Bandcamp Picks of the Week 12/13/17

Bandcamp Picks of the Week, as large and in charge as ever

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Psychostick – THE FLESH EATING ROLLERSKATE HOLIDAY JOYRIDE

Genre: Holiday, Metal, Comedy

Favorite Tracks: “Red Snow,” “Holiday Hate,” “Jingle Bell”

Christmas seems to come earlier each year, with decorations having already been on display since early October at my local Home Depot. As per tradition, so comes the deluge of repetitive and overbearingly sugar-sweet Christmas tunes that make me despise the holiday. Psychostick’s comedic and absurdist 2007 release, THE FLESH EATING ROLLERSKATE HOLIDAY JOYRIDE, is a childish yet amusing metal Christmas album aimed as a “Cynical Jab to the Overly Commercialized Holiday Season,” the effect of which it achieves to varying degrees of success.

Playing off  the overdone themes of Christmas, including the beloved childhood story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the track “Red Snow,” it begins with a hilariously dramatic intro with the singer repeating the word “freak” before the doom metal instrumental kicks in, telling the untold story of everyone’s favorite red-nosed reindeer and his quest for revenge: “My name is Rudolph / I am the saddest reindeer alive . . . / Until I exact revenge . . . / My red nose will light up the red snow.” The singer delivers these giggle-worthy lines with such a degree of seriousness that it only adds to the hilarity, painting the image of a dejected and shamed Rudolph seeking vengeance on Santa for his lack of care and ending with naming all of the reindeer in order with the beyond-edgy line, “Feel my knife on your throat and I’ll grin.”

The joking nature of many of the songs is reminiscent of the cartoon metal band Dethklok of Adult Swim’s METALOCALYPSE, and surprisingly on par when it comes to quality. The similarities can be easily heard on the second track, “Holiday Hate,” where the vocalist goes through each element of the Christmas season in a list like fashion: “It’s that time of year for fuzzy EARMUFFS / It’s that time of year for footed PAJAMAS / You know the ones with the hole in the butt.” What adds to the enjoyment of this album is the fact that while the instrumentals are about as run-of-the-mill as it comes when it comes to doom or heavy metal, they are not badly produced. There is an obvious degree of competency and care that has gone into THE FLESH EATING ROLLERSKATE HOLIDAY JOYRIDE, which, in conjunction with the exaggerated and comical lyrics, makes it a worthy listen for those with a penchant for for enjoying edgy comical music. Plus, it can’t be any worse than listening to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” for the millionth time. Check out Psychostick’s holiday romp here. [Will Turmon]

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Sufjan Stevens – SILVER & GOLD

Genre: Holiday, Folk

Favorite Tracks: “Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You From Christmases Past,” “Barcarola (You Must Be A Christmas Tree),” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”

I was elated and surprised to find that everyone’s favorite soft-spoken prolific folkster, Sufjan Stevens, had an album comprised of 58 Christmas songs, but the more I began to think about it, it seems very obvious that Stevens would have put something like this out. A singer who doesn’t shy away from singing about his religious beliefs, it makes sense Sufjan would be all over it, and his angelic voice layered over interesting guitar picking patterns are scattered all over the album. It’s truly a comforting thing to hear many of the songs we have heard hundreds of times put in a new yet familiar way. SILVER & GOLD, released in 2012, also has traces of the more experimental side of Stevens that has begun to resurface in what he’s released in 2017. For example, “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” is a song comprised solely of synths and scattered drum patterns. When it comes to Christmas music, originality can be a hard thing to obtain since many songs are continually passed down from artist to artist year after year, but he does a phenomenal job of shedding a new light on covered songs, as well as interesting originals like “Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You From Christmases Past,” a sort of existential ode to the holiday. Check SILVER & GOLD OUT here. [Emmett Garvey]

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Various Artists – Z-Tapes’ CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

Genre: Lo-Fi Indie

Favorite tracks: “Christmas In My Room” by Jackie Trash, “White Christmas” by TELEVISIONS, “Ghost of Xmas Future” by Real Swell, “O Holy Night” by Shelf Life

Lo-fi and Christmas work quite well in tandem. The snap and crackle of the tape hiss accentuates the warmth and the wisps of smoke from the fireplace. The ethereal vocals and instruments ring out nicely alongside any outside carolers or jingling bells. And, as with any Christmas, there’s that ineffable feeling of nostalgia, of memories, of family. Slovakian cassette label Z Tapes’ CHRISTMAS COLLECTION emanates with that said quality.

Real Swell do their name justice with their track “Ghost of Xmas Future,” where the gossamer synths waft and whirr behind the reverberation on the lead vocals, and the effect as a whole is mesmerizing. If that proves to be soporific though, TELEVISIONS and Jackie Trash provide some of the more upbeat corkers. The former’s “White Christmas” is a beatific snow flurry, with frontman Nick Rattigan’s vocals balancing angst and joy into that bittersweet feeling of finding your grass to still be green outside—hey, at least it’s Christmas. Trash’s “Christmas In My Room” is 43 seconds of folk punk frisson that kicks off the compilation, and despite the lyrics suggesting lonesomeness, the music itself perfectly captures that feeling of Christmas morning, when the immediate excitement that’s been bubbling all night finally wakes you up right before your parents or siblings. It’s that primitive instinct of getting to the presents as soon as possible, as if they too would melt away if too much time passed. Check out Z Tapes’ CHRISTMAS COLLECTION on Bandcamp. [Nick Funess]

Crossfader Staff

The good people of Crossfader Magazine.

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