We're full-blown into December, which means the holiday season surrounds us. And good lord, there are a lot of holiday albums being released this year. Seems like everyone from Lady Gaga to My Morning Jacket have the tour bus television on the Yule Log channel.
Some, of course, are better than others. Steer clear of Beiber and Michael Buble's Christmas albums; go ahead and pick up the one from My Morning Jacket and, if you've got any money left over, the one from She & Him.
There are also some local acts getting in on the holiday action. Seryn is striking while the iron's hot after being named the seventh best new band of 2011 by Paste Magazine. Folk Angel is making money hand-over-fist with Comfort & Joy, which we'll have more on in next week's paper.
Consider this a close-to-definitive local holiday music guide, which continues on the next page.
Seryn - Seryn and Friends Christmas
Available at the album's website
Seryn is typically a pretty serious band, but on Seryn and Friends Christmas, they seem to be cutting loose. "Silver Bells" has a kitschy quality and "Joy to the World" showcases the band's harmonies and musicianship. The album also includes Doug Burr's somber take on "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," but the good times resume with Dalton Kane's "The Nicest Way to Tell A Girl You Love... (Santa Isn't Real)."
Vanessa Peters - The Christmas He Hoped For
Available at Vanessa Peters' Bandcamp page
It's warm and unoffensive. Isn't that a prerequisite for Christmas music? Vanessa Peters, along with a few friends, recorded a mix of covers (The Weepies' "All I Want," Charles Brown's "Please Come Home for Christmas"), along with some holiday classics that, aside from an added Americana touch, generally don't veer too far off the original road maps.
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Josh T. Pearson - Rough Trade Christmas Bonus
Available exclusively at Rough Trade Shops
Seems that Christmas time has taken some of the edge off for Josh T. Pearson. His solo debut earlier this year, Last of the Country Gentlemen, was a painful, sobering jaunt. This Christmas EP of religious holiday classics is equally haunting, but much more charming than Country Gentlemen. It was recorded in one take, so mistakes and swear words are all included.
Idol Records - Idol Christmas: An Idol Records Christmas Collection
Available at Idol Records
Idol Records has long been in the Christmas music game (is there such a thing?), releasing singles and compilations by its artists for over a decade. This year's effort is strong, thanks to contributions from Little Black Dress, Mon Julien, Calhoun and El Cento, who all pitch in with original Christmas songs. No throwaway covers here.
Kirtland Records - The Light Connected - A Holiday Music Compilation
Available at Kirtland Records
Kirtland Records' holiday compilation is a bit of a mish-mash. Some songs are old, some are new; some are covers and some are originals. The best track comes from the Nourallah Brothers, whose "Christmastime" should be included on all Christmas mixes into perpetuity.
Folk Angel - Comfort & Joy - Christmas Songs Vol. 3
Available on Folk Angel's website
Folk Angel takes their liberties with some traditional holiday tunes on Comfort & Joy, changing melodies, meters, and occasionally lyrics. The result, for the most part, is a warm selection of songs performed with charming folk instruments. The album intersperses upbeat tunes with the occasional hard-hitting religious theme. Overall, though, it's a good addition to holiday listening.