Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
Record Store Day (RSD) has become an audiophile’s Christmas since its inception in 2008, celebrating independently owned record stores with exclusive titles and limited-edition releases from everyone from The Beatles to Arcade Fire.
Yukon’s Fablecar seems to have emerged from whatever year the Pixies and U2 would have crossed paths with David Bowie. It’s a big, ambitious, self-titled debut, one that stands tall more often than falling flat. Even the missteps are forgivable, as it’s refreshing to hear a young band take a swing at something wholly original.
“Diamond Slice” sounds like a song that Pink Floyd would have written in 1999, had the band been recording then, thanks to a “Money”-inspired groove. The following anthem, “Threes,” hits more in line with Interpol — or, maybe more appropriately, Joy Division. With the ease that it’s executed, I can only imagine this is where Fablecar feels most natural (especially being that singer Mitch Elliott’s voice is a perfect blend of Bowie and Paul Banks).
Other moments play more modern rock than indie/alternative, namely “Trapdoor,” which is written and performed solidly enough to appeal to both camps … no easy feat for bands not named Blue October. This is also where Fablecar gets into stickier situations (“Twenties,” “The Sunday Before”), although the outfit lands more punches than not.
Fablecar doesn’t always seem to know what it wants to be, but with its influences so obviously scattered, the group does an admirable job of emerging with a sliver of its own identity that should only flesh out over time. With “Threes” being as excellent as it is, the path should be clear.
Fablecar is available now on iTunes or at fablecar.com. —Joshua Boydston