A couple of days ago I received an email from Marc Burrows*, bassist of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Some of you may remember I feel in love with The Men's 2010 album Now That's What I Call Steampunk, Vol.1 last year, writing about them quite a bit and even interviewing Mr. Burrows on behalf of the band. Well, this new communique included information pertaining to a Christmas album Mr. Burrows recently recorded and released via his band camp site. Now you may be like me – Christmas albums normally make me cynical. When folks like that sting (watch me call sting a cunt here) or more recently, scott weiland put out xmas albums it usually just serves to underline the point that as rockers age (and perhaps more importantly as their audience ages) they look for ways to re-market themselves. Ways that undermine whatever credibility and greatness they once held and basically shunt them into the douche bag category. And that my friends is not something I'm ever interested in taking part in.
HOWEVER – and this is a big however – there is something to be said for the 'underground' and undermining approach to making a christmas album. Something that is at once funny and subversive, something that stands on its own as both a musical piece and a sharp and witty poke at the mores and traditions that bind folk to a special kind of insanity for the month/and a half leading up to December 25 every single year. And yes, as I had no doubt upon first reading that email, Mr. Burrows has indeed done just that.
The album is great because not only is it funny and cynical but it actually captures a air of what I held onto from this time of year while growing up and shedding the skin of my religious beliefs. It feels like winter. Burrows tells everyone right up front he played every instrument on the album and wrote every song (except for a solo version of 'Ebenezer's Carol' which some of you will have been listening to already this Christmas on your copy of TMTWNBBFN's Christmas e.p. from last year). What's more they're recorded 'in his bedroom' and it is in these fact right there that we get some of the most intimate, charming nuances of both Burrow's often Damon Albarn-esque voice and his ability to evoke soft, wintery tones from his acoustic guitar. Stand-outs here with the acoustic are 'Last Christmas I Gave You My Lungs' and 'Song For a Snow Day' which is beautifully punctuated with random snippets of news broadcasts concerning treacherous weather which help evoke the dour and fairly surreal feeling I remember as a kid listening to the radio for reports of school closings and general winter storm fallout.
But I do not wish to be misleading and create the impression that this is simply an acoustic offering. No siree bob! In fact, two other stand-outs here are the organ-accented and mostly bass-driven 'Hark! The Herald Angel's Thing' and the considerably more aggressive 'Felix Throws a Tantrum', which has a nice heavy verse section with distant, distorted vocals and a shimmering chorus that ties it together quite nicely.
Finally, Marc's email contained yet another brilliant little morsel I'm excited to pass on: New TMTWNBBFN's new album is due out in (probably) the first quarter of the new year! Awesome, eh?
Okay, so here's a proper link to hit Marc Burrow's bandcamp site where you can preview and purchase the album: http://twentiethcenturymarc.bandcamp.com/ go there, listen to the tracks and then pony up some cash, not only to support true independent music but because half of the proceeds are going to a damn good cause here: http://www.trinityhospice.org.uk/.
Thank You Marc Burrows and please, don't send me your lungs as a gift! (well... if you want to I suppose I could make use of them somehow... now where is that build your own monster blue print?
*Marc's personal page: http://www.marcburrows.co.uk/