~-7I‘> Jules

As Cliff Richard once sang: ‘Christmas time/Mistletoe in brine/Children drinking fortified wine.‘ Sadly. his effort this year. ‘Santa’s List' (EMl )didn’t reach List HQ in time. but gets no stars anyway as a matter of principle. Bookies’ favourite for the Christmas number one, The Pop ldols' execrable version of ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)‘ (BMG ) didn't reach us either but it gets the same treatment for the same reason. We heard it on the radio and it's shite. And so to the meat of the Christmas pudding. So to speak. ‘Christmas Time’ (Must Destroy me ) by the unholy silliness that is The Darkness is a big shenanigan. all Queen riffs, sleigh bells and choirs, but only time will tell if it gets into the Slade Hall of Shame. The Buff Medways have the best title of the season. Unfortunately ‘Merry Christmas Fritz' (Damaged Goods m ) doesn't quite live up to its billing, although it‘s a reasonable slab of punky garage shrieking.

Blockhead’s ‘insomniac Olympics‘ (Ninja Tune 0” ) has about as much chance of hitting number one as your favourite Norwegian black metal outfit but Ninja's newest signing. if not exactly dazzling. still turn out a beatific DJ Shadow-esque cracker. Justin Robertson Presents Revtone (Bugged Out! 0”. ) has been out a while but is still worth acknowledging. Two chunks of formidable electronica with man of the moment Ulrich Shnauss on the remix duties.

Right. back to the Chrimbo madness. If we can give negative stars Billy Mack’s ‘Christmas is All Around’ (Island ) gets ‘em. It might be a joke from Love, Actually but some things just ain't funny, no matter how much festive spirit you've imbibed. Having said that, ‘80 Selecta’s Proper Chrimbo!’ (BMG 000 ) by Avid Merrion will make you laugh out loud. despite yourself. More power to his piss-taking elbow.

More seriously. Mew’s ‘She Came Home For Christmas' (Epic m ) is a whopping rowdy rock ballad that avoids schmaltz while Holly Golightly’s ‘Little Stars‘ (Damaged Goods “0 ) is a sweet wee thing, all glockenspiels and honey-soaked vocals.

To be honest. the thought of Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne destroying the Black Sabbath classic ‘Changes' (Sanctuary me ) gave me The Fear. But it turns out to be fucking brilliant. all understated heartache and genuinely moving vocals. Who‘d a thunk it? But Single of the Festive Season goes to Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules and their haunting. disturbing version of Tears for Fears' ‘Mad World’ (Sanctuary m) from the Donnie Darko soundtrack. It might not make the Christmas Number One but trust me. it’ll make the hairs on the back of yer neck go funny. Ho, ho. and indeed. ho. (Doug Johnston-)

126 THE LIST 1 1 Dec 2003—8 Jan 2004

recently? Maybe it's those clever ch-ch- changes that the Thin White Spider has been through in his 4000 years in the business that makes a bit of nip- and-tuck seem like a logical progression. He certainly looks as if he's been subjected to a couple more Gs than the rest of us though. Fortunately. this album doesn't require us to look at his new face but to contemplate an era in which Bowie himself. slawshly followmg critical fashion. slags off in interviews.

He's not to be trusted. ‘This is not America' is one of his greatest songs and Scumfrog's superb take on it is the only highlight among some frankly mediocre remixes of the 800's greatest work from the mid-80s (Tim Abrahams)


Alopecia (Hackpen) .00

J; I. .aIOpci‘la/fi a

Alopecia opens with the line ‘Shit. shit on the radio!‘ screamed over thrashy bass and drums. understandably generating the fear that this will be an entire album of bile-coated whining. With special appeal for the Chartreuse-happy kids in the black eye-shadow. Happily this opening rant actually gives way to a fairly eclectic melange. all the more surprising given the sparse vocals/bass/drums arrangement. Grant Sharkey's melancholic. angry lyrics occasionally verge on doggerel, but this is compensated for by standout tracks such as the moody 'The Bathysphere Song' and ‘Puzzles for Monkeys'. (Allan Radcliffe)



