Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Zunior 2011 Holiday Blender" (album review)

Hand it to the folks over at Zunior.  Every year around this time they come up with a creative way to celebrate the holidays and raise money for charity.  In years past they have released an album of country Christmas blues, and a Peanuts-inspired Christmas covers album.

This year they present us with their Holiday Blender.  The concept sees Canadian acts take familiar Christmas songs and set them to arrangements based on classic Canadian rock.  They even have Santa-as-Leonard Cohen in the cover art.

Some of the songs may actually be too well matched.  The Burning Hell's combination of "Deck the Halls" with "Summer of '69" sounds like a fairly normal arrangement for the carol.  The same goes with The Violet Archers "Good King Wenceslas"/"Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" blend, as absolutely lovely as it is.

Others are a bit more of a stretch, but they also then to be the most rewarding.  It takes guts to set Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time" (the worst Christmas song ever written) to the industrial grind of Skinny Puppy's "Assimilate", yet Ben Gunning pulls it off with aplomb.  Similarly, Nick Zubeck has to exercise incredible creativity to fit "Silent Night" into the structure of "Sunglasses At Night".

The folk songs seem the most natural.  "Frosty the Snowman" set to Neil Young's "After The Goldrush" is a brilliant way to open.  Hearing the Flaming Lips' "Christmas At the Zoo" set to the tune of Stan Rogers' "Barrett's Privateers" by Dog Is Blue is a completely fresh angle for that modern day classic.

The one exception to the Canadian rule is PK DC's "Paranoid King".  Unless Tony Iommi has taken out citizenship, I'm pretty sure the Black Sabbath guys are British.  However, that doesn't keep the song from being one of the most smile-inducing tracks in recent memory.

In the end, hit or miss, it's all a heck of a lot of fun.

Best tracks: "Sunglasses At Silent Night", "Paranoid King"

Track listing for Zunior 2011 Holiday Blender:
  • "Frosty the Gold Rush"- Mike O'Neill
  • "Deck the Summer Halls"- The Burning Hell
  • "Assimilating a Wonderful Christmas Time"- Ben Gunning
  • "Sunglasses At Silent Night"- Nick Zubeck
  • "Barrett's Privateers/Christmas At The Zoo"- Dog Is Blue
  • "Good King Edmund"- The Violet Archers
  • "Running Back For Silent Night"- Egger
  • "Paranoid King"- PK DC

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