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Volume 70, Issue 71, Friday, December 3, 2004

Life & Arts

Albums put an indie spin on the holidays

Tina Marie Macias
The Daily Cougar

Every year when the holiday season rolls around, radio stations pump out endless hours of traditional Christmas music. Songs like the original "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas" are timeless, but every now and then, it's time for a new mix of holiday fare.

Have a Very Merry Christmukkah: Music From the OC Mix 3 and Maybe This Christmas Tree take an indie/pop look at classic holiday songs, with a few originals thrown in. 

The TV show The OC is known for airing new music and trying to break new bands. In an episode last season, viewers are shown how the Cohen family celebrates "Christmukkah," a fusion of Christmas and Hanukah, because Sandy Cohen is Jewish and his wife, Kirsten Cohen, is Christian.

Have a Very Merry Christmukkah takes songs from this episode and makes a beautiful mix for those who love the holiday spirit, as well as those who hate it.

In "Christmas With You Is The Best" by the Long Winters, the band sings about skipping Christmas to spend their day having a "non-traditional, non-denominational holiday" with their significant others. They sum up their holiday apathy by singing, "We'll have no turkey or guests / sleeping late, but before we get dressed / I want to give you a present." 

By far, the best song on the album is by Rooney. They sing an updated vision of "Merry Christmas Everyone" with their Beach Boys-esque sound that makes listeners feel like they're spending Christmas in sunny California with singer Robert Carmine crooning his smooth lyrics.

Have a Very Merry Christmukkah and Maybe This Christmas Tree both feature "The Christmas Song" by The Ravonettes. The band's breathy vocals and 1980s-infused riffs are not often heard with Christmas songs. They stay original and still manage to play a great holiday song. 

On Maybe this Christmas Tree, Death Cab for Cutie's cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" keeps the feel of the somber original with beautiful keyboards in the background. It stays close to the original, but Death Cab's sound still comes through without sounding excessive. 

Maybe This Christmas Tree has a few indie/pop songs like Have a Very Merry Christmukkah, but throws in a few songs from different genres.

Ivy's breathy "Christmas Time Is Here" is thrown into the mix and sounds like an reincarnation of Marylin Monroe without the tackiness. 

Both albums are a good change of pace from classic Christmas music but don't go overboard with the genres; it still sounds like the holiday season, not a club version of good originals.

Have a Very Merry Christmukkah / Maybe This Christmas Tree

Warner Brothers / Nettwerk Records

Verdict: It still feels like Christmas, but a trendy one scenesters can enjoy

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