August Burns Red are well known for their punishingly heavy jams. They bring a similar spirit to Sleddin’ Hill, their Christmas record, released in 2012. I probably write about it every year, because I just love it that much.
My primary favorite song from the record is their rendition of Carol of the Bells, which keeps the shape of the original intact but ramps up the intensity and pours on the drums:
August Burns Red – Carol of the Bells
And as I was poking around the video possibilities I discovered that 1) one of their labels had put the whole thing up and 2) their version of Oh Holy Night is just majestic. Oh Holy Night is the kind of thing that’s supposed to ebb and flow on its way to a massive crescendo; when the choir hits fall on your knees you should feel the voices pulling you down. There’s no singing, here, but the drums will certainly knock you over:
August Burns Red – Oh Holy Night
Bob Dylan released Christmas in the Heart in 2009, and the world’s reaction was somewhere between ” . . .” and “WHAT?”
I have a confession, y’all: I usually can take or leave Bob Dylan, but I unironically love this record. There really is nothing more subtly glorious than him and his froggy croak of a voice powering through Adeste Fidelis:
O' Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
Though his rendition of Little Drummer Boy is also pretty great:
Bob Dylan – Little Drummer Boy (Video)
And now, on a more serious note, our old favorites the Felice Brothers have put out a Christmas album called Felice Navidad, the proceeds from which will go to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley (NY). Below are videos for two of the songs, Country Ham and Carriage.
Country Ham is the whole band having some fun in a supermarket on their way to dropping off some holiday cheer; Carriage is Ian Felice by himself, delivering some sobering home truths with his guitar.
Felice Brothers "Country Ham"
Watch this video on YouTube The Felice Brothers "Carriage" Felice Navidad
The rest of the record is available at their website.
Everyone has their Christmas traditions. Some people can’t get in the spirit without hot cider and gingerbread. Others genuinely enjoy ugly Christmas sweater season. As for me, well, it isn’t really Christmas until someone starts singing Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer.
(Admittedly this year that would mean Advent started in August on Fire Island, when someone in a hen party next to launched into the tune, but – DETAILS, people, DETAILS.)
This version of the Elmo and Patsy classic is by Justin Kennedy of Army Navy. It’s at about 3/4 speed and therefore feels like experiencing the holiday in a haze of . . . whatever makes you feel hazy. Really brings the pathos out, too, actually. Never occurred to me before how much of the childish glee of this song depends on being able to slalom through it.