Dec 232010

Over the past few weeks, artists have been unleashing a blizzard of Christmas covers. From live tapings to unexpected albums, these holiday presents came in all shapes and sizes. We kept up as best we could (see ‘em all here), but so many came in we couldn’t possibly post them all. So instead, we collected our favorite Christmas covers from this year in a special mixtape.

This 60-minute tape, which you can download or stream below, mixes the classics with the obscure. It includes refreshingly original covers of famous hymns and unexpected runs through buried nuggets. It finds indie up-and-comers mingling with longtime favorites. Continue reading »

Dec 222010

You’ve heard the melodies a million times. Every mall in America has been piping these schlocky standards for weeks now. The sounds on today’s cover would fit right in at Macy’s or Target. The moment the horn intro hits on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” you reach for your “Next” button. But wait, what’s this? Head like a hole? Black as my soul? These don’t sound like the lyrics you learned in elementary school! Continue reading »

Dec 202010

Christmas is a festival of light and joy. As such, those into darkness and sorrow often feel excluded. Party-planners may find themselves asking, “How do I get my congenitally unmerry guest into the holiday spirit?”

We reply: add the following five Christmas carols to your playlist, and even the grinch laid out on the couch will stand up and sing – or at least sit up and nod before collapsing into a ball of self-pity. Continue reading »

Dec 202010

What’s wrong with T.V. these days? Is it lack of heart? Reality shows pandering to the lowest common denominator? The system where the squeakiest wheel gets the grease (or, as it were, viewers)? Well, Saturday night offered a new hypothesis. Believe it or not, in the 21st century, there are still shows that don’t feature a Jeff Bridges and Cookie Monster duet. Continue reading »

Dec 202010

Tracey Thorn, of Everything But the Girl fame, has had an up and down year in 2010. While she released a well-received solo album, Love And Its Opposite, she also had to endure the passing of her mother. Despite this, she soldiers on, releasing a special holiday album called Christmas Stocking for fans, available as a free download. Continue reading »

Dec 172010

By now you know all about the A.V. Club’s Holiday Undercover (if not, see our coverage here). The Club’s staff encouraged the artists to choose less conventional holiday songs and The Dresden Dolls’ selection certainly meets that criterion. Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Two Headed Boy” contains only a passing reference to Christmas trees and snow. “Holiday song”? Eh…

Nonetheless, the strength of the performance silences any quibbles over what constitutes a seasonal song. Amanda Palmer – who can now call herself a Cover Me VIP – delivers a stunning vocal performance. She gives her all – at times teetering on the edge of going out of tune, but managing to hold on. See the video below. Next week Vampire Weekend do The Sex Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun” (we hope).

The Dresden Dolls – Two-Headed Boy (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)

For more Holiday Undercover, check out the A.V. Club’s website.