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Holy Holly! Actually Good Christmas CDs

The onslaught of mass-marketed holiday drivel cast upon music consumers is usually enough to make even Santa jaded. It seems everyone and anyone gets to throw together a collection of those old Christmas chestnuts. Beating “The Little Drummer Boy” into all sorts of ugly guises seems to have become a holiday tradition. But wait! Out of unlikely places comes some unexpected Yuletide cheer.

Holiday Hell Yeah! from Hawaiian ska rockers Go Jimmy Go is exactly the kind of irreverent smack in the chops that seasonal music calls for. Ballsy originals like “Holiday Movie Marathon” hang out alongside bluesy standards like “Merry Christmas, Baby” to create a blissful cause and cure for holiday hangovers.

More traditional but equally affecting are two releases with a Latin flair. Joy to the World from Columbian string-bender Juan Carlos Quintero and Guitarras de Navidad from Mexican-American flamenco master Luis Villegas might lean a bit in the overly tasteful, NPR direction, but the amazing dexterity of both guitarists should liven up any family get-together.

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Carola is the Madonna of Scandinavia and her collection of Christmas fair, I Denna Natt Blir Varlden Ny, sung primarily in her native Swedish, is cool and endearing despite any language barrier. Check out the identifiable opener “Stilla Natt” for some honest holiday sentiment in these times of rampant consumerism.

From the other side of reality comes A Twismas Story from country dinosaur Conway Twitty. He narrates and duets with something called Twitty Bird, a cartoon voiced creature from the depths of Wal-mart hell. Nineteen chestnuts are roasted and burnt beyond recognition in what could only be marketed to folks in trailer parks in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Stick with the exotic this year and you will find some Christmas tunes worth celebrating, music of inspiration instead of music inspired by the bottom line. -- Darryl Smyers

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

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