Tav Falco Tries on Christmas This Year

Those who know Tav Falco know for either Panther Burns’ blind-man-with-a-flare-gun approach to rockabilly and American roots music, or they know him as the tango guy. The latter is a trickier stance to get a grip on because his edge, if he has one, isn’t obvious. Maybe his tongue is every so delicately in his cheek, but he might really be serious too.

Sultans of String Premiere "Himalayan Sleigh Ride"

The Christmas music business doesn’t wait for Halloween, much less Thanksgiving. Gwen Stefani, Cheap Trick, Hanson, and Lindsey Stirling have already released their Christmas albums, Stirling’s including a guest spot from Trombone Shorty. It seems premature, but history shows that the right release can do more business in the last three months of the year than many do with much larger windows.

Venus and the Moon Scale Down John and Yoko

“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” has traditionally been one of the few holiday songs that gets love from people who otherwise have no use for Christmas songs. John Lennon’s name and voice help, as does Phil Spector’s wall-of-voices production, but its parenthetical assertion and lack of Christian piety—“Xmas” not “Christmas”—separate it from the songs written by the previous generation’s finest songwriters. It’s not sentimental, and it’s not hearkening back to some fondly remembered yesteryear.  

Tony Hadley's Very British Christmas

The voice of Christmas in England is Noddy Holder’s rascally rasp as much as it’s that of Bing or Peggy Lee. Holder fronts Slade, whose “Merry Christmas Everybody” along with Roy Wood and Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday” are the answers to Jeopardy! questions in America but the soundtrack to the holiday season in the UK.

Big Freedia Dreams of Santa, She & Him Replace Mariah, and R. Kelly Dreams of Mrs. Claus

Last week, we considered the place Christmas recordings occupy in the careers of artists, looking at new Christmas albums by Andra Day, Jon Batiste, Kacey Musgraves, Leslie Odom Jr., and Jordan Smith. Today, we pick up the spare with quick looks at a number of positive additions to the library of Christmas sounds. 

Not surprisingly, the most audacious new release comes from Big Freedia.

Merry Christmas from Big Freedia, Albert Ayler, Michael Angelakos and My Spilt Milk!

“Let’s get everyone super-fucking-Christmas-y,” Chris Hardwick said to start in interview with Zoe Deschanel and M. Ward of She & Him on “The Nerdist” podcast. They talk some about Christmas and play music from their Christmas Party album, but I’m not sure their conversation about the difference between Portland and Los Angeles gets me in the mood.

Christmas Vacation with Andra Day, Jon Batiste, and Kacey Musgraves

Historically, Christmas records served as a vacation from the artist’s career. Singers stopped building their images and presented themselves as people like you who love Christmas too. Married singers who portrayed themselves as ready for love suddenly sang the joys of domesticity, complete with kids. Rock ’n’ roll complicated that Christmas vacation because pop vocalists in the 1940s and '50s were hitmakers who reached a broad demographic.

Unseasonal Songs for an Unseasonal Christmas

Not only is New Orleans unlikely to see a white Christmas this year, but it's doubtful we'll see a cold one either. Most of the rest of the days before Christmas will be like today--lows in the 60s, highs in the 70s. Not quite shorts and flip-flops weather, but there's little call for chestnuts or anything else by an open fire.

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