Friday, December 31, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" by Diana Krall


Not a damn thing special. I hate New Year's Eve, but since others seem to enjoy it, here's Diana Krall's take on "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?", off of her 2005 album Christmas Songs. Bah, humbug!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "If We Make It Through December" by Holly Cole


We're almost done! This supreme downer - a cover of a very depressing Merle Haggard tune - appears of Holly Cole's 2001 Baby, It's Cold Outside album. Uh, happy new year?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Fairytale of New York" by the Priestess and the Fool


Because why not? Sure, the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl's original "Fairytale of New York" is still the best, but my second favorite take of this increasingly covered Christmas song is the one the Priestess and the Fool put out in 2008 (and it's still a free download). If you're going to cover a song, make it your own and they sure did, by stripping the Irish out and replacing it with a hootenanny.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "It's Christmas So We'll Stop" by Frightened Rabbit


The more pessimistic among us would believe that the whole "Christmas spirit" thing is a charade and, even if people are nicer, it's only for one day. Frightened Rabbit expresses this sentiment in their excellent 2007 single "It's Christmas So We'll Stop" (presented above in the 2008 rerelease version). Next to Better Than Ezra's "Merry Christmas Eve", I think this is my favorite modern Christmas classic. Kinda funny how one is a celebration of holiday warmth and other is all about what a sham the day is.

Anyway, Christmas is now over. Go back to being a jerk.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "It Really Is (A Wonderful Life)" by Mindy Smith


One of my family's Christmas traditions is to venture over to Carytown on Christmas night and catch a showing of It's a Wonderful Life at the Byrd. Sitting in the worn out seats for the duration of the film's 130 minute run time (plus an additional 10-15 minutes beforehand for the Sing-A-Long with Bob Gulledge and the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ) is a real test of ass-durance, but we do it for George, Mary, and Christmas. My mouth's bleeding, Bert! My mouth's bleeding!

This song by Mindy Smith, off of her 2007 album My Holiday, doesn't really have anything to do with the Frank Capra classic other than kind of using the movie's title, but it's a good Christmas song nonetheless.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "The Twelve Days of Christmas" by Bob & Doug McKenzie


A common misconception: the Twelve Days of Christmas are the days leading up to Christmas day. As John McLaughlin would say, WRONG! The celebration actually starts on Christmas Day. And that's one to grow on.

Though I maintain that John Denver and the Muppets recorded the definitive version of the song, this take by Bob & Doug McKenzie, off of their album 1981 Great White North, is a close second. Now, I will start celebrating with a a tree.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Christmas Morning" by Lyle Lovett


Though not strictly a "Christmas song", Lyle Lovett's "Christmas Morning" - off of his album 1996 The Road to Ensenada - counts as one in my book, if just for the title alone. He's always been one of my favorite songwriters and this one he cooked up, with feelings of self-doubt and wee bit of paranoia, is a doozy. The last verse gets me every time and is the reason I've selected it for today:

Now each Christmas morning I sit in my chair
And I look up at the angels that float through the air
Some look down upon me, some come to my side
And they tell me that Jesus he said to say hi

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, dear readers! Here's hoping all of your wishes get fulfilled today. Or, at the very least, one or two.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Silent Night" by Pink Martini


Out of all the Christmas carols, I think "Silent Night" is my favorite. I just love its simple beauty. And this twinkly version by Pink Martini, off of their new album Joy to the World, ranks among the better versions, in my opinion. Of course, it wouldn't be a Pink Martini song without them going international, so the verses are sung in German, Arabic, and English.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Christmas in Hollis" by Run-DMC


Ah, kickin' it old school. This takes me back. Welcome to the soundtrack of my Christmas in 1987. Based on a horn sample from Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa"*, Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" was the first credible hip-hop Christmas song and has yet to be topped, in my opinion. R.I.P., Jam Master Jay.

And, yes, this has been my cell phone's ringtone all month.

