Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
Record Store Day (RSD) has become an audiophile’s Christmas since its inception in 2008, celebrating independently owned record stores with exclusive titles and limited-edition releases from everyone from The Beatles to Arcade Fire.
If anybody in Oklahoma is most likely to capitalize on wide-audience
distribution right now, it must be Broken Arrow’s R&B-flavored
rocker JD McPherson, whose debut album, Signs & Signifiers, was re-released last week by Rounder Records.
Producer Jimmy Sutton’s precise attention to past details is Mad Men-esquein its re-creation of rockabilly guitar tones, plunking upright jazz bass, and the way it captures Jonathan Doyle’s tenor sax and McPherson’s voice, which is the kind of durable instrument that made an army of slick-haired, suit-wearing bandleaders famous in the 1950s.
It’s more than mere slick act; McPherson sure can sing. He runs the gamut of stylized Chuck Berry swing-guitar tunes (“I Can’t Complain”), spitfire dance numbers (“Scratching Circles”) and even bluesy, soulful standards like Big Tiny Kennedy’s “Country Boy.” And when the snares pick up on “Fire Bug,” McPherson delivers his lines so confidently, you have to imagine he’s toe-tapping in polished black shoes, even in the studio.
Mark my words: He’s going to wind up as one of those guys we can say we knew back when.