Let’s review. Lord knows i don’t gots the time, but over the last twelve months i’ve listened to many a musical number. Here are some must-haves for your library.
JANUARY’s theme was crime.
Big Bang outta the “Payday 2: A Merry Payday Christmas” soundtrack. This is an actual musical cobbled up by those what worked on the Overkill video game sequel and robbin’ banks and whatnot with your joystick on your couch. British cracking wise and naughtiness that’s gee-dee fun. Get it.
The despicable villains who committed unlawful acts during the holidays caused songs that ranged from historical folk to deprived pop. Possibly the worst of the worst comes from Kunt and The Gang, a ne’erdowell UK set of low-class lads with songs to make you cringe. Including “Killed a Kid at Christmas.” He would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been–oh, he DID get away with it.
FEBRUARY’s motif was birthday. Apparently not only Jesus was born in December. And most of those others–looking at you, Shannon–are not happy about it. Sing out for empathy!
Let’s get funereal (for the fun of it) a la Fortress of Attitude and their chorale delight: “It Sucks to be Born on Christmas.” Feel the pain.
MARCH’s idea was cowboys. That’s a thing, right? Christmas cowboys?
You could do worse than Michael Martin Murphey, or Riders in the Sky (though i like what Gene Davenport does with this TV-show golly-gee cowpuncher approach). But allow me to push Nevada Slim & Cimmaron Sue. Effortless tee hee haw. And i don’t usually recommend an album what’s got traditional carols covered on it. So, that means it’s extra good.
The Heebee-jeebees thumb their kerchief covered noses at the cowboy concept with their “Cowboy Christmas.” Dumb dad jokes or brilliant kid music?! Hilarity ensues.
APRIL’s concern was coal. What’s this mineral got to do with the holiday?Tradition, folklore, quaint old-timey stories, blah blah blah, fa la la la la.
Hot Buttered Elves are a garage band of multitudinous genre-busting mirthiness. At times they just lay down jams (you might want to use to set behind your own novelty xmas songs). Their humor comes off as collegiate and in-the-know (Firesign Theatre schtick). Regardless, check out their albums: “Coal,” “2012: Planet X-mas,” “Hypothermia,” “A Very LoFi Christmas,” “Dark Jollies,” and “Unwrapped.” I’m serious.
Haschel Cedricson dusts legitimacy with authentic bluegrass folk and mournful croaking all over the bitch session “He’ll Bring You Coal.” Spoiler alert: West Virginia was the naughtiest.
MAY’s plan was nothing for Christmas. Worse than coal?! Well, rationalizations include Santa forgetting, or running out, or being dead. So, you know, could be worse.
This allowed me to meet Nick & Gabe, a couple chucklehead smartasses who may be the only ones who get their own humor. It’s a Nick & Gabe Christmas Party! should be playing at your holiday wingding regardless. Full disclosure: i laughed (not something i’m known for).
While Pony Death Ride’s “Nothing Beats Old People at Christmas” only barely syntactically adheres to our May way, it was still fun in a sortof mean sortof reverent way. Humor manages that when aptly managed.
JUNE’s point was NO Christmas. Bleak, no? Yet a springboard for some up-MY-alley bleak humor. (Oh, yeah, pathos too. Whatevs.)
Yulenog is the creation of Nathan Kuruna, who likes dreadful music and wants the world to know it. I’d avoid his first few albums (in which the joke is lack of talent), but Yulenog 9 and Yulenog 10 are all original romps through multiple genres of music, mostly sung on key–yet very witty. Acquire at will.
WTF (‘winter-time-fun’) is represented on our countdown by Moper, whose [BLUE ALERT] “Christmas is Cancelled” kicks the family gathering in the face when grandad does something unexpected. Experimental punk.
JULY’s symbol was bells. An opportunity for traditional carols. Sorry.
