MERRY MONDAY: John Denver – Rocky Mountain Christmas

In my house Christmas truly began when my mom put this LP on the stereo and the dancing chords of “Aspen Glow” crackled through the speakers as she opened up the dusty red Christmas trunk and began unpacking decades of holiday joy.

This album imprinted on me at such an early age that my Christmas memories at their core are fused with the first side of this sparse, country-tinged Christmas album. I specify first side because the songs on the B side are more solemn religious carols that were never my bag as a kid. When mom flipped the album I made myself scarce while she hummed and dusted and decorated.

The six songs on side A were the heart of my Christmas with the pinnacle of joy coming together as I would loudly sing along to “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” which is a surprisingly upbeat Christmas tune about alcoholism that as a kid I thought was hilarious. Given it’s peppy tempo I always thought of it like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” except, you know, mommy was crying. To this day it makes me smile to hear it even though the song chronicles an 8 year old pleading with his dad to not come home so drunk that he passes out under the tree like he did the previous year. So, yeah, Merry Christmas!

Don’t let that little dip into the dark side tarnish your judgement. I found the entire original album on YouTube so give it a listen at least up through “Christmas for Cowboys” for the Rocky Mountain Christmas I will always remember.

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MERRY MONDAY: The Business vs. Elton John – “Step Into Christmas”

The first time I heard The Business’ cover of “Step Into Christmas” I didn’t realize it was a cover. I came across it listening through their compilation Harry May – The Singles Collection back in college and thought it was hilarious and surprisingly cheerful given the hooligan tone of most of their catalog. I knew it felt super familiar, but I couldn’t put a finger on why. It wasn’t until many Christmases later that I heard the original Elton John version again and it all clicked.

To their credit Micky Fitz (RIP) and the boys stay pretty faithful to the original, but they do crank it up to respectable Oi! levels of speed and sneer. The fact that they’re covering a song from Elton John is just icing on the holiday cake of irony. I’m usually not a fan of ‘irreverent’ Christmas covers, but when the original song was a bit of a lark itself I’ll allow it.

Put on your boots ‘n’ braces and kick off the holidays!

…Or put on appropriately ridiculous sunglasses for a campy Christmas!

No-Shadow Kick- The Promo EP

This trio of power poppers from Northampton, MA serves up smart, solid, and ever so sarcastic indie rock. They cash in on the winter motif with “In The Snow,” a poppy little tune full of one liners and wordplay aimed at the Yuletide. Sure it’s an easy target, but nonetheless the song will keep you chuckling and acquaint you with the band’s tongue-in-cheek nature. The second track, “Double Nothing,” is the highlight of these half dozen songs. A lovesick indie rock song, it’s full of contemplative angst over the oft-lost gamble that is love. The rhythm section keeps the track punching along on cruise control as guitar drifts through like a breeze. This track is perfect for that mix tape made especially for those long, post break-up drives to clear the head. The last of the new songs is “Monks Don’t Tell Lies,” a slightly dubbish ditty relating a moment of Zen clarity come upon during the chaos of a broken down tour van. The remainder of the promo EP is made up of tracks originally released on their debut full length Basement Make-Out Party. “BMX Song,” “Scarecrow Waltz,” and “The Saviour Made Me Do It” continue to exemplify No-Shadow Kick’s pension for bouncing from sound to sound. Stylistic A.D.D. aside, this EP helps to showcase No-Shadow Kick as a band that strikes a balance between talent and humor.