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Archive for the ‘Polyphonic Spree’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS TREE? (2003).

 I really didn’t like the second volume of this series.  But this third volume is back to form.  Nearly everything on this record is great.  There’s a few songs where they have chosen to take all of the joy out of the Christmas song.  This is a valid choice, sure, but it doesn’t work when a collection mixes it up with happy Christmas songs.

But by far, this album is far more positive than mopey.

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE-“Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
I don’t really like this song, but this version is fun.  I think the full choir overwhelms what i don’t like about the song.

THE RAVONETTES-“The Christmas Song”
I don’t really know The Ravonettes, but I love this version of this song  The whispered vocals, the plinky guitar, the general rocking shuffle–it’s all good to me.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE-“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
It would take a lot for Death Cab for Cutie to mess this up.  This is a terrific version of this song.

PEDRO THE LION-“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
This is a slow piano ballad.  I actually thought it might be Coldplay.  It’s too slow, especially given the other songs so far.

BELSANA-“Bittersweet Eve”
This is a catchy folk song although it leans towards the mopey in the vocal delivery.  And technically it’s about New Year’s Eve.

IVY-“Christmas Time is Here”
I love Ivy.  Her voice is so great in general.  This version of the song sounds really compressed, almost like a music box, which makes its sound even prettier.

ROYAL CROWN REVUE AND VICKY TAFOYA-“Baby It’s Cold Outside”
I don’t know if Royal Crown Revue is typically a retro sounding band, but man, this song is perfectly retro.  It sounds like it could have been recorded a long time ago, right down to the vocal styling.

TOM McRAE-“Wonderful Christmastime”
I don’t understand why you would take this song and make it a downbeat ballad.

PILATE-“Fairytale of New York”
I love the original of this song so much.  Musically, this version is pretty good, but there’s something vocally about it that falls flat for me.  It may just be that it’s close but not exactly right so it feels off to me.

LISA LOEB-“Jingle Bells”
It sounds like she’s smiling entirely through this song, which is exactly as it should be–even with a somewhat breathy version like this.

JARS OF CLAY-“Christmas for Cowboys”
This is a John Denver song that I didn’t know before.  It’s kind of a country song, but it doesn’t really feel like it in this version.  I like the cowboy whistle.

COPELAND-“Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Because of the autotune, this version grates.  And yet, I find it strangely compelling add well.   The guitar chorus and synth voices are great, but when it gets into the auto tune it goes too far until it goes way too fast and actuate sounds interesting again..

[READ: December 12, 2017] “Kings”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection

I really enjoyed this story, which was designed as a Crowdfunding request to do exactly what the title asks.

We see that the person’s goal is $5,229 and that she has received $1,395 with 28 days to go.

That all seems reasonable except for the whole Land of the Dead business. (more…)

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storiesSOUNDTRACKPOLYPHONIC SPREE-Tiny Desk Concert #259 (December 21, 2012).

The Polyphonic Spree performs a Tiny Desk Concert.I really enjoyed Polyphonic Spree’s first album (and their strange robes and cult-like following (apparently even within the band).

They put out a Christmas album some time ago, and since we have a big pile of Christmas albums, I grabbed that one.  I didn’t love it, but it was a fun addition to our collection.

This Tiny Desk Concert is notable for just how many members of the band are behind (and on the side of) the Tiny Desk (perhaps 18?).

And the band is suitably musical–trombone, trumpet, keys, drums, bass, cello, violin and a ten (or so) piece choir.

Interestingly, I find that the weak link in this whole thing is leader Chris DeLaughter.  It’s just that his voice is really not that interesting. It’s especially notable on “The Christmas Song” where he sings some high notes unaccompanied.  When the choir comes in (and they change the melody) it sounds really cool.  I especially love the way they make “reindeer really know how to fly” into a high note.

The first song is “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” which I feel is the Christmas song they might be best known for.  It’s pretty traditional to the original, with the choir filling in for the kids.  The addition of horns really adds a lot to it.

“Silver Bells” gets a pretty rocking treatment–the buildup at the beginning is pretty cool.  They change the main melody to an almost circus-like waltz. I love the way it sounds when everyone joins in–and when the choir is singing along to the rocking end (with a very different melody) it sounds great.  But once again DeLaughter’s voice doesn’t seem up to the task of leading this larger group.

But it’s festive and fun, especially with everyone in red robes (and DeLaughters green one).

[READ: December 2016] Christmas Stories (1854-1864)

Last year, I started reading some Charles Dickens Christmas Stories in December.  I imagined that I’d finish the whole book this season (all 750 pages of it), but I didn’t come close.  I enjoy these stories but they are not quick reads by any standard.

The fascinating thing with a lot of these stories is that they appeared in All the Year Round, a Victorian periodical founded and owned by Dickens and published between 1859 and 1895 throughout the United Kingdom.  But just because these stories came out for the Christmas issue doesn’t mean they have anything to do with Christmas directly.

I thought I’d be reading a whole chunk of the book in a row, but I wound up skipping around a bit.  Maybe next year I’ll finish the remaining stories. (more…)

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