But i soon realized The Benefit & Chinese Firekites had the novelty albums i was looking for. Juchristmasly and How the Chinese Firekites Stole Christmas make bourgeoise humor seem easy. All the ready targets (the Taliban, teenage rebellion) as well as the cultural twists (what’s roast beast taste like? how’s ‘Christmas shoes’ appropriate for the holidays?) rock right off their drums. Ha ha ha. Get some.
Let’s jazz up the tone with some jump blues delivered with pizzazz by The Bandana Splits. “All the Bells” is the perky party processional we want to lift all the spirits. Garshk.
AUGUST’s image was a star, or two. Again, lots of molden golden oldies. And praiseworthy paeans. But not the Christmas 500 you only hear this time of year.
Albums i’ve discovered years before haunt me around this time of year, by not getting enough play. Steve Courtney has been a kidsong performer of award-winning merit for decades. (My knee just jerked: children’s music??!) Yet, his all original album Christmasteve has gotten several shoutouts on my diurnal demented dealings. Great kidsong is just great song. And this is it.
New England based mature angels, Sweet, Hot & Sassy take the old chestnut “Star of Wonder” and a cappella the bejesus out of it. Uplifting (and non-ironic) shivers result. Meditate, pray, or just transform to it.
SEPTEMBER’s thing was lights.
A longtime go-to in my musical-mischief library has been The Tarquin Records All Star Holiday Extravaganza, compilation of in-house artists for a record label. Like red wine blends, these hodgepodges can surprise with a superiority to single-artist albums. And Peter Katis’s stable of never-hear-ofs (The Zambonis, The Happiest Guys in the World, Swirlies) now include Death Cab for Cutie. I highly recommend every track here (including the Hallowe’en and Groundhog Day ones).
Emma Stone fronts SNL with one of their better pop music spooferies. “The Christmas Candle” touches upon the unfortunate gift exchange spontaneity that, it would seem, everyone has gone through. Soaring deadpan lyrics helps connect this tangent to Sept.’s theme.
OCTOBER’s surprise was the mall Santa. What began as bell-ringing begging accelerated to comical photo ops. Is the man behind the fake beard to be feared or set afire?
Improv Everywhere’s Musicals in Real Life flashmobs some unsuspecting mall to remind us “You’re Never Too Old to Sit on Santa.” It means more when there’s a visual aspect. Enjoy the show, four and a half minutes of worth it. (And the suspense of whether the mall Santa is in on it, or not.)
NOVEMBER’s number was the almost approach of Xmas. Starting in the fall, loads of fussing is made about Christmas Christmas don’t be late, or the like. Songs range from desperate to frantic.
Not a B’way babe, but i lean towards a faboo musical or two. (While tin of ear, this white boy still snagged an Honorable Mention for ‘King Herod’s Song’ at a regional high school Thespian convention 45 years ago.) ‘Christmas Ain’t a Drag‘ does not purport to anything but all original big band showstoppers each and every number… about Xmas. It’s all-inclusive, and recent too. Check it.
This month afforded many luscious holiday hoots, but i guess i’ll lean South of the border for Jack Terrell Clift’s soaring song of sorrow and redemption “It Being Nearly Christmas Time.” I can be serious, i can.
DECEMBER is all about waiting for Christmas. Like, that’s what you DO, man.
Since i’ve been finally peering into Bandcamp.com’s illustrious stable of independent musical artists, i’ve been able to increase my odd offerings multifold. So it swells me with pride to highly recommend Adventures 2010 from Emma and Charlie’s Radio Podcast. These eclectic eccentrics pop with creative/experimental numbers. Hard to categorize, and IT’S FREE TO DOWNLOAD THIS ALBUM. Love!
More strange, UK’s Boom Child gives the rando naughty take of “I Can’t Wait for Christmas,” a thoroughly entertaining yet Dylanesque garage childish tantrum. It’s another freakin’ FREE DOWNLOAD from Bandcamp.com.
Let’s not wait for another Christmas of such monumental merriment… let’s freeze time and forever be the now.