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CD Reviews:  Various Artists: Maybe This Christmas

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Nettwerk's collection of holiday music is hands-down one of the hippest and most contemporary ones I've ever come across. Most of the artists are stars from today and, well, pretty much last week. There are both traditional songs and originals written just for this project. 

Phantom Planet kicks off the record with "Winter Wonderland," a gritty, just plain cool version. Ron Sexsmith offers his own folky "Maybe This Christmas," which doesn't exactly sound wintry but it's a touching song nonetheless. I never knew Coldplay's Chris Martin could croon but that's exactly what he does against a beautiful piano sound on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Vanessa Carlton has a whiny, nails-on-the-chalkboard voice but on "Greensleeves" it's somewhat tolerable. Sensefield contributes the John Lennon classic "Happy Christmas," and a pretty sweet version of it, as is Bright Eyes' rendition of "Blue Christmas."

One of today's hottest bands, Jimmy Eat World, offers "12/23/95." It's not one of their best but still melodic and ready for radio this season. After Jack Johnson's current slant on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" comes the best track on this collection -- The Barenaked Ladies' and Sarah McLachlan's very hip arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." As a writer I don't like to use the word amazing with any frequency, but this track was just that. Piano dude Ben Folds offers his own hilarious "Bizarre Christmas Incident" and Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson sings "What a Year for a New Year," one of his best works since "Closing Time." The album closes out with Neil Finn's "Sweet Secret" and new age singer Lorena McKennitt doing her own "Snow." The latter track seems a bit out of place with the rest of the CD but is still very seasonal and pretty.

There are ups and downs here, but a different slant on the usual suspects at holiday time is always welcome. Personally, I'd pay 15 bucks just for that Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan song. Whether or not you do is your decision, but I'd highly recommend this one for stuffing stockings this year. 

~Mike Farley : Feedback - Link to Us  - About B-E - FAQ - Advertise with Us

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