V/A | These Silent Nights (Patriarch Recordings)

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cd_these-silent-nights.gifWith addictive guitar lines and delicious male/female vocals, Diet Kong's "Stocking Stuffers" is one you won't soon get out of your head.

OK, I'll admit it: I'm one of those indie snobs. I seek out the new, the unknown, the undersung, and I give it a voice. Something that's well known—or, dare I say, popular—generally doesn't make my playlist. It doesn't need me. It's not indie enough.

Two areas where I let my guard down are Christmas movies and Christmas music. Admittedly, I have to change the station anytime Alvin & the Chipmunks come on, but beyond that my tolerance is pretty great. A new CD of unknown artists singing unknown holiday songs? I'm there! And even better...who are these artists?

Kristin Price kicks things off with the sultry, R&B-tinged "Christmas in Brooklyn," and reappears later with the '50s-soul-vibe-mixed-with-girlie-bubblegum-pop of "Today's the Day." (If you're wondering if I skipped this one, you're right; I know it's Christmas music but a girl's got to have some standards.)

The synth-driven, singalong-ready indie rockness of "Angels Above Me" by Wake Up Slow gives way to the band's subsequent offering, "Birds of December." Of the two, "Birds" is the definite winner: it's fast-paced and fun, with an Eels vibe running through it; its repetitious "Hallelujah" chorus at the end is infectious.

Bastardizing and sprinkling in bits of classic Christmas songs is Generation of Light's "Silent Night Is Falling." It's a fluff piece, lots of programming, but it's Christmas music; it's not supposed to expand your palate. Their second serving, "Winter Wondering," is diametrically opposite. You'll definitely want to plug your headphones into this song and its seamy, dance-floor sound.

Diet Kong is easily my favorite contributor here. With understated Bright Eyes-ish vocals and pleasing indie rock instrumentation, "People," the first of their two offerings, is good enough to make it onto Laura's Christmas Mix 2009...then their later track, "Stocking Stuffers," manages to top it. With addictive guitar lines and delicious male/female vocals, this is one you won't soon get out of your head—nor will you want to.

If you're a fan of the generic male singer-songwriter genre, then Lucas Michaelson and his "Northern Lights" is for you. Not Real Nerds close things out with "Hey Santa," a light-hearted romp with chilled-out vocals and a playful yet mellow indie rock vibe. It's a fitting finish for this disc of mostly good songs, with a couple of great ones making it well worth your holiday dollar.

It's Christmas time. You're going to get gifts you don't want from people you don't like; shouldn't you have a soundtrack for it all? Feliz navidad, y'all. B | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Do you have a heart? Come on, people; it's Christmas music!

 

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