It’s that time of year for another Christmas CD roundup. Shall you hear these on high or God rest ye merry MP3 player?
CANDY CANES: A stomp-rap version of “Deck the Halls,” rechristened as “Deck the Rooftop” is amusing enough. Lea Michele’s pipes are put to the test on “O Holy Night” and succeed. The two-men duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is bland, but would give Sally Kern the shivers.
LUMPS OF COAL: k.d. lang helps make “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” lifeless. Everything else feels like Magic 104’s nonstop Christmas music is being fed to you via IV.
GIFT IT TO: Pre-teens and that one flamboyant uncle who never married and has no kids.
BUT NOT: Diabetics.
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, “Crazy for Christmas”
WHAT’D’YA BRING ME?: Folk/bluegrass singer/songwriter Dan Hicks renders a mix of well-known and original Yuletide tracks in his loosey-goosey lo-fi style.
CANDY CANES: You haven’t really heard “Carol of the Bells” until you’ve heard it turn into cowboy scat.
LUMPS OF COAL: Not quite as “Crazy” as it’s all made out to be.
GIFT IT TO: Greg Johnson at The Blue Door.
BUT NOT: Anyone who frequents Opolis or The Conservatory.
“Gift Wrapped Vol.
II: Snowed In”
WHAT’D’YA BRING ME?: Twenty-one chestnuts from the Warner Bros. catalog get re-roasted for this compilation, including cuts from Regina Spektor, Devo, Oasis and The Flaming Lips, who beat up “Little Drummer Boy.”
CANDY CANES: Stardeath and White Dwarfs turn Wham!’s “White Christmas” into a spooky, haunting wrist-slitter, while The Red Elephant delivers a laid-back, ice-cool instrumental with “Brooklyn Sleigh Ride.”
LUMPS OF COAL: Who the hell invited adult-contemporary hack David Foster to this party?
GIFT IT TO: Your hipster nephew who thinks he’s too cool for Christmas. (He’s not.)
BUT NOT: Your grandfather who still doesn’t get “all this crazy rock ’n’ roll nonsense.” (And he never will.)
Jackie Evancho, “O Holy Night”
WHAT’D’YA BRING ME?: A soprano from “America’s Got Talent” follows up her debut album with a holiday CD to make you feel even more like an underachieving George Bailey. Because she’s 10 years old.
CANDY CANES: Damn, this girl can sing! You’ll swear she was three times her age.
LUMPS OF COAL: Only four songs? Child labor laws, maybe?
GIFT IT TO: Your grandmother and friends at church.
BUT NOT: Anyone legally bound to notify others upon moving in to a neighborhood.
Annie Lennox: “A Christmas Cornucopia”
WHAT’D’YA BRING ME?: The former Eurythmics singer possesses one of the most unique voices in music, as evidenced on these dozen classics.
CANDY CANES: Lennox deserves points for tackling some relative obscurities (“Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant,” anyone?), utilizing the African Children’s Choir, and daring to use a whistle.
LUMPS OF COAL: With every track nonsecular, the overall disc grows a little sleepy. And, hey, why no “O Holy Night” on a faith-driven record?
GIFT IT TO: Your mom and infants with colic.
BUT NOT: Dave Stewart or members of the Church of the IV Crown Princes.