From the Basement: Low
From The Basement #16
Seems like when the holiday season rears its overpriced head, every Tom, Dick, and Connor Oberst puts out a Christmas record. Seems like an easy proposition, the material is already there and you don't ever owe Santa any royalties or anything.
Minnesota's trio of love, Low, also jumped on that very special Christmas bandwagon sometime in late 1999, but they acknowledged the contradiction of the holiday right in the liner notes. "Despite the commerce involved, we hope you will consider this our gift to you." And so it shall be.
Not only do they perform two holiday standard, "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night", as well as the amazing "Blue Christmas" from that Rankin and Bass animated special (oh yeah, and Elvis sang it), but they deliver five original holiday songs that never once mention Santa or the shopping mall.
What they do do is invoke the spirit of winter, of the closeness of family and the alienation that sometimes accompanies this strange season. They grapple with the harsh realities of religion in this modern age, acknowledging that Christ couldn't survive today in the song "If you were born today". It isn't some harsh lecture on our evils of society but rather a pointed observation that we as a world are no longer receptive of kindness, that something innately good in us has been overlooked and forgotten in favor of bright wrapping paper and Playstation 2. If it isn't enough to make you rethink your holiday season and call your mother to tell her you love her, then you are a robot.
Not all of the record is so emotionally provoking though. The opening track is a fun little number entitled "just like Christmas" that describes a trip through Europe and what really makes you feel this season of togetherness. It isn't just the snow or the lights but the feeling of being together and being young. It recalls the magic of waking up to Christmas morning. The closing two tracks sort of bookend the season with an ode to taking down the tree and the decorations, and a longing song for that one special gift, the missing Spirit of Christmas. "After we spent all the money on nieces and nephews, there will be enough left for one special gift". If you only have a few dollars left, go get this record and you may discover your own Spirit of the Holidays.
- Grant Capes | 2003-12-11
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