Various artists – Power Chords, Harmonies and Mistletoe (2011)

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Christmas is inching closer and closer, and that means we’ll be soon be spinning the sounds of the season. Starring some of the greatest bands and individual artists of the so-called pop underground (but if you ask me, these folks should be the pop overground, as their irresistible songs are as radio informed as they come), Power Chords, Harmonies and Mistletoe entails a mouth-watering menu of pop that rocks and rock that pops.

Produced by Dean Hoth of the notable Los Angeles band the Eddies, the disc commences to the electrifying energy of the Jetz, who declare their undying devotion to the Kinks on a rip roaring cover of “Father Christmas.” Next up is “Warm This Winter” by the Shambles, which reels and races to and fro with sun-kissed vibes. The Decibels donate two tracks to the album, the first being a hip-shaking take of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” while the reasonably tough-and-tattered “Angels We Have Heard On High” curiously turns into a typically cocky version of the 1960s garage-punk classic “Gloria,” made especially famous by Them and the Shadows of Knight. Oh, what clever lads those Decibels are!

The Britannicas humorously claim they would rather go to jail (again) than see the Eagles reform on the twinkling country-pop persuasions of “Chris Hillman Christmas,” where the Little Murders stage a mighty cool Mott the Hoople imitation on the glammy pub-rock gestures of “Christmas (All Over the World).” Pure as gold pop practices, pronounced by a fleet of finely chiseled hooks, swarms of smooth as butter vocals, and clean, crisp textures helm million-dollar morsels such as Jeremy’s “Christmas Every Day,” the Spring Collection’s “Christmas With You,” Herb Eimerman’s “Treat Yourself Well,” and “A Christmas Wish” from the Click Beetles.

Sung entirely in Spanish, “Just Let it Snow” by Los Immediatos parrots the nervous punch of the Ramones to right on effects, and the Jetset’s “What Can I Say” could easily pass as a prime Monkees track. Bathed in a blinding light of jingling Searchers styled guitar riffs, “Stockholm Christmas” from Joe Algeri and Friends radiates with elegance, and Skip Roper’s “Christmas Mystery” is the certified oddball of the bunch, as it features wordy but compelling lyrics hammered to a starkly mesmerizing beat lodged in the crusty mold of Bob Dylan or Lou Reed.

A spunky treatment of “Little Drummer Boy” from the Lolas kicks in as another nifty nugget heard on the disc. However, the whole record is fantastic. There’s seriously not a weak link to be had on Power Chords, Harmonies and Mistletoe, issued by Twist Records. Jammed tight with jumpy rhythms, nagging melodies, spirited singing, and yes, power chords, harmonies and even mistletoe, here’s an album promoting tons of fun and gobs of good cheer.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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