Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!

I am always wary to say something is the best, because I always know that five minutes later a new best will come, and the old will be obsolete and passe. But here is one album I can say is the best with no qualms and no hesitance.

Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas is the finest Christmas album ever created.

And here's why:

Rather than forcing pumped-up, glossy holiday classics down our throats the Trio creates jazz-soaked, perfectly produced reincarnations of the originals. Guaraldi's arrangements, for instance, of "What Child is This?" is a re-imagining of sorts, with gliding, trickling piano and a simply flowing bass line.
When Guaraldi tackles the oft-harshly covered "My Little Drum" (Little Drummer Boy), the chords don't pound like so many of the song's reproductions- they ring, and the song comes across in a new, inspired light.
Following "My Little Drum" on the album is the ubiquitous classic, "Linus and Lucy." A masterpiece at least, the song fluidly blends elements of rag, jazz and pop into a tune that feels fresh at each listen. The song sounds as though it were written in a stream-0f-consciousness fashion; Guaraldi just walking along the street and noticing the shuffle of his own feet and the playful melody in the wind- and then transcribing it onto the staff.
The piano is the best showcased element on most tracks off the album, but percussion and bass shine as well. The top bass line off Christmas comes in "Christmas Time is Here"- the strings are vibrated confidently, with ease and a free-flowing glide.

I could go on, I won't simply because I feel myself becoming redundant. I think you get the message though. Among all the glossy, pop-star, over-produced Christmas albums that exist, A Charlie Brown Christmas is by far the most listenable, the most enjoyable, and the most inspired. Each song is a flawless-sounding reworking, with not a cringe-worthy note in the bunch.

OHHHH SNAP. Camelstonegate Update

Courtesy of Pitchfork Media

It was bound to happen. We'll see where this one goes. I hate to bash the music publication of music publications, but from the moment I saw that fold-out, I knew they had it coming, and in my opinion, they deserve every once of it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fix You- Young at Heart

This has to be one of the single most moving things I've ever seen. Young at Heart is a octogenarian chorus line that performs strictly "young" songs (ranging from the Ramones to Sonic Youth to Coldplay). They group has a documentary that I believe is being released in the U.S. sometime later this year. No two ways about it, they are truly, truly fantastic. Just watch. If you don't feel a huge rush of emotion, you have no soul. Amen.

Oh and here's the little blurb that is next to it on YouTube:
This is from a documentary shown on Channel 4 in the UK called 'Young@Heart'; the name of the New England octogenarian chorus line. The performer here is Fred Knittle, who suffers from congestive heart failure. This song was intended to be a duet between Fred and another chorus member, Bob Salvini. Sadly, Bob died of a heart attack and it was left to Fred to carry the song on his own. If I'm correct, the people you see crying at 01:13 are Bob's family. The lady you occasionally see mouthing the lyrics in the audience is Fred's wife.

Young at Heart website