Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hi-Fi Christmas Party Volume 2

I'm going to use the weekends in December to rerun reviews of holiday songs or albums that have previously appeared on Broken Hearted Toy. In keeping with the Post Of Christmas Past concept, here's a look at Hi-Fi Christmas Party Volume 2, which flows nicely from yesterday's post on Hi-Fi Christmas Party Volume 1. Volume 3 has just been released, so I'll be reviewing that in a week or so.

The concept behind the initial Hi-Fi Christmas Party, a various artists compilation, was to raise money to help fund research on the rare blood disorder, Von Willebrand’s Disease. According to producer/organizer Dan Pavelich’s liner notes on Volume 2, the success of that first CD inspired a sequel. Once again, the focus is on original 1960s-style power pop, with a few exceptions.

The Elvis Brothers take us back a little further on their “Rock-A-Billy Christmas;” to the days of Buddy Holly. Composed by Graham Elvis, this peppy number showcases his bass playing, as well as the band’s playful, give and take vocals. The only disappointment, is that at just under two minutes, the fun doesn’t last long enough. The harmonies and big production values on Lisa Mychols & Wondermints’ “Lost Winter’s Dream” are reminiscent of Leslie Gore’s Top 40 hits; and Husky Team, which includes Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, delightfully mashes “Auld Lang Syne” with “Green Onions.”

The Grip Weeds’ masterful “Christmas, Bring Us” evokes the height of the British Invasion and bands like The Move and The Who. Jeremy’s spiritually inclined “It’s That Time Of Year” aims for the same era, and stands as one of the best cuts he’s ever released. The Bradburys, with Dan Pavelich on vocals and rhythm guitar, use a melodic, mid-tempo arrangement on the romantic “A Christmas Wish.”

Opting for a more modern and energetic power pop approach, Sketch Middle comes on like Material Issue on the irresistible “Turtlenecks & Eggnog.” Rob Paravonian uses high-speed guitars and quick-rhyme lyrics on the very funny “We’re Breaking Up For The Holidays” as he justifies his drastic solution for avoiding the stress of visiting family members around Christmas. The Spongetones take a gentler, acoustic-based approach with “Christmas Boy.” “King Of Kings” by Joey Molland & The Echo Boys features the Badfinger vocalist-guitarist on a Celtic flavored rock tribute to the Christ child.

One of the few songs on Hi-Fi Christmas Party Volume Two that isn’t an original, or in a power pop vein comes from The Brothers Figaro Orchestra. Their unusual take on the traditional “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” creates the ambience of a Big Band era radio show.

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