A Near Thing -1 & done

Did i save the best proximal Xmas songs for last? You be the supreme justice!

Garage angst makes a smirkery of the season when King Lazy Bones waxes punketical about what it means when “Christmas is Just Around the Corner.” Check yourself, consumer.

The message-laden pontification of “It’s Almost Christmas” by Neil Werden is betrayed by the fluffy folk timpani and fun of the delivery. Wee hah, knee slapped! He feels bad! Haha haha ha.

Leave it to those wacky Canadians to open my eyes to the real meaning of irony. “Christmas is Almost Here” is a schoolyard chant by Arrogant Worms, wherein the agony and screaming is offset by the fancy fiddling and increasing tempo. A whirling dervish of delightful suffering.

A Near Thing -2

Oh. Christmas. Soon. Ho hum.

Diederick Van Eck strums a cowboy guitar for “Almost Christmas,” but his sauntering through the kids’ happy cries really brings down the joy. (He even says, ‘Hey, don’t shout.’) Quite matter of fact, but not in a hip way.

Strumming out some Devo-folk Black Cherry monotones “Christmas is Almost Here” so you’ll have to dig the meaning out of this druidic chant yourself.

Living room becomes coffee house for Cassidy Brennan, whose folk musings play low key in her “Almost Christmas.” Pretty vocals. Woeful tone.

Almost amateurishly recorded, Johnny Bennett layers in some blues lament with the folk to dampen the dark “Christmas Time is Almost Here.” Dread it.

The Automatics get more pop lively with “It’s Almost Christmas Day.” But the punk overtones and interweaving imagery make me lose the traditional wonder and stare at my navel. Good, if inappropriate.

A Near Thing -3

Comedy time! Just before Christmas!

Comedy novelty songs aren’t a shoe in. Banks Family may have watched too much ‘Nutty Professor’ before trying their hand at “When It’s Almost Christmas.” Sprightly pop, risible humor.

Also wearing many hats Jackie Loeb does the brassy broad comedy, but “I Know It’s Almost Christmas” has more cutting cultural commentary–so more larfs. I guess.

A Near Thing -4

Sometimes a hidden agenda, an urgent message worms its way into the excitement of Christmas’s border.

Entaune play it straight with a soaring, spiritual celebration of the bric-a-brac of the holiday’s imminence. Then: help the homeless! Outta nowhere! Bait and switch! “Almost Christmas Eve” survives its pop platitudes nonetheless.

Frearson pulls a 90 degree turn within “I Can’t Believe It’s Nearly Christmas” to admit failure at dieting, family planning, ambition, and general self actualization. Dude, take a breath. Slow pop. Mad fun.

A Near Thing -5

The closer Christmas gets, the further happiness happens. For some, the overshadowing omnipresence is a ruddy reminder of regret. Bummer.

The Twang slow rock a drinking song “On the 24th.” He loves her, he’s trying to forget her, there’s the tavern…. (I need a hug.)

Carla Hartsfield gets metaphorical with skates and wings and dogs but her “Almost Christmas” is despondent impatience waiting for him. Tinkly woman folk. Maybe my y-chromosome excludes my appreciation….

Droesem garage symphonies about the aftermath of domestic conflict. “Almost Christmas Time” sounds bleak as it is. I don’t think he’s going to make it….

Raggs Gustaffe (feat. Panama Scarrett) lays a Carrib dirge of dire proportions with “Christmas Just Around the Corner.” Now it’s scary.

A Near Thing -6

I honestly shouldn’t pop this can of worms, but i have a special circle of halo reserved for the truly awful. Whether intentionally wisecracking or unenlightened and untalented, bad singers give me pause–like that first sip of seasonal nog. You shouldn’t like it….

Having consumed too much Fred Figglehorn, Mr. Crainer hyper-raps imbecilically “Merry Almost Christmas.” It’s all in fun. Are you having fun?

I pair that with the intentional atonal chaos from BERU “Almost Christmas.” Garage punk thinks it can do whatever it wants, because–I guess–that’s what defines it.

