VARIOUS ARTISTS – Psych-Out Christmas

Cleopatra 2013

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Psych-Out Christmas

VARIOUS ARTISTS –
Psych-Out Christmas

The time of wonders given a lysergic lining with a Stooge playing Scrooge and carols bordering on Carroll.

Everybody has their own idea of merriment, and in a rock land Yuletide feels much greater if you add an acidic edge to the proceedings, sound-wise. That’s exactly what this bespoke comp of a romp is about, corralling mostly young musicians for crazy caroling where some songs are originals and others original renditions of reindeer-smelling classics. One of the champions in the latter category is Iggy Pop who closes the party with a gnarled, gravel-filled reading of “White Christmas” which, in a hidden humorous way, catches a ball thrown at the start by a genuine oldie, Len Maxwell’s “Christmas Monster Party” from 1964, that brings a Frankenstein scenario to the table. From there, a concept looms large, as the former piece’s Bing Crosby’s connection is reflected in both “Little Drummer Boy” shaped by THE MOVEMENTS as a Swedish glacial paradox, with not a trace a percussion on the face of organ, and DEAD MEADOW’s gloomy, if warm, treatment of “Mele Kalikimaka” made punchy, as related to Hawaiian Punch via the aforementioned Len.

The same pacific drift wafts through HE 5’s “Jingle Bells” – not the familiar tune but a slice of surf twang. Also slightly exotic flows the sitar-laced take on the Fabs’ rarity “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” dusted off by Canadian buzzers ELEPHANT STONE, whereas San Fran’s SLEEPY SUN lend “What Child Is This?” a riffy anxiety shearing off the hymn’s “Greensleeves” provenance into a spacey vortex. A similarly cosmic wave delivers the Farfisa-kissed “Santa Claus” from THE FUZZTONES and two instrumentals from Quintron & Miss Pussycat, “Silent Night” sounding as retro-futuristic as it gets, while COSMONAUTS spike their “It’s Christmas Day” with a “Nuggets”-like jangly snarl.

By way of reimagining, SONS OF HIPPIES wrap THE ZOMBIES’ “Time Of The Season” in a stereo-piercing guitar treble, and THE VACANT LOTS update SUICIDE’s “No More Christmas Blues” to an upbeat groove, yet PSYCHIC ILLS kill Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” pulling it back to blues and dropping half-way there. In that end of the street, Eli Cook sheds “Christmas Tears” in a solid bluesy manner, with Robert Johnson’s Xmas-minded “Hellhound On My Trail” for a foundation, its heaviness counterbalanced when THE CANDY STORE sweeten up another perennial, “Frosty The Snowman,” with a girl-group cooing. So much for the Yule characters to haunt your home once the music’s over and out into your psyche, so good for a less traditional soundtrack to the holidays.

***3/4

December 24, 2013

Category(s): Reviews
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