Do you lament the lack of surf/Christmas music on your playlist? Are your instrumental Christmas albums just a little too staid? Did you know the Ventures put out a Christmas album in 1965? Did you know that it was called The Ventures’ Christmas Album and that Real Gone Records is reissuing it on CD? Did you also know that it is enormously, utterly fun?
Real Gone Music is here to save Christmas from oversinging, too-shiny production, and weird warbles with their reissues of classic Christmas albums. One of these? Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers’ The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings. Collecting best-selling choral albums We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1962) and Here We Come A-Caroling (1965), The Complete Columbia Recordings has all of the classic Christmas songs you could possibly need, done with inspired choral arrangements and a tremendous amount of charm. It’s a retro trip back to the days of silver Christmas trees and really big record player cabinets, and it’s utterly enjoyable.
By Emily Carney
The biography supplied with this reissue of John Cale’s 1992 stripped-down live album, recorded at various venues, states: “Fragments gives us Cale at his most melodic and moving, a mellowed and certainly a soberer man in a Yamamoto jacket and a lopsided haircut running through a selection of his prettiest songs.” While there’s no doubt that Cale was soberer at that time (having cleaned up his act following the birth of his daughter in 1985), this reviewer will disagree slightly with the bio, only in that not all of the songs on this offering are prettier. It’s also possible that Cale has never truly sonically mellowed out.
The season’s pattern of focusing on one area at a time continues this week, where we finally learn that Sasha and Maggie did in fact make it back to the Hilltop community. There has been some criticism about the choice to use this format to tell a linear story, but the reality is that this method allows the plot to progress without unnecessary filler scenes.
My previous assessment of Gregory stands. But not only is he smarmy and arrogant, he’s also a coward and a misogynist. He doesn’t want Sasha and Maggie to stay, regardless of Maggie’s condition. Gregory’s fears about the two women staying are realized later that night when they’re all awakened to the sound of music coming from an old Gremlin that has mysteriously gotten through the gates. Fires blaze all over the encampment, as walkers invade. Maggie, Sasha, and Jesus quickly jump into action and take care of the problem.
I have issue with this, because this camp is suppose to have lookouts and people who protect the boundaries, or so we were led to believe last season. Instead, no one else is to be seen or heard from, except for Gregory, who looks on from the protection of his mansion for a half a second before slithering back into the darkness.
While Rick is out on a supply run and Michonne is off doing awesome katana-wielding things, Carl spots Enid trying to leave Alexandria. He swears he’s not going to save her, but he ends up following her and unceremoniously smashes the car he’s driving when she’s set upon by a walker at an abandoned gas station. The two continue on together, and part ways after kissing when they reach Hilltop.
The day following the walker attack, the Saviors pay a visit to Gregory. Gregory orders Jesus to hide Sasha and Maggie in a closet, which he eventually tries to use to his advantage. His plan was to turn them over, but Jesus put the girls in another closet and all that is revealed is a closet full of Gregory’s scotch stash.
When the Saviors finally leave the house, Gregory finds out the women were safely hidden in his bedroom closet. He seems to have this delusion that he actually made progress with the Saviors, and during his blustering, Maggie punches him. She declares that they’re not leaving, and that he will call her by her name. He’s also made the mistake of taking Glenn’s pocket watch, which she removes from his possession.
Jesus swears he’ll find a way to make things up to Sasha and Maggie, and Sasha tells him he can do that by finding out where Negan lives. This results in Jesus hitching a ride in one of the Saviors’ trucks, but he’s not alone. Carl has hidden himself, oddly enough, on the same truck.
Now, we all know bad things happen when Carl doesn’t stay home. We also know bad things happen when he can’t keep his mouth shut; he’s a hothead, and he’s headed right into the belly of the beast. My fear is that his stupidity will come at a price, one that Jesus and/or Daryl will have to pay.
By Tyler Hodg
Shocking: WWE wrestlers have gotten themselves into some crazy situations on the road, and are fantastic at telling their tales. This is why WWE Story Time, a brand-new show on the WWE Network, is a brilliant concept; it features legendary Superstars sharing personal anecdotes over a cartoon reenactment. But despite the appropriate marriage of spoken word and visualization, there are too many minor issues with the show to want to “mark” out about it.
By John Lane
In the interest of immediate full disclosure, I have long been a fan (and in recent times, a friend) of Kevin Coral, the mastermind behind the band The Witch Hazel Sound. The 2001 release of the group’s This World, Then the Fireworks awoke me, and others, from what you might call a creative and inspirational torpor. If you felt like you came from Anywheres-ville, USA, as I felt like I did, then it was a beautiful discovery to note that sheer magic could be conjured in Akron, Ohio.
With her latest EP, Tender Warriors Club, the reliably wonderful Lady Lamb (a.k.a. Aly Spaltro), is consciously trying to keep an open heart. Her Tender Warriors Club website reads:
find the courage to be sensitive
be emotionally vulnerable
be comfortable with & embrace solitude
never compromise their integrity
practice self-acceptance & self-love
give an honest effort
As far as manifestos go, that’s a damn fine one. And one that is utterly prescient. And Tender Warriors Club is a welcome addition to Lady Lamb’s catalogue of delicate but fierce music. She wears her emotions on the outside, and causes us to do the same. I can’t count the times that I’ve been moved to tears by her without even realizing I’m crying. Damn.
By Tim Murr
Ten minutes is barely enough time for some films’ opening credits to run, much less properly set up the first act. Writer/director Izzy Lee deftly creates a three-act story in just minutes that feels every bit as complete and satisfying as a full-length feature. Her new film Innsmouth takes a police procedural and drops it into Lovecraftian horror. The result is truly something to behold.
The Blind Boys Of Alabama won a Dove Award for 2005’s Atom Bomb, but the album isn’t your typical gospel music. The songs are intended to capture the “deep and haunting feel of the Old Testament,” as executive producer Chris Goldsmith says, and they do, but as always, the Blind Boys put their own distinct spin on songs. On Atom Bomb, they are joined by a fantastic band who turn the traditional (and sometimes untraditional) tracks into swampy, bluesy explorations and canvases in which to showcase the Blind Boys luxuriant harmonies, as well as rapper The Gift Of Gab (from Blackalcious), who adds a whole other dimension.
It took until 2003 for The Blind Boys Of Alabama to release a Christmas album, but the wait was worth it. Now, Omnivore is reissuing Go Tell It On The Mountain with bonus material (as they do and do so well) in time for your holiday playlist, and it is a welcome addition.