Wendyhouse, Madonna

Wendyhouse
The Wendyhouse Christmas Album
Wiggley Tapes

Wellington’s well loved and best known DIY rockers EE Monk and Mr Pudding return with a compilation of Christmas songs (also a compact disc submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for Pudding’s MFA). As you’d expect, theirs is an ‘underground’ perspective on Xmas, a warm-hearted and often funny critique of hollow materialism and social/familial obligation. The order of the day here is satire, not syrup.

Opener ‘Santa’s Lament’ is very Tom Waits, a gravely, guttural story of an ‘existential crisis/ for the big man in red.’ ‘Teddy’s Anger’ tells the story of an unwanted toy, discarded after 42 seconds of attention and now waiting to be taken to the Sallie’s Army. On the stand-up comic ‘Xenical Xmas’, Santa is recast as an overweight, over-stressed, hard drinkin’, negative role model for the kids.

There are no carols here, at least not traditional ones. Perhaps in a generation or two groups of bright eyed kids will serenade their unsuspecting neighbourhood with ‘Christmas is for Losers’: ‘Jesus loves a loser/Jesus loves a zero/Jesus it’s his birthday/Jesus time of the year-o/Come have a slice of Jesus Christ’. This is one Christmas album which will not be piped into a mall near you any time soon.

Madonna
Confessions on a Dance Floor
Warner Bros
4/5

Madge returns to her early eighties disco roots on her fourteenth album. ‘Confessions…’ is packed with mid-tempo housey numbers, which could just as easily grace the club floor as the living room. Accordingly, the tracks are segued into one another, and mirror balls and sparkly high heels grace the cover art. The bulk of the album is produced by Thin White Duke, who tweaks the synths, vocoders, and filters for maximum glam retro effect. Much of the album is reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder circa 1980, which is no bad thing. Sure, there’s a little filler here, but single ‘Hung up’ and the electroclashy ‘Forbidden Love’ are highlights.

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