Sleighed: The Other Side of Christmas
It's possible, believe it or not, to do a contemporary Christmas album without sounding clichéd. Last year's gorgeous Christmas
by Low was one of the finest Yuletide offerings in years, but alas, most stumble down the treacherous path of Hanson's ill-fated Snowed In
. The producers of Sleighed
prefer the too-cool-to-care direction, figuring a jokey Christmas album might bring something fresh to the table. Problem is, "You Ain't Getting Shit for Christmas" and "I Farted on Santa's Lap" are funny the first couple times around, but not exactly the kind of fare you enjoy while catching up with aunts and uncles over hot cider. The most successful jams on this compilation of previously released material are the traditional ones. Plankeye's "Away in a Manger" is fun and infectious in a Blink-182 sort of way, and Local "Keep Me Copacetic" H does wonders with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," adding a rumbling bass line to take the schmaltzy edge off. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' "Xmas Time" is the best original of the bunch, as they wisely lay off the horns -- Santa ain't so hip to ska. The Smithereens' oddly becoming "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" from 1982 shows up here, as do a couple cuts from Geffen's '96 Christmas comp: Beck's voicebox-laden "The Little Drum Machine Boy" and Sonic Youth's career lowlight "Santa Doesn't Cop Out on Dope." Let's face it, any Christmas album featuring Spinal Tap must be approached with all due caution.