One of the unexpected benefits of writing a holiday music blog is that I'm now receiving a steady stream of messages from musicians who are eager for me to listen to and plug their latest holiday tunes. I've heard from some amazingly talented musicians over the past couple of months, and my own collection has been seriously beefed-up with some terrific new material. Unfortunately, this blog's principal mission is to provide information about my annual holiday mixes, and I don't always have the time or ability to do justice to the many first-rate holiday songs I receive. I don't consider myself a competent music critic. I know what I like, but I'm usually at a loss to know what to say beyond "I like this one a lot." Happily, there are a good number of blogs that do an outstanding job of finding and promoting excellent new material. One of the very best is Stubby's House of Christmas, which covers waterfront with notes on nearly every conceivable style of music. Santa's Working Overtime introduces its readers to lots of good new material, although much of it offered without comment or review. Hip Christmas is another one of my favorites, and it, too, tracks a lot of the new releases. All this is my typically long-winded way of reiterating that I don't purport to provide an exhaustive list of new releases or detailed and informed reviews of even the new material I like the most. But I'll do what I can to mention the best of the new material I receive, and here come a few more plugs for some new tunes I've received that I happen to like a lot.
Mary Did You Know? by Lee Hawkins
The number one holiday song in the country right now is Pentatonix's "Mary Did You Know?" It's a beautiful song and I like the version Pentatonix recorded. I like the Lee Hawkins version better. He has a wonderfully expressive voice and this production skips the padding and extra frills so we can enjoy its full effects. I'm not sure I've ever heard this carol's profound message related so effectively and in such a moving way:
It's That Time, by The Alternate Routes
I had a message the other day from Eric Donnelly of the Connecticut-based band The Alternate Routes. They've just released a new holiday EP called It's That Time, and while I've only heard the title track so far, that one's s definitely a winner in my book. I sort of hate to compare interesting new stuff to other songs, but this one reminds me of something Jackson Brown and Bruce Springsteen might sing if they were invited onstage to perform with Darlene Love. Anyone who knows me knows that this is high praise indeed:
It Feels Like Christmas Every Single Day, by Carly Jamison
Oh No, Santa Claus, by Carly Jamison
Carly Jamison is a rocker of the old school, and she's got a few hot holiday songs in circulation this season. Here are two hot tracks that could get any party rockin' right quick — "It Feels Like Christmas Every Single Day," and "Oh No, Santa." For those who still want more, check out "I'm Getting a Ukulele for Christmas," which is a fun little number with a super video thrown in at no extra charge!
Is This Christmas, by Hollis and Kris Orlowski
Our fourth and final new tune for today features a totally different style. It's a collaboration between Kris Orlowski and Macklemore's Hollis Wong-Wear, and it's a wonderfully brooding love song that I've just played five or six times in a row only to like it more each time. Give it a listen: