Various Artists

Stuck on a Cold Steel Pole

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Stuck on a Cold Steel Pole scores high points on artistic merit. Twenty tracks from Toronto's art-acoustic community make for uncentered, sometimes disturbing listening. A few haunting renditions of seasonal standards are interspersed between abstract, impressionistic, and street-wise realistic tracks that focus on the shadowy sides of Christmas and winter. The painful cover photo of a tongue literally frozen to a steel pole and the subtitle "A Collection of Songs About Winter and Some That Aren't" pretty well sums up the experience.