Aimee Mann –“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
From One More Drifter in the Snow on SuperEgo
Grammy winner and Oscar nominee Aimee Mann’s first ever Christmas album is a collection of holiday classics and two original beautiful and bittersweet songs written by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. Reminiscent of classic albums of the ’40s and ’50s, but without any retro kitsch. Like Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Peggy Lee, Aimee Mann captures the emotional beauty of Christmas.
James Kochalka Superstar — “Britney’s Silver Can”
From Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly on Rykodisc
Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly is in part Kochalka’s response to the current state of global affairs. While many of the songs on the album reach giddy heights of silliness, it is a dark album; death and drugs are recurring themes. But it is also first and foremost darkly comic. This album is the masterpiece of his musical career. It also rocks harder than any James Kochalka Superstar album yet.
Jay Bennett — “Replace You”
From The Magnificent Defeat on Rykodisc
Jay Bennett was a significant force behind the evolving sound, increasingly mature songwriting, and critical success of the twice Grammy-nominated Wilco. Largely recorded at Private Studios in Urbana, Illinois, and tracked at Jay’s home studio in Chicago, The Magnificent Defeat represents the finest of a massive creative outpouring. Following his production work on Blues Traveler’s 2005 release Bastardos!, Bennett’s songwriting floodgates were unhinged and the subsequent result was the writing and recording of some seventy songs, the best of which are showcased on this release.
Rafter — “Encouragement”
From Music for Total Chickens on Asthmatic Kitty
Music For Total Chickens is built from bits of pop architecture nailed together in odd forms; it is structurally sound (no pun intended), but at the same time it defies the conventional laws of (pop) physics. There are twisty-turny time signatures, swaddled in chunky guitar fuzz, sweet strings, harmonized “ooo”s and direct lyrical love-notes sometimes riding percussive trails all the way up great crescendos to pinnacles of bang-crash (like if Deerhoof recorded a self-help album.) These songs intend to celebrate and encourage everyone’s wrestling match with their demons, whatever they may be.