So I’ve been doing a thing that I think is really cool for five year now. The Sons of Old Town Xmas Extravaganza. It was a vinyl release and a tour and then it was an annual Nashville show for a few years.
This year we did the Sons of Old Town Xmas Extravaganza 5 show at the High Watt Nashville with Rock Eupora, Carver Commodore, Pickup Sticks, McKenzie Lockhart, Peyton Rodeffer, Spoken Nerd, & Parker Hodges, and we had the Xmas Extravaganza Volume 2 release on Cassette.
Proceeds went to a great non-profit, Notes for Notes, that builds recording studios inside Boys & Girls Clubs, and teaches kids how to make music. I’m very excite about what our community has built.
We had auction items from Killjoy Co (a killer body positive photography group, the Ruby Cookie, & Smoker’s Abbey Cigar shop from East Nashville.
Stubby’s House of Christmas did a blog review of Volume 1 which featured our friends John Davey and Wilderness alive a few years ago, and they reviewed the full cassette this year too!
Their full review is below, check it out!
Skip the morning coffee. Run right over to Bandcamp and grab ya some Sons of Old Town. "X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 2", officially released today, has enough energy in the first two tracks alone to fuel you through the rest of the holidays. You think I'm kidding? I had some doctors appointments, today, and was completely beat and in no mood to write anything. So I threw on the Sons of Old Town and, boom, here I am writing. I'm about halfway through the record, right now, waiting for a bad track to come up but, so far, nothing but gold.
Sons of Old Town isn't a band. It's a collective of artists, supporting each other in as many ways as you can imagine. It's a community, a family. We had a go at "X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 1" back in 2015 (a year after it's release), but that was just a 7" with 4 tunes (Mind you, SoOThave released plenty of non-holiday records in the interim and they put on a live Christmas Extravaganza every year). Volume 2 is 15 tracks of Indie greatness--a full album's worth. Or perhaps I should say cassette's worth, since that is the physical format in which this release is being offered (there's digital, of course). I have rarely gotten excited about a cassette release in quite some time, but, man, "X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 2" is something I want in physical format, whatever format that is. That's right, it's so good, I gotta touch it.
The album kicks off with Glamper's "Drunk and Scrooge". This is apparently their first ever release and they do not hold back. This is good old fashioned raucous Garage Rock, but with the energy of Punk on a caffeine binge. "Drunk and Scrooge" has the potential of absolutely destroying sales of 5 Hour Energy. There aren't nearly enough Christmas songs that rock this hard. Hell, there aren't nearly enough songs of any kind that rock this hard. "Let's all get drunk and Scrooge".
That's followed by Waterfall Wash's "Do You Know When It's Christmas?". It's a simple song about a simple concept (If Christmas is your favorite holiday, celebrate it all the time...and even that might be deeper than it is), but it's full of energy and catchy as hell. "My favorite holiday is Christmas. My favorite holiday is Christmas. My favorite holiday is Christmas." This is one you're definitely going to be singing to yourself in the office on Monday.
Rock Europa manages to provide sparkly Christmas and Birthday wishes to "Baby Jesus" in a song that's both excellent Indie Pop and excellent Alt Rock. And the guitar solo's awesome.
The tempo slows a bit on what may be my favorite song on "X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 2", the Alt-Americana band Pickup Sticks' "I Wish It Was Christmas". If you're the kind of person whose first thought at every struggle through the year is "I wish it was Christmas", then you'll connect with this one instantly. But, man, I dig the sound. Never heard Americana (Alt or otherwise) rock this good.
And giving Pickup Sticks serious competition for my favorite from the set is "Holiday Parties" by Empty Atlas. Have you ever seen the same girl (or guy) at assorted holiday parties and yet you never meet? Yeah, you start inventing a whole back story, maybe imagine your first conversation (which you imagine you'll screw up by talking too much), you build a whole life together. Yet, somehow, you can't bring yourself to just walk up and say "Hi". I remember someone exactly like that and, you know what, I kissed her at Midnight one New Year's Eve...and still never got her name (great kiss though). Not that it would've gone anywhere. She was way out of my league. But, geez, at least get a name. Anyway, love this song--Indie Pop Rock with some noticeable Nashville influence.
