Within about 20 seconds of "A Banner Year," the opener of Gentleman Auction House's new Christmas In Love EP, the St. Louis indie-pop hydra has managed to recall Belle & Sebastian, Arcade Fire and another dozen or so boy-girl bands that are equally earnest and invigorating. In words, the seven-piece's (though only two play on this song) Velvet Underground/Yo La Tengo fuzz-candy is pretty damn addictive.
In declaring themselves too cool to celebrate Christmas, people under 30 - musicians mostly, but also those who enable them - have deprived an entire generation of contemporary Christmas carols. "Home for the Holidays," which furthers both David Byrne's Brazilian and Elvis Costello's Jamaican studies, sums up American Apparel Nation's general Yuletide attitude thusly: "Our holidays were just fine when you were away."
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Christmas In Love goes a long way to mitigate that travesty, and does so in only six songs, leaving room for blogworthy romantic sentiment among the boilerplate twentysomething angst. "On the Rooftop," over a snappy accordion lick, some dude tries to keep Santa from stealing his girlfriend by telling her "He said he won't be late, be late, be late, so you better kiss your man now." Take note, though: if you love "Here Comes Santa Claus" but can't stand the Faint, this may not be the Christmas record for you.
Christmas in Love is probably the only recording to declare "I don't want love at Christmas" this year, in a while and maybe ever. Love is the last thing anyone should want at Christmas, unless it's family. Just one more person to shop for.
Don't miss the his-and-hers tombstones on the back cover or the electrocized title tracks, which begins "the trees are barren." On disc, it sounds even more Ultravox than that. - Chris Gray
With Spain Colored Orange and Motion Turns It On, 9 p.m. tonight at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh, 713-521-0521.