Various Artists – Galaxies Christmas 2011

By Erik Myers
While it’s a little late to get into the holiday spirit, this Christmas compilation produced by Galaxies does make for good winter walking music. Comprised of 12 Christmas songs by 12 young artists, the free-to-download album almost resonates less with the holiday spirit and more with the weather; it’s bright days, dark nights and element of surprise.
The mixed spirit makes for some interesting covers, like on opener “Last Christmas.” As pretty as Emily Knurr sounds, her voice carries the requisite pinch of longing that’s missing from the popular covers that come year after year.
The conventional Yuletide cheer drops out a couple of tracks later with Galaxies’ cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Christmas At The Zoo.” Galaxies is more or less Dillon Groeneman, who takes the slacker rock seasonal down a notch and springs in soft keyboard and sinewy violin. Then there’s Jeremy Lewis’ “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Building up with rigorous strumming and Lewis’ echo-affected vocals, the payoff comes in a delightfully unexpected glam-synth breakdown.
These moments speak to the smart direction of this compilation, it’s balancing of treatments both careful and creative. In this case, there’s less of the latter, setting the stage for more potent moments. Many, this reviewer included, may not remember a song titled “Christmas Time Is Here,” but Ghost of York draws it out with an expert’s touch. Familiar guitar chords trickle out from a warm ambient sea before a lovely soprano brings them into focus, stirring up memories of a round-headed kid and his sorry-looking tree.

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