*Itself a classic.

I find tinsel distracting.

Wishing you and yours a very happy Festivus. I know I say this every year, but I'd love to throw a Festivus party. Maybe next year...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Elf's Lament" by Barenaked Ladies with Michael Bublé


You're not the only one feeling overworked and underpaid. Ever think about Santa's elves? Yeah, no one does. This is an anthem for the little man.

"Elf's Lament" can be found on Barenaked Ladies' wonderful (and very fun) 2004 album Barenaked for the Holidays.

My favorite (Christmas album) things of 2010

Like pretty much all types of music, a very high percentage* of Christmas music that comes out each year is crap. Most of it is bland, overproduced, extremely saccharine, and cheesy. Or, if some indie band wants to put their stamp on Yuletide songs, it may be underproduced, discordant, and drenched in feedback. This year is no exception. Only two full length albums honked my bobo this year.

Pink Martini - Joy to the World: These multicultural folks put on a heck of a live show and, based on their back catalog, I was expecting all sorts of sublime merriment. I was only a *tad* disappointed, but it's still better than pretty much the rest of the stuff out this season. It's twinkly, twirly, and very international. It's no wonder that Starbucks commissioned this album. But don't hold that against the band.

Christabel and the Jons - The Christmas Album: This band is completely new to me, but another blog recommended it and, wow, I'm impressed. The Squirrel Nut Zippers' Christmas Caravan is one of my favorite seasonal albums and this one sounds like its spiritual successor. It's jazzy, swinging, and brassy. I love it.

These two new albums will surely join my other favorites at the forefront of my hifi's festive rotation.

*I'd say a good 70% or so, but then again, I have a very high threshold for Christmas music. Your results may vary. For reference, I maintain that a good 90% of all music releases range from "blah" to "sucks".

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Believe in Me" by fun.


fun. produced one of my favorite albums of 2009 (dare I say it's a indie pop masterpiece?) and they followed it up with this Christmas single a few months later, which wears a heavy Beach Boys influence on its red, velvety sleeve.

In addition to it being offered as a free download by Amazon, it's also included on my Christmas mix this year, which you can snag here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Silent nighTunes

As we rush headlong into Christmas week, I figured it was the right time to unleash this year's A Very Micah Christmas mix upon your precious, little ears. This being my twelfth year of making these mixes, I've pretty much exhausted all of the Lite 98 December staples, so enjoy some less familiar takes on your old favorites, as well as some great Yuletide originals.

Without further ado, here is the soundtrack to your seasonal anxiety disorder:

1. "Everybody Wants to See the Lights" - Kevin McKinney
2. "Darlin' (Christmas Is Coming)" - Over the Rhine
3. "Winter Wonderland" - Dean Martin
4. "O Tannenbaum/We Wish You a Merry Christmas" - Liberace
5. "It Snowed" - Meaghan Smith
6. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" - Big Al Carson with Lars Edegran and His Santa Claus Revelers
7. "Believe in Me" - fun.
8. "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" - Julian Casablancas
9. "Christmas Party" - The Sweptaways
10. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" - C.W. Morris
11. "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" - Frank Sinatra
12. "When the Leaves" - Ingrid Michaelson
13. "There Are Worse Things to Believe In" - Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello
14. "Grateful For Christmas" - Hayes Carll
15. "White Christmas" - Jamie Randolph
16. "In the Bleak Midwinter" - Paper Route
17. "Away in a Manger" - Hyperbubble
18. "Fruitcake" - The Superions
19. "Up on the House Top" - The Jackson 5
20. "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" - Wizzard
21. "Party Hard" - Little Isadore
22. "Pour Another Ounce of Rum in the Eggnog" - Heather Blush and the Uppercuts
23. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Jo Stafford
24. "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" - Yogi Yorgesson
25. "Year End Letter" - Garfunkel & Oates
26. "Auld Lang Syne" - Pink Martini
27. You'll see

Grab an .rar file of the mix here.

