Rock and Roll Xmas

Positively New Tunes

Tis the season for hipster kids to rock out all that nutty tree-trimming with a brand new beat in a chunky stocking full of new holiday CD's. …

For 17 seasons Darlene Love has sent The Late Show with David Letterman into the twinkling twilight with her signature Phil Spector smash, "(Christmas) Baby, Please Come Home." This year the soulful "girl group" legend is back with an all-new CD from Shout Factory Records, putting her signature tone on Christmas selections from the Rock and R&B songbook with very tasty results. Entitled It's Christmas, Of Course, these dozen iced cookies for Santa are a surprising, satisfying bunch, featuring The Pretenders' "2000 Miles," Billy Squier's "Christmas Is the Time To Say I Love You," Tom Petty's "Christmas All Over Again" and The Band's "Christmas Must Be Tonight." One personal favorite is a nice surprise — a comforting take of XTC's "Thanks For Christmas" from 1983. …

On the road now wrapping up the 12 Days of Christmas tour, Sister Hazel is treating it fans this year to Santa's Playlist. All the usual favorites are represented, including a nice bluesy take on the Charlie Brown chestnut "Please Come Home For Christmasm," alongside some surprising, terrific new originals, mackin' sexy, slow and low with "Christmas Time Again" and the warm sentiment of "It's a New Year (Just Get Along)." … Not to be outshined in the originals department, The Smithereens offer up three new tunes in — what else? - Christmas With The Smithereens, on the Koch Records imprint. Covers include Elvis Presley's "Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me," The Beach Boys' "Merry Christmas, Baby," Pete Townshend's "Christmas" from the Tommy soundtrack, The Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight)" and The Beatles' "Christmas Time Is Here Again."

Drummer Dennis Diken penned the liner notes, reminiscing about the classic toys found under the tree and his personal journey through the 45s and LP records his family added to their collection each year. …

Available exclusively at Target, KT Tunstall has released a six-song CD EP, Have Yourself a Very KT Christmas. Playing everything but the percussion, Tunstall turns in some eclectic choices, featuring Mud's 1974 hit "Lonely This Christmas," The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York" and the Hawaiian islands sway of "Mele Kalikimaka," originally fighting back the snowdrifts as the B-side of Bing Crosby's multi-million selling "White Christmas." …

Surf's up in a second volume of Seasonal Favorites from the retro kings at Double Crown Records, kicking up the sand and blazing through 20 tracks with The Neptunes, The Urban Surf Kings, The Daytonnas, Frankie and the Pool Boys and The Pete Curry Orchestra. Highlights include "Rudolph's Secret" by Speedball Jr., "I Want a Monkey for Christmas" by The Barbary Coasters and the slap-happy beat of "Silent Night" from Big Boy Pete. …

Mixing up crazy Rock grooves and a soft Jazz mellow sweetness, my pick of the stack is Jacqui Naylor's Smashed For the Holidays from Ruby Star Records. If her drifting slow dance caress that takes The Kinks' "Father Christmas" and John Lennon & Yoko Ono's "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)" to new heights isn't enough to make you fall in love, three selections are smashed, mashed and twisted to the melodies of unthinkable Hard Rock monsters. Intrigued? She moves from the unmistakable opening of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" into "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," while some of Led Zeppelin's greatest riffs transform familiar Christmas classics, sure to stop the herd of jaded, frenzied mall shoppers dead in their tracks. Can't get your head around it? I dare you plug and lean back in the meltdown of "Santa Baby" fueled by "D'yer Mak'er" and "We Three Kings" deconstructed into the glory of "When the Levee Breaks." Outstanding and outrageous, three cool originals also hit the spot — "Christmas Ain't What It Used To Be," Winter" and "Celebrate Early and Often."

New Releases Coming Tuesday
Coil - The Ape of Naples (Important) limited-edition three-LP vinyl reissue from 2005 featuring a poster, "backwards" remixes and etched B-sides; Rivers Cuomo - Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo (Geffen) 18-track collection from the Weezer boss, featuring the original demo for "Buddy Holly" and a must hear cover of Ice Cube's "The Bomb"; The Dig - Good Luck and Games (Dig Music) CD EP; Lupe Fiasco - Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (Atlantic) feeling the cheeseburger love in "Gotta Eat"; Daniel Johnston - The Late Great Daniel Johnson: Discovered Covered (High Wire) two-CD set featuring one disc of 18 originals and one disc of 18 covers of his music by Tom Waits, Mercury Rev, Beck, Guster, Bright Eyes, Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes and two cool teamings - Sparklehorse with The Flaming Lips and Teenage Fanclub with Jad Fair; KISS - KISSology: Vol. 3 1992-2000 (VH1 Classics) four-DVD set, also available at select stores with a bonus fifth disc of the band's 1996 appearance at KROQ-FM's annual "Weenie Roast"; Papertrigger - Riot Lovers (Papertrigger) stunning five-song CD EP from Philadelphia where pained, enchanting Cabaret meets Radiohead's coy, floating paranoia in a jazzy, cinematic wail of freeform lyrical imagery; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - original motion picture soundtrack (Nonesuch) also available in a deluxe edition with an 80-page book; Bram Tchaikovsky - Strange Man, Changed Man (Hip-O) remastered reissue from 1979; Tool - Vicarious (Jive) DVD "single" of the band's amazing seven-minute CGI video from their 10,000 Days album, boasting audio commentary by David Cross and 3-D graphics designed by guitarist Adam Jones that utilizes folding sections that transform with built-in stereoscopic lenses, surely knocking out all the competition for best packaging of the year; Keller Williams - 12 (Sci-Fidelity) a "hitless-greatest hits" collection, selecting one song from each of his 11 albums and one new trackl on tour now with The WMD's, featuring members of The String Cheese Incident and the Aquarium Rescue Unit; Various Artists - WWE RAW - Greatest Hits - The Music (Columbia/WWE Music) celebrating 15 years of beefy bravado with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, John Cena and The Rock.

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