Friday, December 5, 2014

December, Not Christmas

On Monday, I suggested 10 lesser-known Christmas songs for people who are sick to death of Slade, Band Aid, Cliff Richard, and all the other music that's pretty much inescapable from Bonfire Night onwards.

But what about the people who don't want to listen to Christmas music at all? I've seen quite a few Grinchy Scrooges on my Facebook feed this week, all of them complaining that it's too early to break out the Christmas records, or that they simply hate Christmas in general and wish everyone would stop talking about it.

Well, for the benefit of those people, today's blog will concern itself with non-Christmas albums that are nevertheless perfect for this time of year. December is a rather lovely month, what with autumn gradually turning into winter, and it'd be a shame to completely abandon ourselves to seasonal cheese when there's so much other music that's ideal for the latter part of the year.

Without further ado, then, here are three albums for a non-festive December:

The Magic Position by Patrick Wolf
I only purchased this album last month, so it already held a distinct autumn/winter feel for me. Still, I'm pretty sure that The Magic Position would sound Decembery even in June, with its evocations of bonfires and rotting leaves and its sprawling array of warming sounds (including - yes - a Christmassy-sounding glockenspiel on the title track).

"And you were my husband, my wife, my heroine - now this is our final December." 

Key Wintry Track: Bluebells, which seems to compare the slow decline of a romantic relationship to the Earth's slow descent into winter at the end of each year. 

The Trails of Van Occupanther by Midlake
Maybe it's all the bare, leafless trees on the cover, but Van Occupanther strikes as the *perfect* accompaniment to a brisk, gloves 'n' scarves walk in the woods. Before we get too deep into December, it's well worth wrapping up warm and going for a winter stomp, preferably with Roscoe or Head Home in your headphones.

"Winter comes, it sure is rough. Maybe they'll welcome us."

Key Wintry Track: It Covers the Hillsides, a song about snowfall and the difficulties it can bring.

The Crane Wife by The Decemberists
Okay, so there's a track called Summersong, but if you ignore that then this is a very Decembery album indeed. It's the sound of a low winter sun peeking through branches, and like Van Occupanther, it's perfect for a walk through the winter scenery.

"I am a poor man, I haven't wealth nor fame, I have my two hands and a house to my name, and the winter's so, and the winter's so long."

Key Wintry Track: The Crane Wife 1 & 2, which starts with a sparse acoustic guitar part and builds to a crashing crescendo before settling down into something warm and subdued and very, very pretty.

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