Winterland, The Jigsaw Seen (Vibro-phonic)
This long-time garage-rock band may be best known for its clever take on "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" performed as a mashup with "Paint It Black." That was originally done around 1989 or so. In recent years they've returned to the Christmas well occasionally with a song or three, and now for 2011 they've cut a full album of holiday goodness, all original except for a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Circle of Steel." The band calls this a "winter" album, and now I have to eat my words about winter albums that appear in the Kate Bush review. All the band's previous holiday tunes are here except "God Rest Ye," but the additional tunes sound all of a piece with the older songs like "What About Christmas," "December" and "Candy Cane." Given that I've identified them as a garage-rock band, imagine the sound here as a more mature version of that, a sort of "Rubber Soul" or "Revolver" level of production, playing, arranging and writing. The best thing I can say is that it reminds of that period of music without actually sounding like anybody familiar. "Snow Angels of Pigtown" is a tribute of sorts to Baltimore, according to the band. "Woman Loves the Season" is an interesting ballad about one person's dreams, "Christmas Behind Me" is where the singer has put the holiday, and "First Day of the Holiday" takes us into the New Year. An excellent album that won't sound out of place at the height of summer, either.
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