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8 New Holiday Releases That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 10, 2014 05:04pm | Post a Comment

holiday releases that don't suck

Last year I made a list of 10 holiday albums that don’t suck. Well there’s a whole batch of new ones out now, so listen up!

Mark Kozelek Sings Christmas Carols

mark kozelek sings christmas carols lpIndie rock firebrand Mark Kozelek, who released one of the best albums of 2014 with his Sun Kil Moon release Benji, makes a perfect fit for these churchy holiday tunes, with his cozy, crackling voice and gentle acoustic fingerpicking. The song choices are obvious, yet Kozelek imbues them with such spare beauty that it’s impossible not to be touched by classics like “Away in a Manger.”

 

Seth MacFarlaneHoliday for Swing!

seth macfarlane holiday for swing lpWhat do you know? “Family Guy” and “American Dad” creator Seth MacFarlane ain’t a bad crooner. Actually I guess we all already knew that, since he sings regularly on “Family Guy” and released an album already, 2011’s Music Is Better Than Words, but it’s still remarkable to hear him play it straight, rein in the sarcasm and keep it classy—you keep waiting for him to drop an F-bomb or toilet joke, but he doesn’t. He works with a 52-piece orchestra here, singing only a couple of well-known classics like “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and picking a few lesser-known tunes from the ’50s and ’60s.Best are his duets with Norah Jones (“Little Jack Frost Get Lost”) and Sara Bareilles (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).

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10 Holiday Albums That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 12, 2013 10:38am | Post a Comment

10 Holiday Albums that don't suck

If you’re like me, most Christmas music makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a sharpened candy cane. Luckily, since everyone and their mother has attempted a holiday album (I mean, most of them are X-mas-centric), there are some gems in the mix.

 

The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album/Christmas With the Beach Boys

beach boys christmas albumThe Beach Boys and Christmas music go together like Christmas and getting drunk. It’s an obvious choice, sure, but this album also wins because of the originals, which they put just as much effort into as their regular classics. “The Man With All the Toys” kicks enough ass to be listened to all year round.

 

 

A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector

a christmas gift for you phil spector cd amoebaSome would say the greatest Christmas album of all time, featuring classic productions by Phil Spector, with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love and other Spector favorites. Every other version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sucks compared to this one.

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This Mistletoe Belt's For You: Christmas Rapping with the Yule Logs!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 10, 2010 10:00am | Post a Comment

yule logs band christmas hannukah holiday rock chico california reindeer

You don't have to love the holidays to love the Yule Logs, but for me it was love at first listen! Seeing them headline the annual "Christmas is the Best!" bonanza last year was an absolute blast and just thinking about their show coming up this Sunday at Amnesia in San Francisco (festivities begin with holiday crafting and shitty gift giving at 7pm, show at 9) has got me all worked up like a little insomniac on the night before Christmas --- baby, I can't wait! Making spirits bright since 2005, vocalist Marty Parker, bassist Kirt Lind, guitarist Maurice Spencer and drummer Jake Specher dole out hit after original hit of Christmas and Hannukah jams and spruced up traditional holiday classics with such contagious enthusiasm and flawless four-part harmonies that one cannot help but drink their kool-aid. With a good-time party sound that recalls British Invasion class, California surf-rock sass, pop savvy hooks and non-stop borscht belt humor the Yule Logs'll have your shoes off and your socks twistin' under your feet dancing their "Hannukah Mambo," fist-pumping to their "Runaround Rudolph" (featuring guest appearances by presidents William Howard Taft and Richard Nixon, along with Elvis "the King" Presley) and swooning for their rendition of Wham's "Last Christmas." Recently I rapped with the boys from Chico, California about their music, their muses and their state of holiday affairs, and their status as a "the world's premier Christmas and Hannukah rock 'n roll band;" here's what they had to say:

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The Feast of Stephen

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 26, 2008 11:30am | Post a Comment
giotto's St. Stephen Children on Boxing Day Wrenboys or Strawboys also known as mummers

Happy Holidays. Today's the big day -- that one day we eagerly await as soon as the Halloween decorations are taken down -- the Feast of Stephen or Boxing Day or Wren Day.


St. Stephen lived in the first century and was stoned to death c. 34 AD by a mob led by Paul (when he was still Saul). In Acts it says:

     Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of 
     blasphemy against Moses and against God." So they stirred up the people and the elders and the
     teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. For we have heard
     him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed
     down to us."

Since Stephen was the first martyr, he's referred to as a protomartyr which is a word we only get to use once a year.

"Good King Wenceslas" is the one, certified banger/club carol of St. Stephen's Day. The tune was originally written for the song, "Tempus Adest Floridum" ("It is time for flowering"), a 13th-century spring carol first published in 1582's Swede/Finn co-production, Piae Cantiones.