Steal This Track: Colorado Christmas MusicBy Josh Johnson | December 24th, 2012 | No Comments »
With promise of snow on the ground by tomorrow morning, it seems there is no reason not to just shed all cynicism and embrace the spirit of the season. So, rather than stealing tracks, we’re just going to give you tracks – of Colorado Christmas music!
This week, we’ve got four new songs from Colorado musicians, all inspired by the season. There’s indie-pop from Kissing Party, honky-tonk from Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams, contemplative folk-rock from John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light, and a version of “Silent Night” from the ever-kitschy Sid Pink.
For three years now, Denver indies Kissing Party have released a Christmas single. And bravo! It’s brave to write Christmas music; there’s a terrible risk of writing schmaltzy clichés. Yet, each of the tracks, available below, find unique sentiments worth expressing and a sound only referential to the season. Perhaps Kissing Party’s oft jingle-jangly sound – they’re not afraid to use bells outside of December – lends well to the seasonal sound.
This year’s track, “Dale Voorhies,” begins with a melody reminiscent of a host of carols, played on a synthesizer that sounds like the looped jingles of a Wal-Mart lawn ornament. Yeah, that sounds like we’re saying it’s crappy, but it’s not. When the bass line kicks in, followed by the guitars, then strings, then bells, it all comes together as a hipster carol worth ironically raising an eggnog to. Hark how the bells reveal Christmas music just barely in disguise as an indie pop song. This is their best Christmas track yet.
Honky-tonkers Halden Wofford & The Hi*Beams released a Christmas video last week for the song “Christmas Stuffin’.” We’ve got the track available for download below, and the video posted at the end of this column. In true country tradition, the song is full of innuendos, so if hearing the words “yule log” makes you giggle, prepare to tee-hee to this jolly romp. But for all the lightheartedness, the musicianship of this seasoned band shines through.
For the past several years, Denver songwriter John Common has reinterpreted a holiday song for BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular variety show at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. But this year, he wanted to show the less cheerful side of the holidays. For many, this time of year can really suck. And, as he puts it, “Imagine how bad a movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ would have been if it didn’t get kind of dark in the middle.’ “ Point taken.
So, he gives us “Christmas Is Weird.” The luxurious, moving song showcases the harmonies of Common and Jess DeNicola, who performs with him in his band, Blinding Flashes of Light. Sure, the song is about how Christmas is weird, sad and cold, but the “don’t give up” chorus will hopefully keep the sad and lonely from taking a header off of the clock tower. After the holidays, perhaps he’ll use the track still, substituting “Christmas” for Easter, and high school, and marriage.
Then we have Sid Pink and his band, American F*ck-Tape with their vision of “Silent Night.” As always, it’s difficult to gauge Pink’s sincerity. He selected the beautiful lullaby of the Christmas canon, added a repeating spoken sample and electric guitar, and sang it flat. Maybe it’s the generosity of the season, but somehow the song works whether sincere or a punk-rock turning-up-of-the-nose at Christmas carols.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Steal This Track for consideration.
Josh Johnson is a Denver freelance writer and Reverb contributor. He is also a co-host/co-producer of the Denver podcast Denver Diatribe.