The Happy Christmas albums have been fairly successful in their long run. And why not? The idea of MxPx, Bleach, Earthsuit, the Supertones and others belting out Christmas tunes will make more than a few music lover's ears perk. It's been four years since the last installment in the Happy Christmas series, but now it returns with quite a promising list of performers. Volume Four includes Switchfoot, Relient K, Number One Gun, Emery, Anberlin, Copeland, Hawk Nelson, and a couple of The Starting Line and Underoath guys on a single track? Sounds nothing short of entertaining.
And it is. The album begins with Switchfoot's original "Evergreen," which sounds a whole lot like their earlier albums. And it should, considering it appeared first before on the series' Volume One in 1998. The song immediately gets the album off to a great, albeit mellow start. That overall tone continues through most of the album. Switchfoot fades and Emery begins with another original, entitled "(Ho Ho Hey) A Way for Santa's Sleigh." And though not quite as catchy as the title suggests, it's hard not to tap your foot to Emery's slant on the Christmas season. Even catchier still is Anberlin's "Baby Please Come Home," a song about a loved one that seems to have skipped town. Things slow down a bit for "The Winter Song" by Eisley. A beautiful piece of work, I've yet to dislike anything they have done. Next up is Starflyer 59's "Christmas Time Is Here" which keeps the pace slower as Eisley did before it.
Then comes the major selling point for many people. Aaron Gillespie of Underoath and Kenny Vasoli of The Starting Line have gotten together to record a Christmas song of their own, entitled "Yule Be Sorry." Though I feel its almost a slap in the face to readers to explain what the song sounds like, I will anyway. It does, truly, sound like what would happen if The Starting Line and Underoath merged. It also happens to be a great song that you almost forget is a Christmas tune.
Mae performs an instrumental "Carol of the Bells." There is somewhat of a choir singing, but Dave Elkins' vocal presence is severely missing. Still, the track is well done, and the band displays their excellent musical capabilities. Copeland is next with a nice rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear." However, they resort to using those horribly cliché voice pitch editors that you usually hear in R&B tracks. Shameful. Relient K's stellar "I Celebrate the Day" from their Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand album is next. It's lyrically one of the sweetest, most reflective songs on the disc, celebrating the day Christ was born to save us from our sins. Hawk Nelson follows with "Last Christmas," a nice song, though not particularly enthralling. Spoken takes their turn up to bat with their cover of Mark Lowry's classic "Mary Did You Know." They play the song well, and make for one of the album's best tracks. The Fold performs their version "O Holy Night" with grace and ease as well. Number One Gun's slow and beautiful "Of Two Bearded Men" explains to us all that "Jesus doesn't hate Santa Claus, ‘cause He knows that Santa only does his job.." The album finishes with John Davis' "God Is Real (Jesus Is Alive)," an excellent closer and all around great Christmas song.
This Happy Christmas installment is sure to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart. Kudos on the wealth of original songs on this compilation. It's been four years, but well worth the wait. Pick this one up as soon as you can.- Review date: 10/23/05, written by Josh Taylor
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