Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sounds of the Season 2012

I have been awful at blogging this year, a side effect of a lot of travel and a busy life at home. I'm sure all six of you readers have been suffering in absence of material. :-)

Some posts write themselves, though. This is one.

In 2007, weary of the same holiday music being played every-freaking-where, I tossed together a few songs that made the holiday season a bit more listenable. With a nod to the irreverent, I strung together songs from The Dandy Warhols, Save Ferris, Blink-182 and more. Really, it was just a fun thing to have and share with a few friends. Since then, it's become something of an annual rite, though, I have to admit, there is a finite number of Christmas and Hanukkah songs by indie-type bands and a smaller number yet that I think people might want to hear more than once.

Still, that number included 11 for this year. I don't think this year's mix hits the lofty heights of last year's mix, but it's still a good set. As always, the songs listed below are all mostly all available from your digital music purveyor of choice.

1) Crocodiles & The Dum Dum Girls - "Merry Christmas, Baby (Please Don't Die)" - As far as I'm concerned, the Dum Dum Girls can do no wrong this year (a topic for the upcoming Best Albums of 2012 post). Everything I like about them is on display here with a nice bit of guitar fuzz and, let's face it, a simple request to a loved one: it'd be best if you were all alive and stuff this holiday.

2) Fountains of Wayne - "I Want an Alien for Christmas" - This is not a new song, but I had somehow never found it before this year. And the mix has never had a song asking Santa for an alien under the tree.

3) The Killers - "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball" - I love The Killers if only for putting out a Christmas song every year like this. It's no "Don't Shoot Me Santa," but this is still a pretty solid entry, discussing a holiday get-together in North Nevada where the Truckee's waters flow. My kind of party, maybe?

4) The LeeVees - "Gelt Melts" - The fact that I love Guster and Adam Gardner's rich voice is secondary to the fact that this band has an entire album of Hanukkah songs that are worth listening to, singlehandedly making sure the annual holiday mix is equal opportunity. This song discusses the milk chocolate that does melt in your hand.

5) CeeLo Green - "What Christmas Means to Me" - Again, thank you to good artists who are keeping my annual mix alive by putting out new material. Honestly, CeeLo could put out anything holiday-themed and it would make it. But this soulful song is the perfect kick in the middle of this year's mix.

6) Ludacris - "Ludacrismas" - I was giddy as a five-year-old child when I heard this song existed. It's no "Christmas in Harlem" and it would be better if Luda didn't feel the need to drop "Fred Claus" in between verses (this song came on that film's soundtrack). That said... "All I want for Christmas is two gold front teeth!" And it goes from there. Oh it does.

7) Erran Baron Cohen - "My Hanukkah (Keep the Fire Alive)" - We need more Jewish rappers. That is not a wish. It is an order. At least if this song is any indication. This song puts the swagger back in the Festival of Lights. Who knew a klezmer clarinet could show up in a rap song?

8) The Shins - "Wonderful Christmastime" - Made it seven songs before a cover. Not bad. And The Shins are solid. Nothing too fancy here, but a solid entry.

9) Daryl Hall & John Oates - "Jingle Bell Rock" - This song is really a shout out to my wife who has suddenly grown an affinity for H&O. Amazingly, this version of the song is actually pretty good.

10) Norah Jones - "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" - Kinda cool because this is really the perfect song for her and it showcases just about everything that she's good at. Though, after last year's Danger Mouse collab with Jack White, is it too much to ask Ms. Jones to record a Christmas Song with Jack White?

11) Barenaked Ladies - "Do the Know it's Christmas?" - An easy mix closer of a song we all know. I don't have their full holiday album, but shouldn't there be a Boxing Day song from these Canadians? That would be fairly automatic for the mix.

Happy listening and happy holidays, no matter how you celebrate!