New holiday albums abound this season
From the standards to more contemporary collections, store displays are filled with new or revamped holiday-themed releases this year, including albums by Straight No Chaser and A Fine Frenzy, along with a series of various collections that feature artists like Colbie Caillat, Weezer and Collective Soul.
Here is a quick look at some of the releases, with links below to previous coverage of acts like Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and Sting.
Various artists – “A Very Special Christmas Volume 7” (Universal Music Enterprises)
While recording “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Colbie Caillat’s contribution to “A Very Special Christmas Volume 7,” the singer/songwriter dolled up her studio to get in the mood.
“It was really funny,” Caillat said. “We were in LA. I was wearing sandals and a dress. It was hot outside. I had a Santa hat on. We had Christmas decorations everywhere.”
She recorded it with her longtime producer, Ken Caillat, who doubles as her father. “We had all the same musicians that are in my band on the song. My two best friends came and did background vocals. I think the song sounds beautiful.”
Set for release Nov. 23, “A Very Special Christmas Vol. 7” benefits the Special Olympics, and features original recordings of new and traditional Christmas songs that each artist selected for the album. In addition to Caillat, acts featured on the album include the Carter Twins, Charice, Miley Cyrus, Kristinia DeBarge, Gloriana, Vanessa Hudgens, Sean Kingston, Leighton Meester, Mitchel Musso, Kellie Pickler, Ashley Tisdale and Carrie Underwood.
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A Fine Frenzy “Oh, Blue Christmas” (Capitol Records)
This Target and iTunes exclusive explores the feelings that A Fine Frenzy frontwoman Alison Sudol had following a breakup earlier this year.
“The whole EP is a post-breakup Christmas album,” Sudol said. “It’s not like your typical sugar and spice, sugarplums record. There’s a lot of melancholy going on.”
The collection contains three holiday classics (“Blue Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Christmas Time is Here,” from “Charlie Brown Christmas”) alongside three seasonal Sudol originals (“Redribbon Foxes,” “Winter White” and “Wish You Well”).
“It was really fun,” Sudol said. “At first, it was really challenging. I actually started trying to write Christmas songs like a year or so ago as an exercise. It’s different because a Christmas song, you want to get a bit of nostalgia and embody the feelings of the music, but you also don’t want it to be cheesy. I wanted to focus on, ‘What do I go through in the holidays? And what do I feel and what do I notice?’
“It seems to me, personally, that the things that are great during Christmastime are magnified. Like, everything is that much better. Everything is magical and spectacular. The things that are wrong or sad are just so much more wrong or sad. That’s where I was just trying to approach this album. Family stuff and break-up things and sort of struggling with materialism of Christmas versus what it’s supposed to be like.”
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Straight No Chaser “Christmas Cheer” (ATCO/Atlantic)
“Christmas Cheer,” by the a cappella group Straight No Chaser, is the companion piece to last year’s “Holiday Spirits,” according to member Randy Stine.
“We did an album last year that was a little more the nice, relaxing holiday music,” Stine said. “Maybe you’d have it on in the background opening gifts in the morning. This album is a little bit more of the Christmas party, I’d say. It’s a little more up tempo, a little more tongue-in-cheek, a little more humor involved.”
Recorded in July and August, the collection features a selection of holiday-themed classics, reworked in the group’s style. The compilation is led by the new single “The Christmas Can-Can” and also features a studio version of the YouTube hit “The 12 Days of Christmas.” “Who Spiked The Eggnog” came about from their “goofy sense of humor,” Stine said.
“I think we wanted to have something a little bit different than last year’s, so we’d have two contrasting albums rather than just putting out two things back to back that could have been a double disc or something like that,” Stine said. “We wanted to make sure they both had their own unique feel to them.”
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Various Artists “JDRF’s Hope for the Holidays” (United States Distribution)
Creedence Clearwater Revisited bassist Stu Cook is flattered to share space on this album with the likes of Weezer, Collective Soul and The Beach Boys on “JDRF’s Hope for the Holidays” collection, for which the band recorded Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run.” The album benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“This is something else isn’t it?” Cook said. “It’s a great release. Weezer’s got a brand new album out. It’s cool. We’re on an album with these guys. The Creedence phenomena reaches across at least three generations, anyhow. To actually be on an album with a pretty mainstream band that has a much younger core audience is exciting.
“We had a fun time putting that together,” Cook added, speaking about his band’s rendition of “Run Rudolph Run.” “It’s one of Chuck Berry’s classic songs and we thought we’d put our spin on it.”
CCR was on tour in Ontario, Canada, in late July when it headed in the studio to record the song, which the band rehearsed for a month.
“We had two nights in the same location, so, usually, when we’re in the same places for two nights, we don’t do a soundcheck unless necessary on the second day,” Cook said. “We took the opportunity to do a recording session. Everything was set up to play the concert that night. We went in in the afternoon and played the song a few times and recorded it live.”
