I get musically nostalgic this time of year. Here are some memorable albums that remind me of Christmases past:
- Mannheim Steamroller’s “A Fresh Aire Christmas” - my mother had every Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album. I have fond memories from my grade school days, sitting in my bedroom in the evening during winter break, curled up next to my stereo in near tears, taking in all the new-agey choral, electro, goodness and joy. Stand out tracks: ”Veni Veni”, “Still, Still Still”
- Hanson’s “Snowed In” - this was no ordinary band for me. The Hanson brothers were from my hometown and I had met them on numerous occasions. It was true love. I LOVED THEM and I loved this album. Bless my mother who put up with me playing this CD in the car for about two months straight in 1997. Stand out tracks: “Merry Christmas Baby”, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”
- Charlotte Church’s “Dream A Dream” - If there was someone I could’ve loved more than Hanson it was Ms. Church. By the time I got into high school, I was dead-set on becoming a classical singer and Charlotte was my idol. OH, Don’t get me started on her not one but two exquisite VHS Christmas specials shot in Jerusalem. gah. Stand out tracks: ”Draw Tua Bethlehem”, “Ave Maria”, “Joy To The World”
ok, the rest of these are not Xmas related but, most of them I got as Xmas presents or I listened to them a lot in the winter thus reminding me of Christmases past.
- Björk’s Greatest Hits DVD - my sister was the Björk fan. My 11 year old self thought Björk was nuts. It wasn’t until I was a Junior in high school and my sister gifted me this DVD (one of the first I ever owned) full of Björk’s beautiful and disturbing music videos. I remember watching it nearly everyday during that winter break. It was a very isolating and introspective time for me. It was the first time I had ever heard most of those songs let alone watched them. Björk very quickly became a HUGE influence on me musically. Good job, sis. Stand out tracks: ”Isobel”, “Joga”, “Pagan Poetry” (if you can stomach it), “Bachelorette”
- Concert For George (DVD) - my father got this from my mother? for Christmas that same year I received the Björk DVD. We had finished opening presents that Xmas morning and my dad put the DVD on as we all got ready to head to my grandparent’s for lunch. My parent’s were not huge Beatles fans and unlike many of my peers I was not raised on their music. Again, this was the first time I was hearing many of these songs and discovering other legends like, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. I loved watching my parents rediscover these songs and reminisce together. To be honest our favorite part of the DVD was Ravi Shankar’s orchestra and his daughter Anoushka’s Sitar solo. Stand out tracks: ”Inner Light”, “Taxman”, “Something”, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)”
- Goldfrapp’s “Black Cherry” - I LOVE Goldfrapp. ”Felt Mountain” is my absolute favorite album of theirs but, “Black Cherry” is forever stamped in my memory from Christmas 2005. I was packing up my life to move from my home in OK to Phoenix, AZ to go to an audio engineering school. My parents were also in the process of moving themselves. I had no home to go home to. I was out till at least 3 in the morning every day. I was in out of “relationships” quicker than you could bat an eyelash at. This album was so sexy, scandalous, and visceral for me. Cheers to Xmas 2005, you sexy thing, you.
- Feist’s “Let It Die” - I saw Kings Of Convenience appear on some late night show (Conan I think) back in 2005. I bought their album, Riot On An Empty Street, and fell in love with the guest voice on the last track, "The Build Up". I googled it. Leslie Feist. I tucked that name away in the cobwebs until I was living in Orange County in 2006 and I thought about that voice. My roommate and I were updating our iPods for an epic and pivotal road trip to Oklahoma for Xmas. I don’t know what prompted me to look her up again but, I did and this album became a stamp on my memory of Xmas 2006, a very confusing and trying Xmas.Stand out tracks: “Let It Die”, “Lonely Lonely”, “Mushaboom”
- Department Of Eagles’ “In Ear Park” - a friend gave this to me around Xmas in 2008. DOE is Daniel Rossen (of Grizzly Bear fame) and Fred Nicolaus. This album is actually in my top 10 favorite albums in the history of ever so, I’ll spare you a full, juicy review in this post. I highly recommend…go have a listen…now.Stand out tracks: ”Phantom Other”, “Teenagers”, “Balmy Night”
- CANT’s “Dreams Come True” - this is the album that inspired this post. Another Grizzly Bear member, Chris Taylor, released this gem in September this year. I just bought it last week after watching the latest video for "Too Late, Too Far". I can already tell that this will be implanted in my Christmas memory for years to come. I’ll admit that I do wish the album was a little more polished, but I feel that’s more of a production preference of Mr. Taylor’s rather than “laziness” or “lack of ability”. On the other hand, his voice is sexy as hell which makes me quickly forget all about that production stuff. He makes me want to shake my groove thang. Stand out tracks: ”Too Little, Too Far”, “Believe”, “The Edge”, “Answer”