Various artists: Happy Christmas, Vol. 3
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The OC Supertones — "Heaven's Got a Baby"
Remember when I said, back in Happy Christmas 1
that I hated Sarah Masen's performance, but thought the song itself was good? This is what I was talking about. The 'Tones go acoustic rock instead of their usual ska for some unfathomable reason, but it's catchy. And Matt Moringsky's voice isn't that good, but it doesn't make me scramble for the skip button like Sarah Masen's did, so all in all I think this is a step up.
Relient K — "Santa Claus is Thumbing to Town"
Yes. Relient K, this
is how you do pop-punk. If you guys could consistently play fast, catchy stuff like this
, rather than the watered-down crap on your normal albums, I would actually listen to you.
Cadet — "The First Noel"
Listen to that flute/synth/synth-flute/whatever solo after the first chorus. It sounds remarkably half-hearted. I think it's very indicative of the entire song, and possibly Cadet's entire career.
Bleach — "What We Call Christmas"
I know this is a song about
Christmas, but it doesn't really sound the slightest bit like
Christmas. It's still a good song.
Earthsuit — "Wonderful Christmas Time"
I said this in another thread (but that hasn't stopped me from shamelessly plagiarizing myself in the past, so I see no reason to stop now) that it sounds like Earthsuit heard the original version by Paul McCartney and decided that it wasn't techno enough. But at least they had the sense to vocoder-ize the vocals so that aspect wouldn't be compared to Paul.
Kidding aside, I do like this song
Kendall Payne — "O Come O Come Emmanuel"
Rather ominous production on this song. Some deep synths and dulcimer add up to something that sounds very dark and empty. Considering the lyrics, ominous is a very good fit.
Hangnail — "Do You Hear What I Hear"
Yes again. These guys managed to take one of the worst Christmas songs and make is not just listenable, but really darn good.
Poor Old Lu — "What Child is This?"
Poor Old Lu are classics of the 90's alternative Christian scene, but this particular track was recorded just prior to their 2001 reunion album.
The more cover versions of this song I hear, the more I'm convinced that the standard, sappy approach just doesn't cut it. The lyrics are about the dawning realization that a frail, crying, pooping-his-pants baby is also somehow God, who's going to save all of us. This is potentially paradigm-shattering stuff. This song should convey a mood of holy terror, not "Aww, what a cute kid".
So, I think this is pretty good, but I think Poor Old Lu's musical approach would have fit better with some other song, rather than this one.
Joy Electric — "Mrs. Santa Claus"
Warning! Ear worm approaching!
Denison Witmer — "A Christmas Song"
I knew that my taste in music and overall outlook on life had changed in a fundamental way when, some years after first getting this album, I listened to this song again and not only enjoyed it, but actually thought it was uplifiting (and not a mopey ball of depression, per my initial impression).
Ace Troubleshooter — "Have It All"
What is this track doing on here? How
is this a Christmas song? It doesn't sound like Christmas, and I have to squint at the lyrics to figure out how they relate. Maybe this is actually a b-side from Ace Troubleshooter's album. Oh wait, they say "tis the season" in one of the verses that doesn't count you slackers
Starflyer 59 — "I'll Be Home for Christmas"
I love Sf59, but this is the weakest of their Christmas offerings. It's still supergreat, but not as supergreat as the rest.
Aaron Sprinkle — "A Christmas Song for All Year Round"
Ah, yes, the one thing our Christmas music was lacking: annoyingly preachy stuff. It's not like there's any shortage of hymns about the True Meaning Of Christmas; do we really need a song about hoping everyone else gets what Christmas is all about? The hymns generally have better lyrics, too.
Skyline Drive — "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
Yeah! Melancholic Fender rock is a great fit for this song.
I've never been able to find anything else this band did, which is a pity. There's a band on iTunes called The
Skyline Drive, but they really don't sound like the same band.
Matt Thiessen and the Earthquakes — "I Hate Christmas Parties"
Oh, look at that kooky title, this will be a fun song, right? WRONG
Yes, this is Matt Thiessen of Relient K. And it's a pretty good song. And it's part of the reason why I dislike Relient K so much: Matt T has proven that he's capable of writing fun punk songs (see "Santa Claus is Thumbin' to Town", above) and that he's capable of writing good pop songs (this one right here), yet on the albums he persists in writing pop-punk that somehow manages to be less interesting than either of its constituents.
And on that note, the album ends. Someone at Tooth & Nail Records hates us, and they somehow got put in charge of the song order for this compilation.
If you only listen to one track, listen to:
That Skyline Drive song.