It’s that time of the year again, when holiday songs are beamed from every nook and cranny conceivable, be it chestnuts roasting over an open fire at a taco joint, or dreaming of a white Christmas in a dentist office, rocking around a Christmas tree at a coffee shop or seeing Mommy kissing Santa Claus as you push your cart down the aisle of the grocery store.
Now there’s nothing wrong with traditional Christmas tunes, but let’s be honest, such constant airplay can become rather boring after a fashion. Well, have no fear, as I See Things Differently: Greatest Xmas Hits Vol.1: 2001-2012 (Egomaniac Music) is the perfect alternative to stock-and-trade holiday music.
The majority of songs here were recorded by the JAC, which is actually a vehicle for the universally admired Australian based singer/songwriter Joe Algeri, while the equally revered Britannicas and Green Beetles contribute a tune a piece.
Real-deal pop music, bursting at the britches with herds of heavy hooks and squads of sparkling harmonies, is what the bulk of these instantly infectious songs are scripted of. The lyrics are colorful and clever, which arrives as no shock, since Joe has always proudly cited Ray Davies as a prime influence.
So that stated, snappy sounding songs, bearing further shades of the Who, the Sneetches and Teenage Fan Club, mated with smart and sassy prose makes for a gripping listen.
Generated by a stream of tubby hooks and slashing rhythms, the title track of the disc jumps forth as a brass tacks power popping performance, “Merry Christmas (Around the World)” jangles with jolly juice, and the punchy “Stockholm Christmas” takes place in 1964, mentions Vietnam and the Beatles, and duly cops a lusty feel from the Merseyside bands of the era.
Coated in a bank of distortion, “Going Down” trembles and quakes with shoegazer aspirations, while numbers like “Surfin’ Santa” and “I Saw Santa With A Gun” are formed of gentle arrangements, fragile fibers and relaxed pacing.
For a change of scenery, the Britannicas twang and clang their hearts and souls out on the intensely catchy country-fried “Chris Hillman Christmas.” A reliable source told me Chris — whose legacy, needless to say, includes the Byrds, the Flying Burritos, the Desert Rose Band and a critically acclaimed solo career — heard the tune and absolutely loves it. And you will too!
It appears as if famous people lend to be good subjects for country Christmas songs, as “Santa All I Want (is Cindy Brady)” also crackles with purebred hillbilly hues. Chalk up another winner!
Last but definitely not least, although they do close the curtain on the show, Green Beetles deliver “The Basement,” a high energy pop rocker, jammed tight with sturdy chops, strapping melodies and excitable choruses.
Each song on I See Things Differently: Greatest Xmas Hits Vol. 1: 2001-2012 flashes its own special scent and personality. An agreeable mix of passion and wit drives the action. May you all have a cool Yule with the JAC and friends!