronica from Germany. Oh, and there was some brand, and spanking, new music to enjoy as well.
Before you take those decorations down (Has that been? Mine come down on the 26th) here’s the perfect accompaniment to do so. I often think that A Band Called Quinn are so consistently good that it would be easy to take them for granted, which they never should be. Here are five Christmas tracks which not only blew every other attempt at festive music last month away, but which were a Christmas gift. You might think, “What’s the point in telling us about this now?”, but once you listen I think you’ll agree that these songs are too good to overlooked. Classy, poignant, reflective and gorgeous, they are everything you could want; from them, to you:
Best song and video from last month comes from Turning Plates. Their album The Shouting Cave is out this year, and if this is an example of what to expect then it is going to be something special. It’s another example of music which seems to have been influenced by some of the sounds coming of Scandinavia and Northern Europe, something which has been increasingly prevalent in recent years. It has a glacial, epic, quality which is mesmeric and just a little magical; the perfect soundtrack to January days. This is Falling Lives:
One of my favourite albums of last year came from Cfit, and you can here the whole album here. To add some class to recent festivities they had their song Coke and Spiriter given a Viva Idiota remix, and if you haven’t heard them before, then this is a great place to start:
I can’t think of a more apposite marriage of music and words than Alasdair Roberts and poet Robin Robertson. Not only is the former one of my favourite musicians, but the latter is one of Scotland’s greatest poets. Both write about landscape and the personal, and tap into dream and the spiritual. They have brought their considerable talents together for Hirta Songs, a beautiful album based on their visits to island of St Kilda, and which also touches on the isle’s history and mythology. It should really be heard from start to finish, but to give you a taste this is Exodus, complete with Spanish subtitles!:
And as for that German electronica, recently I’ve been receiving music and emails from ever further flung corners of the globe. I do listen to it all, and the motto remains is that if it is good enough then people deserve to hear it. That certainly goes for Arian Hagen, whose record company got in touch recently to tell me about his 2013 album The Meaning Of It All which is just gorgeous, like Philip Glass hanging out with Susuma Yokoto and remixing their favourite Massive Attack tracks just for shits and giggles. This is the single The Beauty of The Moment And The Fear of What Is Next:
All of the above is very chilled out, just what is in order in January, but I want to leave you with something to shake the cobwebs, and I can think of nothing better than this cover of Electric Six”s Danger: High Voltage! by Frantic Chant, out now on Dogs Got A Bone Records:
Next month will feature at least one classic album which ‘ve been listening to all week, so you’ll have to look in to see what that is, if nothing else…