A ListenUpReviews.com Rockin’ Christmas Pick!
[: This album contains all 10 tracks from Relient K’s previous Limited Edition Christmas EP Deck The Halls, Bruise Your Hand, a track from their Apathetic EP, and 5 brand-new, freshly recorded songs, making this their first full-length Christmas album. We’ll repeat our review of the previously released tracks (updated as necessary), along with reviewing the new tracks. Enjoy! ]
Well, as usual, Relient K mixes their unique blend of seriousness and humor into these songs— breathing utterly fresh new life into some Christmas classics, and also inventing some of their own.
Their new Christmas CD begins with “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. Its music blends smooth synths and medium-slow Rock, and it’s a great opener.
Next follows the even better track “Sleigh Ride”. Its music perfectly builds in steps, from piano to bouncy, rhythmic Rock; and it also has excellent vocal melodies and rhythms.
“Merry Christmas, Here’s To Many More” is a Matt T. original. Its music recalls one or two of the different-sounding tracks on Five Score…, its lyrics focus on hope, and it’s simply great.
A great version of “Angels We Have Heard On High” is next, picking up the pace nicely.
“Deck The Halls” follows, and it’s probably one of the shortest versions of this song ever made! (Just the first verse and chorus. )
“12 Days Of Christmas” is definitely a humorous version. They add in their own amusing chorus after every few ‘days’, and they also do other funny things, such as sounding different during every recitation of “5 Golden Rings” (including not saying it once, and once saying each word backward), singing the entire 11th day in a hilarious falsetto, and literally screaming out all of the numbers on the 12th!
“Silent Night / Away In A Manger” puts aside the humor for a moment and mellows out a bit; this two-song medley is piano-driven. It’s a very nice track, and it leads directly into the next song (“I Celebrate The Day”) without a pause.
“I Celebrate The Day” is an absolutely beautiful song that Matt Thiessen wrote straight from his heart. It’s one of the best songs Relient K has ever done.
“In Like A Lion (Always Winter)” was inspired by the movie The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, and is a rather beautiful song also.
Next is a fast, Rocking cover of “I’m Getting Nuttin’ For Christmas”. The lyrics of that song were already humorous, but Relient K’s new music and vocals for the song are even more so.
For “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, Relient K made up their own verses, although of course they still used the original chorus. This is a great version.
“Santa Claus Is Thumbing To Town” is another Matt Thiessen creation… and it’s hilarious. The story of this song is that on Christmas Eve, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong up at the North Pole, and now (among other things) Santa is sleigh-less, having to try and hitchhike to everyone’s homes.
“Handel’s Messiah” is next, and it’s ! With chugging guitars and humorous vocals, it’s fast-paced, funny, and totally rocking. It’s absolutely, hands-down, the coolest version of Handel’s Messiah that we’ve heard!
“I Hate Christmas Parties” is another Matty T. creation. What’s different about this track is that it’s rather melancholy… and, technically, it’s performed not by Relient K but by Matthew Thiessen and The Earthquakes, Matt’s “side band”. (You can see a more detailed explanation of that, and this track, by clicking the above link.)
“Boxing Day” is one more Matt T. original. This one is quite different from Relient K’s other work, with acoustic, indie Folk music and rather reflective lyrics.
Finally, Relient K’s great A Cappella version of “Auld Lang Syne” finishes the album… complete with a new parting message layered over the song.
There’s also a brand-new Hidden Track afterward, a just-for-fun, hilarious parody version of “Good King Wenceslas”, with the vocals done in purposefully awful (and ridiculously funny) falsettos! (In fact, one of the bandmembers actually breaks down and laughs at one point. )
Relient K has also released three more Christmas tracks digitally, which can either be purchased singly through online sites such as Wal-Mart or iTunes, or downloaded for free with a download card that comes in the physical 2008 rerelease of the CD.
“Silver Bells” is Rock, and uses a lot of layers (especially with the vocals). Of course, as you’d probably expect by now , it’s great.
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is heavier, and contains some excellent, unique guitar melodies (which at certain points also shift back and forth between the speakers). It’s very catchy (you’ll probably be humming it later ), totally rocking, and absolutely .
Finally, “O Holy Night” is the slow track of the three (and it only has one verse and chorus). Interestingly, most of the verse is sung extremely low; some of the notes are probably at the very bottom of Matt’s range.
In all, this is one of our favorite Christmas discs ever— and it’s one that we highly recommend.