Sean Knisely offers the multi-purpose "Feel It While We Can (Cold Cold Christmas)". Noting that it doesn't get that cold in Nashville until January, Sean advises that you pretend "that it's a cold cold Christmas" so you have an excuse to get someone to hold. And, if that's not enough to convince someone to spend Christmas with you, just remind them of Global Warming. "They say the whole world's melting slowly/It's all temporary/And so just maybe Christmas/Will never be this cold again." As pick-up lines go, I like it. The best thing about Sean Knisely's track is the music, though. It's got that Gary Numan snappiness to it (and the award for Most Effective Use of Drum Machines goes to...), but with a hipper beat and without the monotone vocals. That's one I want to go back to...again and again.
"Christmas In The Club" by Spoken Nerd brings a little Electro Hip-Hop to the party. Ben Ricketts gives us a very Pop friendly Experimental Electronic tune in "Nothing More". The melody of "Nothing More" is mid-60s Pop. The surrounding music (including lots of bells...what is it with bells this year), oddly seems to work, though it does sometimes feel a bit like the musical equivalent of a Salvador Dali clock. "Right Beside You" is a beautiful Alt Folk Rock tune with lovely comforting lyrics from The Embrace.
Cory Taylor Cox is one of the driving forces behind Sons of Old Town. He teams up with Rock Europa for a pretty Alt Pop tune,"Put Your Coat On". Then Parker Hodges hooks us up with a John Prine worthy "Christmas Jr." which grabbed me right at the start with the line "My neighbor got mad at my brother and me/For shootin' squirrels in his yard on Chritmas Eve". Not enough songs about Christmas Eve squirrel shooting, if you ask me. The whole song is filled with vivid images and memories like that. The music employs a few effects that Prine never would. All the better for that.
If you're as sick of "Blue Christmas" as I am, you probably also find red, green and gold to be cliche. Let's see, what color hasn't gotten it's holiday due? Beige! I betcha nobody's ever done a song about a beige Christmas. Well, now, they have. The artist known as Googolplexia offers an ode to a "Beige Holiday", in which he covers Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa (gonna have to go back and see if he got Ramadan in there). This one's a bit of a goof and, though it's a cool concept and executed well, probably the song on "X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 2" I'm least fond of.
The Great Palumbo brings me back around with a home recorded Alt Folk Pop "Two Feet". "Two Feet" is about how things change as we get older ("where'd the time go") and how some things don't ("Yeah, I'm coming home for Christmas/If it's the last thing that I do/I heard we're getting two feet of snow and/I'm bringing my two feet to you").
Charlie Murphey's "It's Christmas" is genius. You can hear Charlie's heartbreak at the first sign of the season. "In the middle of October/Already know that I won't make it sober" and "Thanksgiving helps me to remember/I can only spend limited time with family members/Before it gets weird and we're bringing up history". Really, a gem of a tune, there.
"X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 2" closes with the Sons of Old Town version of Phil Spector's "Silent Night" (which is to say a religious tune closing out a mostly secular album). Jake Woodgives us a nice reverby Alt Folk "Come That Fount".
Now this write-up (though too long, as usual) is even a bit more off-the-cuff than usual. I literally wrote this while listening to"X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 2" for the first time (usually, for a review, I give something a minimum of 3 spins). And clearly I started to run out of gas about mid-way through, but I was beat to begin with and wasn't going to write anything tonight. But this is a brilliant album that I guarantee you're gonna love. "X-Mas Extravaganza, Vol. 2" belongs in every Christmas stocking in America. And the cassette (which comes WITH a digital download) is actually cheaper than the download alone. But it's limited, so don't sleep on it. Some of the bundle packages are already close to sold out. More information and great, great music awaits you at Bandcamp.
The songs are available on all the usual channels.
Thanks for checking it out:
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sons-of-old-town-xmas-extravaganza-vol-2/1443044362
Google Play: https://tinyurl.com/y9gbbgfd