Emmy The Great And Tim Wheeler - Zombie Christmas
Last year Ash's Tim Wheeler and Emma "Emmy" Moss released "This is Christmas," written when they were both snowed in during the festive season the previous year. They demonstrated that it is possible to produce a credible Christmas album and have great fun doing so. Replete with shimmering melodies, sleigh bells, strings, and reindeers called Jesus they perfectly captured the spirit of the season by mixing off the wall humour with traditional Christmas schmaltz. This year they've released a track from the album, 'Zombie Christmas' as a single and have produced an epic Zombie video to boot!
PINS - Kiss Me Quickly It's Christmas
It really has been an extraordinary year for emerging artists from Manchester, the sheer diversity, and depth of talent have marked it out (again!) as one of the most exciting musical cities in the UK. PINS have been the pick of the bunch after making quite remarkable progress this year. To put it in context, 2011 ended with the band having barely enough material for a 25 minute set whilst 2012 finishes with them having an EP released via Bella Union whilst amassing a collection of songs that highlight the huge talent and potential these girls have. My crystal balls predict an NME front cover, prior to an appearance on Jools Holland before jetting off to conquer America. That is of course if there is any justice.
It seems PINS can turn their hand to just about anything; they've even managed to write and record a fantastic Christmas song after nipping in to their rehearsal studio over the weekend.
FOE - Xmas Break Up
Another excellent tune festive emerges in the shape of Foe, one of the brightest new musical talents in the UK by a country mile. Her debut album 'Bad Dream Hotline' is certainly in the upper echelons of the albums of the year. She's exactly the kind of bold intelligent thoughtful genre-traversing artist that pop music desperately needs! If we truly value genuine creativity and wish to halt the elevation of the dreadful homogeneous "backing-tracks- for- shopping- mall- consumerism" style music that Gary Barlow vigorously wanks off to every night than we need to cherish artists as innovative and talented as Foe.
Her Christmas tune,'Xmas Breakup' a desolate Brontë-esque tale of doomed love acts as a welcome counterpoint to the tooth rotting saccharine musical fare you often encounter at this time of year ! The haunting lyrics such as "I'll be hanging from the tallest tree clinging onto the love you gave that's left in me/ I'll be the angel that will haunt your dreams singing out for the love you gave" may not quite be the staple of your average Christmas ditty but they do serve to reinforce what a wonderfully unique talent Foe is!
And with Pan's People!
The Primitives - You Trashed My Christmas
The Primitives take the Christmas break-up song template and inject it with some vim and vigour resulting in the 24 carrot indie pop nugget that is 'You Trashed My Christmas.' There's regret yes, but also a sense of angry defiance, a case of the truth opening your eyes and setting you free! After all a broken heart is just for Christmas not for life...It's a tune that's set to be added to my list of perennial 'must play Yuletide classics' because it contains everything required from a Christmas tune. As a bonus there's also a seasonal video featuring Tracy Tracy in a rather fetching Christmas outfit, which happily also addresses a couple of long-standing Christmas wishes ;) and has me believing in Santa all over again!
The Nature Set - Edward
This dark seasonal offering from track from Sheffield's Nature Set including lyrics such as "The greatest love I ever I had, was getting laid behind your back" is not exactly dripping with seasonal sentimentality!
It's a fantastic tune, which struts along with a wiggle sexy enough to 'turn pure virgin snow black.' It's also great to hear our favourite ex- Long Blonde Rennie Hollis, on such belligerent, snarling charismatic form. Chuck in a creepily surreal Avengers jacking video and you have the perfect antidote to the soon to be inescapable annual festive musical cheese- fest. This is possibly more welcome than ever this year, as I am still deeply traumatised and not fully recovered from catching ten harrowing (and long) minutes of the festive abomination that "Rod Stewart's Christmas" on TV recently.
Sarah Nixey -Christmas Without You
This final 'alternative Christmas tune is all about sophistication and elegance in the shape of the enthralling Sarah Nixey, a lady who we really couldn't imagine hanging up anything less than the finest silk stockings come Christmas Eve. Since leaving Black Box Recorder, Sarah has proved there's so much more to her than being merely the glamorous foil for John Moore and Luke Haines dark, acerbic worldview. Her last solo album "Brave Tin Soldiers" may have contained her trademark cool crystal cut English diction, which has the power to reduce grown men to gibbering simpletons, but it also revealed Nixey to be a masterful storyteller. It was certainly one of the most intriguing and engaging albums of 2011 with dark, tragic, often slightly macabre tales of lonely graves and forbidden love.
She's also been involved in producing a 'Christmas Number One' in 2007 teaming up with her old oppos Haines and Moore along with Eddie Argos from Art Brut to become The Black Arts. They recorded the one off single "Christmas Number One" which sadly wasn't (that honour fell to world-renowned singing sensation and X Factor winner Leon Jackson - who?) But they was robbed! Sarah returned to the world of seasonal songs last year with "Nixey's Merry Xmas" and this year she's back with a brand new festive song 'Christmas Without You.' As you would except from Ms Nixey it's seductive, defiant and there's a slightly sinister undercurrent in a Willkie Collins' - 'The Woman In White' meets Kylie kind of way.
Andy can normally be found at his excellent Von Pip Musical Express blog, which you can read HERE