Yearning for a very hipster Christmas this yuletide season? Check out Netwerk Records holiday compilation Maybe This Christmas Tree.
Be forewarned: this album serves as the antithesis to the sugary sweet Christmas carols we’re all so accustomed to. With tracks from delightful downers Death Cab for Cutie and Pedro the Lion, what else could you expect?
Death Cab vocalist Ben Gibbard almost too effectively touches upon the season’s solitude in a morose but lovely version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." His subdued, effeminate voice and the languid piano are a recipe for Santa-time solemnity.
Pedro the Lion eke out a paltry, lifeless version of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." A brick of fruitcake is more exciting.
Other throwaway tracks include Ivy’s anticlimatic "Christmas Time Is Here" and Tom McRae’s blasphemous cover of Paul McCartney’s "Wonderful Christmastime." Any shred of jolliness from the original is relegated to melancholic piano and McRae’s bored, shrill vocals.
The album isn’t without charm however. Oddball cult favorites The Polyphonic Spree provide an impeccable rendition of John Lennon’s "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and Lisa Loeb’s take on "Jingle Bells" is a coquettish guilty pleasure.
Royal Crown Revue give the most swinging performance with "Baby It’s Cold Outside," a classic interpretation of the song with the graceful songbird Vicky Tafoya. Suffice to say, it is the quintessential version of the Frank Loesser tune.
Whereas the songs on Maybe This Christmas Tree fail to incite the holiday spirit, at least the festive pop cover art by underground favorite Shag will invoke more festive thoughts.
If you’re a fan of The Chipmunks’ holiday hits or anything remotely jolly, avoid this album. But for the happily humbugged, "Maybe" this catatonic compilation is for you.