A very special alt Christmas
Right, so there is not getting away from the juggernaut of of Christmas that is bearing right for us. You can try and cocoon yourself in a bubble of work and alcohol, but you just won’t be able to escape it. Trust me I’ve tried. This year however I’m confronting Christmas, at breakneck speed. Basically it’s a game of chicken. The first to swerve or break eye contact loses. So far it’s worked out well. While they play the Glee Christmas album at work, I’m there grinning, but listening to alternative Christmas albums by Chas and Dave, Dolly Parton, Dylan and Cassie Ramone’s Christmas in Reno.
What Cassie Ramone has done, incredibly, is strip all the saccharine bullshit from these classic Christmas songs, and deliver something that sits between bedroom demo and a lo-fi masterclass. Take Wonderful Christmas for example. This is usually a bloated borefest, but through stripping it back to guitar, keyboard and an enthusiastic vocal, Ramone conveys the feeling of, well, having a great time and it makes you think more positively about Christmas. Run Run Rudolph is almost unrecognisable to the original, but that’s good, because we’ve all heard it a hundred times before, and I’m getting a bit bored it, this breathes new life into it. I’ll Be Home for Christmas is dripping in melancholy and longing. Ramone’s vocals shine through the murky mist of the backing track, just like headlights cutting through a December fog on your journey home. Rockin Around the Xmas Tree is almost an acoustic drone mantra. The nearest anyone of the songs get to sounding like the orginal is when Ramone covers the Beach Boys’ Little Saint Nick. But this is fine, as it’s not overblown, it’s a subtle slice of lo-fi pop. The album is closed by the Christmas Song. It’s possible the stand out track on the album, next to Rockin Around the Xmas Tree and Little Saint Nick. During its duration you can almost smell the turkey cooking in the oven, the smell of a real tree and those scented candles your mum always buys.
Christmas in Reno is the Christmas album for people who hate Christmas albums. At just under twenty five minutes it’s over before its out stayed it welcome, which means it’s perfect for repeat listens. The only real downside is that Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas wasn’t included, as I feel her vocal delivery and ear for composition, would have set the standard that all covers for this song would have to follow. If this is how Ramone does Christmas in Reno I’m booking my flight for next year!