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JFH Music Review

Various Artists
Dream Christmas: Volume 1

Album length: 13 tracks: 40 minutes, 46 seconds
Street Date: October 20, 2009

Dream Records released its very first album, Press Play's Life Is Beautiful, back in May of this year, followed up just a couple of months ago with their second album, I'm OK You're OK, Presents. Now, an array of artists from the label have joined together to celebrate the fast-approaching holiday season with a collection of Christmas songs called Dream Christmas Volume 1. It features both Press Play and I'm OK You're OK, as well as quite a few new and up-and-coming artists from Dream.

The promising young artist Stephen Wrabel gets things started with his rendition of "Silent Night." It's mainly piano-led, but he mixes the sounds of traditional praise & worship in a little bit, as well, also regarding Jesus being the Light of the World in addition to celebrating the night He was born. Up next is country artist Coffey Anderson, whose own music appears to be following after Cowboy Troy. He offers "Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy to the World," which is just a different title for the classic Christmas carol we're no doubt all familiar with. It's given a very southern feel, and is an entertaining rendition, but suffers at the end from repetition. "Rejoice," from Stephen Petree, is a decent track and sounds somewhat like a David Crowder*Band song, but feels like it's missing something. R&B singer Sada K follows with "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." The sound for this song may not have been mixed very well, as it seems like her vocals are too loud for the music, which may contribute in part to her vocals sounding slightly flat. It's barely noticeable, really, but every once in a while during the song you can tell. The music is really jazzy and fits the song well. Press Play offers up "Winter Wonderland," which rips off Alvin & The Chipmunks at first, and then rips themselves off, using a guitar riff at the beginning that sounds a lot like one in their song "I Give My Love." Stephen Petree comes back with "O Holy Night," saving the listening experience for the most part. His voice sounds more nasally this time around, but definitely makes up for the previous song with a great rendition of the classic.

The halfway mark of the compilation comes in the form of a short instrumental version of the chorus from "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing," courtesy of Tyler Logan. It features an acoustic guitar keeping rhythm, and a trumpet playing the melody. It leads right into the full version of the song from pop punk artists I'm OK You're OK. Being one that enjoyed their first full-length, I also rather enjoyed this take on the song. Though it's been done much better by other artists (Relient K, for one), this was still a fun version, which even features a great guitar solo. Another interlude follows from Joel Bodker, which sounds like what he was doing in the studio when him and a producer or another bandmember were trying to figure out how they wanted to play the next song, and it flows straight into their slightly-southern, jammed out version of "Jingle Bells." The original song wasn't really written for quality, so you can never expect too much out of a remake of it. So what you get is fairly typical, but not too bad. And Bodker did make it unique by adding another verse that he wrote. Although I'm still not sure if four and a half minutes was necessary for "Jingle Bells" (there seemed like a lot of filler near the end, which included some scatting before it finally faded out). The next artist - after doing some research - was very surprising. The brother of Stephen Petree, Chad Petree, who is also the lead vocalist for mainstream alternative group Shiny Toy Guns. Chad does a somber take on "Away In A Manger." Not sure if this means that Chad is a Christian or if he's just doing a Christmas carol for the compilation, but regardless, it's a good take on the song, keeping it short and simple. Press Play makes their return on the compilation, but instead of doing a remake of a Christmas song or writing one of their own, ther just contribute "Angels Sing" from their disastrous debut. To their credit, it was one of the better songs on Life Is Beautiful, but it seems very pointless, as it's not even Christmas-themed, but more of a worship song. Thankfully, the compilation is yet again saved with I'm OK You're OK's instrumental "Carol of the Bells." It starts off somewhat opera in feel, and then turns into a rock gem. Not really as heavy as August Burns Red's version, but it's almost up there. It's got heavy punk riffs mixed with loud drums and even some squeals from the guitars. Not a bad way to end the compilation at all.

Dream Christmas Volume 1's tracklist features artists from an array of genres. From the country of Coffey to the rock of I'm OK You're OK to the R&B of Sada K, some of whom seem to have promising futures. The highlights of this compilation come in the form of both the opening and closing tracks, as well as Stephen Petree's "O Holy Night." The rest is a mixture of fairly decent tracks and very unappealing ones. Since most of the songs may not have re-listenability, I can't call this a good Christmas album, but it also wouldn't be fair to call it awful by any means. Give it a listen this holiday season and see what you think.

- Review date: 11/13/09, written by Scott Fryberger of

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. Record Label: Dream Records
. Album length: 13 tracks: 40 minutes, 46 seconds
. Street Date: October 20, 2009
. Buy It:

  1. Silent Night / Light Of The World - Stephen Wrabel (3:45)
  2. Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy To The World - Coffey Anderson (3:27)
  3. Rejoice - Stephen Petree (3:46)
  4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Sada K. (3:13)
  5. Winter Wonderland - Press Play (2:35)
  6. O Holy Night - Stephen Petree (4:32)
  7. Christmas Interlude - Tyler Logan (0:57)
  8. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - I'm OK You're OK (3:07)
  9. Jingle Bells Interlude - Joel Bodker (1:13)
  10. Jingle Bells - Joel Bodker (4:27)
  11. Away In A Manger - Stephen Petree (2:13)
  12. Angels Sing - Press Play (4:11)
  13. Carol Of The Bells - I'm OK You're OK (3:13)



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