For more information, visit HolidayHope.net.
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Various Artists “We Wish You A Metal Xmas” (digital only EP) (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
Anvil singer/guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow calls the recording process for “Frosty the Snowman,” from the digital EP “We Wish You a Metal Xmas,” “magical.”
“While we were in the studio, I did a Jewish version, which had them rolling in their seats,” said Kudlow, who is Jewish. “Man, they were dying. It was so funny.”
The four-song, holiday EP, set for release on Nov. 24, also features appearances by Doro Pesch and Michael Schenker on “O Christmas Tree,” Whitesnake’s Doug Aldrich and DevilDriver’s Dez Fafara on “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” and Girlschool on “Auld Lang Syne,” as well as other notable metal talent.
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Joey+Rory “It’s Christmas Time” (single) (Columbia)
Husband/wife duo Joey+Rory are offering their take on holiday traditions with their poignant single “It’s Christmas Time,” proceeds from which will benefit their local affiliate of Feeding America, The Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
“It’s Christmas Time” was tune written during a stay at Joey’s family farmhouse in Indiana.
“Just sitting in the house where Joey grew up made me think about all the Christmases she spent there,” Rory explained. “All the trees they picked out and decorated, all the gifts wrapped while the kids tried to sneak downstairs, all the Christmas dinners cooked and the last-minute guests who showed up at their door. I woke up early in the morning before anyone else, pulled out my guitar and wrote the song with all that in mind.” The single was produced by bluegrass legend Carl Jackson, who also produced the duo’s debut album.
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More New Holiday Releases:
Tori Amos, “Midwinter Graces” (Universal Republic)
David Archuleta, “Christmas From the Heart” (Jive)
David Arkenstone, “Christmas Lounge” (Green Hill)
David Bazan, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” (Suicide Squeeze Records)
The Beach Boys, “Christmas Harmonies” (Capitol)
Blackmore’s Night, “Winter Carols” (MVD Entertainment Group)
Andrea Bocelli, “My Christmas” (Philips)
The Boxmasters, “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” (single) (Vanguard Records)
Ray Charles, “The Spirit of Christmas” (Concord)
Alexis Cole, “The Greatest Gift: Songs of the Season” (Motema Music)
Nat King Cole, “The Christmas Song” (Capitol)
Charlie Daniels Band, “Joy to the World: A Bluegrass Christmas” (E1 Entertainment)
Neil Diamond, “Cherry, Cherry Christmas” (Columbia)
Jerry Douglas, “Jerry Christmas!” (E1 Music)
Bob Dylan, “Christmas in the Heart” (Columbia)
Orla Fallon, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (single) (Elevation)
Family Force 5, “The Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant” (Transparent Media Group/EMI)
The Front Porch Country Band, “Christmas Once Upon a Time” (USAgency Entertainment)
Lee Greenwood, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (Ronnie Gilley Entertainment)
Rob Halford, “Halford III–Winter Songs” (Metal God)
The Hives and Cyndi Lauper, “A Christmas Duel” (No Fun AB)
House of Heroes, “House of Heroes Presents Christmas Classics” (Gotee)
Barry Manilow, “In The Swing of Christmas” (Arista)
Olivia Newton-John, “Christmas Wish” (EMI Canada)
The Mama Doni Band, “Chanukah Fever” (Mama Doni Productions)
Glenn Mohr Chorale, “A Star Still Shines” (Spencertown Records)
Kermit Ruffins, “Have a Crazy Cool Christmas” (Basin Street Records)
REO Speedwagon, “Not So Silent Night” (Sony Music Entertainment)
Frank Sinatra and Friends, “Christmas With Sinatra and Friends” (Concord)
Soundtrack, “A Christmas Story: Music From the Motion Picture” (TCM Music/Rhino)
Soundtrack, “Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas” (Denon Records)
Ronnie Spector, “It’s Christmas Once Again” (single) (Bad Girls Sounds / RED)
Carolyn Stills, “George Bailey” (single) (Avatar Records)
Sting, “If On a Winter’s Night” (Deutsche Grammophon)
Sugarland, “Gold and Green” (Mercury Records)
Connie Talbot, “Holiday Magic” (AAO Music/Reality)
The Song Trust, “Merry Kidsmas” (Giantslayer Records/S1 Songs/Welk Music Group)
Various artists, “A Blackheart Christmas” (Available on vinyl for the first time)
Various artists, “A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector” (remastered) (Legacy)
Various artists, “A Hollywood Christmas” (Time Life)
Various artists, “Gift Wrapped: 20 Songs That Keep On Giving” (Warner Bros.)
Various artists, “Now That’s What I Call A Country Christmas” (Legacy)
Various artists, “Time Life’s Treasury of Christmas: Traditions” (Time Life)
Various artists, “Voices: A Gospel Choir Christmas” (Time Life)
New holiday albums abound this season