MY INSPIRATION: Ghost//Signals – Avoid Shit Parties (Just Having A Quiet One This Year) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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For the past two December’s, my band Ghost//Signals have held an all day event named ‘avoid shit xmas parties’ (a play on our song ‘start families:avoid shit parties’, whereby we ask some of the best acts in the region to come and play, whilst keeping entry ‘pay as you feel’ on the door with all profits going to charity. We’re proud to have had bands on the bill such as Mouses, Picnic, Casual Threats, The Noise and The Naive, bigfatbig, Deep.Sleep, Club Paradise, Holly Rees, St Buryan, Jenny Lascelles and tons more. Both events were successful with advance tickets generally being all snapped up in a day. This year we did have plans to take it up a notch – holding regional events in Sunderland, Newcastle and Teesside in bigger/grander venues. Alas lockdown happened. 

Dale Glenister, who runs online mag Peanut Mixtape suggested instead we make a compilation CD of bands we like performing Christmas tunes (either covers or originals), with profits still being donated to charity, so Avoid Shit Parties (Just Having A Quiet One This Year) was born. This year’s beneficiary will be Crisis Newcastle.

It was a bit of a rush job in the end, but I’m proud as to how it turned out; it’s got a proper Christmas feel to it. We’ve kept the CDs available limited to 35 – and at the time of writing, there’s only 4 remaining (we will supply digital tracks if anyone wants to donate – get in touch via Facebook).

Here’s the tracklisting for the release, and some of our thoughts about why we decided to include them…

Ice Road Trucker aka Eddie Scott (Picnic) – Thank Fuck it’s Christmas
Eddie wrote and recorded this in a day, and I love it. A deliberately minimalist arrangement to suit the vibe of the song. The lyrics are very pertinent to 2020 I feel, and hides a serious message in a song which appears humorous on the surface. That’s the mood we’re going for (see more on that later) and was the perfect opening track for me.

Holly Rees – Last Christmas 
Holly has took a classic and made it her own; the Wham 80s-style synths and drum machines replaced by lo-fi/analog instrumentation, enhancing the song’s seasonal charm. This is Holly’s craft and if you enjoy it, I encourage you to check out her original work. It’s criminal to me that anyone with a song named Toast isn’t headlining arenas.

The Noise and the Naive – The Noise, the Naive and the Nativity 
Both Anne and Pauline will forever be North East Scene legends and rightly so. We were privileged to have them play the last two events, and in a bittersweet way it’s great that we can still get them involved in this all the way from Canada.  

Faithful Johannes – It’s Okay To Be Alone (This Christmas) 
I’m a little bit guilty of only involving artists I’ve crossed paths with previously in this endeavour (and who have played previous events). Every so often though the scene aligns its appreciation of one artist/band, and Faithful Johannes certainly seemed to be that guy in 2020, so I thought I’d just ask him for a track! Thankfully he was receptive. Hope we can gig together in real life soon. 

bigfatbig – Distant Christmas 
Good mates and a very talented band. They had so many opportunities lined up this year – 2020 has been very cruel, but their take on things has remained really positive. This cover of Zuzu’s Distant Christmas is superb and again a very appropriate offering in the current climate. 

Club Paradise – Feliz Navidad 
Their singer ‘Young El Paso’ has been itching for years to throw his vocal abilities at this song, and guitarist Jackson Jeffrey Jackson has done a fine job of producing and mixing this track. 

Meghann Clancy – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 
Meghann is one of the best vocalists I know. A little known fact is that Meg and I were in a band called Anecdotes circa 2011. She (probably quite sensibly) left that band and went onto to become a much respected solo artist in the region. She’s been a bit on the quiet side recently in terms of solo output, but I’m dead chuffed she could turn round this cover for us in such a short turnaround. Thanks Meg! 

Deep.Sleep – Stay Another Day 
Dan Frend has one of the most distinctive voices in the region in my opinion – you hear a track on the radio, you know it’s Deep.Sleep, and it lends itself well to this brilliant cover of East 17’s Stay Another Day, which Deep.Sleep gradually make their own by the last chorus. I wouldn’t put it past him owning a white puffa jacket either. 

Ghost//Signals – Christmas Time (When Is It Green Bin Day?) 
Voicenotes on phones are an amazing invention. I wrote this whilst walking back to a gig we had just played, after dropping off the gear, and there was a goth club night on after and I fancied a drink or two. It was the middle of July, whilst walking across the Redheugh bridge if I recall. So not sure where the Xmas vibes materialised, but there you have it. Whilst a large component of the song is humorous by nature, there’s a serious message in there about loneliness at Christmas. Love that I managed to reference the Gateshead streetlight 5G conspiracy theory though. 

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