Kelly Clarkson not only turned up on Phineas & Ferb recently (the special airs December 2), she also has a new single coming out, "What Doesn't Kill You" from the album "Stronger". She performed the song on Wednesday night's X Factor, but later tweeted that she's just finished a "special iTunes package" for the single release in December which will include a Christmas song. I adore Kelly and she's uber talented (more talented, I think, than even SHE realizes), so this looks to be a special treat for the 2011 season. What's more, Kelly tweeted, "I can't wait to make a Christmas album. It was such a tease :)" That's the kind of thing an artist says just before they hit the studio to make a Christmas album. We'll mark Kelly down as "possible" for 2012.
There's been a bit of a backlash against the mountain of Christmas tuneage that get released each year, now. Earlier, we had the good-natured-if-profane anti-Christmas album from Erin McKeown, "F*ck That!". And now comes Gruff Rhys, the frontman for Super Furry Animals, who has recorded a holiday record for Atheists. The 3 song EP will even be available on 12" vinyl. How cool is that? You can disavow religion and modern technology while affirming your addiction to capitalism, all in a single purchase. The 3 song "Atheist Xmas EP" will be released December 19. Reserve your copy or the digital version at the Gruff Rhys web shop. And stream the soon-to-be anti-holiday anthem "Slashed Wrists This Christmas" on SoundCloud.
1. Post Apocalypse Christmas
2. At The End Of The Line
3. Slashed Wrists This Christmas
The group is also touring in support and they'll even be here in North Carolina come the end of December. Yay! Check tour dates on the band's Facebook page.
For All The World
O Come All Ye Faithful
Do You Hear What I Hear
A Night Of Hope
God Bless Us
So Steve Warrenfeltz of Illinois' Kiss The Sky record store teamed up with local musicians to produce a local artist vinyl album and CD. "Made In Aurora, Vol. 1", a non-holiday effort, was successful enough to spawn a Christmas-themed follow-up. In all, 47 local artists (including Aurora's mayor) are featured on "Made In Aurora, Vol. 2". There are 16 tracks on the double-LP set (each purchase includes both the vinyl and CD versions) and they include both originals and more familiar favorites ranging from "We Three Kings" to "Christmas In Jail (Ain't That A Pain)". The album officially launches on Record Store Day (Black Friday). And through the wonders of the Internets, you can get your very own copy and, for a bit more scratch, even score some rare local Christmas collections that singer/songwriter Jeremy Keen has been putting together privately since 2008 (while supplies last). Since it's 2 LPs and a CD, it may seem pricey for this late in the season, but that's a lot of value for your holiday dollar. Maybe you can use some of your Black Friday savings. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Paul Ruby Foundation to support research on Parkinson's disease. All the details, including track list, and your links to purchase can be found at Made In Aurora. I believe the record is a limited pressing of 500 copies, but don't quote me on that.
But you can quote me on this. This is what I wrote about local artist Christmas collections last year.
"In Christmas music, local artist comps are the closest thing to opening the good Christmas presents on Christmas morning. You know the ones. OK, this box probably has socks and that one has that little gadget I was asking for, but, ooooh, what's in this one?
With the local artist compilation, you never know what to expect. Once in awhile, you'll catch a future star. In 1993, a full year before their assault on the national charts, a little known outfit with the unlikely moniker of Hootie and The Blowfish turned up on a local artist Xmas comp out of Georgia. Nine years later, another Georgia holiday comp included the first recorded performance of Sugarland. And, just as often, a major artist will donate a song to a compilation from their home town or region, as has happened frequently in the Christmas In The Northwest series. But those occurrences are just extra icing on an already delicious cake.
Musically, such compilations can be, and usually are, all over the map. I like that in a compilation. There are originals of every kind--some clever, some fun, some heart wrenching--and different arrangements of the old standards. These albums rarely get distributed beyond the local area. And they're usually available, in comparatively limited numbers, for the one year and then they're gone...even before the last bit of snow has disappeared from the ground. When the proceeds are for charity, the collections are just that much more special--that much more Christmas. The local artists get some exposure, worthy charities raise much needed funds, and the listener gets some great new holiday music. Everybody wins!
If you hear of a local artist Christmas compilation in your little corner of the world, we'd appreciate a heads up. Then we can help send others your way."