Various Artists – “Strange Nog: A Small Batch Holiday Compilation Volume 4”

Album Reviews | Dec 18th, 2023

Various Artists - "Strange Nog: A Small Batch Holiday Compilation Volume 4"
Image used with permission for review purposes.

Record Label: Small Batch Records
Genre: Holiday
Buy at Bandcamp

Even in the South, where it seldom snows, the holiday spirit is nonetheless in the air, so join in for this jolly journey from some of the great indie rockers in and around Memphis.

“All the way from Memphis, it started to snow,” as the band Basketball chimes in on “Just Like Christmas,” starts the album. Restless Townies follows it up with some dulcet towns on a decidedly non-Griswoldian rendition of Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” Jeff Hulett & the Hand Me Downs kicks up the party with “25th December,” and there’s a fun adults-and-children rendition of “Run Rudy Run” courtesy of the Other Famous People. Check out Hulett’s daughter Beatrice following in the family footsteps with “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”—which starts off with the “A Christmas Story” mall Santa’s audio clip just before he pushes Ralphie away with his big black boot. For something decidedly peppy and fun, check out “christmastown (joyful noise)” from Chad Nixon, and for all of those crazy cat people out there (including me), the Hills Brothers’ “Kitties at Christmas” is a meow-y good time.

“Fairytale of New York” by Touched by a Lyon is a strange entry for an album such as this, but listen anyway. “Christmas Winter” from JD Lovelace is an intriguing song about a “sleigh ride [that] is running too fast,” and if you want something rather metal-heavy for holiday listening (no judgment), “Rudolph ’23” from H.L.P. is for you. The fun-loving “Xmas Is for Losers” by Pepper and the Sausage Boyzzz will grow any Grinch’s heart three sizes. This album is certainly not without its share of strange, with the Beastie Boys-esque “ice money on mars” from Chad Nixon boasting an ever-present postmodern sampling schtick—if that’s your thing this time of year. After some more experimentation, the album closes with some heartwarmingly traditional takes on “White Christmas” (Bronco) and “Last Christmas” (JL Seagull).

How much you enjoy “Strange Nog” will vary depending on your tolerance for the traditional combined with the unusual. This is unlike any other holiday album out there—and doubtless has an awaiting audience who might be bored with more of the same ol’ carols. This album is anything but same-y.

More creatively fine work from Hulett and his crew of Grind City troubadours.

Notable Tracks: Holiday Road, 25th December, christmastown (joyful noise), Kitties at Christmas, Xmas Is for Losers
Overall Rating:


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