Jonesin' for more festive goodness from Christmas past? The last few AVMCs can be found here, here, and here. My goal for 2011 is to put digital copies of all of my previous ones up on their own blog. I won't get to it right away, but keep checking throughout the year.

Merry Christmas to all! And to all, RAWK!

Audio fruitcake: "Everybody Wants to See the Lights" by Kevin McKinney


Yeah, you make fun of Clark W. Griswold's buffoonery, but admit it: his over-illuminated house is pretty bitchin'. Kevin McKinney's "Everybody Wants to See the Lights", the eponymous song off of his 2009 album, explores the inner thoughts of the neighborhood "Christmas light guy". He does it for you, you bunch of ingrates.

This is the lead off track of my Christmas mix, which I will unveil shortly. As for the video, I threw it together using pictures from Richmond's Tacky Lights Tour.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Silver Bells" by Gavin DeGraw


There are two types of people in this world*: those who want a country Christmas and those who prefer a festive city setting. I'm squarely in the latter camp, though I recognize the merits of the former. There's just something about the combination of cities, Christmas decorations, and snow that I love. And the song that really puts me in an urban Christmas mood is "Silver Bells" (key line: "city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style").

I think my favorite version of the song is by Gavin DeGraw and is found on the Target exclusive 2005 Sounds of the Season compilation. But that's out of print now and I'm not sure where one can currently find this song (legally, that is).

*Well, four types if you also include those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bonus Crush of the Week: Rebecca Hazlewood

This week's Bonus Crush is actress Rebecca Hazlewood, lately of "Outsourced". Really, she's the best part of that show.

"Outsourced" isn't as terrible as everyone says, but it's not all that great, either. Basically, for me it acts as a bridge from "The Office" to "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". I'm eagerly awaiting the return of "Parks and Recreation", which should've never been banished from the fall in the first place.

Audio fruitcake: "Your Christmas Whiskey" by the Minus 5


Sometimes all it takes to get through the holidays is a wee nip or two. This Minus 5 Christmas song is a nice chunk of jangly* power pop and appears on Yep Roc Records' 2007 compilation Oh, Santa!

*Of course it's jangly, since R.E.M.'s Peter Buck is a member of the band.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Crush of the Week: Annie Little

This week's Crush is actress and musician Annie Little. You likely know her as the star of the Kindle commercials, the music for which was provided by her duo Little & Ashley. She's also in a couple of holiday Marshalls/T.J. Maxx commercials that seem to air during every other commercial break, not that I'm complaining.

I can't recommend Little & Ashley's Christmas EP Winter Night highly enough. It hasn't left my iPod all season. (Their Kindle commercial music's great, too.)

Audio fruitcake: "You're All I Want For Christmas" by Jump, Little Children


One of my favorite bands from back in the day* was Charleston, SC's favorite sons Jump, Little Children. In 1999 the band mailed fans cassette singles (!) of their non-album track "You're All I Want For Christmas" and I was fortunate enough to be one of the recipients. This is one of my favorite modern day Christmas songs and I really wish they would've recorded more holiday stuff before breaking up. Oh, well. I'll always have that tape.

*"The day" being roughly 1996 until about 2000

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "It Snowed" by Meaghan Smith


Well, it looks like we're about to be dumped with several inches of the white stuff (snow, not nose candy), so I guess it's only appropriate that today's Audio Fruitcake is Meaghan Smith's "It Snowed". This song, which appeared on last year's Wish Upon a Star EP, extols the virtues of taking a snow day. Unfortunately for me, I still had to go into the office today while the rest of Richmond came to a preemptive stop. Let's hope my car will be able to navigate the way back.

