Gifted, The Jigsaw Seen (Vibro-phonic)
Coming off 2011's fab holiday album Winterland, the band had intended to buff it to a nice sheen with some additional cuts for the 2012 Christmas season, but they ended up with enough material for an entirely separate album, which is what this is. Like last year's disc, this shows off the band's evolution from strictly garage to a more late 60s pop rock sound, and while there's plenty of Christmas here, the band is also going for more of a "winter" vibe here, which was also the theme of Winterland. Songs like the ballads "Myth of the Season" and "Hag of the Barren Trees" address some of the pagan heritage of winter celebrations, while the rockers "The More You Change," "Open Up the Box Pandora," and the David Bowie cover "Sell Me a Coat" are not so much about the holiday as they are set in the colder season. Same goes for the instrumental "Couples Skate." "Rise of the Snowflake Children" is a nice psychedelic garage chant, "Christmas Ain't For Christians (Anymore)" is a set of deathbed reflections from a prison and a hospital with exquisite guitar and flute backing, the title song is a cool putdown of a charlatan, and the album closes with "Pretend It's Christmas," an acoustic ballad asking the listener to look on the bright side. Not sure I can pick between last year's and this year's albums, both are equally good to my ears. Here, have a taste of "Open Up the Box Pandora."
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