Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Very Hoxton Christmas

I don't often (ever) review albums, because music is a very personal subject matter to a lot of people. It isn't like movies, books, games, or food where I can tell you objectively that your taste is horrible and you should crawl under a rock until you learn how to enjoy the correct things (you terrible human being).

This is a review of a much more light-hearted album, involving Christmas Music, so don't expect any earth shattering insights. I've always enjoyed Christmas music, and have never really been inclined to listen to any new arrangements or songs (with the exception of Chris Cornell's rendition of Ave Maria) since those glorious days of Perry Como, where the songs would either make you very sentimental when around close friends and family, or make you want to drink yourself into oblivion if you found yourself alone for the holidays.

Last week, I picked up the Payday 2: A Merry Payday Christmas Album on a lark. It was/is 99 cents (USD), and comes with three extra copies to give to friends who already have the Payday 2 game.

New Christmas music? Inspired by a computer/video game? How on earth could this possibly be good, and had I taken leave of my senses?

The answers are 1) Yes 2)Yes and 3) Evidently no more than I already have.

The album itself is split between songs and their respective instrumental versions (composed and arranged brilliantly by artist Simon Viklund), with a nice intro by the character Hoxton, from the original Payday: The Heist game. Long-time players will note that the original Hoxton was an abrasive British fellow who was replaced in the sequel by an American guy who is using the same name and voice acting that falls a bit short of what people loved about old Hoxton.

Pete Gold, who plays the voice of Hoxton, is an accomplished singer, writer, and stand-up comedian. On this album, Pete channels some old-school punk inspirations for some truly entertaining songs - from A Heist Not Attempted Before, which (intended or not) has shades of The Waterboys; to I've Been A Bad Boy, which sounds like an out-of-studio Pogues or Kinks song; and even If It Has To Be Christmas, which is very reminiscent of Billy Bragg's Waiting For The Great Leap Forward.

All in all, Payday 2: A Merry Payday Christmas is a very entertaining album. Yes, there are a LOT of nods to the game itself on the other tracks, but Pete Gold as Hoxton is in full form - witty, yet knowing when to interject low-brow humor, and singing with a voice that combines the melodic with that punk sneer which makes for a great vocal combination.

Now, if we could only convince OVERKILL to let him record lines for the game, or develop a breakout heist to get ol' Hoxton out of the slammer and back into the game itself.

If you haven't picked it up, and want a good amount of entertainment without a heavy investment (99 cents - don't be stingy), pick up the soundtrack via Steam - and check out Pete's other stuff on iTunes while you're at it!


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