Ready for some City Different sounds that burn hotter than a farolito? ‘Tis the season of joy, celebration and the unavoidable collection of carols, on repeat, again and again. ‘Tis also the season for musicians searching for their relevancy by making a Christmas album.
Working their magic on the timeless songs we know and love, these compilations creep up on you like your mistletoe-toting creepy uncle and become the soundtrack to our December, because let's be honest: "Going Christmas," is what "going country," used to be for artists. Ye-fa-la-la-la-la!
Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks: Crazy for Christmas
Hicks, in the sea of Mason jar coffeedrinking folk-rock/hipster pop clusterfuck, is an original. Rocking classic, much like a fine Norman Rockwell, Hicks does Christmas like a true American. Harmonica. Twang. Banjo, and damn fine swangin' tunes that swing, making Crazy for Christmas an insta-classic. Think of Hicks' take on Christmas as the aural equivalent of spiked eggnog: even when it's bad, it's still good. Even when Hicks rhymes "cool" with "yule" and throws in a kazoo, it's still classic. Even when Hicks slips into drunk grandpa vocals with a slightly slurring "These Christmas Blues" it's still charmingly heartwarming. Tune into a unique "Carol of the Bells," that (warning) kicks off with an Alvin & the Chipmunks rhapsody then builds into a surprisingly smoldering cover. Kooky versions and all, thankfully no Destiny's Child "8 Days of Christmas" blasphemy is within earshot.
The BoomRoots Collective: Ceremony Sessions
"This is for the people knee-deep in the struggle…this dub's for you." In the spirit of good tidings, The BoomRoots Collective brings jah warm vibes with this tropical album that sort of sounds like if The Beach Boys smoked a blunt, went to Barbados and made an album of rap battles. Bringing straight "New- Mexiflow," the album makes me wish I was somewhere warm, sitting under a palm tree, preferably, so a coconut could fall on my head and put me out of my misery. Described as "Jamaican funk with New Mexican Soul," think of the album as the pico de gallo of reggae; a fresh blend of dub that keeps it basic. It's not that the album's that bad, it's just that when spicy tracks like "Weed Fi Smoke Up," come on, the band shows their dank ability to shine—and makes one wonder why the other tracks are hiding in the shade.
Willie Nelson: The Classic Christmas Album
Holy Willie! Before you have an immaculate conception out of excitement, sorry Santa Fe, Nelson is not coming to town. But, if you're not blowing up your speakers big Willie style this season, you're doing it wrong. How much of a classic is this? SFR editor and known yuletide audiophile Julie Ann Grimm calls this "the BEST Christmas album EVER!" (Caps and all). The Classic Christmas Album is, in fact, so classic, even Gene Autry joins the party on the 16-song collection chock full of Nelson's seasonal greetings. Covering baby Jesus jams with warm guitars and rollicking melody like no other wo/man can, from "White Christmas" to personal favorite, "Silent Night, Holy Night" Nelson burns away the chill of winter like the a braids-clad luminaria.