The Other Side Project Vol I

(Emoticon) 0000

Brighton artist Russ Gabriel has been crafting inspiring techno since the early 908. when he produced memorable cuts for seminal imprints such as Eindhoven's Djaxx-Up— Beats. London's Peace Frog and Glasgow's Soma and set up his own. more esoteric. Ferox label. Soulpting more exquisite jazz. funk and pure. soulful electronica from his machines. this atmospheric new album shows he has lost none of his immaculate production touch.

It's a quirky style and won't appeal to everyone. with live sax augmenting the strong jazz bent on a few tracks. but it's definitely his seiind and. at best. awesome. Nobody does it quite like Russ Gabriel. (Andrew Richardson)



(Uncle Junior's) 0000 ASHERU AND BLUE BLACK

48 Months

(7Heads) 000

95’ {7135’ THE

Two releases this month reveal the musical backbone of the innovative NY based collective 7heads. The first. a compilation reveals the distinctly non-bling musical

background of Djinji Brown. producer. DJ and son of jazz musician Marion Brown. Brown Jr may have engineered for Biggie Smalls but his selection of music preserves the expressive. self- confident traditions of afrobeat. jazz and rare groove for the hip hop generation: from the blaxpoitation shuffle of the Black Belt Jones theme to the swaggering, sexy street soul of Peven Everett. Less outstanding are the previously uncompiled highlights of fellow 7head collective members from the late 00s. Falling short of Soon Come from 2001. Blue Black and Asheru's album is a pleasantly laid back shuffle of a collection that makes you quietly yearn for the odd shotgun sample. (Tim Abrahams)


RED ADMIRAL There is a Clearing (Red Red) .00

Formed from the ashes of local noise peddlers Post Diluvran ibrothers Deug and Rob MacDonald were in the Steve Albini-affiliated outfit). Edinburgh's Red Admiral are the more mature follow-up outfit. Bassist Sarah Robertson rounds off the trio for what turns out to be a debut album of considerable poise and confidence.

Showrng a canny sense of when to turn up the volume and when to ease off the gas. there are enough angular. driVing rockers to ensure that the kids WI” be shaking their heads about down the front -- opener 'Raise the Red Flag' and ‘Cut to Fit' being two of the thrashiest. On the other hand. 'La Belle Femme Sans Merci' and ‘Reign Your Fire Down' are tenderly gloomy. meaning a well won Victory for the Admiral in this campaign.

(David Pollock)


Cool Yule

lInVisible Collage) COCO

Remember ‘.".’ll(}ll people cared about the singles chart. it snowed every December and Our Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth”? There are few things more retro than Christmas. and few sounds more suited to cheerful oxerindulgeiice than 00s lounge music. which means n're're best seeing this inspired collection of soul and easy listening as the continuation of a noble tradition. Lalo Schifrin has a serious go at ‘Joy to the World". the Rhodes Kids boogie their way through \"v’inter Wonderland and Leroy Holmes parbs his way through ‘Good King Wenceslas'. It’s kitsch. cliched and immensely. irresmtibiy jolly.

(James Smart)


Good Days (Carbon) 00..

It comes as some relief that there are people out there making music like this: warm textured. non~c|ub dance music that doesn't fall into the lllSOlltlllét(Itlfllltj chill out drop zone. The debut album from UK«based New Zealander Christopher Tubbs is largely inspired by early to mid—00s hip hop and. as such. it captures that edgy. spacious. stoned feeling.

It's not a hip hop record though: lubbs swuigs from soulful loveliness to broken beat -led excursions and early house trips. lady la's vocals on 'I feel' are sumptuoust understated. typical of the way the tracks get to breathe. Good Oats could be a real slow burner. (Kenny Hodgart)


OPTIMUS Optimus 2

(Ear) .0.

Waiting for Thunder (Far) 0..

Both these albums