"It Snowed" appears on my Christmas mix this year, which I will unveil sometime in the coming days.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Christmas on TV" by Chris Isaak


Christmas is a wonderful time, but let's face it: it can also get kind of depressing. And as far as sad Christmas songs go, Chris Isaak's "Christmas on TV" is a good 'un. The music isn't too much of a downer, but wallow in those lyrics, man.

This song is from his 2004 album Christmas. There was also an accompanying PBS special, which I've only seen once, but I remember it being a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Tell It on the Mountain" by Duvall


Smoking Popes produced one of my all-time favorite '90s alt rock albums (Born to Quit), so it's really no surprise that I dig the band that arose from their ashes, Duvall. And really, of the two full length release Duvall put out, I prefer their 2004 Christmas album O Holy Night. And their swinging, flanneled take on "Tell It on the Mountain" is my favorite on said Yuletide album.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Christmas Tree on Fire" by Holly Golightly


One of my favorite "new holiday chestnuts" (by my standards, anyway) is Holly Golightly's cover of Tom Heinl's "Christmas Tree on Fire", which she released as a single in 2006. I put this song on my '07 Christmas mix, which you can grab here.

I really love this song and keep meaning to delve into Holly Golightly's catalog, but always seem to forget to take the plunge. Maybe 2011 will be the year when I go for it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Mary's Little Boy Child" by Harry Connick, Jr.


One of my favorite Christmas carols is a relatively recent discovery of mine: "Mary's Little Boy Child". Sure, Harry Belafonte's version is the original and may be considered the definitive one, but I prefer Harry Connick, Jr.'s take on the song. His piano and the horns give it a great New Orleans jazz sound. You can find it on his excellent 2003 album Harry for the Holidays.

Fun fact: this album was the soundtrack to the longest paper I ever wrote in my schooling career, an argument against smoking bans for my libertarianism seminar in law school.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Hibernation Day" by Jars of Clay


Sometimes it's just fun staying in while the weather outside is frightful.

This is from Jars of Clay's 2007 album of Christmas songs, imaginatively titled Christmas Songs. I also put it on my Christmas mix that year, which you can snag here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Holiday Road" by Matt Pond PA


Okay, so this isn't a Christmas song per se, but Matt Pond PA's cover of Lindsey Buckingham's National Lampoon's Vacation theme song does give off an appropriate wintery vibe. After all, it's originally from their Winter Songs EP.

I like this song so much that I gave it the coveted lead off spot on my 2007 Christmas mix, which you can still snag here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "All My Bells Are Ringing" by Lenka


I find Lenka absolutely adorable and her music is just as precious, especially this song off of 2008's The Hotel Cafe presents Winter Songs. This is what you call frolic-in-the-moonlit-snow-and-then-cuddle-by-the-fire music. Or so I would think. I'm willing to test out my theory...ladies.

Hey, Lenka, isn't it about time for a new album?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Come All Ye Faithful" by Halford

This is by far the most bombastic version of "O Come All Ye Faithful" that I've ever heard. And I've heard my share of CCM artists' takes on the carol. Leave it to the former lead singer of Judas Priest to outshine them.

The album this is taken from - 2009's Halford III - Winter Songs - is actually pretty fun. Metal!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Winter Weather" by Squrrel Nut Zippers


Brrrrrrrr! It's been pretty cold here in Richmond over the past few days...and I'm loving it! This is my kind of weather. It's no surprise then that "Winter Weather" is my kind of song. As far as Christmas/seasonal tunes go, this one doesn't seem to make the cut on most people's mixes and it's a shame.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers did justice to this song on their 1998 Christmas Caravan album, one of my annual go-tos. Their hot jazz serves as the perfect soundtrack to these sub zero days. It's like a McDLT for your ears!

(And since I'm trying not to repeat artists for this series, do check their take on "Sleigh Ride". Dig that breakdown at the end!)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Winter Wonderland/Misty Mountain Hop" by Fleming and John


"Hey, you got your Zeppelin in my beloved Christmas song"
"Hey, you got your beloved Christmas song in my Zeppelin."

