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Psych Out Christmas

Review by Gary Hill

This came out last year, but by the time I got my hands on a copy, our December issue was already published. So, it’s just getting reviewed this time around. This is a rather uneven, but fairly entertaining set. It has a tendency towards the weird at times and the definition of psychedelic and Christmas music seem to get stretched a bit. There is enough strong material here to make it worth getting your hands on it, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Christmas Monster Party (Intro) - Len Maxwell

This skit feels more like it should be on a Halloween disc than a Christmas one. It’s odd and silly, but kind of cool.

Christmas Time (Is Here Again) - Elephant Stone
This cover tune is a pretty catchy psychedelic rocker. It definitely feels like the kind of thing that would have been at home in the 1960s, down to the sitar solo. It’s one of the best pieces here and includes a guest appearance from Santa.
It's Christmas Day - The Cosmonauts
Louder and heavier, this is a psychedelic rocker with some hints of punk rock. It’s a solid tune and another good one.
Silent Night - Quintron & Miss Pussycat

This instrumental feels very much like space rock. It’s got a really trippy kind of sound to it with a prominent percussion line. Organ weaves the familiar melody over the more hippie-like backdrop.

Jul Song - Dark Horses
I can’t make out the lyrics to this, but it doesn’t seem like a Christmas song to me. It is, however, a fuzz laden, dreamy jam that’s very cool.
What Child Is This? - Sleepy Sun
Heavy and quite powerful psychedelic space rock is the idea here. It’s quite effective. It gets very crunchy at times.
No More Christmas Blues - The Vacant Lots
I can’t make the lyrics out on this number at all. It’s a trippy kind of jam that makes me think of Canned Heat.
Time of the Season - Sons of Hippies
I’ve reviewed some other stuff from this band and I really like them. This cover of the Zombies’ hit is quite solid. Still, it’s not really a Christmas song by any means.
Santa Claus - The Fuzztones
This is a cool vintage sounding rocker. It’s based on a familiar musical theme and feels like it could have come out in the 1960s. This is just plain fun.
Christmas Tears - Eli Cook
Here’s another act I’ve reviewed in the past. This is definitely a Christmas themed tune, but it’s not psychedelic at all. It’s a smoking hot electric blues tune. It is also one of the highlights of the set.
Little Drummer Boy - The Movements
While understated in terms of lack of distinct instrumentation or layers of sound, this is noisy and very trippy. It’s not one of my favorites by any means. Still, it’s okay. It’s just a little too sparse and odd.
Jingle Bell Rock - Quintron & Miss Pussycat
Although this bouncy instrumental version of the old song is strange, it’s also fun. As weird as it is, it’s one of my favorites here.
Frosty the Snowman - The Candy Store
This is one of the most traditional Christmas songs of the whole set. It’s a bouncy and fun rendition that is among the best material of the set.
Run Rudolph Run - Psychic Ills
Punk and psychedelia merge here, but the punk seems to really be the ruling factor here. This reminds me a little of something the Ramones might have done.
Mele Kalikimaka - Dead Meadow
Noisy and trippy, the vocals on this just aren’t very effective to my ears. Your opinion might vary, though. They seem just a little too strange. Still, this is pretty good, anyway.
Jingle Bells - He 5
This instrumental take is part surf music (ala The Ventures) and part psychedelic rock. It’s also fun.
White Christmas (Guitar Stooge Version) - Iggy Pop
This is a cool dream pop meets fuzz laden psychedelic take on the classic piece.
 
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