’Twas weeks before Christmas, and like every year, I had holiday albums right up to here; Some were quite rootsy, others quite cutesy, Some were quite sappy and some were … well, crappy; But I spun every one — and listened with care, I listened until I could tear out my hair; Why did I do it? I’ll tell you why; I did it so you would know which ones to buy.
3 stars = Ho-ho
2 stars = So-so
1 star = No-no
Pop & Rock
Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo’s Magic Moment
F*** Yule? Sadly and surprisingly, no. Santa’s freakiest elf plays it straight for a change, bringing in funk, soul and R&B revamps that visit Motown, Sesame Street and elsewhere. Sweet ’n’ Lo.
DOWNLOAD: Baby It’s Cold Outside (w/ Christina Aguilera)
Christmas in the Sand
Baby, it’s cold outside — but determinedly delightful vocalist Caillat will gently warm your cockles with her sunny, Sheryl Crowish California-pop. Bathing suit and sunscreen not included.
DOWNLOAD: Christmas in the Sand
A Very Merry Perri Christmas
Well, maybe not THAT merry. Pop singer-songwriter Perri’s EP is a low-key affair, with the tattooed songbird making like the new Karen Carpenter over some slow-burning piano ballads.
DOWNLOAD: Please Come Home for Christmas
Merry Christmas, Baby
Rod the Sod strikes again, rasping his way through a slate of stale chestnuts while schlockmeister David Foster slathers everything with syrup and Velveeta. Give it to granny — then run.
DOWNLOAD: Auld Lang Syne
Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)
TSO mastermind Paul O’Neill and his army of prog-rock elves return with their first Christmas present since 2004. With five short tunes, it’s more of a stocking stuffer, but better than nothing.
DOWNLOAD: I Had a Memory
John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John
Cheese is the word as the former Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsen reunite to soullessly warble over lush jazz-pop arrangements. Even VIPs like Babs, Bennett and Kenny G can’t save this turkey.
DOWNLOAD: I Think You Might Like It
Tinsel & Lights
What do you want for Christmas? Everything? Will you settle for Everything But the Girl singer Thorn’s charming collection of poppy compositions by Sexsmith, Joni, Jack White and others?
DOWNLOAD: In the Cold, Cold Night
Dark Mark Does Christmas
Screaming Xmas Trees? Not quite. Sinister rocker Lanegan gets rootsy for his lo-fi solo EP, picking medieval fare on guitar and banjo — when he isn’t covering Roky Erikson. O, unholy night.
DOWNLOAD: Burn the Flames
HolidayDream: Sounds of the Holidays Vol. 1
Twelve rockers rocking, 11 singers singing, 10 ladies dancing — and a massive dose of psychedelically soaring gems from everyone’s favourite choir-robed orchestral-pop cult heroes. Far out.
DOWNLOAD: Silver Bells
Very Funky Christmas
Santa’s got a brand new bag thanks to Austrian bassist Stefan Redtenbacher and his crew, who convert classic carols into booty-shaking instrumental grooveathons. Shake your jingle bells.
DOWNLOAD: Deck the Halls
Scala & Kolacny Brothers
If you buy just one album this season that features alt-rock Christmas fare hauntingly sung by a Belgian women’s choir and two dudes, well, it would have to be this one. At least it should be.