Kill Rock Stars Winter Holiday Album (2006)

Kill Rock Stars Winter Holiday Album

Kill Rock Stars
Buy: BandcampiTunes

Back in 2006, Kill Rock Stars was sending out CD-R copies of their brand-new Winter Holiday Album with a purchase of $50 or more through their webshop. This was the only physical release of the compilation, which is easily found now through most digital retailers. Its certainly not the most obscure independent release to review, but I do find it necessary to throw a bone out there to those who are just getting into this unfortunate obsession, and might not have heard of everything yet.

Kill Rock Stars Winter Holiday Album is the kind of idea that makes you super excited, which inevitably (in most Christmas music cases) leads to disappointment. I certainly don’t want to scare off KRS from another comp, but this record is all over the place. The pace, however, never picks up – it maintains a slow-to-mid tempo nearly the entire time. There are moments of gloom (Gold Chains & Jillian Iva: “Winter Kills”), drone (The Mary Timony Band: “Hapi Holidaze”) and silliness (Phranc: “Hannukah Snowman”) that activate my “skip track finger.” There is really only one track that I truly enjoy. The Everyothers cover of the Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” is done wonderfully – their voices certainly do it justice. They don’t reinvent the wheel, but if you are someone who 1) likes the song and 2) doesn’t want to include the original or the ubiquitous Coldplay version on your mix, this may be the one for you.

Bottom Line: The potential of a great label releasing a Christmas comp is tough to live up to, but I can’t bring myself to give it too much slack. I also haven’t got much sleep this week, sorry KRS, that might play into this too. 2/5


Merry Christmas from Bella Union (2006)

Merry Christmas from Bella Union cover

Bella Union
Buy: Discogs

Back in 2006, I blogged about this great little 3″ CD I was picking up… and boy was I excited. I had a right to be. This tiny, 3″ CD packs quite a punch. Three tracks, all worthwile, highlighted by the absolutely splendid tune by My Latest Novel, “Outside it’s Christmas.” My Christmas mix had a bit of a Scottish flair that year – I believe it had Frightened Rabbit on it as well. Robert Gomez & Eric Pulido (both of Midlake) were at the height of their powers, and present an extremely enjoyable version of “Feliz Navidad,” one of two versions of the songs that I particularly enjoy. Devics haunting rendition of “Silent Night,” is interesting enough to not be a bore, though I probably would never include it on my mix… just because I don’t think the song fits what I’m going for.

This disc is nearly impossible to hunt down… don’t pay an arm & a leg, but give it a shot.

Bottom Line: Hunt down that My Latest Novel track, and you’ve got a surefire winner. 4.3/5

EDITDid My Latest Novel find my post and decide to upload it to their Soundcloud account? I doubt it… but it is rather fortuitous that it was posted there yesterday… and that does look my scan of the cover art! Be sure to listen to the song all the way through – the latter half is fantastic!