Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Various Artists “Rockin’ The Mistletoe”

“Rockin’ The Mistletoe” is a new 17 track holiday compilation featuring some of the artists of SideBMusic, a standout label that promotes excellent power pop for adults from seasoned musicians. In addition to artists on the SideBMusic roster, other acts with a similar sound were recruited to the project as well. We’ve covered several of the outstanding artists making an appearance on “Rockin’ The Mistletoe” before, such as Richard Snow (see here), Laurie Biagini (see here), Chris English (see here), and Rob Bonfiglio (see here).

There are only so many renditions of “Let It Snow”, “Silent Night”, and “The Christmas Song” that can be stuffed into a stocking, so I was very happy to see that “Rockin’ The Mistletoe” contains all-original songs, many of which were recorded especially for this project. Many of these artists have been enmeshed in the music business for decades, playing alongside pop luminaries and sharing their philosphophy for sparkling melodies and abundant harmonies. “Rockin’ The Mistletoe” includes Scott Bennett (Brian Wilson’s band), James Carter Cathcart (who plays the voice of Meowth on TV’s Pokemon), The Zummos (featuring former Joe Jackson guitarist Vinnie Zummo), Rob Bonfiglio (Wanderlust, Wilson Phillips), Taylor Mills (Brian Wilson’s band), and surf-pop singer Laurie Biagini.

Standout tracks include opener, “Getting Ready For Christmas” by Scott Bennett, a fantastic way to set to stage, with vivid imagery and a Peanuts-like piano line that fills you with the warm sensation that the holidays are expected to bring. Richard Snow’s (who is better named to contribute a wintertime track?) “Christmas With You” is another winner, telling one of his typically clever stories (this one with a happy ending…I guess the Christmas spirit got to him!). As expected, Rob Bonfiglio’s track “Warm, Lovin’ Christmastime” is a stellar feel good song. “Christmas Song For My Darling” is a sweet song beautifully orchestrated by Stockholm Strings. I also really enjoyed Paulina Logan’s “Not Alone At Christmas” and Taylor Mills’s “New Year’s Eve” – both have such a gorgeous voice! Kids are bound to like the amusing story of the Easter Bunny covering for a sick Santa in Alan Boyd’s playful “Christmas Bunny”.

Only two tracks stick out like a red nose – Nicola’s “What If”, which is rich with electronic dance beats that stand in marked contrast to most of the styles featured here, and Stephen J. Kalinich’s spoken word piece, “One (My Christmas Wish)”, which would have perhaps been better placed at the end of the record. Otherwise, the record plays wonderfully consistent from start to finish.

For fans of light rock or powerpop, I can’t recommend “Rockin’ The Mistletoe” enough – it is easily my favorite holiday release this year and will be spun for years to come. No lump of coal here!

SideB Musicofficial site.

Complete track listing:
1. Getting Ready For Christmas (Scott Bennett)
2. What If (Nicola)
3. Christmas Song For My Darling (Stockholm Strings & Horns)
4. Christmas Isn't Christmas (Chris English)
5. Christmas Morning (James Carter Cathcart)
6. Christmas Bunny (Alan Boyd)
7. Christmas In California (Brian Battles)
8. Christmas With You (Richard Snow & The In-Laws)
9. Christmas In The Air (Mistletoe Mix) (Laurie Biagini)
10. There Won't Be A Christmas Without You (The Zummos)
11. Warm, Lovin' Christmastime (Rob Bonfiglio)
12. Let's Make Every Day Like Christmas (Jez Graham)
13. Cigarettes In Snowmen (Radio Edit) (Nicholas Alan)
14. One (My Christmas Wish) (Stephen J. Kalinich)
15. Not Alone At Christmas (Paulina Logan)
16. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Eric Matthews)
17. New Year's Eve (Taylor Mills)