This Week at Musikigai

Your intrepid curator has hit the wall for this year. It’s the end of term feeling dominating these parts this week. The day job is packed in until the new year today and I’m looking to take 3 weeks to myself to restore and recover from a bit of burn out across multiple areas of life. As such, there will be no Friday Five for the rest of the year. Music releases are thin on the ground for the next month or so anyway so rather than force it, we will take a full break until such time that it makes sense to start up again.

That doesn’t mean the musical goodness is gone though. With The Avalanches release out today, my musical year of anticipated releases is complete and so the lists can be built. I can promise a top 10 albums and top 10 songs of the year. There may be more treats though depending on how the previous paragraph goes though! Keep your eyes and ears peeled (always an odd phrase…).

For new music, go and listen to We Will Always Love You by The Avalanches on your streamer of choice. We have covered all the singles released through the year and I have to say the album is a beautiful pay-off that promises to become a classic with time. It is spacey, hypnotic, elevating and just beautiful to behold.

For now though and the Final Five of 2020, my hatred of Christmas music has fuelled some recommendations of better Christmas songs. I need to refresh my list really but that can be a downtime project. Here are some tracks I really rate or have recently discovered for you enjoyment. (Separate post planned for why I hate Christmas music – in case you are wondering why and how I could possibly hate it so virulently)

Spotify links: This Week / Archive

This Christmas – Skinny Lister and Beans on Toast

This is the most real depiction of Christmas in a song. I love it. It is down to earth, relatable, fun and up-lifting. Just like the day and season should be. My favourite Christmas song? Probably.

Santa is Coming For Us – Sia

In my desperation of being fed up with all the standard songs for the time of the year I wonder why there are no new ones that are any good. I figured that as we have such a limited playlist this time of year it only takes one hit per year to build that list. So while you get a new one each year it all feels old as it’s all overplayed by the time you get to the next one. So I was delighted when a full album of brand new Christmas that is properly decent dropped in 2018. This album is brilliant. It is a Christmas album that only has Christmas themes in the detail and lyrics. Rewrite some words and remove the festive accents and what lies beneath is a rock solid pop album. The whole thing is fabulous. This is only the opening track but I implore you, this Christmas to find the album and put it on when you need a bit of a party feel.

Christmas Lights – Coldplay

This was the song that broke my Christmas music malaise. Released 10 years ago, my reaction at the news was “who wants this?” and then I heard it. It instantly became my favourite Christmas song until the Beans and Skinny Lister one above was released. It felt less saccharine than the usual guff while maintaining some of the Christmas time wonder and magic. “I took my feet to Oxford St” is better than fantasising about the perfect Christmas that simply doesn’t exist. (Yes, I got the 10 year anniversary 7″ release this year)

The Graveyard of the Outcast Dead – Frank Turner

Frank Turner always vowed never to do a concept album and never write a Christmas song. Turned out he did both on the same project. Hailing from No Man’s Land this is the most unlikely Christmas track but I have to include it if only to being it and the project of Women’s stories on the record it comes from to you attention. A wonderful project with an excellent accompanying podcast that lets you get more from the music.

It helps that said graveyard is a short walk from my office on the South Bank. Not that I’ve been there much this year…

Santa Baby – Wolf Alice

Santa Baby is usually a purely materialistic number wrapped in the thick plastic veneer of pop and not so ironic shopping obsession. It still is here of course, it is a Santa wish list wrapped up in seduction of course but somehow it becomes infinitely more enjoyable through the sultry stylings of Ellie from Wolf Alice.

Santa Baby, can we have a new Wolf Alice album next year please?

Christmas Song – Phoebe Bridgers

1,2,3,4,5… SONG 6!? He really is knackered. Yes, yes, format is format but it’s Christmas and it doesn’t look like that Faithless track is getting re-released so this rounds up the Arch-5 to a round 5-multiple. This is a brand new track from the EP mentioned last week from Phoebe Bridgers. 4 fantastic Christmas songs including originals and covers. This original track captures the sleepy, dark, warm feeling of Christmas in the way only Phoebe can capture this year. Let’s see how it ages through this season and the next.

Whatever the festive period holds for you I wish you peace and happiness throughout. If you have read any of these weekly editions this year, from the bottom of heart, thank you! Thank you so much for paying attention for listening and commenting. Every interaction means the world to me and even if you didn’t let me know, if you found a new favourite song through this effort, that makes my year and makes it all worth it.

I’m looking forward to another year of musical discovery in 2021 and I hope you choose to join me for the ride.

Have a fantastic festive celebration, whichever you observe or however you choose to relax and celebrate. It’s been a long tough year. Treat yourself but stay safe and I look forward to sharing music with you in the new year.