I often find it hard to listen to new Christmas music right around the October release date each year. But now that Christmas has arrived, my thoughts are flowing. I wasn’t too excited for yet another Point of Grace or Amy Grant Christmas music disc. Isn’t there enough of those floating around? Annie Moses Band released another one this year. But isn’t this their second or third one? It’s no surprise that Casting Crowns joined in on the bandwagon this year. (Shall we take a bet as to how long it will be before they release a second?)
Perhaps music from Mandisa might diversify my collection. Maybe if I were younger I would appreciate some holiday music from pureNRG to replace the myriad of Jump5 end of the year releases. Shane and Shane and Sara Groves may not be my style of music, but their sound does work well in the holiday music realm. The ever-maturing talent of rock chicks BarlowGirl interests me a bit. And of course, what Sixpence None the Richer fan would pass by the first release in a few years?
Truly the one album I was looking forward to was BEC Recordings X Christmas with various artists. Of course, I was hoping for more of an extension of the Happy Christmas four volume series put out by BEC’s relative Tooth and Nail Records. Those now hard to find four discs are possibly my favorite Christmas CD’s of all time. Well, other than maybe some Andy Williams music, which brings me back to my childhood, when life was less complicated.
For diehard Happy Christmas fans like me, the several repeated songs from Jars of Clay, and others are a bit frustrating. But for those folks who missed the many other opportunities to get a copy of Switchfoot’s “Evergreen” or perhaps Anberlin’s “Baby Please Come Home”, this disc might be a good purchase. For me, however, I did find a new favorite song. Previously, Plankeye’s hard rock version of “Away in the Manger “on the first Happy Christmas release was the holiday repeat song. This year it has been topped by August Burns Red’s take on “Carol of the Bells”. It is one step up from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s presentation. Project 86 adds a booming touch to the disc with “This Time of the Year”.
Thousand Foot Krutch offers a fun all out rock version of “Jingle Bell Rock” but their alter-ego band FM Static takes Newsong’s sappy “The Christmas Shoes”, adds a bit of rock, and ruins the message of the song. That was a bit disappointing. Then again, that song is overplayed at Christmas time, so maybe I am a tad bit biased. Speaking of overused, Kutless brings another version of “Mary Did You Know”, which to me sounds much like every other effort. Seventh Day Slumber doesn’t add much to the mix with “Do You Hear What I Hear”. Yet Aaron Gillespie’s vocals in The Almost deliver a nice emo touch to “Little Drummer Boy”.
I enjoyed the hint of country in newbies Jaymes Reunion and Corey Crowder tracks "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree" and "Angels We Have Heard on High". But I have yet to get the point of "His Favorite Christmas Story" by another newcomer Capital Lights. Though it is a catchy tune. KJ-52's "It's Christmas Time" is catchy, but only during those long late night drives when I need something to keep me awake. I am not too sure about hip-hop meets The Chipmunks.
With seventeen tracks from new and old bands, it is not a bad deal, even if I don’t like every track. Though I admit I was hoping for more in the line of the Happy Christmas series. Still, in the end, I believe this disc will become a regular part of my December music rotation. Then again, maybe I’ll just put “Carol of the Bells” on repeat.