Friday, December 04, 2015

Christmas Soundtrack 2015 -- Early Entrants

I've generally been in the habit of promoting new additions to our family's "Holiday Soundtrack" playlist. Last year seems to have been the exception -- sheer neglect on my part. I aim to rectify that oversight, so don your headphones, open a new tab to your streamer of choice, and let's get going.

The kids picked up on Pentatonix' That's Christmas To Me. It remains a favourite with the girls, while I'm a little lukewarm on the project. After all these years of driving from one family destination to another while listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber, High School Musical, then Glee soundtracks, anything that smacks of "It's a SHOW!" is a particularly hard sell for yours truly. But there's no denying this is an outfit with chops, energy and personality, and I do not begrudge the airtime they get in this house.

The stand-out addition to last year's playlist came via DarkoV -- Butch Thompson's Yulestride. Thompson infuses a sly New Orleans sensibility to seasonal standards, injecting pep and good humour without tipping the balance toward irreverence. I see he's got another seasonal CD, with Laura Sewell. I shall definitely take a closer look.

Standouts this year include Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings' It's A Holiday Soul Party. After all these years of artists bringing their own sleepy interpretations to the hipster playlist, it's a joy to hear Ms. Jones and the Kings blasting the cobwebs off the seasonal pantheon. Man, somebody needed to provide material for that hour in the Christmas party when the conversation and laughter reach peak decibels -- and this is definitely that material. I spoke earlier about "irreverence" -- not at all a negative, I should hasten to add. If you need persuading on that matter, go on and give "Big Bulbs" a spin.*

Charlie Hunter & Bobby Previte's We Two Kings took a second spin to work its magic. Initially the Dick Dale approach left me a touch cool -- it'd been done (by the Dutch!). But these two cats have a great deal more going on than surfer-variations. Stand-out tracks include "Deck The Halls" and "The First Noel." It's sassy stuff that plays well paired up with Bela Fleck's Jingle All The Way.

And finally, I was a big fan of Nick Lowe's Quality Street. If you weren't, the live performance of that album (The Quality Holiday Revue), accompanied by Los Straitjackets isn't going to change your mind. But do give "Linus & Lucy" a spin -- you may well want to throw that into your playlist punchbowl.

And by all means -- introduce me to some swell new stuff in the comments below, woncha please?

Misheard Lyric Of The Year: my elder daughter asks, while "Big Bulbs" plays, "Is she really singing, 'Flashing innuendo tonight'?" Ha ha -- no, honey. But she may as well be (it's "flashing in your window" fwiw).


DarkoV said...

Hey Darrell!
Great list. Unless you want lugrubious music in your winter abode, I'd stay away from Butch THompson's pairing with Laura Sewell. His touch is ridden over rough-shod by the quite heavy sadness of Sewell's sawing away at a cello. Listening to this album requires all sharp instruments to be put away and locked up.

I know you're a fan of Ceciel McLorin Salvant. Mack Avenue, her label, put out a collection of Mack Ave artists doing Christmas stuff. Worth the listen. (

Dave McKenna's solo jazz piano album has become one of my favorites. Sublime and caliming.

...and one more if I might...Another (?!!) collection of various jazz musicians with their own takes (including a selection from Charlie Hunter who you had mentioned with his duet issue this year).

Keep the lists coming, Darrell!

Darrell Reimer said...

"Lugubrious," eh? Yeah, I think I'll give that a pass. Plenty of that it the digital steamer trunk already, thank you.

Speaking of which, on the strength of their past two seasonal albums I went ahead and dropped some nickels on OTR's most recent. Playing all three in a row has an unintentionally comic effect, so we have removed the third from the playlist.

I shall definitely look into these other suggestions, though -- thank you.

DarkoV said...

Oofff!?!? That third OTR Seasonal Offering? What a truly disappointing effort from two incredibly talented musicians. "Snow Angels" is still far and away their best Christmas related album. The Ever-Loving Wife and I were thinking about seeing them this Dec in Philly..and opted out due to that third album. Another listen may be in order; harshness in December is a cruel cold wind blowing.

Darrell Reimer said...

Seems a shame to cancel concert plans, just 'cos the latest isn't in league with the greatest. Their Christmas concerts are generally well-regarded by a wide range of people. I'd be curious to see them. Not "drive to Philly" curious, but certainly "drive to TO" curious.

Cowtown Pattie said...


Whisky Prajer said...

CP! Howdy, stranger! Love Brian Setzer -- he's done this a bunch of times, and I was not aware of this most recent entrant. Very nice.