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Like Most "Various Artists" Albums: Hit and Miss ***1/2
on December 5, 2012
Of course, some of this album is very fine - unfortunately, it starts off with two of the worst tracks on the album, fun.'s atrociously noisy "Sleigh Ride" and The Shins' butchering of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime", a song many people already consider one of the worst Christmas songs ever. I'm not one of them, and I like the Shins a lot, but man, they blew this one. That said, the rest of the album has at least a few gems. Sir Paul himself gives us a loungy but warm take on "The Christmas Song", and Rufus Wainwright and Sharon van Etten do one of the best renditions I've heard yet of "Baby It's Cold Outside". The Civil Wars' "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" gave me goosebumps, and R&B legend Irma Thomas shines on "May Ev'ry Day Be Christmas". But the real revelation for me was Calexico's "Green Grows the Holly" - what an absolutely gorgeous song. The rest is pretty good, from Andrew Bird's interesting interpretation of "Auld Lang Syne" to Y La Bamba's silly "Senor Santa". All in all, it's a decent collection of alternative, mellow and rootsy music for the season.