On the other stump, the amateur Sweet Sisters are just kids corralled into a synth-storm of recording “It’s Nearly Christmas.” Keep this for THEIR grandkids to hear later. I mean keep it, don’t share it.

Oldsters also need stricter parenting: piano impresario Malcolm Simpson hatchets open the jazz-rumpus “Christmas is Just Around the Corner.” Look away.

Dai [day] is a rambling randomizer, but he’s no rambler. “Almost Christmas” might tempt you into the it’s-so-bad-it’s-good territory. Recalibrate.

A song can show promise yet be marred by technical cruddiness. Veghalen posts a family Christmas song “Christmas is Coming” with wit and warmth. But the sudden religious pitch near the end makes this messier than it oughterbe.

A Near Thing -7

Riffling through my rolodex of musical genres i come across hymnal. Well, perhaps a bit more golspel-ish, these songs herald in the Advent of Xmas.

Sounds honkytonk rather than church, but Wild Bunch lays a gospel vibe on their odd “Almost Christmas,” a smoky, sultry psalmody. (Just had an Ally MacBeal flashback.)

Piano banging out the sins, raising voices to the rafters, nearly harmonizing, Michael Mills leads the group with a rousing “It’s Almost Christmas.” Can i get an exclamation point?

Just as disjointed, Stan Davis & Friends clomp into rock riffing “It’s Nearly Christmas Night.” The chorale is moral, oral, floral. I have no quarrel with it.

A Near Thing -8

Are you clued-in to check the beat? These swingin’ verses are straight from the ‘fridge, daddy-o. And they also pertain to the neighborhood of Christmastide.

If you try too hard, swingin’ cool gets loud and loungey and–gasp–showtune-like. Hence David Tobin’s “Almost Time for Christmas Day.” He’s one Hep C cat.

Marrying gospel and John Prine, John Field is his own man with “Nearly Christmas.” A bit loud, but my head’s a-noddin’.

Billie and The Haint plug in garage nonchalance with “Almost Christmas.” It’s a beatnik banger, a hippie howler, a millennial meltdown.

Actual big band swing is still a genre of historical note, so let’s apply ourselves to the sweet girl gang The Morning Report in their “Christmas is Just Around the Corner.” Wartime was warm times way back then.

A jugband ragtime lassez-faire meandering, “It’s Almost Christmas” ups the ante of local in-the-know dead on time. Hats off (then back on, ‘cuz its Chicago winter!)!

A Near Thing -9

The music I can ONLY swallow ironically is lounge swing pop. Surely it is never intended to be taken on face value….

Well Paul Rolnick is batting for the cheap seats with the ploncky “It’ll be Christmas Before You Know It.” IS he rolling his eyes? Naw, he’s icky earnest. Ew. (Billy Stritch might be pulling our leg with his silky version.)

Leaning into the curves (wait for it…) Joe Escobar sets up and eases into “Christmas Time’s Around the Corner” with such panache he didn’t even spill his martini. Smooth (except for that unnecessary brass.)

Piano jazz bar and a nod to Frank make Tom Deger & DarkHorse a nose ahead with their “It’s Almost Christmas Time.” Playful country electric and a drugged-out swirling helps.

A Near Thing -10

Here’s a fun twist on edging in towards Christmas: the countdown. Not twelve days of showing off. The thing like I’m doing on my titlings, you know ten… nine… three… etc.

It can be done horridly, like with this English Christmas Chorale’s “Countdown to Christmas.” Suitable for parents above the age of fifty sung by their grandkids. Just another easy listening casualty.

It can be done mindlessly, like Gia Farrell’s “Christmas Everyday,” a pop attack that lists the day of the week that could be Christmas. Hoo boy.

Oscar the Grouch reprises his big hit ‘I Hate Christmas’ with the duet “Countdown Christmas.” It’s Street, with Stiller the Elf. (Gots the soft spot for the Street.)

Connor Ratliff ticks off the months in “Christmas is the Best.” His growly folk pop is acid, though. Maybe he doesn’t mean best like you and me do.

The best on topic (via wordplay) is clearly Lee Harris swinging the pop of “Christmas is Counting on Me.” Stinks of top 40, and yet i am moved. Sue me.