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Suddenly It's Christmas" by Loudon Wainwright III


Granted, given the topic of this song - the feeling that "Christmastime comes earlier every year" - I should've made this the first post in this series. But I plumb forgot to. Anyway, "Suddenly It's Christmas" is a very funny, very true reflection of premature holiday craziness.

I've been a fan of Wainwright's since I first heard his Little Ship album in college. (It's definitely worth a listen.) I like his acting, too,; especially when he played Steven's dad Hal in the brilliant, done-too-soon series "Undeclared".

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Let It Snow" by A Fine Frenzy


It seems only apt for me to choose "Let It Snow" as today's heaping helping of Yuletide goodness since Richmond's first snow of the season came down tonight. It wasn't much and nothing stuck to the ground, but it was still pretty to watch.

I think this version of the song, by former Crush of the Week A Fine Frenzy (née Alison Sudol) - off of the 2007 Stockings by the Fire compilation - is probably my favorite one. As the years go by, it seems my musical tastes get more and more Starbucksy and Lilith Fair-esque. Yeah, I don't know why, either.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Bonus Crush of the Week: Keri Russell

This week's Bonus Crush is actress Keri Russell, lately of the recently canned "Running Wilde". She'll always be Elliot's sorority sister on "Scrubs" to me, though.

Hey, I liked "Running Wilde". It was no "Arrested Development", but how could the brilliance of that show be duplicated?

Audio fruitcake: "The Nutcracker Suite" by the Brian Setzer Orchestra


Who would've thought that years after his star had faded, former Stray Cat Brian Setzer would have a career renaissance as a bandleader specializing in swinging Christmas songs? Bully for him. This has eight minute condensation is my favorite interpretation of Tchaikovsky's work

Fun Fact: I've never actually seen a full performance of The Nutcracker. Strange, considering that I enjoy all the meats of our cultural stew.

Crush of the Week: Belinda Stewart-Wilson

This week's Crush is actress Belinda Stewart-Wilson, who was in the late and dearly missed "The Inbetweeners".

Will's mom is fit!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Christmas with the Jews" by Elizabeth and the Catapult

Christmas with the Jews from Dan Molad on Vimeo.


Even though today's slice of audio fruitcake - Elizabeth and the Catapult's "Christmas with Jews" - was recorded in 2008, it takes me back to the late '90s. I was living in Northern Virgina and a severe ice storm hit right before Christmas. There was no way I was going to make it down to Richmond to meet my family. So a Jewish friend of mine invited me over to spend Christmas Eve with his family and friends. While we didn't do any of the activities mentioned in this song, we did have a very fun time.

P.S. I met up with my family on Christmas morning.

Happy Chaka Khan Chanukah!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Audio fruitcake: "Merry Christmas Eve" by Better Than Ezra

I love Christmas music. Carols, secular, traditional, contemporary, whatever. For the month of December I pretty much exclusively listen to the stuff. Actually, I usually begin listening to holiday tunes around September each year, to prepare for my annual Christmas mix. Unlike most people, I never seem to get sick of them.

Much like how I did with the "spookymendations" of horror movies around Halloween, for the month of December I plan on posting one of my favorite Yuletide (or otherwise) songs every day, though considering how busy this time of year is you'll have to cut me some slack if I miss a day or two.

So, without further ado, here is today's slice of audio fruitcake: "Merry Christmas Eve" by Better Than Ezra


This joyful ditty combines two of my musical passions: Christmas songs and '90s corporate alt rock. "Merry Christmas Eve", a B-side to Better Than Ezra's "Rosealia" single from 1995, is rife - RIFE! - with seasonal imagery and is probably my favorite contemporary Christmas song. I like it so much, I made it the lead off track on my very first Christmas mix, back in 1999.

Unfortunately, the above live performance is inferior to the original studio version, but I couldn't find a video for the latter.