Critical Fatwa
Critical Fatwa

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Another year, another rich haul of Christmas CDs. But instead of coming up with just another essay about holiday music, this time around we decided to help out the ailing economy -- not to mention you frazzled holiday shoppers out there -- and do a Christmas CD Buying Guide. So jolly old Saint Wack took ten of the best records he got this yuletide and matched 'em up with a friend or family member on your list. All so you wouldn't have to.

If your loved one…

…has a mullet and likes to shred on air guitar: Santamental, Steve Lukather and Friends.


Holiday music

Highlights: Sampled Sammy Davis Jr. vocals on "Jingle Bells"; Edgar Winter duet on "Winter Wonderland"; Eddie Van Halen's fiery axwork rippin' shit up on "Joy to the World."

…is a terminally depressed '60s drug casualty: What I Really Want for Christmas, Brian Wilson.

Highlights: Outstanding cover art; quasi-Caribbean arrangement of "Deck the Halls"; beautiful harmonies and easy-to-understand words of "Auld Lang Syne"; damn-near baroque rendition of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

…is your frumpy maiden great-aunt: The Regis Philbin Christmas Album

Highlights: One and only one: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which features both a terrible Donald Trump cameo and an amusingly maniacal outro. Hell, come to think of it, all of this CD has trainwreck appeal -- to cite just one painful example, Pat Boone never whitenized and neutered any tune more than Regis and wife Joy do here with the once hypersexy "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

…is someone you wish would die a slow, painful death by "music"-induced brain hemorrhage: The Greatest Holiday Classics, Kenny G

Highlights: You can say one thing for Mr. G: The sound of his sax sure is, um, recognizable. But then so is the sound of a grackle colony in an uproar, and I'd rather hear that than this any day.

…drives a 1972 Camaro SS: We Three Kings, Reverend Horton Heat

Highlights: Nothing in particular. It's not a bad CD, but there's nothing unusual or unexpected here.

…has a fully functional margarita machine on their bedside table: Christmas Album, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

Highlights: Pretty much the whole enchilada, from the samba-fied and almost Beach Boys-like opener of "Winter Wonderland" through to the stately choir and lone trumpet of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" that winds things up. It's hard to believe, but this thing's been out of print for years. Kudos to Shout! Factory for bringing it back.

…is a high-ranking member of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club: Carolina Christmas, the Marshall Tucker Band.

Highlights: Undeniably, "Christmas in Custody," a first-person narrative of the consequences of a second DWI in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

…screams "Fuck you!" slams the door in your face, and blasts Saosin and UnderOath CDs: Taste of Christmas, various artists.

Highlights: Without a doubt, From First to Last's "Christmassacre," which disses Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and features the refrain "San-ta's go-ing to diiieeee!"

…is the sort of Ned Flanders-raised eight-year-old who is homeschooled and not allowed to read Harry Potter because of the "occult" overtones: The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree, Veggie Tales

Highlights: Musically, absolutely none. For me, though, I find it amusing to ponder the near-certainty that within five or so years, virtually all of the kids force-fed this cloying drivel will be cranking hardcore tunes like "Christmassacre" on the down low.

…is more a Bart Simpson type of eight-year-old, in body or mind: Pull My Finger: Jingle Smells, various (f)artists

Highlights: It's not just a fart record -- also features burps. And it's not just a Christmas record, either -- there's a "Stinky Dreidel" in there too. Actually, it's kind of amazing how these people put together fart sounds to carry the melodies of these carols -- it reminds me a bit of some of those 1960s records by synth pioneers Robert Moog, Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley. And since Rabelais, Dante, Chaucer and Joyce have all used farts in their works, you could make an argument for this as high art. But we won't be making that argument here.


All hail Big Poppa! Not only was the Notorious B.I.G. a master storyteller and MC, but he also never humped a corpse. That may seem faint praise for such a legend. However, his abstinence from necrophilia sets Biggie apart from his surviving friends and family, who have turned his moldy bones into the town bicycle. Witness the new Biggie Duets album, on which Sean Combs has created collaborations between the deceased and such luminaries as Nelly, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Missy Elliott. For greasing up your greed and rutting once more in the rotting flesh of your friend, we proclaim a fatwa on you, Diddy!

Combs's perversions know no limit. He has actually created a corpse daisy chain with this record, putting Biggie on one track with 2Pac (!) and another with Bob Marley (!!). He should replace his sunglasses and chain with an orgy-guy mustache and a pickax.

Fatwa! Fatwa! Fatwa! Diddy, you have been drilling new holes into Biggie since the day he died. In the afterlife, may he have his way with you. It is written.


More self-described local bands for your edification

Band name: Hollywood Black

Web site:

Personnel: Ben Ellis (bass and vocals), Chris Wertz (guitar and backing vocals), Matt Ellis (fill-in drummer and backing vocals)

Native or transplant? We formed the band here in Kingwood

What's in a name, particularly yours? Our name came from a dream that our first drummer had. He dreamt that he was in a band called Hollywood Black. It originally didn't have any meaning; we just thought it sounded cool. After a while, we realized that the Black in our name is for the sin that surrounds Hollywood.

When did you form? July 2004

Releases/discography: An eight-song EP titled The Lighter Side. We will be recording our first full-length album in March 2006.

Who or what do you think you sound like? We are a rock 'n' roll band. Not the screamo, hardcore or pop punk that is taking control of the corporate world today.

What are some of your noteworthy recent feats? We went on tour this past summer through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. We had an amazing time and met lots of awesome people.

What artists have had the biggest impact on you? Pedro the Lion, At the Drive In, TwoThirtyEight, Starflyer 59, Simon & Garfunkel, Tim Kasher

How do you pay the bills? What is your day job? Wal-Mart and Target

What's the biggest misconception about you or your band? I honestly can't think of anything. We are a pretty straightforward band.

See them at: Fuel Cybercafe, 120 Main in Humble, on Friday, December 9.

Band name: El Baño

Web site:

Personnel: Adrian Clements (bass, vocals), Matt Goldman (guitar, vocals), Bud Poe (percussion), Robert Reader (lead vocals)

Native or transplant? Natives

What's in a name, particularly yours? El baño is Spanish for "the restroom," and we just like it.

When did you form? 2002, new drummer added 2005

Releases/discography: Porcelain Politics CD, El Baño - Live from Mexico

Who or what do you think you sound like? We have gotten a lot of references to the Dead Kennedys.

What are some of your noteworthy recent feats? We were asked to play the Emergenza Festival, and we found a really great new drummer.

What artists have had the biggest impact on you? Rancid, NoFX, Against Me!, Green Day, Sublime, Less Than Jake, Dropkick Murphys, many many more.

How do you pay the bills? What is your day job? Fast food and retail

Finish this sentence: If I didn't have to worry about money, I'd…Sit on my ass and play music all the time.

What's the biggest misconception about you or your band? To hear our name, people expect all or most of us to be Hispanic. However, we are all Caucasian.

See them at: The White Swan, 4419 Navigation, on Friday, December 9.


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